Mobile Unit. HMS Indefatigable. [Visit to Wellington].
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A compilation of recordings taken during HMS Indefatigable’s tour of New Zealand in November – December 1945.
The recordings include sailors’ comments, speeches at a reception, interviews, commentary on exercises, music and sound effects.
Part 1: Commentary on the arrival of HMS Indefatigable into Wellington. The band can be heard playing on the Flight Deck in the background. The commentator is on board the ship, having been brought aboard on a naval launch. The ship is escorted by two destroyers; HMS Urchin and HMS Wizard. The commentator describes the scene: the planes are out on display and the men are standing at ease where they are visible on the deck. He sets the scene further then signs off, saying he will broadcast again from a different position on the ship.
Part 2: The commentator has moved to the Compass Platform. A loudspeaker can be heard in the background, giving indistinct orders. The band can be heard faintly. The commentator says it is a hive of activity. Men can be heard talking, whistling and giving orders in the background, as the ship is eased into the quay. The commentator explains what is going on, then signs off.
Part 3: An announcer says he is doing the rounds of some of the services clubs to catch the atmosphere of the crew’s first night ashore. ‘The fun is fast and furious’ and there is a mixture of naval and army personnel present, as well as local people. He speaks to some of the men, asking them about their impressions of Wellington and the ‘Wellington girls’. He also asks a woman about her impressions of the English sailors, resulting in much giggling. One of the men he speaks is Michael Antony Stockton, who is Reverend Samuel Marsden’s great-great-grandson. There is background noise of merriment and giggling throughout.
Part 4: A medley of popular music is playing in a social setting, with occasional whistling, shouting, whooping and singing along. [Recording suffers from speed fluctuations and distortion]. An informal rendition of ‘Begin the Beguine’ by Able Seaman Johnny Reilly of HMS Indefatigable. This is followed by a performance of “I’ll be seeing you” by Marine Johnny Reid, accompanied by an out-of-tune piano.
Part 5: Interview with Mrs Innes of the Home Hospitality Bureau.[Possibly staged] She answers several phone calls from prospective hostesses in the Wellington region wanting to host sailors, while explaining to the interviewer that the Home Hospitality Bureau matches servicemen with local hosts willing to offer them a home-cooked meal and bed with crisp, clean sheets.
[Parts 6-9 not in the collection].
Part 10: Speech by Vice Admiral Sir Philip Vian. He speaks about the role of aircraft carriers in the Second World War. They were used to provide fighter-plane protection to naval forces operating within reach of land-based enemy air forces in the Mediterranean, Russia and the Atlantic. Later they were used in operations in the Pacific. He also talks about the usefulness of the destroyers Urchin and Wizard, which are accompanying HMS Indefatigable. He notes that all of the Japanese kamikaze attacks were directed at aircraft carriers. The first kamikaze attack against the British fleet crashed on Indefatigable’s flight deck, but put them out of action for only thirty minutes.
Part 11: Continuation of speech by Vice Admiral Sir Philip Vian. He extols the virtues of the fighter pilots, particularly New Zealand fighter pilots. He makes special mention of three pilots. Sub Lt. Keith McLennan of HMS Indomitable, who took off under fire to take down a Japanese kamikaze plane. Lt. Alexander Mcrae, who was wounded on an operation, but continued with his mission until he ran out of ammunition, only then telling his commander he was injured. He flew back to the ship while self-injecting morphine, but found his wheels would not lower and had to make a crash landing on the flight deck. Sub Lt. Richard Mackie, of Hawkes Bay, who helped take down four targets while flying at night in a non-night equipped plane. He also commends the men working on the ship, without whom the pilots would not be able to do their job.
Part 12: Announcement of the arrival of distinguished guests at the Wellington Town Hall, including His Worship the Mayor of Wellington, Mr. Will Appleton and Mrs. Appleton, Vice Admiral Vian, Lt. Commander Hodgkinson and Lt. Commander Murdoch. Bagpipes are playing and street noise can be heard in the background.
