(The story of one erstwhile squadron member)
I arrived in Meiktila Barracks, along with the original 606 (Borneo) Signal Troop, in August 1963. Our task was to relieve 249 Squadron personnel deployed in Borneo.
After much piss-taking, a quick bit of acclimatisation, a short communications exercise up-country and a rapid introduction to the nightlife in Singapore we flew out to Labuan. The troop then embarked and sailed by LCT across to Brunei, where there followed much more piss-taking.
Although we were all earmarked for 6 month only tours, quite a few of us opted for a year in Borneo followed by the balance of a full tour elsewhere in the Far East. I stayed in Brunei until the HQ moved into a purpose built complex on Labuan. So in August 1964, I found myself posted to 249 Signal Squadron, whereupon the piss was taken yet again.
Almost immediately, I was sent all the way to 18 Signal Regiment, to attend a D & D Class II course and on my triumphant return was informed that as a reward I was going back to Labuan on detachment. Fortunately, when I arrived in Labuan, I managed to persuade the OC of 266 Signal Squadron, as it had then become, that as I had already done Brunei and Labuan, Kuching would be much more appropriate. Surprise, surprise, my cheek paid off and the next morning, I was on the "Twin Pin" down to the Kingdom of the Gubler.
After 6 months of the delights of 248 Gurkha Signal Squadron, HQ West Brigade, in the company of Eric "Taff" Jones, Nick Archer (until he was caught for the third time - out of bounds) and a few whose names escape me, I returned to continue my education in Bugis Street, Zam Zam's, the Brit Club and assorted dives and dens of iniquity.
The hierarchy of 249 Signal Squadron obviously considered that my moral and physical health were at risk, so they duly dispatched me all the way to 263 Signal Squadron to attend a TG Op Class II upgrading course.
On my return to THE SQUADRON, my superiors told me that they were really going to sort me out this time. They promoted me to Corporal, and sent me off to Leong Nok Tha (Op Crown in Thailand) to run the detachment there for six months. Hell - what had I done to deserve that!!!
And so it was that just before Christmas 1965 I returned to THE SQUADRON, in time for a little bit of partying before my Far East Tour finished in February 1966.
Arriving back in the United Kingdom, my future unit, 602 (SC) Signal Troop, contacted me and said that I really could not have all the 92 days leave I was entitled to and would I get my backside down to Gloucester after just three weeks.
On my arrival there, I discovered that it was normal to spend 6 months being trained to the high standards required for Special Communications, so after the first week, I found myself appointed as the instructor for the batch of new arrivals who followed a week later. The icing on the cake was to follow in May 1966 when I was posted out to the Civilian Special Communications Base in Singapore. I was billeted with 18 Signal Regiment, where I was again subjected to an awful lot of piss-taking from THE SQUADRON.
However, for me, it was hilarious because I worked in civvies and traveled to and from Phoenix Park in an official staff car. Furthermore, my little Chinese driver insisted on collecting and dropping me off under the shaded veranda of RHQ 18 Signal Regiment. The RSM had apoplexy, demanding to know what I was doing and it was just brilliant to be able to say to him "Sorry Sir, but you do not hold the necessary Security Clearance." When he tried it on with the main office in Phoenix Park, he was very firmly told to wind his neck in and behave himself.
I had 6 weeks enjoyment of this and then came the day when, wearing jungle kit and equipped with bergen etc, I was standing on the RHQ veranda waiting to be picked up. The RSM informed me that as soon as he had finished CO's orders, we would be having a little chat in his office.
Fortunately, just as he had finished orders, a Long Wheel Based Landrover, from The Jungle Warfare School, arrived complete with an SAS patrol on board. They had just finished a quick refresher course and were all suitably dirty, wet and smelly.
You should have seen the look on the RSM's face when the Captain in charge of the patrol shouted across "Jump in Tam! Beverley to Labuan today, helicopter to Longhouse tomorrow!" and away we went without so much as a backward glance.
I suppose you realise now, that although I was in the Far East for just over three years, and ostensibly in 249 Signal Squadron for 18 months, I did not really spend much time actually in Princess Mary Barracks or Calcutta Camp - however I did learn to have the piss taken and also do a little myself. (Thanks to Tam MacDonald)
|(Webmaster's note: Although Tam spent a lot of time away, Graham Jolly has asked me to point out that he was around long enough to "knock out cold" a certain Jim Clinker in a Squadron boxing final.)|