Mr Gladwell was in the first group of apprentices to join HM Dockyard, Devonport, Auckland in 1937. He trained as an Electrical Fitter and experienced the considerable expansion that occurred during World War II. He recalls key staff members, the conversion of HMS MONOWAI to an Armed Merchant Cruiser and the local development and fitting of Degaussing coils to combat magnetic mines.
The Oral History Project commenced in 1991 as part of the celebrations for the 50th Anniversary of the Royal New Zealand Navy.
The oral histories include veterans’ memories from as early as WW1 and include personal stories of naval personnel recently returned from duties in Bosnia, Afghanistan, Cambodia, East Timor and the Sinai.
Oral history is an important method of collecting unique and personal recollections – historical evidence that might otherwise be lost forever. The recorded and transcribed interviews help to create a fuller understanding of our past. These testimonials provide a unique insight into the naval life of men and women during war and peace.
The recounting of the testimony can be emotional for an interviewee who may never have discussed the details of his or her experiences with anyone before. The Museum takes great responsibility in handling these unlocked memories.