A male vocalist sings the popular song ‘There’ll always be an England.’ He encourages the crowd to participate and they join in singing a verse.
An unidentified announcer interviews two men from HMS Indefatigable. Stoker Petty Officer Chaplain is from Ilford in Essex and has an aunt who lives in Frankton. He delivers her the message that he will see her in Auckland. Next is Stoker First Class Thomas Bruce from Gateshead. He says he has been at sea too long and is looking forward to returning home as soon as possible.
Part 13: The announcer speaks with Chief Stoker Palmer, who is from Gosport and has been in the Navy for twenty-one years. He has a good impression of New Zealand. He hopes to leave the Navy when he gets home and spend more time with his wife and children, one of whom he has not seen yet.
A speech by Mayor Will Appleton, welcoming Vice Admiral Vian and the crew of HMS Indefatigable, HMS Urchin and HMS Wizard to New Zealand. He talks about the importance of the Navy in warfare and in protection of the British Empire, and praises the New Zealanders for their roles in the Fleet Air Arm.
Part 14: A short reply to the Mayor’s speech by Vice Admiral Vian, thanking him and all Wellingtonians for their warm welcome.
Next is a short interview with Petty Officer Ernest [Sunderland] from Stoke on Trent, who has been on board Indefatigable for two years. He is enjoying himself immensely and sends best wishes to his sister and mother at home.
The announcer then speaks to Petty Officer Muir of Scotland, who sends a message to his family in Scotland telling them that he is having a good time in New Zealand.
Part 15: The commentator reports that just prior to the arrival of the official party, a trailer next to the stage door of the Town Hall caught on fire. Men of the Navy put it out. The commentator was unable to give a running commentary as both he and the technician were helping fight the fire.
A performance of bagpipes and pipe drumming. [The audio is distorted in several places].
Part 16: Comedic performance of popular song ‘I’ll be home for Christmas’ by a male vocalist. He interrupts the song with funny remarks to the crowd.
Part 17: The commentator interviews some ladies: Greta of the Spinsters’ Club. He asks her what she thinks of the Navy, whether they are good dancers, and whether she will still be a spinster by the end of the night. The next lady, Verna Green, thinks on the whole the Naval men are good dancers, and a fine lot of men. Catherine O’Brien has also danced tonight and says she won’t venture an opinion on whether the better dancers are ranking men or officers, but she likes the men very much.
The announcer then speaks to Marine George Stone, who tells a funny story about trying to ride a horse, and talking about it as if it was a ship.
He then talks with Able Seaman Joseph Jennings about his glorious golden-red beard. Jennings says he decided to grow it in ‘chokey’ – the Naval word for prison. He jokes that he treats it with salt, as the hairs get thirsty and come out looking for water. He says when he leaves the Navy he will give it to his wife to keep.
Part 18: An unidentified passenger tells the story of how he came to be aboard HMS Indefatigable. A New Zealander serving in the Royal Navy, he was trying to return to Nelson to visit his mother after nine years abroad. He gained passage on a Destroyer bound for Sydney, but which was rerouted to the East Indies. He disembarked at Malta, flew to Cairo where he visited his brother Hugh, then went to Suez and attempted to find passage on a merchant vessel. This was unsuccessful and he was picked up by the Navy again and taken to Colombo. There he found friends who flew him to Perth, then flew to Sydney. Along the way he collected parcels from New Zealanders to deliver on his return. He met up with his brother Ian in Canberra, then boarded HMS Indefatigable at Sydney. He has booked a steerage passage from Wellington to Nelson to see his mother. He says it has been a most pleasant journey.
[No Part 19]
Part 20: Royal Port Nicholson Yacht Club. Announcer introduces recordings from the Port Nicholson Yacht Club. A group of men are debating the recent tram drivers’ strike in Wellington; they are striking to get their war bonuses. A forthright man believes that they should not strike and questions whether they deserve war bonuses. They debate whether the current time should be classed as wartime or peacetime, as the war is over but official peace terms have not been signed. The first man does not believe the tram drivers deserve war bonuses at all as their work would not have been any harder. A third man points out that most of the conductors during the war were women, who would have found it hard. The first man says they should have had the satisfaction of being allowed to do a man’s job.
