The story of my life – Part 1
I was born at 21 Western Road, Wood Green, London in my grandparent’s house on 27th November 1935. I was the youngest of 4 children – Teddy, Rosa, Lily and my self. Of course I have no recollection of those days. Sometime before World War 2 we moved to a house in Tottenham – St Malo Avenue. But when war broke out we moved once again to The Royal dance hall in Tottenham because Dad was a night watchman there. His duty was to be aware of incendiary bombs during the Blitz being dropped by the German bombers at this time. I was 5years old then and can vaguely remember the bar being used as our living accommodation. Mum and dad slept behind the long bar, Rosa and Lily at the other end, whilst Teddy and myself slept in the wine cellar. (Of course there were no beverages or spirits left in the bar).
Mum by the way worked on the Underground as a ticket collector, a job she was to do until she retired in the 1960’s.
I attended Spurling road school or Bruce grove school as it was better known, along with my two sisters Rosa and Lily. I can remember having my gas mask over my shoulders and running to the shelters if the sirens sounded. Teddy was called up for the army by then, not much I can remember about the school except my sisters were evacuated to Norfolk. I wanted to be evacuated too but as it turned out I went to live at Western road again with my grandparents. It was a rather gloomy house with an outside toilet with squares of newspaper for toilet paper and at the bottom of the garden grandad kept ducks and chickens! The upstairs was always dark (my brother always maintained that he saw a ghost going across the landing). The house was only in the next borough so I didn’t go far !!! To top it all the next night a doodlebug dropped in the next street causing a lot of damage.
Soon after that I went back to live with my parents again. At the Royal one day I caused panic with my parents. I had wandered out into the high road and made my way somehow to Bruce Grove. I was five years old this at time, but I do remember looking into a big music shop and looking at the mouth organs from there. Somehow I managed to get on a bus which took me to Winchmore Hill and I finished up in a police station someone must have realised I was lost and took me there, my parents had to come and collect me!!. Then came luxury, we moved to a flat above a butchers shop – Number 75 Bruce Grove. I had my own bedroom at last but by today’s standards it was a hovel I guess. Still, the war was coming to a close by which time I was almost 10 yrs old.
I made friends with a couple of friends in Bruce Grove. Maurice Daniels, David Damson, Joan Wright and we got into plenty of mischief. Mainly scrumping and searching bombed houses. The local recreation park had turned into a Dig for Victory scheme and was growing carrots, we thought it would be a good idea to go scrumping there!!! However, I got caught by the park keeper and finished up in court.
Mum had to pay a 10 shillings fine (a lot of money in those days). For this I got a good hiding from Dad. I always seemed to be in trouble those days. I got barred from the local youth club twice, even banned from the Saturday morning pictures. Maurice got into serious trouble and got sent to Borstal for a year – I never found out what he done though.
After this episode I joined the Boys Brigade and went to Sunday school !!!!! With the BB we went to the Isle of Wight on a camping trip for two weeks, this I enjoyed but then I left the BB about a month after and joined the Sea Cadets. After that I joined the Army Cadets !!! I think that the uniforms attracted me. One day when coming home from school I heard the sound of aeroplanes, I looked up and saw masses of planes in the sky. It must have been D-Day, the following year in 1945 the war ended with Germany but not with Japan. This was a happy time, neighbours all got together and celebrated. Side streets were blocked off and lined with tables and chairs for VE Day parties. It really was a wonderful day, we had jellies, blancmange, cakes, and sweets, followed by games and concerts in the evening. Then soon after that the atom bomb was dropped on Japan and caused such devastation that the Japanese surrendered and we had street parties again for VJ day.
I got a Saturday morning job helping out selling firewood from a horse and cart down Lorenco Road. You would see the horse being led through the house and out of the front door! Lorenco Road was known as “Little Russia” by the kids. I never knew why but it was a pretty rough area at that time.
There was one setback I had when I was about 11 in which I almost lost my life. As I said before we lived over the butchers shop. In the backyard was a conduit pipe that ran from the shop into the stables at the back of us. As I watched Joan Wright in the next garden playing shuttlecock I held on to the pipe but couldn’t let go as the pipe was live with electricity. I was screaming as the shock was running through me. Lucky enough I was wearing plimsolls which saved me and I was blown across the yard . My hands were black with the burn marks. You can imagine in today’s world of health and safety what repercussions this would bring but you must remember this was in the 50s and there was no such thing as health and safety.
