Don Anderson - Living in a ship

Running time
2 min 33 sec
Date made
Department of Veterans' Affairs


Take a 24 hour or a week or a month. Five per cent was danger, five per cent was interesting, five more per cent was day and night watches. As you know, with your father being in the navy, that you had the night watch, the middle watch, the morning watch, and so on and that went round and round the clock.

You never wound the watches, so a sailor developed an ability to go to sleep on the ordinary steel deck because it was too hot to sling a hammock. Used to sleep on tables or the floor on the deck underneath those tables as I explained before or started to explain, we lived over the oil tanks.

Just forward of it was the engine room, boiler room, right just through a thin bulkhead just a little bit further down below was the ship's magazines which could have blown to pieces and just behind us was the main engine room that propelled the ship, right, so you were living in, as I explained to you, you were living in batteries!

It was mostly boredom. You read everything you could. Fortunately, I didn't, in any of the ships I served in, experience anywhere where there was upheaval and fighting. If there was any I wasn't aware of it. We had to respect one another but lived very quietly. For example you did not admit to having a birthday or anything foolish like that and I had my 18th and 19th, 20th, 21st and 22nd birthdays in the navy and I'm always amused at how much fuss people put on every birthday but I never experienced any. And I'm no worse off for it.

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