In 1958 I was looking to change my life and I saw a billboard proclaiming the happiness of the soldiers of the 60's
The Entrance and Guard Room Blandford
1958 No. 1 Trg Bn REME Blandford Dorset. I had joined the Army at the recruiting office in Chelmsford Essex and in due course received my travel warrant and orders to report to this camp for six weeks basic training. I recall hearing about an IRA raid on the camps amoury. Whilst on guard I observed some officers lifting a car on to the roof of a building. Here we learnt the rudiments of Army life and 'bulling' our equipment. We also learnt the skills of marching and using our rifle the Lee Enfield .303. We also got to fire the Sten and Bren machine guns. At the end of the basic training we had a passing out parade and a platoon photograph. We were also allowed out of camp to celebrate. Then we were given a 48 hour pass and travel warrants to go home, together with travel warants and orders to proceed to my next posting at:-
1958 No. 8 Trade Trg Bn REME Taunton Somerset. I arrived here in August and discovered that I would spend six months undergoing my basic trade training as a 'B' vehicle mechanic. Together with more marching and small arms training. A few memoris linger, I bought some dance shoes because they were nice and shiney for going out in civvy clothes. I recall meeting a girl at a dance in a nice red dress, she was small and was as light as a feather. Another girl who had a broad Somerset accent and lived up in the hills. Stayed wth her one weekend and went to church on Sunday. My strongest memory is of going home on a 48 hour pass and returning on my 350cc AJS. On the return journey I passed near this big pile of stones that I recollected from history lessons was Stonehengethat, I rode off the road and did some trials riding around the stones (remember this was 1958 before the hippy and flower power people made it their spiritual home). As I continued my ride back to camp, my lights failed and I ran into another motorcyclist whose lights had also failed. Around about February the following year I passed my trade training exam and passed out as a craftsman and went home for two weeks holiday before resuming futher training on 'A' Vehicles - the armoured beasties like Centurian tanks and Ferret cars.
1959 No. 6 ‘A Vehicle’ Trade Trg Bn Borden Hampshire. Once again not too many memories apart from a drive of a Centurian tank and a visit by my mother and sister Janet to an open day. At the end of the three months training we were to get our postings, our group was to be dispersed all around the world. Mine was to Singapore. In due course after a months holiday I got my papers to report to:-
1959 ‘Empire Fowey’ en route to 40 Base Wksps Singapore. About June, I am estimating, I arrived at Southampton Docks where I embarked on sea voyage half way round the world to a place I had never heard of. Nor had I heard that I would be there on a war footing - this was the Malayan Emergency, During the voyage which lasted about six weeks We stopped at Gibralta, Malta, then down the Suez Canal and through the Red Sea to our next stop at Aden, then out into the Indian Ocean and onto Colombo.
From Colombo we headed up to the northern entrance of the Straits of Mallaca and then headed south to Singapore. Whilst on board I had volunteered to join the advertising group. Which turned out to be a real 'skive' and we were allowed to work flexitime. Making up posters to promote the various entertainments. Films, bingo and other events that were provided, to keep the trops happy. I have a memory of turning my artistic skills to forgery. There were two sittings for meals and a card was provided of different colours.
Arriving at Singapore we were taken to 40 Base Wksp Transit camp. I dont think I was at the transit centre more than a few hours before I was taken to :-
1959 13 Inf Wksp Johore Bahru, Johore Malaya. I'm not too sure about the address of my first camp except it was at Johore Bahru. My main memory is losing my virginity to a dutch/Indonesian girl Hermina 'Mientja' Marcus. Falling in love, getting engaged and seeking permission to marry I was Posted to Taiping for six months to think it over, Just as well.
Guardroom Taiping Malaya
1960 2 Inf Wkshps Taiping Perak Malaya.
