Syd's National Service

I received a brown envelope with OHMS on the front in January 1949, informing me that I had to attend a medical examination at The Ministry of Pensions Buildings, Bromyard Avenue, Acton, London. I had my eighteenth birthday on the 23rd November 1948, so at least I was given a couple of months grace.Living in Walton Avenue, South Harrow, I decided the best way to get there was by Bus to South Harrow Station, then a Tube Train to Acton Station, as both stations were on the Piccadilly line.I had to be there by 10am, so made sure I was on time, which for a start was very exceptional.This just had to be the most embarrassing day of my life so far.It was one Doctor after another and there were Nurses present in each room.At eighteen I had not had any experience of being undressed in front of any Ladies, Men, yes when I played football in the changing rooms.Dropping one's trousers and being asked to cough, well I ask you, not only was my face red, but other parts as well I expect.I tried to explain that I was being treated for Lumbago, but was told in no uncertain terms, "That is not possible, you are to young for Lumbago"Finally we all had to go before an Officer who would decide what Service we would be doing our time in.The man asked what I done for a living and I replied that I was plumbing and I liked working outdoors.that was a bad mistake I later found out from another guy, He also said he liked being in the fresh air, he was sent to an Infantry regiment.Maybe I was lucky but the Officer said that he was putting me in the Royal Artillery and that I would probably get the chance to learn to drive.This is what I had been hoping for, next door to our house lived a Family with three Children one a bit older than myself and she could drive, and that made me envious because there was no chance of me learning, apart from in the services."You will be hearing from us in due course Mr Dean" he said when the questions were finished, "Thank you for attending today"He turned out to be one of the most politest Officers I was to come across.The next couple of months were quite nerve racking knowing that any day the Postman would be delivering THAT letter, and sure enough on the 17th February 1949 the big brown envelope dropped through the letter box.
March 3rd 1949 was a day I will never forget, get up early not knowing what to pack, what to wear if we have any free time to go out into town, that was a laugh for a start it turned out.
Made my way to Paddington Station and met up with some other Guys all going to the same place, Oswestry.
Some had suitcases which I had, some with Rucksacks, one Lad had a bulging leather brief case, We all had travel vouchers for the same place, the letter had said we would be met at Oswestry Station.
I think we had to change trains somewhere, and get a local train.Well true to their word, several Army Trucks were waiting, (what were they doing, calling up the whole of England?) 
After loading up we set off for the place that we were to call home!! for the next six weeks.
On arrival at Park Hall Training Camp 17th Regiment Royal Artillery
we were given a nice meal which even included a variety of cakes.
This just had to be 'A one time only job' I thought, how right and it only happened once more during my service, where we had a 'Welcome Meal' at an Army Barracks.
After the meal we were taken and given bedding, taken to the Huts, where we more or less chose which bed we would have, if you were a bit slow you took what was left.
Now it was time to be kitted out with Uniforms, including two Berries one Khaki, one Blue, Denims, Boots two pairs, Belt, Gaiters, Gun Pouches, Back Pack, Blanco & Brush, Shoe Polish with two brushes, and most important a knife fork and spoon which interlocked into one piece.
After taking the kit back to our Billet we had to assemble, and we were taken into a large hall and filed past a table individually where we were given our Army Paybook, which contained the Army Number we were told to memorize, mine was 22115902, Group Number, 4905, which represented the fifth group enlisted in 1949. (This is the last part left for discharge)
Back to the billet again where we were shown how we were expected to lay out the bed and the cabinet which each person had beside the bed.
Most of that night was spent trying to polish our boots, making the toe cap shine by either burnishing or just spit and polish rubbing in tight circles.
Next day we were all woken up at 6am and told to be outside on parade at 6-30am ready for inspection, We had a very hectic day, we were all marched to the Barbers and out came his shears and it was the shortest I had ever had my hair cut in my life.It seemed to start at the back of my neck and go on forever stopping about two inches from the top and this he cut short with the scissors, three minutes later I felt completely bald, and my head felt suddenly cold.