This is followed by drunken banter and joke-telling.
Part 21: Royal Port Nicholson Yacht Club. A discussion about yacht racing; a man talks about an upcoming yacht race from Wellington to Picton, and the challenges of beating the tides.
A man [possibly the Commodore of the Yacht Club] presents a burgee [commemorative flag] to HMS Indefatigable. It is accepted by the senior officer present, Lt Commander [Musrat] who makes a short speech of acceptance.
Part 22: Kilbirnie Nurses’ Home. A dance is being held for the servicemen. The announcer introduces the scene; interviews with seamen and nurses. Torpedo Gunner’s Mate Petty Officer Camper, who comes from Kent, talks about the difference between being a Kentishman and a Man of Kent. He is enjoying the evening and particularly liked the crayfish served for dinner. Next is Sid Dyson from Liverpool, a coder, who thinks it is a jolly party and has been very attracted by the ladies’ dresses. This statement elicits giggling from onlookers. The announcer then speaks to Marine Les Galloway, from Newcastle on Tyne, who is having a good time at the dance. Next the announcer speaks to a nurse called Nancy, who he jokes is wearing a slip of a dress. She says he is more forward than the sailors. She comments that the sailors are indefatigable on the dance floor, and would be hard to handle as patients. He speaks to Stoker Petty Officer Chaplain from Essex, who he had spoken to before at the formal ball at the Town Hall. He says the girls tonight are nicer than the ones at the Town Hall. Another nurse called Sheila comes to speak to them. She says it is the first time they have had the opportunity to welcome the British Navy. The part ends with the announcer saying ‘Is that enough for one bite, Bert? We’ll catch the Matron or Sister…”
Part 23: A group sing-song, possibly at the Kilbirnie Nurses’ Home party. A male solo of ‘Loch Lomond’, with group chorus. A group rendition of ‘Personal Friend of Mine’. Followed by a larger group singing ‘Now is the Hour’. The groups are mixed male and female singers, and all sound slightly inebriated.
Part 24: Māori [possibly the Ngāti Pōneke Young Māori Club] concert to welcome the naval servicemen. Māori version of ‘God Save the King;’ ‘E te Atua tohungia te Kingi’ precedes an introduction by the master of ceremonies, [probably Kingi Tahiwi Snr], to the Māori Battalion’s hymn, ‘Au, e Ihu’.
Part 25: The unidentified speaker [possibly Kingi Tahiwi Snr] introduces the proceedings, which begin with a welcome lead by Mrs Heketa [Pirihira Heketa]. They perform a haka powhiri, including the haka ‘Ka Mate’. The speaker then introduces the next performance, the waiata ‘Pa Mai To Reo’.
Part 26: Begins with a waiata. The next waiata are introduced in English as “We are very glad you’re here,” followed by “a paraphrase of your beautiful song Drink to Me Only, only we drink in our own way”. The Māori names are not given.
Part 27: An English-style song, sung in Māori to piano accompaniment. The sound of dancing, tapping feet can be heard. Noise, coughing, muffled talking follows. A speaker addresses the crowd, and introduces the next song as a new New Zealand national anthem. He invites them to join in the chorus. The group sings ‘Roll out the Barrell’.
Part 28: Singing in English continues; a man introduces ‘Tipperary,’ which is sung raucously by the crowd, then “Pack up your troubles in your old kit bag.” They then sing both songs in a round as a competition. There is cheering.
This is followed by two songs in Māori; the first is ‘Tenei Ahau’ (‘Here we are’), the second is ‘Meremere’ [Kia hiko tonu au, ko taku meremere].
Part 29: Māori soloists sing love songs; Miss Parks sings ‘Hoki hoki tonu mai,’ then Miss Amohau [probably Merekotia Amohau] sings 'Pōkarekare ana.' Philip Tamahori sings ‘Paikea.’