I can recall the stop at Kuala Lumpur station on the overnight journey from Singpore to Taiping in Perak State North Malaya. Only because we had and hour or two before resuming our journey and I went out of the station for a walk into the town. When I returned I could not see the station but there was a Sultans Palace. Which I took a photo of and sent home - it was the station not a palace. I have a few other memorys of my time there. That the CSM was Derek Colquhoon, pronounced Calhoon, who was the youngest Company Sergeant Major in REME at that time. I also remember he held a unit sports day with a view to creating a team to participate in an Inter Unit Sports Competition. We all had to have a go at every sport. Surprise, surprise I was the best shot putter in the unit when I had never done it before. Unfortunately whist at the Inter Unit Competition though I put the best first shot I did not improve enough on subsequent shots and lost. I recall helping build a mock-up of a Beverly Transport Aircraft. This was for the Air Portability team to practice driving on and loading up with stores. Another important move on lifes journey was attending a religous discussion group and then participating in an all denomintions religous retreat to the island of Blakang Mati, now renamed Sentosa. There I met a Malayan Zen Buddhist monk.
From Taiping I relocated to Kluang, Johore State and joined 30Coy Gurkha ASC
On Exercise with 30 Ghurkha ASC. Cpl Bob Edmonds, Jock ‘Squirrel’ Macleod, myself, Sgt McDaniel, Johnny Connors? ‘Geordie’ Gorham and a man with no name? Can you help?
I had a recent contact with Sgt Ken or Ben Byford reminding me of the tractor course at Massy Fergusons and sent a photo of Inga MacDaniels wife of the afore mentioned Sgt
On the 7th October 2008 I was pleased to receive a second response to my profile at Forces Reunited.
Hi Terry, Remember me Geoff in the stores , it was great to see you on the net. How is life in Russia, im still in touch with Ken Hurt and see him often. Sadly Ken lost his wife Jackie suddenly in 2006.Hope you and your wife are both well.It would be nice to hear from you sometime Take care love Geoff and Jill. 07/10/2008
On the 14th and 21st October 2008 I had an hours conversation with Ken Hurt who helped bring back the memories of my time with 30 Coy GASC. Ken is retired and living in Keighley Yorkshire. He reminded me of Geoff Goffin another Junior Leader, who joined 30 Coy LAD with him, in Kluang February 1961. The store man at Kluang was ‘lofty’ Thompson and there was a Sgt McDaniel and his wife Ingar, who apparently fancied me. A Sgt Ben Byford and a Sgt Greenhow. ‘Scouse’ Goodacre was the company driver and ‘Scouse’ Hodger was the Company Clerk and got drunk when he was supposed to be going back to Blighty and ended up in the ‘nick’.
Les Dixon was the welder and Jock ‘Squirrel’ McCleod was a metal smith, with whom I shared a room. Paddy Taggart and Geordie Gorham, who I had a fight with, were electricians. Cpl Bob Edmonds and L/Cpl Richardson were recovery mechanics. Bob Edmonds was married to Annie nicknamed ’Tug’ he organised a club house for the LAD. There were slot machines that the Ghurkhas were allowed to play on. The money from the slots enabled us to have free drinks and hold parties to which Officers, NCO’s and their wives attended. Jimmy ‘Jock’ Parker a VM, had problems with his nose. Ken also confirmed I went to the BM Hospital in Kluang, as he was in hospital at the same time. I was in a side ward with suspected malaria. Christmas 1961 we were guests of the Sgt’s Mess at the Guesthouse. Johnny Connors was married to wife Pauline.
Lt Randall GASC ran the motorcycle trials team and gave me my licence. Cpl ‘Geordie’ Steel, GASC was a jokester, with a never ending series of jokes and funny stories.
During my conversations with Ken. I recalled being on exercise. Ken Hurt and myself were in the last vehicle. Before we drove off Ken decided he wanted to drive and when we got under way we had lost sight of the convoy. Takeing a wrong turning we ended up driving through a enemy held village. Unfortunately, the enemy was manhandling a field gun onto the bridge at the end of the village and we were caugt and taken 'prisoner'. My feelings were we would have shot the place up if it had been for real. But it was only a game. Later we ended up on the eastcoast beach for swimming and fishing. Someone caught a big cat fish and I took it between my legs to remove the hook. ad mistake has the lateral fins had wicked barbs and they pierced my legs which became swollen but faded after a few days.