Then we were off to the Armoury where we were issued with .303 Rifles and this included the Bayonet, and a long piece of twine with a weighted bit on the end, they said was for cleaning the barrel.
So now down to hard intensive training, every day we were at it from being show how to dismantle the rifle and put it back together again.
Stand to attention' Slope Arms' Present Arms' Slope Arms' Stand at ease' Stand easy, all with the Rifle, which seemed to get very heavy after a while practicing.
There was time for a little football but that was mainly after the day's work finished, amongst ourselves.
I think we had completed about four weeks when we got a weekend pass from Friday night until 0600 Monday morning, but were advised to be back by midnight Sunday.
Thankfully we were also given a travel Warrant. At the end of the training period we had a 'Passing out Parade' then we knew where and to which Regiment we would be going to.
I along with some nineteen other Soldiers, had to go along with Sgt Chapman who had traveled there to escort us back to our destination.
We became part of the 59th Heavy Anti-Aircraft Regiment, Royal Artillery, known as 59th H.A.A. Regiment.
After a very long train journey we arrived late in the evening at Magdalene Fields Camp, Berwick-on-Tweed on the borders of Scotland,
This was part of The King's Own Scottish Borderers Regiment's Barracks.
It was here we had the second meal waiting, as it was after 7pm the Cookhouse had been opened especially for us and I remember that there was a Scotsman orderly who wanted to "Punch yer ead in" because I asked for some more bread, and again there was an assortment of cakes after the main meal.
By the time we were shown to our billet that night it was after ten o'clock. Everyone in the billet had a big shock next morning and most mornings from then on, Sgt Chapman had a black Retriever Dog, and as he banged his stick on the door and side walls his dog jumped on all the beds starting at one end and going from bed to bed, and this was at 6am.
Training continued with drilling, & rifle practice, which I really enjoyed and I was one of a few that were chosen to practice for possible inclusion into the Regimental Rifle Team.
Like an idiot I listened to other people who talked me into believing that even if we did get chosen for the team (and they took part in the Army Trials at Bisley), the ridiculous amount of spit and polish (bullshit) we would have to do was so extreme it was not a good idea to carry on training, so it was decided that we would all fire at one target.
When the Sergeant checked the targets after the shoot, only one target was showing any sign of bullet holes, and that target was riddled with holes.
Needles to say none of us were any longer in the frame for further instruction.Our Battery Commander was Major Manson and the Officer in charge of the Battery was Lieutenant Groundwater he had a sadistic streak sometimes.
Our Camp as you will see from the picture was not very far from the sea, which I might add was the North sea always very and I mean very cold,
Well Groundwater had this mad idea that we could double march down from the Camp straight into the sea until it was up to our knees, mind you we all loved him for it,
Second in command of our Battery was Lieutenant Payne, whom I always found to be a very fair person.
We had to go back and dry the denims and boots which we put all round the big stove in the middle of the hut.
The best part was when we started to have lessons on the works ticket that we would need when driving.
Some of the Lads could already drive when entering the Army so they used to sometimes help our Sergeant giving demonstrations of gear changing etc.
Places of recreation included the NAAFI and the Salvation Army had a hut where they served food and refreshments but not to the extent of the NAAFI where there was a shop, which catered for anything you could wish for and also served the Residents in the Married Quarters, as well as a Restaurant, and you could play on the Billiard/Snooker tables, these were operated by putting sixpence in the meter and the lights over the table would go on and stay on for twenty minutes, then you could replenish the meter to keep playing.We would sometimes go into Berwick-on-Tweed at weekends, all piling into Army trucks which were called Liberty wagons to take us into town and take us back at a given time.
The Corn Exchange was a favourite place on a Saturday they would have a Dance Night with a nice Bar as well a good Band playing.