I was now approaching 11 and ready to go to a senior school called Parkhurst Secondary Modern, this was quite a walk from us. Not that much happened here really. I did get caned quite often, Once I snatched the cane out of the science teachers hand and broke it over my knee in half. I was sent to the headmasters office and got 6 of the best. Still, in my later years I was made a prefect!!!!
Christmas at our house during my school years was never much really. But I used to look forward to it, and in those days we made decorations ourselves, coloured strips of paper glued into rings would make a chain going across the ceiling and dad would make a Christmas pudding and in the evening a fire would be lit in the front room, this room was never used at any other time and had a piano in it dad would either play or a tune on his accordion. Christmas gifts were never to be excited about maybe a box of soldiers or a wooden toy these would be in the stocking at the bottom of the bed with an orange and an apple in it.
One year I did get a pair of boxing gloves, so I managed to get hold of an old kitbag and stuff it with newspapers and rags and hang this from a hook on the back door. Then I would use it as a punch bag pretending I was Joe Louis, the world heavyweight champion at the time.
The last year at school I was in the school play at Christmas, my part was a chinese nanny. But – at this time my voice was getting deep and when I spoke my first line “Oh my little darlings” the whole school erupted in laughter.
So I guess this was the end of my school years, I was ready to meet the outside world and earn my living
HEY HO AND OFF TO WORK WE GO
Well! here we are – 1950 and I started work as a telegram boy in central London, Mount Pleasant, which was the main post office. From my wages, 1 pound was to go towards my housekeeping, so I was left with 30 shillings per week in old money!!! for my cigarettes, bus fares and dinners. It didn’t really leave much money to enjoy myself. Maybe go to the pictures once a week and that was all. It wasn’t really much of a job, sorting out telegrams and delivering to various addresses around Cheapside, Fleet Street etc.
One evening while I was delivering around the back streets. I passed beneath a large block of flats with balconies. As I was going underneath someone dropped a large brick from the balcony. It just missed my head but that was it, I’d had enough of that job so after one month I resigned and spent the next 12 months in various jobs in my hometown.
Jobs in those days were quite easy. You could be in a job one minute and then working down the road, the next minute. This carried on until Dad got me a job working in the Royal Tottenham as an assistant electrician. This really meant changing lightbulbs and all the menial tasks. The upside of this job was I got to meet all the bands that were doing the rounds on the Mecca in those days. Such as Ray Ellington, Oscar Rabin, Ronnie Rand and the blue rockets, Joe loss and his Orchestra, Geraldo.
Ray Ellington very often used to tip me for taking this jackets to the cleaners. There were also beauty competitions held there for Miss world. The Palace Cinema was next door and the manager always used to let me go in for free which was quite useful to me on my wage. I stayed at the Royal for almost 2 years, which I guess was quite a record for me at that time.and As my dad got me the job it was difficult to get out of.
On the week the Queen was crowned we had displays in the dance hall. One of those displays was a Royal Marines band and I was very impressed to the extent that the following week I went to the Royal Marines recruiting centre at Finchley and signed on.
There was an old colour Sergeant who interviewed me and gave me a pre-medical. I then had to take the oath of allegiance to the Queen. The colour Sergeant asked me if I wanted to sign on for seven and five or 12 years. I said what’s the difference to which he replied “seven and five is for seven years on the crown and five years on the reserve” Me being green thought to myself seven and five equals 12, so just do a straight 12 – that was it. I took the Queen’s shilling and from thereon in I had enlisted for her Majesty’s Royal Marines.
I went home and told Dad, who was delighted because he was an ex-Royal Marine and so no more was said about my job at the Royal.
ONCE A MARINE, ALWAYS A MARINE
Around September I received a letter in the post telling me to report to Waterloo station. On the day in question Dad came with me to Waterloo to see me off. There was a crowd of young lads on the platform and I introduced myself to some of them. Obviously I could not get round to all of 30, but made friends with a couple being scotsman and a lad from Bristol . We got to talking about the future in the Royal Marines. Dad watched the train leaving the station and I think he was very proud of his son because Dad had served in the first world war aboard ships in the Russian convoys as a Royal Marine.
