HMAS LEEUWIN JRTE - Settling In

 

JRTE Page 2 .... Settling In

 

All one possesses goes in this locker (pictured below), you will see it had five compartments in which to keep your kit, including footwear, personal effects and school books. Hanging space or cupboards were not provided, all items of clothing had to be folded in the prescribed manner and stowed neatly inside the locker. Nothing except a correctly folded towel on the end of your bunk was allowed to be left out. Many said this was supposed to prepare us for life on a cramped warship. Our bell bottomed trousers and jacket were tailored and pressed in such a fashion as to allow them to be rolled up into a neat cylindrical package which could be placed under your mattress whilst you slept for automatic pressing prior to wearing.

 

Civilian clothing of any type, including underwear, was not allowed even the civilian clothes we got off the plane in were sent home in a box within a few days of arriving. This ritual returning of your last contact with the civilian world was carried out under very close scrutiny.

 

In the picture below you will see on the upper right shoulder of my No.8's Action Working Dress Shirt two white 'flashes'. The top one is the obligatory 'Australia' Flash, the one below it being the 'Tingira' Flash. Although the only time we were allowed outside the Establishment in this dress was on a working party.

 

One Small Locker per Boy

 

The Daily Routine

 

The daily routine was extremely demanding, we were accommodated in aging open dormitories housing two hundred boys apiece within its two decks (floors).. There were four sailors to a 'cubicle' which consisted of two double cyclone wire bunks, 4 small lockers, a window, no doors and a rubbish bin. Wakey Wakey was at the extremely strict time of 0630, 7 days per week (if you weren't under punishment or in a working party which it was then at 0530). Any JR who was slack in turning out (i.e. cribbing an extra few minutes doze) of his bunk would be punished, in various forms, one common form would consist of emptying your locker of all your kit, packing it into your kit bag and being sent doubling (running) around the perimeter of the parade ground with kit bag above your head, or, bundling up all your bedding - blankets, sheets, pillow, counterpane plus mattress and again doubling with it above your head around the parade ground. Note: All this had to be put back properly before leaving the blocks for the days work or instruction..

 

Once turned out you then showered - 100 boys to approximately 8 - 10 shower recesses. If one didn't shower he would be labeled a 'grub' and would be descended upon by his peers, at the silent encouragement of the staff and instructors, and 'scrubbed' with hard scrubbers, ajax, steel wool and just about any other piece of cleaning equipment or chemical compound the JRs could get their hands on until the 'grub' was red raw, bleeding, screaming and sobbing. I personally saw this happen for some boys who came from more disadvantaged families or from the Australian outback or city slum areas and had never bathed more than a couple of times per week in their lives. It was a hard, painful and degrading lesson in personal hygiene. "Offenders" were quick to realise the error of their ways after this kind of treatment.

 

Every morning, once ablutions were complete it was then time to scrub out, (on hands and knees) your cubicle, clean the windows, rubbish bin, walls and polish the wooden skirting boards. Fold up all of your bedding and lay it, very very, neatly and precisely upon your bunk in the prescribed manner then prepare your kit, webbing and uniform for morning divisions (parade). If by then, you had time, you ran hastily off to the dining hall hoping that you would have time to get to the servery and get breakfast, after being constantly jacked in upon by all and sundry, and gulp down a quick feed before making it to the parade ground for divisions. First of all it was straight to the armoury to get your .303 rifle and Bayonet where the Gunnery Instructors would lie in wait with canes and long hard leather 303 rifle bayonet scabbards and crack you viciously on the backs of your bare legs (shorts worn in Summer) whilst you fumbled about getting your rifle from the long racks. Hopping about wildly trying to avoid the blows you would tear out of the building with your rifle and bayonet and race to your divisional muster point on the huge parade ground. 'Oppos' or mates would then quickly give each other the 'once over' to ensure that each boy was immaculately turned out; for one slovenly sailor may bring repercussions upon all in the class should his cap or webbing be found dirty, shirt or trousers not starched and ironed properly, or his boots lacking the required amount of 'spit polish'.

 

These parades, everyday except Saturdays and Sundays, where church parade was compulsory,consisted of full personal inspections where everything had to be crisp and spotless, lest the promise of even more punishment. An address by the XO or CO, the Chaplain, and a full march past with guard and band. These morning parades generally lasted between 40 minutes to 1 hour, in all weather. On completion, after running the gauntlet of the sadistic Gunnery Instructors and returning our rifles to their racks in the armoury, we were doubled away to our classes or working party muster point.