Looking back, I had no intention of joining the RNZN. My High School career was involved in the Army Cadets; even to the extent of going to the Army camps at Linton and Waiouru during school holidays. My father was in the Army during the war, serving with the Divisional Cavalry 2NZEF.
I had a school friend, David Rosemergy, who, without prior notice or talking about it, told me he had joined the RNZN and next thing he was gone. I was 14 at the time and thought that his move was a good idea, so I made an application from Marton Junction to join the RNZN on the 16th February 1953.
It then appears I attended a Navy Recruiting Board in Wanganui on the 26th June 1953. Next thing I received papers that I was accepted and to be on a train on the 29th July 1953 and travel to Auckland and sign up for the RNZN. Age 15 years 2 months.
departed Marton Junction Railway Station around midnight and arrived in
Auckland in the early hours of the 30th July. There to meet us on the station platform was
PO Peter Coffey (still in square rig). If I remember rightly, it was a tram journey from
Auckland Station to Admiralty steps, to be put on a boat to cross the harbour
to HMNZS Philomel. The group then
started a journey: X-rays, receiving kit, signing on. On completion of these activities we were
then marched onto the jetty to board an ML or Fairmile for the trip to Motuihe
Island and HMNZS Tamaki.
it started. PO Coffey was our initial
instructor. When the balance of the
intake arrived around September we were split into Advanced Class (AC) and General
Class (GC) Boys classes. In my case it
was the AC class, a group of six Boys, who had joined earlier than the GC Boys,
with a PO Godfrey as our instructor; PO Coffey was the GC boys instructor.
boys left the island after about six months training and were drafted to the
last Frigate to go to the Korean War. The
AC boys spent 14 months under training on Tamaki.
training period I was awarded Boy Marksman Badge and Boy Coxswain; rated
Leading Boy in Dec 53, and promoted to PO Boy in June 54.
Five members of our class were rated as Call
Boys – not the male equivalent of call girls, but assessed as proficient in
making all the pipes on the Bosun’s Call.
For this we wore a silver chain rather than the standard lanyard on our
uniforms, with a Bosun’s Call attached to the chain (see photo above.)
out’ from training on 22nd Sep 1954, with me being Best Trainee
Entry AC 1st Class and awarded the Cleland Cup.
Some events on Tamaki The Whalers and Cutters were stored on the beach. After use for sailing, pulling etc, depending on the tide it was clear lower deck of Boys to drag the boats up the beach. Coal was sent to the island by scow, which was beached at high tide and was clear lower deck to discharge the coal into bags/sacks for carting up to the boiler house. Leave to Auckland was given once a fortnight – I was able to go once a week when rated L/Boy. Our wages were 30 shillings a fortnight, with half being received in our hand and the other half being put on your ledger.
Following Taranaki’s return to NZ I was drafted to Philomel in May 63, into Training Division. I was on a roster for TD PO, looking after all the trainees outside of training hours. Following 12 months in this role I then discharged from the RNZN in May 64.
My main reason for not signing on was that I had decided that I did not want to have any more long trips away from family. The Navy made a lot of promises that trips away would only be six months duration, but that at the time was not meant to be.
Epilogue – by Jack Donnelly.
David Wadman had only a short career in the RNZN, completing just his minimum required service of 10 years and 10 months, comprising 2 years 10 months Boy’s time and then 8 years man’s time, the latter being the basic period of engagement in his day. However, as you have read from his anecdote, he achieved so much. His loyalty, dedication and determination provided the foundations for his brilliant career.
In the end, it was his family that he unselfishly put ahead of his career in the RNZN. Dave had the aptitude and ability to go right to the top had he signed on. A Gunnery Instructor or Gunnery Officer were certainly well within his scope.
Thank you for your story and your service, Dave, and good luck in the future.
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