Manual Voyagers - The Drowning Land

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Also that eight pounds doesn't go quite as far on beer and entertainment up here as it did down south. The price of the national drink is about two shillings a middy But the Colony has its brighter side with most manufactured goods at bedrock prices. Fr'instance a Bespoke tailored suit for a miserable fifteen pounds takes a lot of tossing. A Charlie Farrow suite, Rolex Oyster watch, plus the big camera complete with accessories are definitely de rigeur for the meandering matelot. The opportunity was taken to liaise with the US Navy at all levels, aboard their ships, ashore and at sport.

Much has been written about the Americans, but their generous hospitality leaves nothing to be desired. On the first day the Seamen's team thrashed the Stokers in a fashion which fascinated our American friends. USS Rogers had already challenged us to a game of softball, which we were none too confident of winning, so we threw down the gauntlet for a tug-o'-war contest. At a big crowd of Australians and Yanks were on the wharf to witness the struggle. The Americans produced a very heavy team but lacked the technique of our boys who, under the expert coaching of PTI 'Re-Bob' Golotta, won in two straight pulls.

The Americans were willing for another try and now produced eight 'giants' from their underwater demolition team. They had never been in a tug-o'-war before but looked disgustingly strong and fit - and in the first pull heaved our boys over the mark by brute force. The result of the tug-o'-war with those Yank divers was a football match - what a game! Originally the idea was to play one half rugby and one half 'gridiron', but eventually it was decided that the American game was too complicated for a 'picnic match', so a full rugby game was played - if it be right to call what ensued rugby!

The Aussies did receive a few lessons in the American game and had some practice 'forward passes' with the pocket-sized ball. There resulted one of the funniest events ever to take place on a football field, with nobody taking much interest in the rules, and even less in the result!

But it must go on record that the Yanks eventually won , proclaiming this was the greatest game they had ever played. In short, they enjoyed it. Insufficient depth of water alongside the jetty meant that the ship had to anchor offshore. When the ship's official party reached the wharf, they were welcomed by a brass band and a contingent of pretty girls who draped leis over the visitors, following which they went in an official convoy to the Governor's residence, where the Captain was presented with the keys of the city.

Even the ship's ROP mentioned that it was a welcome never to be forgotten.

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Meanwhile back onboard, the sailors were fighting to donate blood in the for'ard cafeteria. Of course the sailors' intentions were purely humanitarian, but it is felt that the sight of the charming Red Cross nurses helped to encourage them By lunchtime the girls had run out of containers before they ran out of willing donors. Two more official parties, one of Chiefs and Petty Officers, and one of junior rates, landed during the day to receive a further taste of the local hospitality. The Philippino children seemed to benefit most of all, as after a couple of hours one could see them It was a wonderful afternoon for Taclobans and Aussies alike, and a group of matelots even made a tape at the local radio station.

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In the prevailing calm conditions, her radar achieved excellent results in detecting periscopes and snort masts, and thus initiating action against the underwater opposition. Someone espoused the theory that perhaps the most interesting part of these exercises was the 'wash-up', where the exercise was refought around the conference table with the usual "I told you so's," and, "But we couldn't have possibly been in that position The Navy's newspaper also made known that, the ship, in the first timed jackstay transfer run of the Fleet Competition, had created a new record of 3 minutes 46 seconds.

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At the time, this was the biggest group of RAN ships to visit Japan. Navy News provided this comment:.

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Take a couple of thousand Australian sailors. Dress them up in their best blue suits, put a few shekels in their pockets, and then let them loose on the unsuspecting population of some foreign seaport. What a devastating effect it must have; but the residents of Nagasaki were equal to the occasion, and promptly raised the prices of their merchandise Nagasaki had been completely rebuilt from the devastation of World War 2.

At that time it was a small city not normally visited by many tourists, which meant that few of the inhabitants spoke English. The world's largest ship-building yard operates here, and was certainly an eye-opener to see so many ships on the stocks, all being built remarkably quickly. A day at Unzen National Park with its thermal springs completed our visit, which included lunch at a Japanese inn.

