On 13th March we left the chastening events of our last week at Thorney Island and flew to Machrihanish where we exchanged our black Swordfish for new ones with arm camouflage, and we began anti-submarine training all over again.
24 Mar

 A/AWD.124/43" - Confidential.

Senior Flag Officer, Naval Air Stations. Copy to C.O., No.836 Naval Air Squadron.

With reference to your letter No. 1406/277/2 of 21st February 1943, I am to inform you that the results shown in forms S.421(A/S) - Analysis of Anti-Submarine Bombing Practice - rendered in respect of No.836 Naval Air Squadron, are considered very satisfactory.

By Command of Their Lordships.   Sgd. S.Graham Smith.

Atlantic training
On 27th March we moved to R.A.F. Ballykelly  in Northern Ireland whence flew Liberators and such like. The Squadron was based there through April, though we scattered to R.A.F. stations like Castle Archdale to gain experience of Atlantic patrols in Catalina, Fortress or Liberator with R.A.F. and R.C.A.F. crews, for it was clear that our future was in the battle of the Atlantic . Our RAF  hosts made us welcome, though some of our duties must have tested their patience. We were also less than kind to folk who lived near the Station in a house reported to be an ‘unofficial’ pub. One evening after drinking some very dubious gin in a pub in down town Londonderry , some Squadron members returned home with good voice and lucid tongues, but decidedly weak at the knees. Alighting with difficulty they banged on the door of this house and asked for the saloon. The raucous apologies of the evening were followed next morning by sober, serious ones. But that same night, Owen Johnstone, claiming he'd seen a skeleton, led the company of the Nissen hut in a fruitless search, dressed in flying boots and pyjamas: much cracking of bracken and cursing in the undergrowth.
30 Mar The Commanding Officer of H.M.S.Biter (Capt. Abel Smith) visited the station and renewed acquaintance with the Squadron. He described to the C.O. a beautiful touch-down on board by a fighter aircraft and told of his immediate remark - "A typical Blakey landing".
8 Apr While travelling on a visit to Lough Erne the C.O. kept his party amused with a questionnaire from a magazine-- the method of answering was analysed into candid summaries of the characters of Lt Fox (playboy), Lt Palmer (anti-social type), and the C.O. himself, who by cheating proved himself a perfect citizen. Various aspects of the management of Irish Railways subdued the boredom of the journey; one notice told that no guarantee was given of the existence or timekeeping of the trains, while at one station the authorities moved a whole train so that we could cross the line to get to the Guinness bar.
10 Apr (Lough Erne, Castle Archdale) A very loud and unsuitable remark was made by the C.O. referring to a game of dice, he not noticing a lady was present. quick backing-up, however, passed the blame on to Lt Fox who eventually believed he himself had made the original remark, and sent a note of apology to the lady. Later that night he was again the subject of combined practical joking, when a  system of booby traps dogged every move he made towards getting to bed.
18 Apr Lt Walsh said that whilst attempting a loop his aircraft reached a vertical climb, but lost speed and eventually descended tail first.
19 Apr On a pitch dark night S/Lt Johnstone roused the occupants of his Nissen hut, and led them to see a skeleton he said he had found. The rig for the occasion, which was pyjamas and flying boots, together with the language as obstacles were encountered, is said to have scared the local inhabitants rather.

There were some memorable parties in the mess. Chauvinistically, (we didn't know the word in 1943) we would sing 'Good night Ladies' about 10 p.m. so the W.A.A.F. would ant be embarrassed by what followed. (Speaking of which there was a W.A.A.F. at Ballykelly, a Bowser Queen with name and Logo - I think it was Queenie 7/6d - in large letters on the back of her flying jacket.) The final party on 5th May deserves mention. Nick Piercy was holding his own in the mess as the only Naval man present, when Ransford, dressed in R.A.F. cap, his trousers rolled up and with a towel round his waist, led in the rabble, newly arrived from a Limavady hotel. He leapt on to the bar and thence to the rafters and called for a gin from an inverted position like that of an orang utang. The same evening Ken Tyrrell was found smiling stupidly in his greatcoat which was hanging in the cloakroom on a coat hook. The episode displeased Cdr. Philimore, who had taught all the Squadron's Observers in Trinidad and for whom we had great respect. He was later i/c Anti-Sub training. The Station Wingco in a short speech indicated his pleasure at 836's impending departure, and then led a glass eating party before the whole thing developed into rugby scrums and a melee in which Nick Piercy lost a shirt and a tie and Robbie sustained a black eye.

MAC ships "on the horizon"
 Exactly when Ransford told us that our future lay with an entirely new Carrier Escort Vessel is not now certain, hut the size of these Merchant Aircraft Carriers - Mac ships as they were called - in which we were to serve necessitated a reduction of aircrew even in addition to our recent losses.
Changes of personnel
During March-April of 1943 after our stay at Thorney we said farewell to James Turner and Frank Fox, who were given squadron commands of their own, and to Geoff Aggleton, Gus Macve, Dave Walsh and Ken Tyrrell. (GMA did not leave until the end of  May).
There remained Ransford, Bob Barrett, Phil Blakey and Owen Johnstone, with Reg Singleton as pilot/'bats' man, Jim Palmer, Nick Piercy, Gordon Robertson and John Taylor
In May, Frank Fox took over 830 Squadron and James Turner was given the command of 828 Squadron. Both squadrons, fittingly, had close relations with Ransford's term in Malta when 828 and 830 had merged. James wrote to Ransford: “I doubt if I could have wished for a CO Under whom I would more willingly serve, a Pilot with whom I would sooner fly, or a pleasanter companion in the Mess than I have enjoyed in the last nine months”. Those words surely reflected what we all felt about Ransford - and about James; we were fortunate to have done part of our growing up with men like them. It's fitting to record also the gratitude of the Ransford Club to James in the post-war years. He made his flat an open house for the provincial members, generously entertaining them and organising meals up west for the Club and finding bed spaces for them afterwards. One still recalls the ‘champers’ and quails eggs in Lincoln's Inn Fields when the New Zealanders were with us in 1961. Later James retired to his boyhood home in the rectory at Wem with his wife Joanna, Nick Piercy's sister. He and Joanna moved to Burford in 1981, where he died in 1983.
5 May A speech by the Winco intimated he was glad to see the last of 836, he then led the party in a wineglass-eating contest, S/Lt Barrett making no headway with a pint pot. A fight took place under the carpet, and the crew of B for Beer assaulted each other, resulting in the shredding of two Gloves shirts and necessitating the removal of S/Lt Piercy's tie with scissors to save him from strangling. S/Lt Robertson merely sustained a black eye, and the minor high-spots included rugby-scrums, off-jackets M.N. parade, drunken discussions about escort ships, Mac ships etc., and general pass-making at the barmaid.
5 May

In anticipation of joining the first MAC ship, the C.O. composed the following ditty (to the tune of the famous song about the elephant's anatomy) - Oh! We are the fighting MAC ships/ At the bar you'll always spot 'em-/ Our motto is "Never let up,/ And to brass-hats and red-tape God rot 'em"