So there we were on our way to Deal 30 young lads full of excitement and adventure. We arrived at Deal about three hours later, got off the train to be greeted by a Marine Corporal whose name was Corporal Corbyn. He informed us he was there to take us on the transport to Deal barracks. “Okay, you lot, fall in and with some sort of order.” We lined up to be given instructions by the Corporal who had a moustache just like the First World War posters which say’ ‘your country needs you’. He then informed us he was to be our drill instructor for the next three months.
“Left turn“ Half of us didn’t know left, from right so we just piled up on top of one another.
What a mess. We eventually got on the trucks and proceeded to the barracks, once there, we were shown into a dormitory ,30 beds, 15 one side and 15 on the other side. We each had a locker in which a uniform and equipment were to be placed in orderly fashion. The next lesson was to be taught how to use soap and water in a proper fashion. We were then marched over to the dining hall where supper (If you could call it that – in those days you had a choice of one meal not 10). And so to sleep, after the very eventful day we were practically exhausted.
The next morning at 5:30am we were rudely awakened by the Corporal marching through the room banging his pace stick on the lockers foot of beds. Anything that made a noise and shouting “Hands off Cocks, and on socks – fall outside in 10 minutes“.
Once again we were marched to the dining hall and had what passed as breakfast, after which we were marched to the clothing store’
We were then kitted out with all types of equipment including a rifle, which were considered to be our best friend. The next 12 weeks We spent marching, education, and basic rifle shooting.. In the evenings. Most of our spare time was cleaning our kit for the next days parade, polishing boots, brasses, buttons etc.
Rarely was there time to go to the N.A.A.F.I, even if we had money, pay was once every two weeks and as we only received 49 shillings a week. By the time we had bought polishes etc we had about enough money for one good evening drinking cider and a packet of cigarettes.
This was to be our routine for the remainder of our time at Deal until we passed out on our final day as Kings squad which my family came to see.
Well that was the end of our basic training and so we moved on to our next training which was at the infantry training centre Lympstone in Devon. This turned out to be harder and more strenuous than we had experienced in Deal.
By this time we were halfway towards our fitness peak, but still a long way to go yet.
The training involved fieldwork, weapon training, Tarzan course and some parade work. For fieldwork. We were taken out in trucks dropped off at Exmoor. There we went to spend two nights and two days learning how to live off the land. We were taught how to dig a trench for sleeping. Normally when we went on these exercises. It was pouring with rain and invariably we were soaked to the skin and spent uncomfortable nights with out any sleep.
The next day would be spent on exercise firing rifles and on the live range we would come under fire from real machine guns firing just above our heads , On one of these occasions as we were moving forward one of our squad managed to shoot himself. He was taken off to hospital and as we found out later he had accidentally shot himself with his own rifle in the bum. That was the first casualty I ever saw in the Marines! The first of many I should say. Shortly after this we went on leave for a fortnight over Christmas 1953. When we returned, it was time to move on to our next lot of training which was at the Commando School Bickleigh. Bickleigh was on the edge of Dartmoor and consisted of Nissen huts.
This course was to consist of route marches, speed marches, map reading etc, weapons training consisted of throwing live grenades, firing machine guns, mortars, rocket launcher. These were all live ammunition, so great care had to be taken and caution. Otherwise we would have blown ourselves up.!!!
The commando course was to last for six weeks and at the end of the six weeks if we passed we would be awarded the coveted green beret denoting that we were commandos, but it was a tough six weeks. The first route march was 10 miles. We all had blisters on our feet and were very tired. The next route march was 15 miles . Then came the 9 mile speed march, which meant marching and running for nine miles in under the specified time. Then came the map reading. We were taken by truck to the middle of Dartmoor dropped off and then we had to find our way back to Bickleigh. Dartmoor is a very bleak and damp place easy to get lost, but we had to get back in eight hours by map reading.
Then came the very last route march 30 miles and every person in the squad had to finish, as each person crossed the line they were given the coveted green beret. The commando course Was much tougher than anything I had ever experienced. I guess it looks easy here, but believe you and me. It wasn’t!!!
And so we moved on our next barracks was to be in Portsmouth, we were now Kings squad which meant we were the senior squad. In The Royal Marines. We should only have been there for two weeks. but at this time a film was being made, called “The Cockleshell Hero’s” a film about a Royal Marines raid during World War II. Our squad was to do the cliff climbing landing on the beach etc, so we were at Portsmouth for six weeks. These sequences to the film were shot on the Isle of Wight. In between of course we still had to do our usual parade work etc. After the final pass out parade our squad was to be broken up and posted to different parts of the world also ships I was to be posted back to Deal and waited there for my posting abroad. But before that I spent three months in Scotland doing a snow warfare course in the Cairngorms. I eventually got my posting to 45 commando serving in Cyprus at that time.