During the visit, train trips to Hiroshima were popular.

Hiroshima was now the 'City of Peace. There were also trips to the sacred island of Miyajima, with transport provided by Japanese Navy landing craft, so sailors on this excursion travelled under the Japanese ensign.


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Miyajima is sacred to the Japanese, with its magnificent Tori Gate, and beautiful temples and shrines in abundance. Following an overnight passage from Kure, a goodwill visit to Kobe was next on the agenda, May. Kobe, being Japan's second largest foreign trading port had much to offer in the way of tourist attractions, including the traditional Japanese Bathhouses.

The shopping facilities, especially the large Dia Maru store with its large range of merchandise, its cleanliness and the courtesy of its staff was first rate, and much shopping was done, in spite of the high prices.

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Our four days in Kobe went all too fast, for this port undoubtedly had the most to offer. As well as the excellent shopping the mess decks became full of marvellous toys running over decks and tables , there were many fascinating places to visit in and around the city. Coming quickly to mind is the glorious view from Mt.

Nikko, historical features of Kyoto and Nara, and the busy life of Osaka. But the highlight for everybody who saw it was at Takarazaka, a village 20 miles from Kobe. It is doubtful whether a better stage show can be seen anywhere in the world than the famous Takarazaka Girls' Review - who could complain about girls on stage at the same time! Both Japanese and foreigners are thrilled by the flawless presentations of traditional Japanese opera and modern musicals.

On Wednesday 23 May, Voyager II slipped and made passage to Yokohama, Japan's largest port and the gateway to Tokyo, in company with the other ships of the task group, berthing alongside on Friday 25 May. The British communities of Tokyo and Yokohama had arranged entertainment for the ship's company, in addition to the numerous bus tours which were very popular and always full.

From the ship's Navy News reporter:. Tokyo's nightlife is as famous as that of Paris, but the night clubs' prices are far beyond the resources of Australian sailors.

Mt Fuji is in this national park, and adds to the already glorious scenery about the lakes. On completion, the two frigates detached to Hong Kong, with the remainder proceeding southwards to Guam. The visit to Japan was a most enjoyable experience Bus and train tours not ordinarily well patronised by sailors were taken enthusiastically Not only were the ship's company well received ashore by the common people, but a number were invited into Japanese homes.

Large numbers of the Japanese were sufficiently interested in the Australian ships to make rather tedious journeys to visit them on open days. It is difficult to believe that there could be a more effective way of spreading Australian national goodwill directly and personally to many thousands of Asian people than by a visit of this kind, nor that there could be a better way of broadening the outlook and understanding of the young sailors fortunate enough to be involved.

Doesn't the tendency to 'go native' grow on you in a very short time? Even after the first day crewmen could be seen around the ship bowing to one another The politeness of the people was almost overpowering. Some incidents noted included: the train conductor on entering the carriage to check tickets, lifts his cap, addresses the passengers, "Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen.

May I see your tickets, please? The teams thoroughly enjoyed themselves, as did the spectators, and the broadcast of the afternoon's events was also enjoyed.

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Monday 4 June saw the ships at Guam for a short visit. The local US Services entertained the ship's company at all levels, in their clubs, in sightseeing, and at sports. The sailors discovered that for once, they could freely exchange their Australian pounds for dollars, and converged on the US Services PX Store for one final shopping spree. A few miles from Samarai, the ship's whaler was slipped and proceeded inshore with the object of making last minute arrangements for social and sporting activities, while the ship anchored off Ladava at the entrance to Milne Bay at on Tuesday 12 June.

As a finale, the young visitors enjoyed fizzy drinks and cakes, before disembarking. The ship, in turn, enjoyed the hospitality of the local European community at Samarai that evening. Long leave libertymen were landed at Townsville and Brisbane enroute to Sydney, where the ships arrived on Thursday 21 June. The period 21 June to 17 October was spent in refit, with the ship alongside Garden Island Dockyard.