National Service REME 1951-53

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NATIONAL SERVICE R.E.M.E 1951-1953. MILITARY MEMORIES. from 22447118 W. Occleston . Edited Apr 2014 http://occleston.com HONITON BORDON NORTON MANOR ROYSTON MILL HILL St NEOTS ARBOURFIELD GOOGE STREET BLACK BUSH IRLAM NIECE MALTA NICOSIA ISMALIA GIBRALTA PORT SAID TEL-EL-KEBIR READING BURSCOW SOUTHHAMTON 1951 1953

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This slide show may be under construction for quite a while being what I bits I can dredge up from an ancient memory and  bits I can pinch from the web, it is more are less a copy of the page Army Life on my family web site occleston.com Hopefully I will be able to add more information about family members who served in the forces . Especially from you Sneaky ! This is my original cap badge issued 1951. It was in use for 5 years and even now 61 yrs later I still use it if I manage to get to the local Armistice Day service.  I sent it to my granddaughter “Sneaky”, who also joined in the REME, while she was serving during the first Iraq war. She kept it with her till she finally came home safe & sound, I like to think it brought her luck. To you Yvonne my badge I've sent, Just like me it's worn and bent. It’s been in sand and yes I know That  was many years ago. But still for you it will be lucky So don’t you slack and get it mucky. Keep it by you when you roam. Then let it bring you safely home . Service Medal Old Man issued 51 years late. Canal Zone Service Medal Granddaughter Iraq

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My Father being in the Home Guard was my first introduction to anything military, other than the cinema. My main memory of that time was of him building the Anderson shelter in the garden and when we had to use it he ran us out to it one at a time, putting his steel helmet on each of our heads in turn.  Having  a wife and 4 kids but only one helmet he did what he could to keep us safe. We were in more danger from the shrapnel from our own Ac Ac than any German bombs and like all the wartime kids I loved to collect  shrapnel but dad wouldn't let us stop and look for some. I think we believed at that time that shrapnel would be laying around like hailstones and we would just need to pick it up. I can also remember admiring his 303 Le Enfield rifle when he finally got one and I trying to do drill with it, I never thought at the time that I would have one day.  We used to go on the rifle range at Holcombe Brook for shooting practice and I was quite a good shot. There was one great officer ( name long forgotten) who would give us lifts home in his Riley  car, usually after a pub visit and we once got 11 bodies in and on it. I don't know how we managed it but some of them were the younger smaller members so presumably they didn't take up much room and none fell out or off.  So much for 1940’s Health & Safety. Later during basic training in my National Service I was classified as marksman on the Bren but only good on the rifle. I never got much chance after basic training to improve my skills except once when on garrison guard duty at TEK when I shot a camel with a Bren. But that's another story (well it was night time and very  dark ! ) After the war I joined the Army Cadet Force, we were part of the Eccles branch, who were part of 2 Battalion Lancashire Fusilier s based at Bury, although our hut was in Cadishead where the branch of Barclays Bank is now situated. I often used to mentally reminisce when I went into the branch, wandering what they would think if they knew that I, in effect, did my basic army training there. Which incidentally included the firing of one of the aforementioned 303 LEs that knocked a chip out of the Cadishead Post Office across the main road.  We also built an unofficial  home made 22 cal firing range inside the hut because we had two Mossberg .22 rifles and lots of ammo. We had a good quality dart board until we came in one day to find the sergeant IC with his feet up on the desk shooting at it with a one of the Mossberg's. From then on, although it still looked OK, when you played with it 99% of your darts rebounded out of the board. When 2 Bt LF’s were disbanded and the colours laid up in Bury Church we were transferred to the Royal Artillery . Eventually when I became senior NCO I had to keep the rifles at home for security as we had no secure lock up. I had a very hard time getting anyone to take these rifles off my hands when I was due for national service and nobody would take over the ammo. Eventually  I went to the bottom of Hayes Road and dumped 600 rounds of .22 Ammunition in the Manchester Ship Canal to get rid of it.  We went camping at Blackpool Stanley Park and I can still remember the hours we spent in the Fun House on South Shore repeatedly getting thrown off a large rotating wooden disk set in the floor and later comparing who had the largest area of red raw grazed skin. The more you had the tougher you felt. It was also good if there was a few females to hang onto until the whole writhing mass was flung haphazardly in a big heap for the amusement of the “chicken” onlookers’. I loved to dress for the armistice parades and other special events and boy we were a smart squad for many years. I was immensely proud of being part of the Lancashire Fusiliers and did nearly five years leaving wearing 3 stripes when I was due to go into the real army.  Later during my AER service it turned out that of about 750 other ranks due to form a new battalion I was the only one officially transferred on the roll and the yearly shooting championship was due to be completed. If I took part I could have fired one shot down the range and I would be the champion and get a gold medal. On parade in the CO’s office with 3 Officers four NCOs and me, the one OR, I naturally declined the offer, A wise old soldier by this time .

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MY NATIONAL  SERVICE R.E.M.E I took my medical in Manchester. I had, and still have. a 7” scar on my right upper arm from a broken bon operation at the age of nine. Every doctor asked me about the arm, not one took any interest my twice broken nose . At the end of the medical I was told I had been downgraded to grade 2  because of my nose ? When my call up papers arrived I was Classified as A1. That was my first encounter with the famous Officer Led   British Army System “ Cock everything up if you can and always do the opposite of what might be called efficiency.”.  I was to become very conscious of this system during the rest of my service. Starting on day one at Basic training at Honiton. As I was a time served fitter as soon as I got there they decided I should go to Bordon training Camp to have a Fitters trade test ( which I passed with flying colours). So in true army style they decided I should be retrained as a Vehicle Mechanic at Norton Manor Camp Taunton. Back at Honiton my previous years with the ACF gave me a bit of an advantage when it came to military skills so I didn't suffer to much from Army Bull***t .  I quite enjoyed the field craft exercises on Dartmoor  especially when the sergeant could not find my camouflaged position and had to shout me in. As I was only about 7 foot away from him at the time it made me quite popular with the other guys for a while. We trained amongst the gorse and mud pools and the regular army NCOs took great delight in making the soft civvies run up and march down the steepest hills. I also managed to equal the army record for stripping down a Bren gun but that didn't make me popular with the instructor . The little L/Cpl 3 rd right, with the Hitler moustache in the photo was a tyrant but he vanished after a while, I was told he accidentally got his leg broken  when he was helped rather too forcefully over the climbing wall on the assault course. .  This looks like the spot I hid ! Of course it was 61 years ago it might have changed a bit now ? This is not me I had more bits when I did it 61 years ago. The bren was extremely accurate for a MG. The new version have changed a bit now, based on the TV theory, Fire a thousand bullets a minute and one of them might hit something. ? Honiton 12 Platoon 2 Training Battalion. The handsomest, brainiest guy in the group is indicated by red arrow

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TRADE TRAINING R.E.M.E     8/5 Training Battalion - Norton Manor Camp - Taunton     A great group of lads not a bad apple in the barrel, lots of fun during training but unfortunately course work notes and names to fit faces long since gone . The lad middle row extreme left managed to do the impossible, he got a straight six Bedford engine running backwards with the instructor standing in front of it just repeating over and over “ it cannot do that ”. He also had a go at being a fire eater, blowing a mouthful of petrol out through a petrol pump nozzle between his lips. Unfortunately he ran out of breath before he ran out of petrol but he was back on the job next day grinning through his bandages. A braver lad than me. Then. 8(Basic Trades)Trg Bn  REME Now 2014 40 commando RM Norton Manor Camp has been home to : An RASC distribution centre  A USA Medical Supply Depot A prisoner of war camp for Italian Prisoners A Prisoner of war camp for Germans RAOC overseas supply depot REME Mechanical Engineers Trg Camp 40 Commando Royal Marines.