Part 30: A Ngāti Pōneke haka. The speaker then introduces an action song. He says it is about the waka of Tamatekapua, which brought Te Arawa from Hawaiki to New Zealand. The navigator, Ngatoroirangi, brought his wife aboard the waka. The song and actions describe what happened on board between the skipper and the navigator.
Part 31: The young people sing ‘We are Ngāti Pōneke’ and the farewell song ‘Po atarau (Now is the hour).’
Part 32: The speaker announces that Mrs Heketa has a piu piu to give to Vice Admiral Vian as a gesture of respect. He speaks about the tradition of piu pius presented to the Navy. Lots of cheering follows the presentation and Vice Admiral Vian responds. He thanks everyone for the wonderful concert and makes some jokes. He mentions that some of them will be going up to Otaki on Monday. He praises the Māori race and instigates three cheers. He then presents a Vice Admiral’s flag in reciprocation. The hosts respond with a haka in thanks. The whole group then sings ‘Auld Lang Syne.’
Part 33: The announcer says that they are in the home of Mr Drysdale in Karori. Loud singing can be heard in the background. Mr Drysdale speaks to the announcer. He says it is a pleasure entertaining the men, who are pleased to help with the washing up. He introduces the announcer to a few of them. Petty Officer Ted Jordan of Portsmouth, whose mutual friends in Sydney gave him the address of Mr Drysdale. The next man is from Yorkshire, and plays up his accent. He is having a nice time in Wellington. The next comes from Scotland and has been joining in with the singing. It’s the second Wellington home he has been to. He says there is plenty of hospitality and people can’t do enough for you; he has enjoyed lots of food, tea and good beer. Bill Aldridge of London speaks to him next; he says New Zealanders are much the same as English people. He is having a good time and has been to a home in Rongotai for two nights, where the woman he stayed with was just like his mother. He feels very at home. The group is singing ‘You are my Sunshine’ behind them.
Part 34: Some men have a sing-song at the piano; male and female giggling can be heard. A woman announces that supper is ready, and “never mind the broadcasting people.” There is a lot of chattering as people move towards the dining room. The reporter stops some sailors to speak to them. The first says his father was the engineering officer on HMS Urchin until recently, but has since been invalided home. The next is from Tolworth in Surrey and says he is enjoying himself very well. The reporter interrogates him on what he thinks of Wellington. One of the men spoken to previously has a nice cup of tea. Next he speaks to Philip [Rowell], a pilot, who says he has been so well looked-after he has not had time to see much of Wellington itself.
The conversation over tea continues. Male and female voices can be heard.
Part 35: The sound of the tea plates being cleared away can be heard over a sing-song.
[Parts 36-39 not in the collection].
Part 40: Captain McIntyre makes a speech of thanks for the hospitality the men have been shown during their visit to Wellington.
Part 41: A message from Marine Bill Cox of Bournemouth. He has had a good time in New Zealand and gives thanks for the hospitality they have received, on behalf of all of the Marines on board HMS Indefatigable. Able Seaman Sumner of Lancashire, Bo’sun’s mate on Indefatigable, says their high expectations of New Zealand have been exceeded. He thanks New Zealanders for their hospitality on behalf of all the ratings of HMS Indefatigable.
Part 42: The Padre tells a joke.
Part 43: Open day on board HMS Indefatigable. Atmospheric noise. A crew member explains some of the workings of the flight deck to a visitor. Another crew member explains some instruments in the cockpit of a plane to visitors.
Part 44: A crew member gives a tour of an aircraft to some visitors.
Part 45: Excitedly chattering visitors on board HMS Indefatigable. Broadcasters discuss how they want to capture visitors’ conversation unawares. A woman and some children look at a torpedo.
[Parts 46-50 not in the collection].
Part 51: The brass band is playing on the deck of HMS Indefatigable. The commentator describes the scene from his position on the Compass Deck, as the ship leaves Wellington. She is being towed out of the harbour by a tug and crowds have lined the wharf to wave her off. Orders are given to clear the flight deck so three Avengers can make a display flight. A bugle is sounded.