So I went back to Deal to await my posting abroad, each day These postings would go up on the notice board denoting to where each man was to be assigned.’Each day. I anxiously looked at posting board eagerly awaiting my draft, and it was one day, I was to join 45 commando based in Cyprus in the campaign against Eoka, Greeks were fighting for union with Greece. I was to be flown from Stansted airport to Malta and then on to Cyprus. Stansted airport in those days consisted of Nissen huts and that was it, the aeroplane. We flew on was an old Beverley boxcar. There were no seats just sit on the floor along the side of the plane, It was a most uncomfortable journey to Malta.
We arrived in Malta about five days before Christmas and there was no onward flights to Cyprus. I remember going swimming on Christmas day in the sea, the Maltese must have thought we were crazy, but this was our first time abroad and the sun was shining and it was quite hot, well remember we had come from Britain in the depths of winter, so it was all new to us. Eventually we flew on to Cyprus to be transported to our new base which was in the mountain of Troodos, the unit was split in half. I was to be assigned to the lower base camp, which was in Platres a rather luxurious or had been hotel, the other half of the unit was further up the mountain and to get to it was by road called the Seven Sisters which was ideal for and ambushes etc.for the Eoka!
We were in Cyprus for about six months and whilst there done very many patrols of villages. These patrols consisted of early-morning raids where suspected terrorists were being hidden by the local villagers.
One such operation was called Lucky Alphonse in which a forest fire broke out and several British troops died. I remember an officer, approaching me in camp and asking me if I was sound in body and mind etc. I replied “ yes sir” he then said, “follow me“, and we dashed into the forest where the fire had partly burnt out and we searched for any bodies. We managed to bring out four bodies. This was a pretty gruesome job because as you picked the body up your fingers sunk into the blackened skull and i believe there was 19 or 20 soldiers that had been killed in the fire. There is still a mystery as to whether the fire was the result of mortar fire or the Eoka had started it to divert the attention of the British troops away from that particular area. This was to be our last operation in Cyprus, we returned to base camp in Platres and a few weeks later, the rumour went around the unit that we were to be posted back to Malta to carry out helicopter training, this rumour turned out to be true. Within a few weeks, we were back in Malta, helicopter training. Little did we know that we were the first troops to be carried into a battlezone, however, the weeks passed and in between time I had written to my sister Lily to ask if she knew of any girl that worked with her would like to be my penfriend. As a result, I received a letter from a girl called Carole and we proceeded to write to each other. The weeks passed, the papers were full of news about Egypt closing the Suez canal by blocking the entrance to the canal with sunken ships. We now knew why we had been training in helicopters and so a fleet of ships set sail for the Suez Canal to invade with the commando Brigade on board. While on board we still trained, target practice and keeping fit for the task in hand.On the morning of 6 November 1956. We anchored off of Port Said, and at 4 AM the attack began , and the ships bombarded the city with their big guns, it was a sight to see, as it was still dark All you could see was flashes of the big guns in the shadows of the ships. As dawn broke, it was time for the troops to go ashore. We clambered over the side of the ships into small landing craft ,overhead The helicopters were transporting the rest of the unit into the city. We heard later that our commanding officer and the intelligence officer had landed in the football stadium where the Egyptian troops had their headquarters. The helicopter took off quickly, but our commanding officer had been wounded. Our landing craft took us into the beach and we dashed ashore gaining ground as we went, we took over a deserted hotel and use this as a command post. We gradually advanced through the city fighting street to street by nightfall we had complete control of the city and waited for our next objective. This was never to come because a ceasefire was called at midnight. Apparently the British government and the French and the Israelis had gone against United Nations resolutions, so we were to be withdrawn.. The next few days were spent clearing up the bodies of the Egyptians that had been killed. These bodies were loaded into trucks being driven to wherever, but the weird thing was as the trucks went over a bump the bodies would bounce up and as they landed again there would be a loud groan , which was the remaining air in their bodies being released. Within a few days. We were on board a troopship going back to Malta. As we approached Grand Harbour, we were formally informed over the tannoy that the customs officers would be coming on board to search the ship for any spoils of war that we had taken from Egypt, this caused a bit of a panic and all you could see was weapons etc being thrown over the side, one guy I knew even had an evening suit beneath his uniform.Once back in Malta, things quietened down and we were based at Medina barracks where it where it was routine as usual, except when We went on exercise to carry out more training. One of these exercises was in Libya In the Sahara desert the usual routine weapons firing and and getting used to desert warfare. We camped at an oasis, no matter where you are in the desert or Arab countries, it always seems to be an Arab will pop-up somewhere selling something, it could be a eggs, souvenirs etc, even horseriding, which brings me to an incident involving me. This old Arab wandered into our camp with a beautiful black stallion He was offering rides for a few shekels, of course I had to have a go. I managed to mount the horse and as soon as I did it bolted, of course the horse didn’t understand English and I didn’t understand Arabic, so I couldn’t stop the horse, it started to run through the camp and lo and behold,there was a line of washing hanging between two trees. The horse stopped, but I didn’t. I went flying across the clothesline and landed up in the dirt. Shortly after this escapade the unit moved back to Malta where I eagerly awaited my posting back to England. This came through in June 1957.