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At one period I was allowed to take by bike down south and keep it in the billet, I managed one ride of Approx 125 miles round Watchet, Blue Anchor and other unknown areas of Devon. I remember looking down to a beach in one place and seeing a military camp with “brylcreem boys” doing drill. Couldn’t figure out why there was an Air Force camp on a beach but I read somewhere that Butlins bought it later for a holiday camp. On nearing Norton Manor camp on the way back I called in a pub near the camp and had just 1 pint of real SCRUMPY  ( The first ever) from a little scruffy looking barrel on a shelf at the back of the bar. I remembered later that I  had great  difficultly in remounting my bike outside the pub and, I pulled leaves off roadside bushes as I rode with my right hand (which meant I must have been riding on the wrong side of the road ). The next morning I was informed that there was no record in the guard house book of me re-entering camp, only of me booking out. I had to persuade one of the lads on guard duty to put in the missing entry otherwise I would have been for the high jump. I know I awoke that morning in my bunk fully clothed, including shoes, with my bike at the bedside, I was informed that I rode my bike into the hut and just fell of it onto my bed. Its good stuff SCRUMPY.   TRADE TRAINING R.E.M.E     8/5 Training Battalion - Norton Manor Camp - Taunton   Pictures on the right is us doing cook-house fatigues plucking wood pigeons. for the Sergeants Mess, That mess was crammed with all the good food you could dream of but of course they didn't share any of it with the common herd. Not so the Officers Mess, where we also did cook-house fatigues, that was like Old Mother Hubbard “ the cupboards were bare, they couldn't have shared even if they had wanted to. “ Officers had to pay mess bills and most of them owed. During our time at Norton we all had to do one night duty as MP ‘s on town patrol in Exeter. Fine we thought a train ride and a pub tour. HOW WRONG. The sergeant we got was from a regular rifle regiment and insisted we marched always at rifle troop pace 140 paces to the minute and we were wearing greatcoats. It was OK on he train and a bit interesting around town but “O” the aching muscles next day. What a gang of raw recruits would have been able to do if there had been any trouble I don’t know ? Lucky for us it must have been a quiet night or maybe the serge knew where not to go ! I seem to remember him buying us all a pint somewhere so I suppose he was OK really.

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TRADE TRAINING R.E.M.E     8/5 Training Battalion - Norton Manor Camp - Taunton   After finishing trade training and passing out we were given two weeks leave before reporting back to be sent on detachment to an RASC camp at St Neots Huntingdonshire and my days of freedom ended when I was taken into custardy and sentenced at St Johns Church Irlam, I got taken prisoner 7 th Apr 1951. Having had my two weeks leave just before that date I still assumed I could get a bit of compassionate leave for the occasion but the OIC would only give me a 48 hour pass ( I think he was married and resented all unmarried male s). I started out Fri evening and hitched 200 miles to home arriving early morning dead beat but I did manage to stay awake during the ceremony. Early Sat morning involved an embarrassing visit to the chemist to purchase what was then unmentionable items of equipment, males for the use of. The chemist had two assistants one male and one female and in accordance with S**s law I got the female serving me and came out with a packet of razor blades. ( Remember This Was 1951) I think having my cousin supply the necessary made his day, he was laughing a lot at the church in the afternoon.  I did “ blot my copy book” again in the evening by going to the wrong pub with my cousin. The wife and all the other guests were very puzzled, each party wondering were the other people had got to!  I was Quite tipsy later when my new wife and I boarded the taxi for the Grand Hotel Manchester but I was instantly stone cold sober as we drove away from the crowd, Marriage must be great hangover cure !! My lovely new bride and I managed just one night Honeymoon at the Grand Hotel Manchester . That was followed next day by a trip to the pictures to fill up the afternoon time until a very reluctant boarding of my train so my the new bride could go “ Home Alone”.    I will always have memories of the Grand as the posh doorman carried Betty's new suitcase in one hand and my freshly blancoed webbing kit in the other trying to keep it away from his smart uniform. I knew by his sneering demeanour he thought Betty deserved to  do better. Betty has just told me that we had room number     116 The Grand Hotel was a former warehouse converted in 1860s to a fine hotel and is now home to 115 upmarket apartments. It is a grade 2 listed building but I don’t know if that could be because Betty and I once stayed the night! 

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After basic and trade training 1951 I did 3 months or so attached to an RASC camp at St Neots  Huntingdonshire , The camp, close to the A1  may have been called Eaton Ford but I cannot be certain. From this place I was able to hitchhike home most weekends up the A1 and across the moors via Woodhead or the Snake Pass, occasionally through  Sheffield where the last trams still ran. If you could manage to get to the area in time there used to be lorries carrying spuds towards Manchester most nights and they would give you a lift just for the company. Not to be recommended though was to get near Sheffield very late to find all the lorries had gone. In the fifties it was fairly easy to get lifts if you were in uniform but over the moors in the dead of night the odd car that passed would usually be full up or would not stop at 3 or 4 in the morning and it was a long hard yomp over those hills.  Even worse was one trip I had with a young wife waiting at home, full of energy and plenty of fags but undiscovered until well on the way, NO MATCHES and no lift likely until I reached Woodhead village. As I was a heavy smoker in those days I found myself watching the few cars that passed intensely in the hope they would throw a dog end out the window . I even contemplated rubbing two sticks together but it was raining , I really must have been in love!. There were about 14 of us REME who were bussed every morning to some Airfield, ( possibly Little Stoughton.), It was our job to do light aid servicing of  Bren Gun Carriers. We had over 1,000 so we were told, I know we had several hangers full. We had the time of our lives, no officers no one checking up on us, We would draw some job sheets find the carriers, do the minor servicing jobs then take the governors off and get sixty mph out of them up and down the runways. (doing a Road Test !) Lots of track shedding but we always helped each other put them back on. We had a wooded area we could crash about in and a pub at the bottom of the hill where we could hide a carrier round the back. We had all types of carriers to play with and no officer supervision, just a sergeant who left us alone as long as we fulfilled our daily quota of servicing requirements. We even had a naffi wagon come round at dinner time and we didn't even wonder where it came from, it just turned up. It could have come from another part of the airfield as our end was down a dip and we couldn't see the greater part although it was still militarily occupied, possibly by the USAF.    I got many good lifts up the A1 cars still stopped to pick up service men in the old days. I even got to drive a big flash American Hudson Country Club when the man driving wanted a kip. He asked me if I could drive and I said yes, which was true, but I forgot to say I had only driven tracked vehicles at that time and never seen a car with gear change on the column before but I managed. He even thanked me when he finally had to drop me off even though I had had the best ride ever and he had paid for the food when we had a stop. At this time we were getting £2.50 marriage allowance as we had planed but although I was willing and able to hike home getting back was another matter. Hitch hiking was cheap but not dependable as to time and if you were not back as ordered it was quick march into the COs office on defaulters parade. I was spending £5.00 on train fares in getting back to camp so our saving for a down payment on our own place was on hold for a while. After TRADE TRAINING R.E.M.E     St Neots  Huntingdonshire   I assumed USAF because I remember was  racing up the runway in a T16 getting near to a barbed wire fence that was across the runway limiting our area and being confronted by a B29 flying fortress sliding towards me on its belly with showers of sparks flying. I think I did the quickest spin turn ever in a carrier. Having stopped I wondered should I go see if I could help but within about one minute the plane was completely surrounded with Yankee air force police, all armed. I remembered then that “discretion is the best part of valour” and quickly retreated down our bit of the field. If any archaeologists are digging in that area the should find the remains of a Bren gun carrier underground. On one of the lads “Road Testing” one through the woods, suddenly found out that a  Ben gun carrier is subjected to the laws of gravity just like all the other objects on earth. When we went to help as asked we found his carrier was in an 8ft deep pit that could have been made specially for it, an exact fit. After the hilarity stopped we decided the only logical thing to do was let it remain undisturbed  it looked so peaceful and ( it would have taken days to dig it out) so we covered it with tree branches and scrub and accidentally lost the job card.