We used to enjoy the night out unless you missed the truck back to Camp then it was 'Shanks Pony'
This was a period where training was quite intensive but we had some fun when not on duty.
The Regiment moved down to Pontefract at the end of June taking two or three days to transport everything.When we arrived at Pontefract, things were entirely different.
The Barracks had been occupied by The York's & Lancs Regiment but they had been sent overseas to Hong Kong I believe. 
This was a large Barracks and on the main road out of Pontefract.
It seemed anyone you spoke to was pleased about being near the town and not by the sea front as in Berwick-on-Tweed.
Pontefract Barracks was big enough at that time to make it a Garrison Town, this was where the Military Hospital for the area was located, and we had a number of Cells in the Guard Room for Prisoners from our own Regiment and for those in transit where they could stop over with their Escorts, the Duty Driver would meet Escort/s and Prisoner/s at the Railway Station, take them back to Barracks for the night returning them to catch a Train elsewhere the next day.
One night whilst I was Duty Driver a Prisoner who was staying the night in transit escaped by asking to use the toilet and got through the window, over an eight foot wall and away.
I was woken by the Sergeant of the Guard about 2am, ( they always had a cell we could sleep in unless wanted) and he and the Duty Officer got into my truck, which that night was an Austin 3 tonner and we drove down towards Featherstone, and they made me drive from one side of the road to the other, to try and catch him in the headlights, at that time of night we did not meet any other vehicles, we never found the Chap, but they caught him next day at Wakefield train station.
There was a large Vehicle Workshop for maintenance on our own vehicles and any other units in the region. As you went into the Barracks the Guard Room was on the left and the Armoury the big building on the right.
Behind which was the coal yard, which at that time supplied all the fires in the camp and the Married Quarters, and you would often see vehicles from local Territorial Units collecting their coal from there.The next building on the right was the Cook House which consisted of a large main building then a couple of smaller rooms used as stores for the dinning tables and forms used to sit on.
There were some lock ups used for food storage.
Further round on the right were the Vehicle Workshops, we had both Royal Artillery Mechanics and Royal Army Service Corps Mechanics working alongside one another.
In the middle was the Parade Ground with the Vehicle park beyond that.ight at the back of the camp was the Medical Centre which also incorporated the Hospital Unit, other buildings continued back round to the left with the Married Quarters and the Soldiers sleeping quarters. and the various different offices plus there was a Dental Surgery, my worst experience took place in there, I had raging toothache for some days and was literally scared of any type of medical, dentistry treatment following my disastrous event that took place in Harrow Hospital when I was eleven years old.
Well one of my Buddies kindly reported about my toothache to our Sergeant and he told me to go and see the Dentist, which I ignored.
To make sure I did go my name was put up on the daily orders board and I was given the message that if I did not attend I would be put on a charge for disobeying an order.
So I duly turned up at the Dentist and I think there was some sort of mistake because the two men there turned out to be horse Surgeons I think.
I sat in the chair and one stood behind me and clamped his hands round my forehead forcing my head back against the chair, and the other one knelt on my stomach and after several attempts managed to pull out the offending tooth which was a double one on the right side at the back, my mouth was pouring with blood and they gave me a bandage to put into my mouth and then one man held one hand on my head the other under my chin and tried to make his hands join up, they kept me like that for several minutes, then they changed over I think the first blokes arms were hurting and he needed a rest.
I was holding my beret in my hands and twisted so tight it snapped in half.
That night whilst in bed my mouth bled again and ruined the pillow, when I went to the Quartermaster to exchange it I was charged two and sixpence, they said it was to replace the one I had ruined.Next to the surgery was the NAAFI which included a shop where you could purchase practically any item that you needed from food to shoe polish, this was used by everyone in the barracks, including the Soldiers Wives.
They had a nice entertainment area which included dart boards and a couple of
snooker tables and this is where a mate Colin Unsworth taught me to play snooker, up to that time I had only ever played billiards.