ENGLAND LOVELY ENGLAND
And so in June 1957. I was repatriated to UK and I had six weeks leave to look forward to. On the first day my sister Lily told me that the girl I had been writing to Carole was coming to see me lunchtime and so I met Carole and was to spend the remainder of my leave with her. I met her parents Bill and Kit and younger brother Colin, Kit was a wonderful woman and really made me feel at home. No matter when ever I went there, she would cook a meal for me and make a fuss of me,each evening Carol and I would be together until about three or four in the morning I would miss the last bus home, Poor Carole, she had to go to work the next day and I of course laid in bed until about 1 o’clock in the afternoon However, one day Bill made me a bike out of spare parts. I started to ride home on this about three in the morning I hadn’t got very far when the bike fell to pieces, so I gathered it up, walked back to Carole’s and dumped it in the garden and put the handbrake’s through the letterbox after this and I either walked home,or left earlier and got the bus. But in all I had a wonderful time on leave and regretted having to go back and leave Carole we went everywhere together (and 54 years later, I’m happy to say we are still together) after my leave. I was to report to 42 commando, now stationed at Bickleigh i put in for a transfer to Deal so that I could get to see Carole more often, in March 1958 this came through and i was transferred to Deal .On one of my leaves to see Carole I proposed and she accepted me Kit was so pleased along with the rest of the family who I seemed to get on well with. A year later, Carole and I got married on the on 7 March 1959, Carole had just turned 18 then. We were married at a church in Church Street Edmonton, I was in full dress uniform and Carole in a beautiful white wedding dress she came down the aisle looking wonderful. After the ceremony, we had the wedding dinner at the Golden Fleece pub, high Street . Edmonton for all relations and friends,at this reception Chas and Dave renowned singers today played for us with their little group It was a splendid wedding. The day after we both travelled to Deal and set up home in our first ever flat. The landlord was a lovely old guy called Mr Parfitt, who suffered with Parkinson’s disease,our money was very sparse then we had little to live on as the marriage allowance did not come through until about six weeks later. We even moved the bed into the kitchen for warmth at night, meals consisted mainly of baked beans on toast etc. when our money did come through We treated ourselves to a slap up meal and we were bloated But happy.
Deal was a lovely place and we enjoyed living there for the next 14 months until then the news came through that I was to be drafted to the third commando Brigade , which was based in Malta, but this time I was allowed to put in for accompanied tour which meant that Carole could join me, but we would have to spend 2 1/2 years abroad This was okay as now, none of the commando units were in action anywhere.
So off I went and Carole was to follow later on, so I settled into my new unit and looked forward to the day that Carole would join me in Malta.
In my spare time in Malta. I looked for a flat and eventually found one in Lapsi,St Julians which was a pretty low rent But the flat was suitable and I hoped Carol would like it.