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Later I was part of a REME detachment posted to an RASC depot at Royston Heath Camp Cambridgeshire. Here we had a similar arrangement. A group of us bussed every morning to a tank park on the outskirts of Cambridge (Milton) were again we did light aid vehicle maintenance on wheeled vehicles. Being in a place that had dozens of all sorts of tanks and not many supervising officers and NCO’s once again gave me the chance to explore but I had no carriers to play with. Our favourite tank was a Churchill hidden away in the centre of a load of Sherman's, because we could get four of us in it, button down the lid and play cards. Unfortunately after a while a sergeant caught on because we were all heavy smokers and he happened to notice the gun barrel was smoking as if it had just been fired, that ended that little perk of the job.  To take my second class vehicle mechanic test I had to go to 10 Command Workshop Mill Hill Camp near London and while there I did my only AWL. We were free for the weekend so I chanced it and took the tube to the A1 to hitch home. I remember I was rather chicken at breaking regulations and when a sergeant in the MPs got on the train and sat next to me I nearly laid an egg. It turned out he was going to hitch as well, I don’t know if he had a leave pass but I certainly didn't inform him that I didn't, thankfully he didn't ask me and we parted to hitch separately.  After TRADE TRAINING R.E.M.E     Royston   Cambridgeshire   Also while at mill hill some of the surviving members of the Glosters were in the same hut although they didn't mix. At some time in my service our entire platoon had volunteered for Korea ( yes we were daft in those days) Fortunately we were not selected, due I think to the Co being so surprised that he got so many volunteers, he just thought it was too good to be true. One day in the tank park I came across two Centurion Mk 3 tanks which I believed, at that time, to be the best in the world. As I investigated in my usual nosy way I found each had a neat round hole just under or above the top track. On opening the hatch one could see huge grooves all round the interior which I knew must have been made by solid shot. As I put my head in I got a whiff of a smell that cured me instantly of any desire to go to Korea . Although in a depot absolutely awash with tanks I have always regretted that I never got the chance to drive one. At this depot we could have regular 48 hr passes for the weekends but we had to fill in details ourselves on blank leave forms and some officer somewhere signed them. I made a mistake with mine and put the depot name down rather than the Royston camp and it was signed without question. I quickly realised this meant I could leave from the depot as soon as work finished Fri. If I kept my kit to hand I wouldn’t have to go back to Royston camp first before leaving like all the rest and I didn't have to report back to the camp Sunday, just to the depot on Monday morning. I tested it out that weekend with some trepidation showing my pass as I left the depot and I got home in the early hours Saturday morning, I caught an overnight train Sunday to return leaving home from Irlam by last train to Manchester Central then a taxi to Manchester Piccadilly were I just managed to catch the leaving train to London Euston. On arrival straight into taxi to Liverpool Street where I just caught the train to Cambridge, straight into a taxi to the depot, (dropped at gate). I walked quickly down to where my group was just de-bussing and as I got to them the Cpl shouted “Quick March” and I fell in at back without missing a step but I did miss my breakfast. It was an anxious morning then expecting to be called in to explain my absence from the camp bus but nothing happened. Being newly married it was a great idea but after reckoning up the taxi fares and all the hassle etc. I started to take and earlier train from Irlam from then on so I could use buses and the tube between stations, to save on taxi fares but we were still spending more than we were saving . In spite of that I used the same system for weeks , only one other bod followed my example but most of the rest lived fairly close so it didn’t make much difference to them . To one Scots lad it would have meant he could have used the extra time to reach home but the expense would not been worth he effort for the few extra hours he would have gained.

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After TRADE TRAINING R.E.M.E     Royston   Cambridgeshire   During the later part of 1951. I was under a wagon when I felt a kick on my ankles, it was our sergeant who just said “ Get your stuff your on a course ”. The same day I was on route to Arbourfield REME Training Centre   and only when I arrived there did I find out I was on a Diesel Ignition Course. When I arrived I found I was the only squady on the course all the others being NCO’s up to sergeants. I discovered there was no discrimination in the classrooms and workshops all treated equally but of course we were billeted and fed differently. We only found out at the course end that because the army was so short of diesel specialist they decide to include nation servicemen. If it was successful you got automatic promotion to staff sergeant at the end of a long training programme if you passed out but you had to sign on for a minimum of three years service. The best part was that your National service two years counted towards the three. Some of the higher ranks were due to be time served so I think the main aim was to get them to reenlist. At the course end everyone had met the standard required to enter the main course proper and they asked us all to sign up, One said he would if he could get his wife to agree, one absolutely refused, I agreed but I was very uneasy about what Betty would say about it. Unfortunately as it was an experimental scheme the officer IC said that all had to agree or the scheme couldn't go ahead so that was that and it was back to camp . I never found out if it was a one-off or if the scheme continued. It was also while here at Royston I got my driving test although I knew nothing about it before it happened. A gang of us were just told to climb up into a Bedford QL and we were driven into the middle of Cambridge, once there we were put in the drivers seat one by one and told to drive. At that point I still hadn't driven a wheeled vehicle other than in and out of workshops and when I got behind the wheel it was to discover we were in what appeared to be the narrowest street in all Cambridge and they have a lot of them. When we set off I didn't think the QL would even fit between the pavements but it must have, can't remember if I closed my eyes but I must have done OK I passed and became rather big headed about my licence to drive any type of army vehicle. I never dreamed that one day I would be back in Cambridge to see my son graduate from Trinity College. My time there ended when together with dozens of other REME bods we were put on draft to sail out to Egypt on a troopship, final destination Tel El Kebir Egypt. We were all given the mandatory 2 weeks embarkation leave. On returning from that just before Christmas my orders changed again when I was detailed to be one of a small party of 12 with a sergeant in charge to fly out to Cyprus So5/5 Draft - DLC II CYPRUS 3-2-52 and I got an extra week embarkation leave for some reason so I was home at Christmas.  It wasn’t until 2013 that I discovered the following entry when looking up my army records. 12 vehicle depot Awol from 0600 hrs 26/1/52 to 0600hrs 28/1/52 absent 2 days awarded 8days CB + 2days RW.  As far as I Can find out the 12 vehicle depot was at Ashworth in Gloucestershire. Never been there never heard of it.   If I ever did 8 days CB no one ever told me about it and I don’t know what RW is ? These dates were after the entry on my record that says  So5/5 Draft - DLC II CYPRUS 3-2-52. and would be after I had been taken of the Egypt draft and was on leave at home before flying out from Blackbush destination Cyprus. ?