They way this worked was you put money in the meter and that switched the overhead light on for twenty minutes at a time, then you just replenish the meter according to how long you wanted to play, and If I remember correctly it was sixpence a time.
Many an hour in the evenings were spent in there, especially if it was raining, no one wanted to go out then.
Following round from the NAAFI the road led back to the side of the Guard House.hose of us learning to drive were soon to finish our tuition, when we first got to 'Ponty' as the Camp came to be known amongst the soldiers we started to go out in the trucks first to a disused airport which still had the original runways, and used these to practice on.
In my mind this was a big mistake because the first time I was to drive a three ton lorry on the road it frightened the life out of me.
I came out of our barracks turning right through the gate and after driving for a few minutes a bus came towards me going to Pontefract and I thought there would not be enough room for us to pass each other, I think I must have held my breath we passed and never touched so after that first moment of hesitation everything seemed alright.
Our Instructor whose name was Sergeant Orange nicknamed 'Tangy' by us had stayed behind on compassionate grounds and transferred from the 'York's & Lanc's.' to the Royal Artillery.
Our own Sergeant who was a Canadian was demobbed and went back to Canada.
One day we were out under instruction and Billy Liddell was driving and as we came up to a cross roads it seemed the Sergeant pulled the handbrake up sharply shouting at the same time for him to stop which he did and we were thrown about in the back of the lorry and Ted Wooley smashed against the iron framework and broke his jaw and cheekbone and was in serious pain. My Mate Les Francis who was in the back with us jumped over the tail board and ran to the front of the vehicle shouting and telling those in the cab what had happened.
We were in Wakefield and they quickly got an Ambulance and rushed Ted into Wakefield Hospital, from where he was later transferred to our own Hospital.
The Sergeant who did not like anyone who came from London area later said that Les had punched him and both he and I was put on a charge in front of Major Manson, our battery commander.
We were both given two weeks gardening and confined to barracks, Les for allegedly hitting the Sergeant and me for denying I saw or heard anything.
I was also made to 'mount with the guard' by the same sergeant because I had a broken pencil on a work sheet lesson.
The guard Commander that night was the Regimental Sergeant Major and asked me why I was there, when I explained the situation he dismissed me and saw our Sergeant next day and gave him a reprimand.
It was not long before Billy Liddell and I took our Driving Test, we both went out with Major Manson and I drove into Wakefield, with Billy in the back.
The vehicle we had was a dessert wagon just back from Egypt with all the mustard colour on the body and no windscreen, none of us had ever driven this one before.
We had been trained on all different type and size vehicles and the previous few days we had used a Ford 15 cwt, truck, this had a very fast gear box and gear changing was nice and quick: clutch down shift into neutral clutch up and down again and into the selected gear clutch up, easy peasy.
Now the problem was the vehicle we were on Test with had a very slow gear box and I must have crunched the gears every time I changed from one gear to another, even I was embarrassed.
I apologized but the Major was very kind and said "Not to worry, I expect you have been driving a 15cwt recently, they have a very fast box, whilst this is much slower."
I honestly thought he would fail me, but to my surprise he passed us both .Opposite the Barracks was the Gun Park and Radar Base where all Radar Units and 3.7 Anti-Aircraft Guns were stored, I often used to feel very sorry for the Soldiers who made up the gun crews, While they were in camp all they seemed to do every day was exercise on the gun park and then clean them, the Matador lorries would hook up the guns tow them from the parking sheds onto the adjoining field, the Gunners would go through their practice routine then the guns would be shunted back in the sheds and the Gunners would clean them, very monotonous.
On that side of the road there was also a couple of rugby pitches and quite often when our Regiment were playing another team they would ask for volunteers to go and watch and if there were insufficient numbers they would march a whole troop over to watch whether you liked rugby or not. 
Unfortunately for me they preferred Rugby to Football in that area of Yorkshire.