Early in 1962, 30 Company moved to the United Kingdom where it became part of the Strategic Reserve based in Tidworth, at Jellalabad Barracks, Hampshire. This experiment was highly successful and very popular with the Ghurkha soldier. Despite the language problem he made many friends in the United Kingdom and the training he received under European conditions was first class. 30 Company Ghurkha RASC Kluang, 1959 - 1962. 30 Coy Ghurkha ASC was commanded by Major Mike Tierney, I was Admin Captain. We were teaching Ghurkhas to drive and forming a Brigade Transport Company. We moved to UK as a unit on board TS Nevassa together with 1/6th Ghurkha Rifles. 17 Div RASC was our HQ
My memory of the move is flying in a RAF Comet in ‘civvies’ from Singapore to Calcutta to Istanbul to UK, not too sure where we landed.
With Ken’s help I recalled Jellabad Barracks and the workshops at Tidworth in the UK. I recalled, Eric Garside, who was the company clerk and worked for Tidworth Coaches at the weekend. ‘Slim’ Shimmon who lived at Ilford? and I borrowed his motorbike to go to London. On the way back I misjudged the approach to a roundabout and went over it and through the rose bushes. Captain Wilson was our CO at Kluang and Tidworth. Ian Pettifer was the wide boy from the Eastend, who got caught siphoning petrol. James Alexander ’Spud’ Murphy, a Scot, nearly killed me when he was towing us home in Malaya. Apparently he nearly killed Ken and Fred Goffin in Tidworth. I also recall he qualified as a football referee. I remembered a football match where at one point, I was at the front of the field nearly out of breath when some one took the ball from me, kicked it at the goal. The goalie kicked it back and the ball hit me in the stomach and bounced into the goal. I also remember saving a goal by heading the ball away.
When Ken got married, I remember visiting him and his wife Jackie, at their caravan near Tidworth. I was saddened to hear of Kens bereavement. Jackie died a few years shortly after the death of their son, who was electrocuted as he took a short cut along the railway lines on his way home from the pub. . Slim Shimmon did marry Barbara from Andover. I remember taking my wife to be, Mary down there for the weekend. After his discharge they, together with daughter Barbara emigrated to the NW Territories Australia. The daughter Barbara married and moved to Perth, then Ken lost contact. Geoff Johnson was a new store man under S/sgt ‘Smudger’ Smith.
Most importantly he dated the big exercise in Northern Ireland November 1962. Geoff worked in the cookhouse, Ken was an ammunition carrier, During the exercise
My memory suggest I was shipped out to Singapore about the end of 1962 at the start of the Borneo Troubles. We hung around 40 Base workshops? for several moths before travelling to Borneo by boat. I ended up at a workshops in Kuching. I can recall queing in the cookhouse for my first meal and found myself being stared at by a young civillian helping serve. Later I was to discover this was Rosie one of three She boys that worked in the cookhouse, Flower and Blossom were the other two. I think Cpl Pete Amos and Pte Barry Ponsford ACC were in charge of the cookhouse. We were billeted in Atap? bashas within a fenced compound. On guard duty, with a Sten Gun and a filled magazine, I discovered that the cookhouse threw away waste food over the fence and Komodo dragons, looking like pre-historic dinosaurs would come out of the swamps to feed. I believe the workshops was a little distance from the camp, possibly along an embankment or causeway. The only other name that comes to mind is Malcom Broomfield, an electrician, who was a born again Christian, following an incident when he was nearly electrocuted. I think my first stripe arrived about then as I can remember holding a parade. Mostly recall working on Johnson and Evinrude outboard motors.
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