Part 52: The announcer is on the highest point of the ship, the air defence position. He says the weather is very windy and hopes it will not prevent the scheduled fly-over. A bugle can be heard distantly.
A man describes the process by which aircraft can take off from the ship with a much shorter run than would usually be required.
Part 53: The ship is about two hours out of Wellington. The commentator says the decision has been taken to cancel the Avengers’ fly-past over Wellington due to adverse weather. He says that it is possible to fly in these conditions if necessary during wartime, but for a peacetime display manoeuvre the risk to the pilots is too great. The aircraft are all assembled on the flight deck as they are due to embark on a tour of New Zealand’s air fields.
The commentator describes how the aircraft are brought out on to the flight deck. They are stored with their wings folded and have to be taxied out carefully and their wings unfurled. He also describes the process of launching them.
Part 54: The aircraft are now being started using batteries on deck. They are not started using their internal batteries as it would run them down. An announcement is made to man the chocks. The commentator explains that they have chocks in front and behind the wheels, as when the ship turns the aircraft could roll backwards.
The leading Seafire has been stripped of paint and polished so that it is gleaming aluminium.
Engine noises can be heard. The commentator says the Fireflies have been started up.
The commentator describes the uniforms worn by the men, how they distinguish them by their roles. Louder engine noises can be heard as more aircraft are started.
Part 55: The commentator says the two destroyers are moving into position as rescue ships, in case an engine cuts out after takeoff and a plane falls into the sea. A Seafire is having trouble starting.
The Seafires and then Fireflies can be heard taking off. Then come the Avengers, which are much louder.
Part 56: The commentator explains procedures taken to avoid slipstream issues. A plane which has just taken off creates disturbed air behind it called a slipstream, which can be dangerous to the aircraft taking off behind it. There is a danger that the disturbed air can cause it to stall and fall into the sea. Therefore each aircraft turns to starboard and clears the slipstream and the next one takes off behind it.
The ground crew are preparing the deck in case of emergency landing. The commentator describes what is going on. Arrester wires are put up to catch aircraft making emergency landings. A Firefly comes back to make an emergency landing. The commentators describes the procedures of an emergency landing, including the use of arrester wires – there to catch the aircraft in case it is unable to stop.
Part 57: Commentary from flight deck as a Firefly crash lands with light damage and is hauled off the runway.
Part 58: Commentary as the crashed Firefly is removed from the deck and a new one is readied for launch. The commentator receives a report that the Fireflies have gone back and dropped leaflets with a farewell message of thanks to the people of Wellington.
A short interview with Mr Bywater, studying for the Forces Preliminary Exam, and Mr Barratt, studying for the Higher Educational Test. Another man says he is here for the German class, but is there on the wrong night. The interviewer quizzes them on simple English.
Reference number 5448
Media type AUDIO
Collection Sound Collection
Ngā Taonga Korero Collection
Vian, Philip, Sir, 1894-1968, Speaker/Kaikōrero
Appleton, William, 1889-1958 (b.1889, d.1958), Speaker/Kaikōrero
Heketa, Pirihira Raukura Waioeka, 1884-1947, Performer
Amohau, Mere, 1898-1978, Singer
Ngāti Pōneke Young Māori Club, Performer
Tahiwi, Kingi te Ahoaho, 1883-1948, Speaker/Kaikōrero
Macintyre, Ian (b.1893, d.1967), Speaker/Kaikōrero
New Zealand Broadcasting Service. Mobile Recording Unit, Broadcaster
Date [Dec 1945]
Indefatigable (Aircraft carrier)
Great Britain. Royal Navy
Port Nicholson Yacht Club
Home Hospitality Bureau (Wellington, N.Z.)
KARORI NURSES HOME
Haka/Mahi ā Rēhia/Mahi toi
Labor disputes -- New Zealand
Māori (New Zealand people)
Nurses -- New Zealand
Poi/Mahi ā Rēhia/Mahi toi
World War, 1939-1945 -- Participation, New Zealand