In the meantime at home Carole was anxiously awaiting a letter from the Home Office to say when she would be going out to Malta, eventually, after three phone calls, she was told she would be coming out to Malta in September on the S.S.Dunera. After travelling from Waterloo to Southampton docks She boarded the Dunera and shared a cabin with five other girls all going to Malta to join their husbands. The journey took seven days, but it was all a new experience to Carole and she enjoyed it.I met Carole at Grand Harbour docks We were so pleased to see each other after the short separation and so we went off to our flat to resume life as a married couple. My routine in Malta was tropical routine which meant we only worked from 6 to 2 so we had plenty of time together and so I bought a Vespa Scooter and we would ride along the deserted coast road at that time to a beach at Ghain Tuffehia and spend afternoons there,even when Carole was pregnant she still rode on the back of the scooter until she was 8 months gone We would really enjoy our afternoons at the beach and when the baby was due Carole went into Mtafa British military hospital to have the baby .And so on 27 June 1960 our son Tony was born, but we were informed that there were complications and he had to have a blood transfusion. We were not sure whether Tony was going to live or die and we were advised to have baptised so we had him baptised by a naval padre, Carole remained in hospital for three weeks during this time Tony recovered much to our joy and so we returned to our little flat in Lapsi Street, but this wasn’t to be for long because as we now had an addition to our family. We were moved into married quarters in Gort Street, Attard flats in which three other families all in the forces lived. This flat was lovely, compared to our little flat in Lapsi Street . As these quarters were not far from my barracks at St George’s, Carole used to walk down and meet me in St George’s bay where we could go swimming in the afternoon and have a picnic.
This was to be our routine for a few months until we got the news that the unit was to be moved to Singapore.
We boarded the ship SS Oxfordshire then proceeded to sail to Singapore our first port of call was Cyprus and from there to Istanbul and onto Port Said, when we docked at Port Said the Egyptian bum boats came out to sell us eggs, souvenirs etc shouting out “very cheap, Johnny”as I mentioned earlier in this book The Arabs would turn up anywhere selling paraphernalia , but it was amusing to barter with them. We would lower a basket over the side and they would put their goods in and we would send the money back down to them. It was now on to Columbo(now renamed Sri Lanka). We were now in the Indian Ocean and we saw a shoal of porpoises swimming alongside the ship. Our last port of call was to be Aden and here we went ashore Carole was amazed at how dirty, sparse and poor the people were it was here that she saw a person she thought was a girl coming down the street with the stomach protruding through the shirt she thought it was girl that was pregnant, but it was a boy suffering from malnutrition. Not a pleasant sight.!Whilst on board the Oxfordshire we had a crossing the line ceremony where the sailors dressed up and we had a king Neptune, who was to dish out punishment in the form of a ducking to people who had never crossed the line before. And so we arrived in Singapore. It was a heat such as we’d never had before very humid and very very hot , families were to be put in hotels and the single guys were transported to the barracks at HMS Sembawang, which was a fleet air arm base. It took Carole and I two weeks to find a suitable accommodation for us to live in, we found a lovely bungalow on the outskirts of Serangoon although it was to be shared with an Indian family. We were quite happy there until it was inspected by the married quarters officer and declared unsuitable just because the toilet backed on to the kitchen. So once again we had to go house hunting. This time we found a flat above a a baker’s shop and because of the intense heat all families had to have maid, Carole’s maid was a young 17-year-old girl could not speak a word of English she was called neo-kim-kee and always referred to Carole as Missy and myself as master. Singapore was a very colourful place and there was always plenty to do our favourite day was Thursday. This was market day and there would be loads of stalls, open air, Chinese Theatre. This was very colourful and very noisy, but it was good entertainment. We would watch it and then go for a meal on one of the stalls Carole would probably buy some material to make dresses on these evenings out . Singapore was a very lively place if they had a funeral, you would hear the bands playing cymbals crashing and the people laughing and a massive Chinese Dragon. They were a sight to see. Other times, we would go to Tiger Balm Gardens this was a massive park with statues all Chinese myths,a really spectacular sight. Whilst we were there opposite us They started to build a Cinema. It was amazing to see the Chinese women acting as labourers running up and down ladders carrying a full hod of bricks, another time The dustmen went on strike for eight weeks and bags of rubbish just accumulated, cockroaches were running rife during this period , Kim just used to laugh and tread on them in her bare feet.
On other occasions, Carole and I used to go to the fishponds where we were allowed to fish for very large fish and other times we would go swimming at Changi beach, so there was always something to do.