Even the Radar Crews would always be doing the same thing day after day or so it appeared, they would all march over to the Radar park and stay there until lunch time then back over there in the afternoon until about 5pm.
I think we as Drivers had the best of both worlds being both in the camp some times as duty driver you would have a detachment of six men and do the 'coal run' this was going into the coal yard and they would load you up with the bags or steel bowls of coal then you go around the camp and the chaps would deliver it to the various huts and units also married quarters.Most days you were out and about around that part of Yorkshire picking up different things for the Regiment, or taking Soldiers on the odd manoeuvre.
We used to collect the mail from the Pontefract Sorting Office for all the Barracks every day.
Drivers regularly went to the main Railway Stations Wakefield & Doncaster taking or fetching Soldiers and Officers going on or from leave.The first time we went down to Bude in Cornwall most of us went by train and the Regiment only took as many lorries as was needed to tow the 3.7 heavy anti-aircraft guns and the radar equipment in the trailers, so I was one of the train passengers that time, after that I drove there with my regiment.
We had to go to Plymouth for our supplies which was quite a nice journey.
At the firing ranges where the Army used to fire out to sea at sleeves on the back of small unmanned planes known as Drones, and the idea was you hit the sleeve not the Drone but many times the wrong target got hit.
Another time we were there a light infantry unit firing in the next range to us, they were using Bofor Guns a rapid firing anti aircraft gun that puts up a barrage of shell but does not have a lot of accuracy compared to the heavier guns, they are still towed but lighter vehicles can be used so travel faster.
Well one gun had got a round jammed in the breech and one thing you never do on any gun in use is look down the barrel.
The Bofor has a flame disposer on the end of the barrel and when the round would not fire the gun crew went through their safety routine, which you get to learn like the back of your hand, they are drilled so often in procedures.
Then they called the Fire Safety Officers who are stationed in the camps all the time, they are easy to distinguish with a wide red band round a peak cap.
For some reason the officer looked down the barrel and as he did so the gun went off and sad to say caught the side of his head killing him instantly.
The order was given in every unit to cease fire and keep off the roads for the emergency vehicles. There was no more firing that day and the unit concerned went back to their barracks.
It was normal to go to Bude at least once a year but I went five times altogether twice with my own regiment and later twice with the TA unit I had to be in as part of my National Service which consisted of eighteen months in the regular army and three years six months in the Territorial Army and once again with the Shepherds Bush Royal Artillery Unit as I had managed to avoid going the third time with my own TA unit and was threatened with an Army court marshal if I did not attend with the regiment from Shepherds Bush.
As it was it turned out the best of all, in the Harrow TA there were only women drivers but with the lot from the Bush they were short of drivers, so although I went down as a passenger in the back of a lorry, through two Brothers I knew Len and Don Rowe who both played football for Brentford as professionals they spoke to the transport Officer and told them I was a driver with my regular regiment and so I drove from the day we arrived in Bude and I was the only person who knew the way to Plymouth where all regiments who went to Bude ranges got their food supplies from.
I had a really good time and they had a collection between the transport guys for me before we returned home two weeks later.
I drove back as far as Hammersmith on our return journey then they gave me a driver to take me home to South Harrow who had a Ford 15cwt truck.
Every thing was fine until he ran out of petrol and we had to wait for the rest of the convoy to get to their base so he could telephone for assistance, and another truck came out with a jerry can of fuel and I transferred to that one to continue my journey home
Back with my own Regiment we were going through York one time and the officer leading the convoy was in a Hillman Tilley, a small open back truck and in York there are a few brick arches that stretch across the road and some are higher than others.
The Officer in his wisdom went through the lowest one and the Matador towing a 3.7 Anti-aircraft Gun who was next in line followed him and got jammed under the bridge I was behind in a three ton Austin with Soldiers in the back.
I stopped of course as I saw what was going to happen but the Matador just kept trying to get through, ripping all the canvas over the tubular structure that formed the main body of the lorry, I could hear his engine revving up.