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OVERSEAS SERVICE R.E.M.E   CYPRUS   Before I was flow out to Cyprus Feb. 1952 as part of a special team of 12 VM’s & drivers I had some time in the old Googe Street London Tube tunnel fitted out with bunk beds. Once the central London headquarters for General Eisenhower during the second world war. The site was later used as an army transit camp until a serious fire closed the camp on the night of May 21st 1956, they are now used by a private company to store films and videotape. While there I did some exploring round London. I had only past through London before, just travelling between stations with full kit so It was nice to be a typical tourist for a day. I was outside Bucking Palace entrance and was just going to cross when the crowds closed round me and I was trapped right on the kerbside as a car drove in with King George VI in it. I was just 2 feet away and quite pleased I had seen him. It was only later I realised I was in uniform and should have saluted, of course I had no idea it would his last visit to the palace and he would be dead a few days later. From Googe street on 6th Feb. we were bussed to Blackbush airport and then flow in a Vickers Viking to Cyprus and later we found out that the king had died. We flew via Niece, (where we stopped for refuelling with armed Gendarmes making certain we didn't stray far from the plane) then over the Pyrenees to Malta for breakfast. Most of the others were asleep but I was fascinated be looking down onto the mountains and valleys seeing the little lights of huts clearly in the brilliant moon light. Later watching the lightning like St Elmo’s fire running up and down the wings was something I had never viewed before. My companion in the next seat was the only female aboard a good looking captain in the QAIMNS , ( I got several requests to change seats which I ignored) in the event she slept most of the night and spent most of the day in with the cockpit crew. A rriving over White's Field Cyprus no one knew we were coming. We circled the airfield for quite a while until the pilot reported he had no fuel left and they let us land. They didn't want us at the airport so they gave us a QL and driver and sent us to HQ Nicosia. The sergeant in charge of us was a crafty old soldier he told the driver he was no longer needed when we got there, before we saw any officer. He was going to send us back to the airfield until they could find out why we were there. Our great sergeant just said “ No transport Sir “. We then had a couple of weeks or so billeted in the MPs HQ in Nicosia. I don't know just where but it was next to a post office were we could watch all the pretty girls go in and out as we pulled oranges out of the trees in garden they had us tidying up just to give us something to do.  They did arrange one day trip for us, we went in a truck up in the mountains sightseeing and the view down into the Med was like a picture postcard it let me see the bluest water I had ever seen. Eventually we arrived at Karenna Harbour and had a couple of free hours to do as we wished. Most went for the nearest bar but me with my natural wanderlust ended up in Karenna Castle. While I was in there exploring every little passage quite by chance I ended up on the battlements looking down into a courtyard with loads of men walking round seemingly aimlessly. It came as a bit of a shock when I suddenly realised that some were guards but most were prisoners. I left much quicker than I got in. Our group of 12 gave the MPs football team about ten 20 minutes a side practice games and even though none of us were footballers we managed to win two. We also mounted the evening guard for the them until the O/C had gone home then they took over the actual duties, it saved them a lot time and effort because our kit as was up to scratch. We of course got the run of the town without hassle at night even strolling through the no-go areas, I got my first taste of a Brandy Sour there in a little French bar while watching a very tough looking Cypriot slicing apples in two with a large extremely sharp scimitar on the wobbly bit of a belly dancer. Was never able to match the drink anywhere else I ever travelled, never found out the ingredients .  

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It couldn't last of course and they eventually flew five of us VMs to Ismailia Egypt just to get rid of us I suppose. We found out later we should have been a light aid detachment at Larnaca which I believe was the R&R centre for all middle east land forces at that time and it would have been a dream posting. Again S**d’s Law took over and we got the nightmare posting to Tel-El-Kebir Garrison. When landed at Ismailia we were allocated a tent just as a severe sand storm started up and in absolutely nil visibility we struggled, as complete novices, to stop the tent blowing away. On the second day we were told we could leave camp to go to the Cinema or Naffi but we must each draw a rifle and ammo as there was a possibility of being attacked if unarmed . This was the first indication any of us had had that we were in a trouble zone. We knew nothing of the attacks taking place against British service personal and bases and we were given no instructions of any kind about possible further actions.. When we went off full of the overconfidence to get armed we were told they only had one rifle left but if we agreed to stay together with the one who had the rifle we could still go out.   Of course we did agree but within half an hour after we left we lost the guy with the gun so we thought we had better go back and report him missing. When we got back we found the guy had already got back, he hadn't fancied the task but hadn’t bothered to tell the rest of us, that was all we saw of Ismailia. OVERSEASE SERVICE R.E.M.E   EGYPT   When we finally arrived at 2 Base Workshop K and D Camps Company office we were welcomed ! rather warmly, by a Major who said “ Thank god we really need drivers badly”. When I told him we were Vehicle Mechanics not drivers he stared a bit, then swore for a while and finally, took his hat off, threw it on the floor and jumped on it. Later after he calmed down he apologised and said “it’s not your fault lads but I told them to keep the VM’s and send any drivers they had.” With the usual army cock up they got the message the wrong way round, Tek had just got a boatload of VM’s but no drivers, The draft I was taken off to fly out to Cyprus. I did ask if he could send us back quickly but he said it couldn’t be done that way and they would probably fly another group out to replace us I even pointed out it would be cheaper and quicker than flying another lot out from blighty but no luck we were doomed .. One good thing I was back with some of my mates from Royston The next day we were trucked along, what I found out later was the Treaty Road by the side of the Sweet Water Canal. We never thought we were in any danger although by this time we had heard rumours about trucks being shot at but we didn’t know it happened a lot on this particular road. Green as we were, we rolled up the canvas sides so we could see out never thinking what an excellent target we made. Of course being REME we were unarmed except for the co-driver who had a sten gun that didn't work and no ammo !. Strangely enough one of my first jobs in workshop was servicing the Bedford truck that we came in and one of the tasks was repairing a hole below the drivers seat from a bullet that had gone through both doors and a metal tool box.

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Tel-El-Kebir Garrison.  This map of TEK is one I developed from an MOD map revised Feb 1951. I don't know the date of the original. Some of the hut numbering is not as I remember from 1952/3. Any contributions from Ex vets to add more detail would be gratefully acknowledged. OVERSEASE SERVICE R.E.M.E  TEL-EL-KEBIR EGYPT  

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OVERSEASE SERVICE R.E.M.E  TEL-EL-KEBIR EGYPT   On arrival the sight of barbed wire fences, antitank ditches and minefields surrounding all 17 miles of the TEK perimeter was our introduction to this lovely Garrison. Our delight in seeing our luxurious accommodation  and facilities was unbounded. Just after arrival at our billet (Hovel) .  On settling in there was a mass hysterical panic as most of the occupants tried to kill a mysterious flying dragon.. Boots belts mess kits other miscellaneous items were thrown until someone managed to squash it. It turned out to be a harmless Praying Mantis. A sergeant later said he would have paid £5 for it, apparently the old hands use to keep them captive because they dined on  all the other pests . Lying in my anti-malaria cocoon I soon learned to increase the defences of my deluxe slumber land sleepeasy bed. I used to douse my 3 square yards of floor and the bed legs with DETOL to deter creepy crawlies. I took a lot of stick from mates but it worked Outside our Chalets Inside our Chalets Rather sparsely furnished as you can see I have my foot on my furniture. As they say on TV Outlook is everything.