During our stay in Singapore, Carole became pregnant and had to carry the baby for about four months; Also we had the monsoon season, which lasted about three months, but the beauty was each monsoon only lasted about 10 minutes we would watched the monsoon rain sweeping across towards us and the rain was like a sheet being dropped in front of us. It was torrential rain and after it was so humid sweat would just run off of us .Now and again the unit had to go into the jungle of Malaya for training and on my return,Carole had to burn the leeches off of my back with a cigarette end,the only way to get rid of them!!
And so we came to leave Singapore, in our final week Kim, who by now spoke good English invited us to have dinner with her parents at the Campong where she lived, officially these were out of bounds to all English people, including troops, but we went anyway and were very surprised to be led into a hut with a huge long table bursting with food and drink, we sat down and to our surprise the rest of the family stood around the walls watching us eat. We felt very embarrassed and asked them to sit down, but this was tradition for these people and so Carole and I gorged ourselves silly and had to go home afterwards and go to bed to recover. We were very sad to leave Kim, but were looking forward to going home .our last night was to be spent in the Raffles hotel in Singapore and due to their air conditioning we were frozen all night and never slept.The next day we boarded our plane for U.K,I think it took 3 days with the stops at different airports on the way.
And so we came back to England it was a particularly bad winter that year, we had been used to stifling hot weather and now we were in a cold winter January 1962, but it didn’t seem to bother Tony. He disliked wearing clothes after all, he had been running around with next to nothing on in Singapore.We had some leave to come so We went and stayed with carols mum and dad for about three weeks, and as I had been posted back to deal we were allocated a downstairs flat in Freeman’s way, which were purposely built for the married Marines. As I mentioned before that winter was a very bad winter, plenty of snow, I bought myself a second hand bike to ride to work on, I remember one day cycling to work in a snow blizzard with my head down and cycling furiously, without looking up I ran into the back of a lorry!! Carole was still pregnant and on eighth of May I was to go on a Corporals course in Devon which meant that I was to be away when the baby was born, Carole’s nan and mum came to Deal to look after Carole until I returned.
On 27 June Carole went into labour and was taken by ambulance to Dover hospital. This time there was no complications, except the baby was so big that they had to bring her out with forceps, and so Lesley was born, a baby girl weighing over 10lbs!! I returned home on 18 August 1962 at this time I was working for Colonel Grant and when Lesley was christened Col Grant and his wife very kindly became godparents. And so life continued at a fairly moderate pace, until my last year of service. I was to be posted abroad to Aden once again on active service, so wives were not allowed to accompany their husbands,This also meant we had to move out of our living quarters in Freeman’s way and find a flat for Carole to live while I was away. We did find one which was at the top of the three-storey house with a landlady called Mrs May she was very strict and turned out to be quite a bitch to Carole while I was away.
ADEN – THE HELL HOLE:
And so once again I was to fly abroad to Aden on 30 January 1964 and rejoin my old unit 45 Commando who were based at Little Aden BP camp site, this wasn’t too bad until once again we were split and three quarters of the unit was sent upcountry to a place in the mountains called Dhahla this was the Radfan notorious country!!! duties there involved patrolling the areas and searching for dissidents. It was hot dirty and dusty and of course there were no entertainments around us, even if we could go out. We did have an open air cinema in the camp and one night we were watching a film when all of a sudden bullet holes appeared on the screen, we were being attacked from another mountain, I have never seen a Cinema clear so quickly, as we all dashed off to get our weapons and fire back. The dissidents obviously had machine guns as you could see the dust from the bullets striking the road down the centre of the camp the attack lasted about 30 minutes and then the dissidents disappeared. After this episode every night a small party of six troops were to stand guard on a mountain, which overlooked The main camp and had a small plateau. This party would set out before dusk to set up on the plateau, which was about 20 yards long. At one end by five Marines would sleep while one was at the other end with a Bren gun keeping watch, we would change shifts every two hours. One night I was on duty on the Bren gun from midnight until 2 AM when I heard noises down the mountain and opened fire with the Bren it wasn’t until morning that we discovered noises I had heard were just mountain goats.And so life continued in the Radfan, pretty much the same, although we were never attacked again. Meanwhile at home Carole was having a hell of a time with the landlady who was always moaning about the kids!!!During the time I was away Carole’s mum would come to Deal quite often and if Carole was out would leave a message to say that she was down by the pier and would wait there until Carole turned up and sometimes Carole would go back with her mum to Edmonton to spend a week or so, just to get away from our landlady.
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