Soon the Police were there and the rest of the convoy behind me blocked the main road into York for about four hours whilst the Army engineers and the Fire service tried to free the Matador.
Another vehicle had to tow the Gun back first before they could even get near the jammed lorry, that meant moving us all back down the main road so the engineers recovery vehicle could get behind the gun to pull it backwards enough so that they could then get in front of the gun and behind the lorry before they could start to move that.
I believe it was the most activity York had seen for a long time going by the number of people watching.
We went on various schemes one was the defence of Sheffield in which we surrounded the town and stayed there for five days.
Another time we had two weeks at Otterburn the troops were under canvas but drivers could sleep in the back of their lorries if they so wished, which is what we all did by putting the lorries together in pairs back to back.
The reason we were there was ground shooting practice, the Army own a vast amount of ground in Otterburn and the surrounding areas, and you could fire a 3.7 gun six miles across open country.
One time there was nearly an major incident the Officer in charge of the guns gave the incorrect elevation and a shell which were all live, just missed a command post over two miles away the shell should have carried over the post for another two miles.
By the time the scheme finished I had a terrible dose of flu and so they rushed me into the CRS for medical attention as soon as I was back in the barracks.
They kept me in for five days while I was recovering, when I asked a male nurse why I was there so long, he told me they thought I may have got rheumatic fever and if so I might be discharged for medical grounds.
But eventually the Doctor told me that I was in the clear and would be all right after a couple of weeks, but they would keep a check on me just in case of any problems.
One of the best jobs I had during my eighteen months was being loaned out to a TA Regiment in Whitby Yorkshire, I was taken there by truck and knew I would be away for three weeks.
The next day I was given a rail warrant and had to go up to Georgetown in Renfrewshire Scotland to collect a Bedford QL, this was a four wheel lorry with bigger wheels than most and they all had a whine when travelling, but they were equipped with four wheel drive which was very useful in open country.
I was told by the Agent there that as it was a brand new vehicle the oils had to be changed at 500 miles.
I got back to Whitby having called in at Catterick Barracks to fill up with fuel and when I got back to Whitby the whole place was in darkness, there was nobody about anywhere.
I done no more but went back to my own Regiment arriving about eleven o’clock, I knew the Guard Commander and explained what happened and slept in my own bed that night.
Next morning I went round to our workshops and got them to change the oils as I had done a few miles over the 500 miles.
While I was waiting someone came from the guardroom saying I was wanted on the phone, it was an Officer from Whitby wondering where I had got too.
When I explained he thought I could have slept in the lorry outside their unit.
I told him about the oil changes and said I would be leave as soon as the garage had finished, which I did and got to Whitby around lunch time.
We were not due to leave until the next day anyway so it was not a problem, the rest of the day was spent loading equipment.
The following morning all the members of the TA assembled at 6am and we left at 9am, I had spent the night at the home of a Sergeant who lived nearby and after breakfast we joined the rest of the troop at 7am.
It was a mixed unit and I had a soldier with me as a passenger who had only just left the regular Army and this was his first TA camp, part of his National Service.
There were four other vehicles in the convoy and we were heading for Tonfanau in North Wales for two and half weeks for the firing ranges, this time they were using 3.7 guns belonging to a local regiment.
The ranges were at Towyn which was a short distance the other side of Tonfanau on the coast where the gun batteries fired out to sea.
I was the only regular soldier attached to that TA unit and was treated very well indeed by the Officers as well as the men and women who were mainly volunteers except for the few who had to be there, as part of their regular service.
One time going through Tonfanau I was stopped by the Military Police who said I was speeding through the town, and the Sergeant said I am supposed to arrest you and one of my men drive this vehicle back to the barracks.
I told him I was sorry and just accelerating from the danger zone (all I could think of at the time) and that I was a regular soldier on loan to the TA Unit.
