CHRIS WOOD REMEMBERS his time between 1961 - 1964
 
 
(Taken from his Facebook Post in 2021)
 
 

A Personal Snap Shot of My Time in 249 Signal Squadron 1961-64

Where shall I start……I arrived on an overcast day on the back of a 3 tonner in November 1960 at Princess Mary barracks standing outside Rawson Block, my home for the next 3 years. I was tired after a 24hour flight on a Bristol Brittania, (No jets then) from Stanstead which was then a collection of Nissan hut buildings and nothing like it is now!

The next 3 years were, dare I say it were the most memorable in my life and the making of me as a person. I met guys from all over the country who were all in the same position, no weekend passes, no ringing home every couple of days that was it. Eight guys to a barrack room and they were your new “family”, what time and experience it was to become. A totally different environment to the UK, a different climate, local culture and a new way of life for us all. I had no regrets as my posting was going to be Germany but it was changed at the last moment, thank you whoever!

My trade was radio relay operator B3 a “nothing” really but I did and do like driving. I became OC Radio relay troop driver, Capt Keith Reggler (He later went to NZ and joined the signals there, then retired and moved to Australia Gold Coast, opening his own business) and then onto Sqd commanders driver Maj Pat Webb (who finished his tour & returned to UK) and sadly both are no longer with us.

I always had a great interest in films and started the cinema nights in Princess Mary cookhouse renting movies from AKC.

I went to Brunei 3 weeks after it kick off for 6 months, started the camp cinema in a school. They were extrodinary times, vehicles were being commandeered, big flash cars for military ops but sadly I do remember seeing a row of body bags lined up at the airport in Brunei of guys who didn’t make it.

I for went back to Singers for R&R when things cooled down, then back to Labuan for 3 months, this was very civilised now we had tin hut barrack room and not the floor of a school class room as we did in Brunei

I was a founding member of the “Blackhawks” group and played bass along with Alan Buttery lead guitar, Bob Bowers rythmn guitar, Bob sadly passed away 4 years ago (Bob & Alan were in at GHQ COMCEN) & Wray Jarvis a civvy on drums. We played at many sgt mess dances, local clubs in town and at the Victoria Theatre.

At one stage I was in the “Navy” for 6 weeks, this came about as I8 Sigs hosted a sports event with HMS Eastbourne when they were in dock at the naval base and the Captain of Eastbourne invited 4 of us to go with them to Aus and my name was drawn out of the hat.

I was seconded to HMS Eastbourne and went to West coast of Australia on exercise for 6 weeks, Eastbourne was supporting HMS Ark Royal on the exercise and staying at Geraldton for 10 days a quite western Australian town that only came to life in the Tuna catching season. It was like an American western town with tumble weed blowing through it, Ark Royal went down to Perth and we caught up with her on her return. Eastbourne was going back to UK and we were transferred at sea by helicopter onto Ark Royal going back to the Naval base in Singapore.

The many guys I met were from all over the UK, a few I’m still in contact with others I lost contact with when I left 249, some are sadly are no longer with us as we are sadly reminded from time to time.

There are guys like Peter “Taffy” Cole who was good friend but I never knew where he went sadly, I think he was quite a good boxer and came from Cardiff.

Dave Hawkins a good friend and still is, we caught up several years ago and have met several times. Dave sold his house in Sussex and bought a house in France 9 years ago and that’s where he is currently.

Not forgetting my friend Bob (Geordie) Metcalf, a gentle giant of a man, I have tried many times over the years to find him without much luck, sadly. Eric Caisley a friend then and I’m very pleased to say a friend today.

On my return to the UK my next posting was definitely Germany, having left the warm climate of Singapore I decided to get out. The had AKC offered me a job as an engineer which I accepted and that spurred me on to take what was to be a large part on my career in the film industry, working for Rank organisation, Westrex, Pathe and 20th Century Fox, all thanks to Singapore and 249.

The last 20 years of my career I worked in a satellite communications travelling the world I had been back to Singapore several times on business, reminiscing of my time there on every visit, it changed every time I went back. I retired 14 years ago but it was on my “Bucket” list and went back 2 years last October and how it has changed, interesting it has been sanitized and a bit soulless not how we knew it. I am only too pleased to have experience it, I have no regrets and it was a real pleasure meeting all the guys I did.

Memories I will always treasure and remember. Chris (Chippy) Wood