Melbourne Olympics1956



As promised in yesterdays post here is my Olympic Story (found in my book The Royal Navy & Me)
This is a true event that took place in 1956 at the Melbourne Olympic games, Doubt it couldn’t happen today!!!!
Around tot time(rum issue) a group of about eight or ten shipmates rolled off the gangway and made a beeline for the jeep. Without asking, they piled in and demanded to be chauffeured to town.
Being young and a very junior sailor I was easily intimidated by older shipmates. I knew it would be difficult, maybe impossible, to get them out of the jeep. I decided that the best course of action was to drive them to the nearest pub.
I started the jeep and headed for the city centre. This wasn’t as simple as it might sound. Two of my passengers were sitting on the bonnet impeding my vision and speed. I finally reached the main thoroughfare leading to Flinders Street, I ask myself why you couldn’t find a pub when you so desperately needed one.
I eased the jeep in the left lane that took me to the main street. Too late I realised that it was a bad mistake. Directly in front of me was a police barrier. Too close to avoid my only option was to stop. As I slowed the jeep I was surprised to see a policeman step forward and wave me through. Immediately I found myself in the middle of a street lined with thousands of flag waving people.
In the split second it took to pass through the barrier I realised what had just happened. The policeman had assumed we were an official party sent to line the street. The second realisation caused me to break out in a cold sweat. I envisioned a court martial and being hanged from the nearest yardarm at dawn. Oh my God, I was trapped in the street that the Duke was going to travel along on his way to the official opening of the Games.
The only way out was to drive the length of the street and get off at the other end. But what if I met the Royal Entourage coming the other way? I couldn’t just drive past them. I would have to back up. I would surely cause an international incident and end my brief naval career.
In the meantime my unconcerned passengers were having a ball waving enthusiastically at the spectators. Many in the crowd waved back and cheered. This only prompted my rum-sodden shipmates to reach to greater lengths of entertainment.
Not one of them gave me a thought or considered my predicament. I was having difficulty gripping the steering wheel with my sweaty palms. I drove as fast as I dared down the crowded and narrow street. Fortunately I reached the end of the street without incident and turned sharply into an alley. I’d had quite enough and turning yelled at my passengers to “get the hell out of my jeep!”
No longer a shy young sailor or afraid. I was so angry they vacated the jeep and were gone in seconds.

I can’t imagine this happening in London in 2012. Thousands of troops and security guards stationed around the city. The Royal Navy’s largest war ship moored in the Thames River with a company of Royal Marines aboard, air to air missiles, helicopter gun ships, fighter jets and a severely restricted air space etc etc. Things have changed in the 56 years and not for the better in my opinion.
Cheers and keep reading

About irishroverpei

Author of "Lily & Me", "The Royal Navy & Me" and Chapter XXl Armageddon. Writer, blogger and RN Submariner, antique automobile enthusiast.
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4 Responses to Melbourne Olympics1956

  1. canuckcookie says:

    Alas my memory of the 56 Olympics in Melbourne are all based on “Wee Geordie” a great film about a skinny young Scot who took body building lessons and wound up throwing the hammer in Oz. For many years I thought this was a true story but alas now know it is fiction. Unlike your memory of that infamous Jeep Ride. Yes indeed we have come a long way since 56 and not necessarily a good way, The extreme security is indeed costly. At the Montral Olympics in 1976 I was part of the Queens Flight Crew and at Mirabel we had an Armoured APC at the nose and tail of our 707 as well as snipers etc on the airport rooftops. Great Blog me old swabby/ subby.
    Keep em coming. Robby

    • irishroverpei says:

      Ah Robby!!! what a great movie “Ma Wee Geordie’ I remember wee Mary too and big Olga the Swede “come away me wee Geordie!!! I actually saw the mover in Australia. Yours Aye Ben

      ************* My Books Lily & Me, and The Royal Navy & Me, are now available as E-Books. Go to http://www.smashwords.com Interested in Submarines,Antique cars,VW Westfalia’s, Dogs, HMS Ganges, Royal Navy? then Visit our website and blog at http://www.irishroversbooks.com

  2. David (Sid) Langdown says:

    I was a telegraphist on HMS Newcastle at the 56 Olympics in Melb. It was one of the most exciting times of our young lives. Melbourne was overcome with an amazing party attitude, all the people were so friendly and happy inviting us to BBQ’s in their homes. In fact they are known as “The Friendly Games” memories that i will take to my grave, i was 19 then but 81 now. Such a beautiful city indeed.

    • irishroverpei says:

      Couldn’t agree more,an amazing time. I was 17 and had one of the best jobs ever in my naval career. I was one of four jeep drivers in Melbourne.

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