HMNZS COOK

Some of you will remember RNZAF Shelley Bay nominally an Air Force lodger unit in Wellington.  Well, it was originally the Naval establishment, HMNZS Cook.  This image was found behind the hot water cylinder of a house in Tawa and has been sent to me.  The image is thought to be have been taken  sometime during WWII.  There were certainly a lot Wrens present as can be seen by the row immediately behind the sitting Officers.  It is thought that the photo was taken in 1943/44.


CLICK IMAGE TO ENLARGE

Thanks to Ken Berry for providing the image and John Bullock for the history.

Early in 1942 trees were cleared from the site and excavations dug for the magazines. In April the contract was let for the construction work for the armament depot situated on the hillside behind Shelly Bay. This involved the construction of ten magazine buildings, laboratory, office, garage and also a house for an ordnance officer. These buildings had a combined floor area of 20,845 square feet and were occupied by the end of 1942.
Meanwhile in May of 1942 reclamation work started in Shelly Bay and the adjacent northward bay for the creation of flat land space for the naval base HMNZS Cook itself. This was done by excavating adjacent hillsides and using it as fill for reclamation work. By the end of 1942 reclamation work had progressed far enough that construction of the base could start. The buildings were constructed as flat land and manpower became available.
While the reclamation work was occurring, dredging of the bay in preparation for the wharves was taking place. The wharves themselves were started on October of 1942.
By the time HMNZS Cook was complete it had facilities and quarters for personnel as well as workshops, shipwrights shop, and a small hospital. The buildings had a combined floor space of 69,050 square feet. While the wharf and breastwork totalled 37,200 square feet and had 1,200 feet of bearthage. Slipways and workshops were provided with “sideslipping” ways off the main slipway. These were for servicing the “Fairmile” Launches. 

In April of 1946 HMNZS Cook was transferred over to the RNZAF and became known as the Shelly Bay Air Force Base.

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11 Responses to HMNZS COOK

  1. Jim Dell says:

    Vicki Dell’s (nee Womphrey) mother, Shirley Smith (before she got married), is in that photo and is the Wren sixth from the right, behind the crease.

  2. Frank Rands says:

    Jim, Any idea of what year the photo was taken?

  3. Jim Dell says:

    We think it was 1943/44

  4. Jim Dell says:

    Could have have been 1942 as we have another photo of Shirley taken that year in uniform and she spent her War time at Shelly Bay/Wellington NZNB.

  5. John Bullock says:

    HMNZS COOK’S HISTORY
    Reading below, the time line would have had to have been post May 1942 to April 1946.

    Early in 1942 trees were cleared from the site and excavations dug for the magazines. In April the contract was let for the construction work for the armament depot situated on the hillside behind Shelly Bay. This involved the construction of ten magazine buildings, laboratory, office, garage and also a house for an ordnance officer. These buildings had a combined floor area of 20,845 square feet and were occupied by the end of 1942.

    Meanwhile in May of 1942 reclamation work started in Shelly Bay and the adjacent northward bay for the creation of flat land space for the naval base HMNZS Cook itself. This was done by excavating adjacent hillsides and using it as fill for reclamation work. By the end of 1942 reclamation work had progressed far enough that construction of the base could start. The buildings were constructed as flat land and manpower became available.

    While the reclamation work was occurring, dredging of the bay in preparation for the wharves was taking place. The wharves themselves were started on October of 1942.
    By the time HMNZS Cook was complete it had facilities and quarters for personnel as well as workshops, shipwrights shop, and a small hospital. The buildings had a combined floor space of 69,050 square feet. While the wharf and breastwork totalled 37,200 square feet and had 1,200 feet of bearthage. Slipways and workshops were provided with “sideslipping” ways off the main slipway. These were for servicing the “Fairmile” Launches.

    In April of 1946 HMNZS Cook was transferred over to the RNZAF and became known as the Shelly Bay Air Force Base.

  6. Bob Simpson says:

    Hi, what a surprise. I found my mother in this photo above – she is Wren Margaret (Peggy) R. Oliver and she is the 8th from the left in the second row behind the seated Officers. Her Wren number was either WRNZNS 88 or 9996 which is the number on the top right hand corner of her RNZN ID card. She served in the Wrens from 10/1942 – 4/1946. She was a member of the NZ Wren contingent which travelled to London in 1946 to represent NZ in the Victory Parade. She met my father, Army 1st Lt R.G. Simpson, who was also a member of the NZ contingent on the ship going over to the Victory Parade and they were married in London. I am coming late to this research about my mother’s war effort as when we boys (her 3 sons) asked her she always deflected us by saying that our father’s war history was much more interesting. I now regret being so easily deflected from her story which I am now pursuing. Mother was also Navy Miss victory in ChCh as part of the war bond raising in 1944. She served HMNZS Philomel II, Cook and Tasman throughout her service in the Navy. If anyone has any more information and would like to contact me they are most welcome. kindest regards, Bob Simpson (Son)

    • Frank Rands says:

      Hi Bob,

      Her number was actually 88. Interestingly you say she served at HMNZS TASMAN. TASMAN was located in Lyttleton and was where communicators were trained during the war. There are some photo’s of HMNZS TASMAN on the blog. HMNZS COOK was at Shelley Bay Wellington and was taken over by airforce and known as RNZAF SHELLY BAY although the Officers Mess always had Portholes in the main doors. Not sure if anyone has any history out their for Bob but if you do let him know.

      • Bob Simpson says:

        Hi Frank, Thank you for your reply and comment on HMNZS Tasman. The only records I have of where she served are firstly her Royal New Zealand Navy Identity-card where listed beside Ship or Establishment (at time of issue): is H.M.N.Z.S. “TASMAN”, dated 26 Mar 1945 which means this is probably her last posting before shipping out for England later for the Victory Parade. In her Navy Office Record of Service I find PHILOMEL II NOCL, 28 Oct 1942 until 5 Aug 1945, Then HMNZS COOK from 6 Aug 1945 until 31 Mar 1945.(?) – I think this is a typo and should be 1946. The last entry is 1 April 1946 which I think might be her discharge date in London. Perhaps the HMNZS TASMAN is the ship under which the Wrens were administered for the Victory Parade in London. Can I add photos to this blog as I have some of the journey over to London plus some of the Wrens marching in the Parade, also a photo with three other Wrens in uniform as part of her wedding party who I would like to identify. One last thing, In April 1945 her Record states that she was issued with 2 Chevrons – does anyone know what that means? Thanks again for you comments – Bob

      • Frank Rands says:

        Sure thing to sending me the photos as there are still communicators around who were at TASMAN during the period in question. I will also have a look and see what I can turn up. Photos can be sent to frank@randsclan.com

        Regards. Frank

      • Frank Rands says:

        Hi. I think chevrons were issued to represent 12 months service. They were worn on the sleeve. Do you know what trade your mum was?

  7. Jane Teal says:

    Eunice Mary Drain is in this photograph and she was at HMNZS Cook August 1944-February 1945

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