His attitude changed immediately and he said try not to be quite so quick through here, and after wishing me the best of luck and hoped I had a good time in the area said goodbye.
A close shave I must admit as I probably was going faster than I should.
The rest of the time went well and I quite enjoyed myself and after going back to their base in Whitby took the lorry back to my own barracks.
Another time our regiment went down to London and we were billeted at the Middlesex Regiments Head Quarters at Mill Hill, from here we went to work at the London Docks to cover the dock strike.
I along with the rest of F troop went to Canary Wharf unloading ships and barges.
We never had any trouble from the Dockers although we were warned that we were to be on our guard just in case anyone started to try an argument which could the have escalated into something much bigger.
The real treat was in their canteen and hot bread and strawberry jam in the mornings.
Amongst other materials we had to unload were sheets of steel measuring 8 x 6 feet and very heavy .I was in the hold of a ship one day and a cameraman from Pathe News was there with us filming we had put the sashes round the sheet which because of their weight could only be hoisted out one sheet at a time.
Airmen were operating all the cranes and just by hand signals a person on the bank told them when to lift.
Well as a sheet of steel was being lifted out the hold the cameraman was kneeling underneath holding his camera panning from us upwards to the steel when for some reason the crane driver allowed the sheet to drop back down again myself and Billy Liddell both dived at the cameraman to push him out of the way which we did but then Billy got trapped against the side of the ship and the sheet caught him as it fell causing severe damage to his ribs and leg.
We all shouted for help and the chap on the bank having seen what was happening shouted for a Doctor and he was put on a pallet with an Army Officer and a Docker who was a crane driver took over the crane and lowered them into the hold.
They gave him some liquid which was to help deaden the pain strapped his legs together and then strapped him onto the pallet which was hoisted up with the Doctor on board.
He was rushed to the nearest hospital and all the Dockers who had just been standing about were very concerned and everyone praised the crane driver because although he was on strike gave his immediate attention to what was happening.
Billy was later transferred to Pontefract Hospital.
Pathe News sent the regiment still photographs from their news reel shown in Cinemas through out the country, in appreciation of saving their cameraman’s life as he would certainly have been killed if we had not got to him quickly.
I can be seen with my arms raised as I saw what was about to happen and that shot was just before we dived to move the Cameraman we were told although I think it must have been a natural reaction raising my arms as the is no way I would have made any difference to half a ton of steel dropping down .I learned much later that my friend David Dixon had seen the newsreel at the local Cinema when he was on leave and went and told Mum that he had seen me on the news. After the Dockers went back to work on our last day we were all in the Dockers canteen and many of them came and shook hands with us, there was no animosity whatsoever, which we all felt was a nice gesture on their part.Back at Pontefract the last few months of our service seemed to drag a bit, we were nearly all looking towards the day we got demobbed which in our group was to be the 30th of August 1950. We all sat around the wireless on the evening of the 29th waiting for the Prime Minister to make a speech about the National Service and Call up. Korea was where all the trouble had broken out and Great Britain were sending more troops out to serve there and there was to be an announcement regarding those servicemen who had too stay on for longer. We were lucky it did not affect us as we were due to go out the next day but the people who were called up two weeks after us had to serve for an extra six months, but the time would be cut from the reserve time afterwards. Happy we all went down town to celebrate but first I went with Les to a Bombardier's house so that Les could collect some money he had lent the man that had not repaid. The rest of the evening turned out to be great, and next morning we went on parade as usual and the Commanding Officer gave a little speech and said that anyone wishing to sign on for the extra six months that did not need to would be offered a higher rank than they were at the moment. A few of the lads did so and the Lance Bombardiers were given one extra stripe to Bombardier, and Bombardiers were made up to Sergeants. Those of us leaving were all given travel warrants home and the Territorial Unit we were to attend that evening, on the way home .Everyone had to leave in full uniform with their kitbag. So ended my time in the army on a regular scale, and the main thing for me was I had been taught to drive.



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