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OVERSEASE SERVICE R.E.M.E  TEL-EL-KEBIR EGYPT   I took this composite view from the top of our hut, our parade ground is extreme right just seen above the tents. The workshops are centre above the tents. I can’t remember the direction of the picture below but I think it is much further over to the right of the first view ? The right hand bit over the parade ground is left on the second picture and I think the trees on are the same line although the pictures are not at the same magnification.

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OVERSEASE SERVICE R.E.M.E  TEL-EL-KEBIR EGYPT   Cookhouse & Mess Hall. We could take food back to the hut across this patch but you had to beware of the Kite (shite ) Hawks which were bigger thieves than the Welsh seagulls. Walking across here I once got hit at the back of the neck with what felt like pick axe handle, it turned out to be a six inch Locust. Pictures of the ultra modern shopping facilities available to other ranks in our part of sunny Tel-El-Kebir.

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OVERSEASE SERVICE R.E.M.E  TEL-EL-KEBIR EGYPT   Many good mates in the army but unfortunately I never had a good memory for names and now its getting full, old stuff is being thrown out to make room for new “ as Homer Simpson would say”. I cannot now put names to many of them and a lot have probably passed on. If anyone can recognise anyone in the photographs on this page or have any other relevant photographs I would be grateful for any information.  Names I once knew taken from surviving signatures on my photos are - D . Hattfield - W. Warburton - E. Goodway - A. Hughes - Jim. Kirkland - R. Hides - J.C. Jackson - Johnny Smith - R.G. Tipping - J. Sykes - E. Marshall - B. Jowle - A. Rushforth - B. Houston - .J.C. Baker

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OVERSEASE SERVICE R.E.M.E  TEL-EL-KEBIR EGYPT   Some of the INMATES. This picture was taken just before going to report for guard duty. We were ready early and took our time getting to the guardhouse but arrived ten minutes early. As soon as we fell in the  staff sergeant IC accused us of being two minutes late and in spite of us having six watches all showing him the correct time he put the entire guard on a charge. In front of the CO next day we were all given 3 days CB, We could tell the CO believed us and the staff was a known alcoholic but it made no difference none of us were regular Army. Later the same week the staff sergeant was removed from duty for being drunk in charge of the guard and letting a rifle be fired during his inspection. He was punished by being sent home on indefinite leave. Our 3 day CB meant nothing as we never got out of TEK anyway but they stopped 6 of us 3 days pay. Outside our luxurious holiday chalet Note; It’s fully equipped with water cooling system either side of the door. The one and only good thing in TEK. WATER MELLONS Our very upmarket and exclusive Country Club , it must have be exclusive we never saw any Officers or Civilians there.

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I have read many stories regarding life under national service most of which tell of easy times and skiving. I can certainly say that it did not apply in our workshop, they got every ounce of their pound of flesh. Minimum 8 hour shifts and for quite a while and 12 hour shifts after they brought in a time and motion expert . ( before Time and Motion we turned out 75 vehicles a week, after time and motion 12. ) and our vehicle park was crammed full of vehicles “Awaiting Spares”. It got so silly that I had two Bedford QL’s parked awaiting spares, one wanting a near side mirror arm and one wanting an off side mirror arm. Before the time and motion experts came in, as a matter of course, I would have taken an arm off one vehicle and fitted it on the other leaving one vehicle awaiting spares rather than two. An alternative would have been to make two arms ( I could have done that in about 45 minutes, including fitting but after T&M we were barred from any manufacturing of spare parts, everything had to be “ indented for “.  Those vehicles, along with dozens of others, were still parked there in long rows when I left for home ! I saw two Humber staff cars one with offside front wheel damage one with near side front wheel damage. Stood side by side waiting to be shipped to blighty before being returned to Egypt after repair. On top of our normal working hours we had fire picket and night guard duties to do and any other silly schemes that the underemployed officers could dream up.  One of the bright orders that came from on high was that every group in TEK had to be capable of marching 25 miles at a moments notice. This was probably justified because of the deteriorating circumstances in the Canal Zone. Most of the other units either did it or their officers faked it. Our thicko CO decided that we, being unused to infantry fitness would work up to it gradually. His brilliant scheme do 5 miles, Then 10 miles, then 15 and so on till we could do 25. And part of the route he selected involved soft sand. If the camp commandant hadn't stopped him I think he would have wiped out all the REME in the camp. We got through it OK but we had marched 30 miles in total in a few days and some of the lads came back on stretchers . Another bright idea was when the infantry bods had to go out on desert manoeuvre for a few weeks and someone decided that garrison perimeter guard duties should be taken over by REME - RAOC - RASC and  other odds and ends of base personnel . (I have later found out that the infantry regiments went on several operations against Egyptian terrorist not just for manoeuvres as we thought) We fell for a week of this duty and it was at least a break from boring workshop routines, part of the time we were doing this in addition to our normal jobs. Orders were clear, any suspicious activity on the wire at night we had to use the flares or light and fire at will. I know its an old one but they didn't tell us how we would know which one was Will. First night was like the opening of the El  Alamein battle dozens of National Servicemen had been given permission to play with live ammo for the first time and the MP’s were running round like scalded cats as they had to report on any live fire activity. This was the occasion when I think I shot  a Camel and the MP’s nearly shot me. We had argued for a while about firing the Bren, every other post seem to have done it but we all chickened out as we had not seen anything suspicious, I think the reluctance was mostly because we knew if we fired one of us would have to clean the gun later.  Finally one of the lads with the field glasses was convinced ( he said ) that there was movement on the wire. So I fired two short bursts where he indicated. nothing could be seen with the lights and flares afterwards.  Shortly after a jeep roared up and screeched to a halt below , I looked over the edge just as an MP C/pl jumped out and his Sten went off, Lucky for me it was on single shot, I don't know how close it was, we couldn't find the hole,  but we got sand on our heads from the sand bagged roof. Knowing how accurate a sten is if it had been on auto I think he would have wiped out all of us looking over the edge like clay pipes in a shooting gallery. Of course there was no apology from the MP, he just jumped back in the jeep and they raced off. About noon the next day there was an Arab arguing with an officer at the gate and we were told he was claiming that his Camel had been shot while grazing ?. I believe he was paid money but we were told that it was common place for thieves who raided most nights to leave camels tethered to the fences to carry anything they might get away with. We were never asked about the incident other than by the sergeant IC  so I assume we acted as per as orders. After that night it was much quieter with hardly any  shots fired, very likely because all those taking part had had a turn and a lot of weapon cleaning had been involved. We were told that the regular garrison defence troops killed or captured a thief on average one per week, our lots tally when it was over = 0. OVERSEASE SERVICE R.E.M.E  TEL-EL-KEBIR EGYPT  

