Ross Pearson - Becoming a wireless operator/gunner Master

Running time
2 min 34 sec
Date made
Department of Veterans' Affairs


I did my initial training at Somers in Victoria. That was where they sorted out what you'd go up for, interview for selection to go off to the various units. And what happened, I was on 33 course, and they wanted to send a group to Canada in a hurry.

So anyone who had the leaving certificate, they pulled them back and put them on 32 course. And then you came up for category selection and they said to me, "What do you want to be?" And I said, of course, "I want to be a pilot." And they said, "Well, you can't be a pilot. You can't do Morse. You didn't attend any of our pre-," to go into the Air Force you had lectures before you went in. And they said, "You didn't do those." I said, "I couldn't do them. I was in the Army." Silly question.

So what did they do? They made me a wireless operator while training to go to the wireless school. Quite frankly, I sulked for the first fortnight. I didn't want to be a, I didn't swear in those days. They taught me how to. I didn't want to be, I mean, doing Morse. I've got no ability and I said that I've got no ability for anything mechanical. I'd break it. And so the first fortnight I sulked.

And then I was coming home on leave and there were some Air Force chaps there, coming down on leave from up north. They said, "What are you going to be?" I said, "I'm going to be a gunner." They said, "They're wanting middle of the turrets up north." So, overnight, I changed out to I was going to be a wireless operator gunner. And I think I came out with about 32 words a minute out of the operating. And I wasn't altogether good on the technical side, but you learn if your life's at risk. You learn very quickly. Chiefly, my greatest contribution mechanically was to give the set a good kick. So, that's what happened when I originally went to Parkes.

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