The author was born in Christchurch, New Zealand, to an air force officer and registered nurse. His English father was in New Zealand to teach avionics to airmen in the Royal New Zealand Air Force. After the war, the family, including the two boys, were shipped off to England to be demobbed; a third son arrived whilst they were in the UK. The offer to settle back in New Zealand came along, and the family went to settle in Christchurch with Ross’s grandfather and grandmother. His father tried to find work but after 12 years in the RAF found it difficult to settle, so he joined the Royal New Zealand Airforce. This meant reverting from his previous commissioned rank to corporal.
The family, including Ross, were shifted all over New Zealand to various air bases, with the author moving to eight different schools before entering the Royal New Zealand Navy.