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OVERSEASE SERVICE R.E.M.E  TEL-EL-KEBIR EGYPT   HANSARD 21 January 1947 → Commons Sitting → BRITISH ARMY Workshops, Tel-el-Kebir 27. Mr. Walker asked the Secretary of State for War whether he is prepared to initiate an inquiry into the conditions of labour in the military workshops at Tel-el-Kebir; whether he approves of young soldiers, engaged for long hours in these workshops, being subject to rigorous military duties in addition to their working hours; and if he will give some definite date of release to men enduring life in such hardships in the desert.  The Secretary of State for War (Mr. Bellenger) I am satisfied that there are no grounds for special inquiry into the conditions at Tel-el-Kebir. The men work 48 hours a week, in which is included the time spent on military training, which is essential for all military tradesmen if they are to be efficient soldiers. Non-Regular soldiers, everywhere are released according to the provisions of the release scheme. Although Tel-el-Kebir obviously cannot compete in the way of amenities with cities such as Cairo or Alexandria, the camp is a good one and there are facilities for recreation. Mr. Walker Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the men at Tel-el-Kebir are complaining very bitterly about conditions prevalent in that area, and would he not consider that when a man has worked eight and three-quarter hours in a military workshop, four hours' sentry duty or other military duty is in no sense a relaxation for him? Moreover, is he aware that the men are complaining that the life they are living out there is no different from prison conditions on the desert?  Mr. Bellenger No, Sir, I was not aware of any widespread dissatisfaction.   I hope my answer has done something to reassure my hon. Friend. If there was any recreational facilities in TEK when I was there in 1952 I never knew of them, we played football and cricket outside our huts with makeshift equipment on the hard sand. I did once get a game of darts in the NAAFI. One day while on camp perimeter guard I watched through the field glasses a gang of workers laying something along the Treaty Road outside the camp, I assumed cables or pipes. Next day I watched as the same gang, as I thought ! came along and dug things up again. Later we were told the second gang were Egyptian thieves' who came along to dig up and pinch the cables. At the time we thought it funny it reminded us of normal British road mending practices. Later in life when reading the histories of the Canal Zone troubles I found out that our Royal Signal Core bods were laying communication lines, testing each stretch as it was completed then moving on to the next stretch. The Egyptians waited until the test were completed then just followed behind removing the cables. If I had known this at the time I would have had great fun “taking the Mick” out of my elder brother who did his service in the RSC and also served in Egypt. I came across the following later when researching TEK. Just one more proof how MP,s Lie all the time .

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OVERSEASE SERVICE R.E.M.E    Bedford QL and Leyland HIPPO ten tons were the most common in the workshops . Working on the Hippos made me homesick because the angle iron framework in the cabs was stamped Lancashire Steel Irlam. My local steel works Where I started my working life at he age of 14 as an oil lad in the locomotive department. Refer to my Steel making slide show if interested. Later in life I went back to work a further 17 years with this Company. We never had any drivable DUKW’s which was a pity,  I worked on the other vehicles illustrated. Some are not pictures of the actual vehicles . We did once manage to tow a dead Sherman tank that had to be moved and we were quite proud that we had managed that with a only Jeep as a tow truck. Around the workshops. I do remember Morris trucks with a Bofors guns on the back like the example above, I wasn't allowed to service the gun though, pity I might have been able to improve some of TEK,s facilities!.

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While we were busy trying to keep the clapped out British army vehicles running we got in 12 Dodge trucks similar to the one above. Brand new 500 miles on clock, Not even dirty, “great” we thought, but eventually our job turned out to be driving them down to another part of the base so they could be scrapped. ? It was at this time we discovered hundreds of packing cases containing complete hand tool kits, all brand new never been issued. We were issued with tools that we think came WW1 circa, many was the times we would have to stand at the stores counter waiting for a hand tool that we could not have until someone finished a job and brought the tool back. We were drooling at the thought of new tools but you as you can guess they were not for issue, all to going back to blighty. I don’t know how many versions of the jeep there were, we got in about ten or twelve and each one seemed to be fitted out differently and have all something unusual compared with our stuff. Most had brake troubles. The first I worked on I couldn’t find the hand brake at first and eventually found it under the seat ! Another, same trouble, I found it was a pull out handle in the dash, I used every opportunity to road test them though I thought them great to drive.    One incident sticks in my mind with a jeep, A second lieutenant came to the workshop needing transport to somewhere in camp ( can’t remember where but I know he had something to do with pay parades.) I had just finished work on one of the jeeps and the Sergeant detailed me to use it to transport him. I just drove to his directions and at one place he sent me along the top of what was more or less a sand dune saying it was a short cut. Being by now an old hand, when I felt the jeep begin to roll as the sand avalanched I jumped out one side and he the other. As I was on the uphill side I was able to watch as he rolled downhill and the jeep did three rolls behind him missing him by about two feet with each roll. He ended up with his face against the fence that bounded the road we should have been on. The jeep was right way up facing the right way just beside him.    I got down to the road and helped him stand up and while he was brushing himself down I tried the starter and the jeep fired up first time . He then got in and just said “ go on” he didn't seem to be the least bit bothered about his lucky escape but he was much quieter for the rest of the journey and I was happy to keep my mouth shut as well. We came back by road and he never mentioned the short cut. When I put the jeep back in the finished vehicle park it was still half full of sand but we had no shortage of that stuff so I left it in. Still smiling (for wife's benefit), after being ordered to take a package to another workshop and not finding out until I tried to pull up outside that this buggy had no brakes. A few onlookers shouted very unsympathetic remarks as I went twice round trying to slow down and covered them in dust using the hand brake and some packing cases as my means of stopping. I also had been told just before I left that I had been promoted to full Cpl, but it was be             ACTING UNPAID. OVERSEASE SERVICE R.E.M.E   Around the workshops.

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My Faithful Old Army Greatcoat. During my time in the army cadets there came into my possession an army greatcoat, which I believe was issued in that very rare army cock up, “ the an issue of some item of kit that was better than it should have been”. I assume it was an officers greatcoat and it was brand new. The coat was the smartest, warmest and best fitting of any I ever saw. I had it for 3 or more years in the ACF and it served extremely well to cover me and my girl as we used the settee in parlour of the family home for our snogging sessions. No central heating in those days and a shilling in the gas meter was very frequently needed to keep the gas running for cooking a lighting. It was unfortunate that the gas meter was in the parlour and I had a younger brother who always seemed to do the job if we were home but never volunteered if my girl wasn't present. My greatcoat saved lots of blushes for my future bride although hanky-panky was also strictly limited in the old days also.  On going in the REME I managed to swap coats with the second hand one I was issued and the coat went with me throughout my national service. On night time guard duty in Egypt it was a friend in need and I can still remember walking round with the collar buttoned up to my eyes, Pick Axe handle and my hands deep in its lovely large pockets while my mate moaned about his freezing nose. He always said afterwards that the only reason he survived that first guard was because the cooks came on duty at 6.00am and we found a friendly Catering Core bod who let us into the kitchen to thaw out and cooked us some fried egg. I must admit the first guard we did out there we found it unbelievable how one could be working in just a pair of shorts during the day and needed to dress as if for the Arctic Circle at night. I can't remember how I managed to keep the coat when I was demobbed, probably reported it lost on board, ( I must have learned a few old soldiers tricks). It continued to serve me through my AER service and as an emergency blanket when we finally got our first house, (still no central heating and not much cash). Some of our kids have reason to thank that old coat for being an extra bed cover to give a bit more comfort during winter months. I can't remember what happened to it eventually but I think it went to charity, nice to think there might be some old wino still walking about in it today, it will only be about 63 yrs. old, I don't think it would ever wear out. It's wrapped round my big pack in the picture on the next page. I can’t remember dates but one day I felt really bad and went over to the medic who found my temperature was 114, he referred me to the quack and they sent me straight into a ward. I have no recollection of where or how I got there, I was feeling too bad by then to even care. ( Since making inquiries while making the TEK map I found out there was a British Military Hospital just outside TEK, perhaps I was in there). I don’t know to this day what the problem was other than pain in my lower abdomen but I was put on a course of Penicillin injections. These were administered by a national service medic who got me face down with the syringe held like a dagger in his fist, he then slapped a buttock with the back of his free hand and rammed the syringe down to bury the two inch needle up to the hilt into my defenceless backside. This went on twice a day in full view of other inmates of the ward who found it hilarious and used to give a countdown as if at a rocket launching. One time the laughter was greater than ever and I looked round to see the orderly staring at the syringe which didn’t seem to have any needle. I instantly though it must be left buried in my backside and thoughts of scalpels and pincers came to mind. Fortunately it was found eventually bent double along the side of the syringe, quite a relief for me but I still got a second one. I must admit his method didn't hurt until he actually injected the penicillin then it was like having a house brick in my leg slowly travelling down to my foot then all the way back up again. Boy that really hurt but it cured me in about a week. The other sad thing about this time was that all the other patients were given a free bottle of Guinness every night but because I was on Penicillin I was not allowed alcohol . ( did sneak out for beer at naffi once ) In later years I had several years of fairly regular pain and suffering that I associate with this event and even though I have no positive proof of the connection it did  mean I never forgot. My beautiful holiday in exotic Tel-El-Kebir . OVERSEASE SERVICE R.E.M.E   Medical. Army Kit.

