October 14 (Sat) 1944, Greenock, Scotland [Part 1]

During the week all executive midshipmen attended a course on Aircraft recognition at HMS “Warren”, a training school at Largs [Ed: south of Greenock]. Most of the members of the Gunroom were looking forward to the course, and from various questions flung at the ship’s officers, had gathered that Largs was a little seaside town, about 20 miles down south, and generally miles away from anywhere.

hollywood-hotel-1953-b-from-above
Hollywood Hotel in 1953, demolished 1990s.

Last Sunday evening, all those going on the course piled into a small truck, & after about an hour’s run round the coast, found HMS Warren. In pre-war days the place was a luxury hotel, “Hollywood” by name, and for some time during the war has been used as a “Combined Operations” Headquarters [12/10/42 until 31/12/46]. The building is situated on a small rise, & looks out over the water to Great Cumbrae Island.

hms-warren-july-1945-iwm-a29955-crop
July 1945, general view at HMS WARREN. Image: © IWM (A 29955). Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205161148

Owing to overcrowding, we were told, our course was billeted in a house about 300 yards down [north] the road. Unfortunately the Navy had just taken over “Rosebank” [now demolished] and the water heating system was not in operation and we had to shave and wash in cold water. Meals were provided at “Warren” & we were temporarily made full members of the mess. It was not worth two shillings per diem though. We got better food at “Lochinvar” for about 9d per day. Goodness knows where all the money went – it certainly didn’t look like food anyway.

We commenced instruction at 0900 and finished at 1730, with 2 hours break for lunch. Several marines & ratings & a couple of VR [Volunteer Reserve] officers (one a Canadian) were also doing the five-day course. The instructors were good and made things as interesting as possible, by giving the history of the various airforces and planes and handing round lots of photographs. Silhouettes and models were spread all over the place, and books and magazines on aircraft were available to all. Good use was made of the epidiascope for practice in spotting and several films on the subject were shown.

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