Memoirs

Rear Admiral John O’Connell Ross

Rear Admiral John O’Connell Ross, C.B., C.B.E. RNZN – CNS October 1965 – June 1969 Royal New Zealand Navy – Chief of Naval Staff & First Naval Member John Ross was born in Port Chalmers in 1916. As a public servant he joined the Canterbury Division of the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve in 1936 and was commissioned two years later. He was mobilised on the outbreak of the Second World War and sent for extended officer and anti-submarine training before being posted as executive officer to HMS Wakakura in 1941. In 1942, serving as a lieutenant in HMNZS Matai, he took part in the Solomon’s Campaign. In 1944 he was sent to the United Kingdom for advanced training before returning to New Zealand in 1946 as a gunnery specialist and being offered a permanent commission in the ...

A LIFE WELL LIVED – (Excerpts from WOGI Jack Donnelly’s Memoirs) – Part Twenty-three “MY FINAL YEARS IN THE RNZN

My final posting in the RNZN would be HMNZS Tamaki, as a newly created position of Administration Officer New Entry School. I had now done a complete 360 degree cycle of my naval career. Just over 30 years ago as a ‘Boy’ on’ The Island’, then as a Petty Officer at Vauxhall Road and now as a Warrant Officer. Once I had established what my role and job was, I then set about how I could fit into the training component of the trainees 14 week course. As the highest ranked ‘lower decker’ I had to set the example and lead the school, first by being a very good role model in dress, attitude, personality and physical fitness. One of my fears was that being in a new establishment the direction of the school would be one of introducing new concepts and forget the historical back ground of who we wer...

A LIFE WELL LIVED – (Excerpts from WOGI Jack Donnelly’s Memoirs) – Part Twenty-one

“Of Running, Rugby, Awards and Family. “ Prior to returning to the Navy I had begun slow long distance running and I had caught the “Bug,” so every lunch time I would be out running the shore for up to an hour. From that I progressed to running half marathons throughout the Auckland area. My first attempt was in the Hobsonville half, it was a disaster! I went out fast, was almost down to a walk at about the 14 km mark, was being past by 60 year old ladies and men who literally “shuffled” past me, then to rub salt into my wounds I was passed with just 200 metres to go by bloody “Boof” Stronach, that old codger and ancient rugby player who gave me a pat on the back and said, “Come on Jack finish with me” but I had nothing left in the tank and virtually fell across the finish line. At the Bar...

A LIFE WELL LIVED – (Excerpts from WOGI Jack Donnelly’s Memoirs) – Part Twenty Major Ceremonial Events

Training for the charter parades, street marches and “changing of the Queens colour,” started in earnest. Although I co-ordinated a lot of it, I am so grateful for the support that I had from all the ships GI’s and first class gunnery rates for their expertise, and assistance they gave me throughout the 50th Anniversary. I was also blessed with the GI(Q)s course which was proceeding at that time, they were all involved in the training and organisation with me. My next assignment was the Naval Fleet Review Parade in Auckland. I marked out the “Parade ground” on upper Queen Street outside the Auckland city council building at 0300 hours in the early hours of the morning. Both my pace stick and I marched the route to ensure all was accurate and ready for the big day. The heading in the NZ Her...

A LIFE WELL LIVED – (Excerpts from WOGI Jack Donnelly’s Memoirs) – Part Eighteen

A LIFE WELL LIVED – (Excerpts from WOGI Jack Donnelly’s Memoirs) – Part Eighteen “The Winds of Change” As I stepped into the Management Office in Philomel I was greeted by “RAF” Owen who had also been given a contract such as mine to rejoin. Apparently the Navy had identified approximately twelve personnel from branches that they believed were critical to manning as the “Take the cash payout in bulk and run” scheme had many experienced personnel taking that option and departing. I remember in my first 3 months back in the Navy there were many lavish farewell parties with no expense spared. I soon learned that I was to return to the Tamaki parade ground as the CPOGI. During my first week, I stood back, observed and said very little. Nothing had changed in the way that morning divisions were...

A LIFE WELL LIVED – (Excerpts from WOGI Jack Donnelly’s Memoirs) – Part Seventeen

“Life in Civvy Street” Will I be able to adapt, how will I handle the public, and will I be suitable for this type of work? These are questions I asked myself as I began training to be the manager of a takeaway food-bar. The Te-Atatu outlet was ideal for me as I just lived 500 metres away, it was small, in a busy little community, and the Te Atatu Tavern just across the road. Jenny and Barry were the proprietors whom I was relieving; they were excellent people who had worked hard to establish good clientele relations. I had a 2 week hand over in which I worked under the supervision of the current manager Barry. It just felt so strange to be serving people, cooking at pace and talking to your customers at the same time. The part I had no problem with was the policy Uncles had of...

A LIFE WELL LIVED – (Excerpts from WOGI Jack Donnelly’s Memoirs) – Part Sixteen

“NASU (Naval Air Support Unit)” On being promoted to Warrant Officer, I was posted to NASU to replace my good mate “Bash” Bishop. This was to be a whole new experience for me, being part of the Air Force culture, driving fast boats and being in charge of my own unit. The NASU crew was what I would describe as, hard working, loyal matelots who enjoyed a few “quiet ales” on occasions. They also proved to be very innovative and creative when required. The unit consisted of a large building complete with office, ablutions, store rooms and a huge lounge area ideal for live entertainment. A jetty, pontoon, and four boats, W88, and W44 were wooden hulled fast boats capable of speeds of up to 40 knots. W312 AND W214 were flat bottom large, slow barges. One of the main tasks of our nava...

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