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OVERSEASE SERVICE R.E.M.E   I have no recollection of the journey to Port Said, I think I must have gone straight aboard the Empire Fowey for I have no remembrance of loading procedures. I was on deck for a while watching the Bum Boats because on my picture they are leaving and I presume the ship is departing, By the time we were allocated our space and were able to find our way back up top, we were well out at sea. All in all I never did see very much of the Land Of The Pharaohs but I was so happy to be going home I didn't care. We had a rough trip through the Med where it was supposed to be plain sailing and a very smooth passage through the Bay of Biscay were it was supposed to be bad weather. I was fortunate in not being seasick but I did have a few queasy spells and didn't eat much, going up top away from the smells below decks seemed to me the thing to do and I spent as much time as possible there. We did stop about an hour outside Gibraltar but too far out to see much. I have no recollection of disembarkation other than a big shed on the dock at Southampton were we herded through the dreaded customs. We had heard all the “Scuttlebutt” about customs confiscating everything but in the event I was just waved through without any checks. I didn't have a lot, a couple of presents for my wife and a few fags but it wasn't fear of customs kept me on the straight and narrow, just cash flow problems. I didn't even get my extra pay for passing VMI test in TEK and I had been told the second stripe was unpaid and I had to remove it when I left Stalag Luft TEK. Back at Reading the usual paperwork and final medical took a couple of days and that’s when I got a quick Shufti at the papers that had been completed during the medical in Manchester when I joined up. The GREAT ESCAPE . ONE MONTH LATE. Empire Fowey the ship that saved us . Question “Have you any preference for service or regiment ?”  My answer was  “ Tank Corps or Lancashire Fusiliers.”   Answer written in record  “ No particular preferences”    ( Strangely enough if I had got the LFs I could have still finished up in TEK ) Question “ Do you wish to serve Abroad ? My answer  “ No sir I will be getting married prefer to stay in England.”   Answer written on record “ Very keen for overseas service” Question “ On demob you must do reserve service would you like AER or TA service.    My Answer  “ TA I have served 5yrs ACF and would like to continue my association”.   Answer written on record  “Would prefer to serve in Army Emergency Reserve after national service”. From Reading I was finally on the last lap but that involved travelling up to Bursco near Liverpool for final demob and transfer to AER service, going north at last I was a happy bunny but I lost my smile when the train took the line through Irlam and I had to sit and watch my hometown go by. Eventually though I got my spiv suit, took the train back to Irlam and became a semi-free man again . Almost Out .

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 T ROOPSHIP "EMPIRE FOWEY"   Operating life: 1935 - 1976  Tonnage: 17,528  Empire Fowey was a 19,047 GRT ocean liner which was built by Blohm & Voss, Hamburg. Launched in 1936 as Potsdam for the Hamburg America Line. En route to the USA when war was declared. Returned to Germany by sailing around the top of Scotland and down the North Sea. Used as an accommodation ship at Hamburg, whilst in German hands, it was known as, "Strength Thro’ Joy ship", carrying a complement of females and were used by German Officers. Lower ranks were not welcome. Later served as a troopship to Norwegian and Baltic ports. Took part in the Evacuation of East Prussia. Seized on 13 May 1945 at Flensburg. To MoWT and renamed Empire Jewel After arrival at Brunsbüttel. Sailed on 20 July 1945 for Methil. To Belfast in July 1945 for conversion to a troopship by Harland & Wolff Ltd. Completed in April 1946 and renamed Empire Fowey. In March 1947 she was towed to the Clyde and refitted again, Served as a troopship until 1960 and then chartered to the Pan-Islamic Steamship Co, Pakistan. Sold to them in 1960 and renamed Safina-E-Hujjaj. Scrapped in October 1976 at Gadani Beach, Pakistan. TROOPSHIP "EMPIRE FOWEY" (CONDITIONS) 1955   My intention is to draw the attention of the House to complaints me by a constituent about conditions in H.M. Troopship "Empire Fowey" during her voyage from the Far East which ended at Southampton in August. I should first like to draw the attention of the House to the question of the ventilation in the "Empire Fowey." My constituent was sleeping in H.2.B deck, which is at waterline level, and all the scuttles were, therefore, permanently closed, and men were sleeping in cots side by side in tiers of three in blocks of 18. Most men preferred to sleep on deck. My constituent says of the morning after: "Entering troop decks after a night in the open has to be experienced to be believed." He described the filthy smell of sweltering humanity which was quite overpowering even with the majority of the men sleeping on deck. And he invites us to: "Imagine this situation … with the majority sleeping below owing to bad weather conditions in the Indian Ocean    "There is one recreation room for all troops below the rank of corporal. Well over 1,000 personnel, I believe. At a rough estimate, I should think the recreation room could cope with 150–200 actually seated. The remainder sit on the floor. If the weather is fine the deck can be used. Cattle would be better catered for." The final subject on which I wish to quote from my constituent is ghastly subject of food. Never in my whole life have I encountered such swill'. The menus indicate a fair choice; but the quantity and quality—" There words fail him. The last meal of the day in the "Empire Fowey" was at 18.00, and breakfast was between 7.30 and 8.15 a.m., leaving a gap of 14 hours during which the men were without food. My constituent gives two typical menus for breakfast, lunch and tea. He says, that they were quite acceptable and that the quality was either satisfactory or fair. But then for supper the menu was curry and rice, two slices of bread and a cup of tea with the alternative dish, a slice of ham In actual size 2 in. x 1½ in., a mere fragment . He comments: "You will agree … that curry and rice is not an accepted dish to the majority of people. In fact, I would go so far as to say that only 50 per cent. of the troops ate this meal. This is supposed to last a man "14 hours." It couldn't happen in prison. The Orderly Officer was not available. The Orderly Sergeant stated that nothing could be done. It was pointed out that the men would have nothing to eat except one slice of corned beef, and one slice of spam. This was to last for 14 hours. The EMPIRE FOWEY was a fast ship and In 1953 travelled – Pusan-Hong Kong-Singapore-Colombo-Aden-Port Said-Gibraltar-SOUTHAMPTON   [All in 28 days - compared to the usual 42!] I think this could have been the sailing I came home they wanted to get us home quickly before we pegged out.. The EMPIRE FOWY.

