Noel's Military Service
I was in the Fleet Air Arm and I was stationed at Leigh on Solent which was the barracks for the Fleet Air Arm. I was an air mechanic. They were very short of mechanics so everyone that was drafted up was trained as an air mechanic but during the winter of 1946-7 it was so cold we were sent home because they had run out of fuel. I did squadron duties during the day and barrack duties, town duties, all sorts. The best time was my last 3 weeks in the service; I was drafted to Whale Island which was really a training place for commissioned officers. When I arrived it was to find that we were all due for demob and we had to go over to Portsmouth Harbour every day and prepare three ships as targets so that the new shells on the submarines could be tried. We had to take all the stuff off the ships and put railway sleepers in the hold for the carpenters to come and reinforce the hulls for the shells to penetrate. When they were ready they had to be towed out to Spithead to be moored and I was detailed to go out on a little tug ahead of the others to find where to moor the ships and would you believe it during that night there was a dreadful storm and the ships were torn away, one landed on Hayling Island and the other two they managed to re-moor. That was the only night I spent on board a ship - we were put on a sloop and we slept on deck. We were brought back next day on a motor torpedo boat which was absolutely brilliant and the officer was so pleased with our work over that three weeks that when we got back we were demobbed the next day. It was hard work but it was good.