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A FREEZING EXPERIENCE IN THE SUMMER.

( Colin Penney.)  given to brian

As an apprentice Engine Fitter around 1946,  part of my training was on refrigerators (three months ) and my instructor Fred Buddle informed me that the next day we were to repair a rather large refrigerator and I was to take some sandwiches with me ?.

 

This day we had repaired the Captain of the Dockyard’s  fridge in his large house which was  inside the Dockyard. It was a long job that lasted all day . We lifted the fridge upside down to allow the gas to flow back to the bottom of the casing and  that took 2 minutes and that was all it required .We then had to have a few cups of tea ,a few cigarettes,  a walk around the yard and just managed to arrive back in time to clock off. We were tired out.!

 

The following day Fred informed me that we were to go by boat to the Forts just off Herne Bay and repair their fridge .It was either Knock John Fort or Tongue Sand Fort.

The boat would wait until we had finished and then take us back to the Dockyard.

The Fort is two large cylindrical concrete uprights in the water and a very large platform across the top on  which  was a  large gun. The  fridge was at the bottom of one of the large cylinders and could hold enough food for 120 men  who manned it during the war  and the food would last for 6 weeks ,the men worked in shifts of six weeks.

As it was peacetime  the Forts were maintained purely for navigational safety reasons by six sailors .

 

That morning we boarded a tug  at 8 o’clock and enjoyed the sea trip  at 9 knots  ,we also caught a few fish, It was August and the weather was superb. We arrived at the Fort and then the tug men said they were off to Harwich ,and had no instructions to wait for us .

After a short discussion they said that they would phone Sheerness Dockyard from Harwich and arrange for a boat to collect us .  The  Fort  we were to work on had no telephone , but the other Fort did have a phone but that was of no use to us as there was no way to contact them. There had been a serious fire on the other Fort and they were unable to let the authorities know for a few hours !!!

 

After climbing up the long slippery ladder to the top the six sailors were there to greet us  the first sailor was a Sheerness lad-Ginger Murdock ,his mother had a very small ice cream shop, I think it was located inside the concrete bend on the sea wall opposite the Ship on Shore. He explained there was a large spiral staircase to the bottom where the fridge was but  said I could use the lift , which I preferred. The lift was a three foot square platform with no sides and was used to hoist up the ammunition .When this “lift” was  hurtling down I looked up and saw Ginger with a broom trying to knock the ‘off ’ switch ,which was on  the opposite side of the lift well, which he managed to do amidst  the laughter from all but me ! and I stopped about two feet from the bottom with a shudder.

 

We repaired this oversize fridge and then sunned ourselves on the platform on top , suddenly a large pleasure boat  from Herne Bay started to circle the Fort and the Skipper was telling the boat load of sightseers all about these forts.

Ginger and I decided to “man the gun  and to the consternation of the boat and occupants we  trained the large gun on the boat and followed it around the Fort. I think the skipper was worried because he sped off rather quickly.

 

Around 7 o’clock our tug came to collect us  I was hoping we had been forgotten  but no . We had a little sleep on the way home. A job well done.!!

As we used to say in the Dockyard “ Give us the jobs and we will finish the tools”

With apologies etc.