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 Units for which I have found references of time spent in TEK garrison at some date.  Anyone can add to this list if they care to.. REME      2 Base     Workshop 1946 - 1956 K and D Camps, Tel-el-Kebir, Canal Zone                  7th Infantry Workshops REME arrived in Egypt in early 1952.from Cyprus. stationed for a while at Fanara and then Tel El Kebir .                  B.V.D. (E) R.E.M.E.W/SHOPS T.E.K  INFANTRY UNITS 1st Battalion Sherwood Foresters 1952 and served for six months at TEK Garrison,  manning the searchlight posts and providing ambush patrols on a turn and turn about basis with the HLI (51st Foot). 1st Battalion, The Buffs (Royal East Kent Regiment) Cheshire Reg 2 Infantry Brigade 1st Battalion Coldstream Guards 32 Guards Brigade 1st Battalion, The Duke of Wellington's Regiment (West Riding) Canal Zone, Egypt 1 Division 1st Battalion, The East Lancashire Regiment 3 Infantry Brigade 1st Battalion, The East Surrey Regiment 1953. : L Camp, Tel-el-Kebir 1st Battalion, The Highland Light Infantry1952. Tel-el-Kebir (TEK), Canal Zone 1st Battalion, The Royal Enniskillen Fusiliers 1951. Suez Canal Zone 39 Brigade 1st Battalion, The Queen's Own Cameron Highlanders 1951. Tel-el-Kebir, Canal Zone 7th Parachute Battalion 1951.: Canal Zone 16 Brigade 1st Battalion, The North Staffordshire Regiment (The Prince of Wales's) 1 Oct 49: amalgamated with 2nd Battalion without change of title 1950  1st Battalion, The Lancashire Fusiliers Jun 1950 1st. Battalion. South Staffordshire Rgt. Canal Zone in 1954 (Tel-el-Kebir),  1st Battalion Seaforth Highlanders falaise camp Tel El Kebir 1954-55 RAOC                      610 Vehicle Group        Abu Sultan? Tel-El-Kebir? 1945 - 1954?                                  9 Base Ordnance Depot     Tel-el-Kebir, Canal Zone 1953 - 1955                                  5 Base Ordnance Depot     Tel-el-Kebir 1945 - Operational from 1941                                  Base Vehicle Depot        Tel-el-Kebir, Canal Zone 1953 - 1955 RAMC                      British Military Hospital outside TEK Garrisonc1948 RAOC                      5 Base Ordnance Depot Egypt: Tel-el-Kebir1945 - Operational from 1941                                  9 Base Ordnance Depot  Egypt: Tel-el-Kebir, Canal Zone 1953 - 1955                                  610 Vehicle Group  Egypt: Abu Sultan? Tel-El-Kebir? 1945 - 1954?                                  Base Vehicle Depot Tel El Kebir (BVD(E) BVD(E) at Tel El Kebir  ROYAL SIGNALS        3 L of C Sig 2 Squadron, Tel El Kebir Det  RMP                        No1 Dog Company, RMP H.Q: El Kirsh.  Detachments:  Suez; Port Said; Fayid; Geneifa; Tel el Kebir;                                 Royal Australian Artillery  The 48th Field Battery was formed at Tel el Kebir, Egypt, on 6 March 1916                                 Australian Army          The 5th Division was an infantry division formed in February 1916

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Can’t Remember to much about AER service except that it was fun. I was NCO IC LAD and we were attached to an RASC transport mob. The group picture is from the first fortnight camp during which there was a display put on for the bigwigs that was meant to show how we the REME could bring our expertise to the task of recovering a stranded vehicle from a lake. The RASC lads had set a Bedford Ql at the top of a slope leading down to the lake, when the officers were ready they would be take the brake off to let it run down out of control into the lake then we had to retrieve it and get it running again. I was not too happy with this, none of us had recovery experience we were all workshop bods and if it turned over I could visualise us struggling.   Eventually whistles blew the wagon rolled fast down hill and splashed into the lake, turned sideways and stopped about nine feet in and just about up to it’s axles water. With great heroic daring I backed my 12 ton Scammell up to the Bedford, one of the lads jumped onto the front of it and tied on the hoist, we lifted the front wheels slightly and I drove out. We never even got wet, the officers left to the accompaniment of much hilarity from the watching OR’s. On another occasion we were spectators when one of the new Austin Champs with rolls Royce engine was being tested for submergibility. It was supposed to be waterproof and the exhaust pointed straight up into the air like a Yankee truck, that was the only part of the vehicle that was still visible when it stalled in the middle of the water, apart from the officer and drivers heads, better than The Keystone Cops. ARMY EMERGANCY RESERV SERVICE R.E.M.E  

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Of the second and third camps I have no particular memory of the actual camps because we did exercises out on the road practising transport convoys, again with the RASC. Since then I have found out The 3rd Infantry Division, Column HQ, RASC were stationed at Hobbs Barracks during the 1950’s, along with members of the REME and the 34th Light Aircraft Defence Regiment Artillery, with many National Service men passing through the camp. Maybe this was the place . Names that remain in memory are Ashford Kent And Crowborough Sussex. I distinctly remember that all the pubs were GREEN MAN, terrible beer. The photo left is the set up we had, one officer, I think one sergeant about five or six bods in the Bedford, three of us in my Scammell and a workshop truck with driver. On the first operation we were given map co-ordinates for the convoy each day and told that we must be the last vehicles in the convoy and we in the Scammell must stay as the last vehicle of all to pick up any broken buggies. One of the skills I picked up in the Army cadets was Map reading so I had no trouble in that respect. It was just unfortunate that we lost the convoy but we were happy that there didn't seem to be any breakdowns as we tootled along without any sight of the others. When we got to the  leaguer god knows where, were the first to arrive, the rest turned up hours late. With several vehicles in tow. Our officer was going to tear us of a strip but unfortunately for him he let slip that the convoy had gone up the wrong road the rest of the LAD had followed and all got lost, we had followed the map directions and orders correctly, one final big head moment for me. Memories of the last camp I attended include being bombed with flour bags. As you can see in the last photo the destination included woods where we had to camouflage the vehicles, which we though a bit silly but they forgot to tell us it was a warfare exercise. Don’t know where it was but fairly close to Farnborough I think and there was a long open road leading down to the woods. While there I took every opportunity to road test vehicles as we reconnoitred for pubs, there were no hostelries within walking distance so in effect most lads were confined to tent so to speak. On returning down the long road we heard a very loud noise and a big bang and everything turned white, at first we thought the engine blew, but the truck was still rolling and it suddenly clicked we had been bombed. Later a grinning sergeant told us we were all dead, that's when we discovered we were at war with someone. Never found out where the plane came from or what type it was but the pilot was good. On the following day we were declared alive again because there was work to do and in the evening I took a Leyland hippo out ( because the driver reported a strange sound), that was the excuse to the guards on duty. With him beside me we did about five miles but the sound seemed to have cleared up! so we parked at the back of a pub and to my amazement at least 12 OR’s jumped out the back. It was rather a shock and I worried a bit about getting back into where the convoy was encamped but at least I didn't have to buy any drinks and they did keep quiet when in range of leaguer the later.  So it was a quite jovial ending to my army career   . ARMY EMERGANCY RESERV SERVICE R.E.M.E  

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But Old Men Still Remember Sometimes I liked driving the Big Boy I’ve slept in one of those. You could keep a Bedford straight 6 going with a pen knife and a piece of string. Won and lost money in one of these. Most fun of all better than a Stock Car racing. Lancashire Steel from Irlam helped make the HIPPO . I helped make the Gang in front of it .

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That's All Folks. Now What To Do N EXT Sneaky ! If I can’t get your Army Tales , Maybe some of our grandchildren's early photographs or perhaps the “Mishaps of the Culcheth clowns “?

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