The Armaments Officer 01

Extract from ‘Naval Eight’ CHAPTER V

The Armament Officer

“Arma virumque cano.”

I notice in the above quotation that the poet put the arms before the men,

though I feel sure that it must have been the exigences of scansion which made him do so, But if the men who use the arms should, and do come first, their weapons are of vital importance too.

In the following few pages I sing the modest song of an Armament Officer and his duties. It all seems to have happened in a former life, but I will try and give an accurate account, so that it may serve as a record of happenings, awake a few memories, and perhaps be useful to present-day armament officers. After a series of unsuccessful efforts to become a service pilot, observer, tank officer, and other things, I came to the conclusion that an apparent (but by no means real) defect in eyesight must in my case be allied to an obvious lack of intelligence. However, to cut a short story shorter, I heard that the job of Armament Officer to a Naval Squadron on active service had possibilities, and went all out for it. I was eventually appointed to No. 8 Naval, a fighting squadron whose reputation was second to no other. The job’s possibilities immediately became apparent, and were without limit.

During my training at Eastchurch, beyond the usual instruction in machine guns, firing gear, sights, bombs and ammunition, I could find no one able to tell me exactly what I would have to know or do. The real answer was very simple. The guns were expected to fire so long as the triggers were pressed, and the bombs drop whenever the release gear was pulled. That was the Armament Officer’s urgent job. His subsidiary duties, which included the care of ammunition, aerial and bomb sights, signal lights, revolvers and a staff of armourers, were a matter of routine and training. His main and pressing job was to get and keep the guns firing.

There was a very good reason why the preliminary training for an Armament Officer to a fighting squadron was inadequate, The fact was that the guns were designed to be fired on land and in a stationary position. Actually they were being used whilst moving at anything up to 300 miles an hour, rising and falling in the air, whilst at the same time the lubricant of gun and gear, also the ammunition, were being subjected to extreme changes of temperature.

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