GET IN GET OUT AND GET AWAY - MEMOIRS OF A NATIONAL SERVICEMAN
Now available to buy for £2.24 by clicking here Get in Get Out and Get Away on Amazon for the Kindle ebook, Ipad / Iphone, most tablets, PC, Apps and the soon to be released Kindle Fire :
US Version also available by clicking here for $3.99 from Amazon
Get In Get Out and Get Away. This may sound strange but not for your uncles, brothers, fathers or grandads. They knew from an early age that one day they would be called up to do their two years National Service.
I am sure the countless millions of ex-National Servicemen will have many things in common in these memoirs, hopefully they are happy ones.
I was born in a small terraced house on Walney Island, Barrow-in-Furness, England in 1938. In that era, the toilet was outside and the bath which was made of tin was kept in the backyard and brought into the house when needed.
Whilst growing up, the cloud above one's head of having to do National Service got closer and closer. I knew older lads who were getting called up on a regular basis. I was twenty one years old and had just finished my apprenticeship in 1960 when it was my turn. This was the last year of National Servicemen being called up for the services.
I served my two years National Service in the King’s Own Royal Border Regiment reporting to Fulwood Barracks, Preston. For ten weeks, the drill instructors shaped the platoon from a rag tag outfit to smart soldiers. From Fulwood the platoon was sent to Barnard Castle, County Durham and later to the British Cameroons, West Africa for ten months. The regiment was chosen to keep the peace and oversee a vote on the Cameroons future. There was a terrorist organisation on the French border that was intent on disrupting the process and the memoirs include numerous encounters and an eventful raid on a terrorist camp.
This true story is mixed with amusing anecdotes of growing up in post War Britain through the swinging sixties. I was given an eye opener in life then and I am sure when you read my detailed account, you will agree, and also see the parallels to the modern day operations undertaken by the American, British and United Nations military.
It is all history now but it has been a privilege on behalf of my fellow countrymen to put it all down on paper.
We all had one thing in common, that was to Get In Get Out and Get Away.
I have included the chapter headings, all the pictures to accompany the story as well as short extracts from each of the Chapters. At the bottom of the site are links to other interesting sites, my views on Should we bring back National Service in the UK? and the History of National Service. I also have my book news blog giving updates on sales and articles featuring the book. I have recently added some more background on the Cameroon involvement and a couple of reunion stories. I also have a separate website with a link on http://nationalserviceblog.wordpress.com
The story is nearly 60,000 words so these genuinely are just tasters of the book. I would love to hear feedback from you so please do contact me.
If you do not have a Kindle then you can buy a kindle from Amazon here, I highly recommend one. However, you do not need a Kindle to view the book, the fact you are reading this website means you can read the book by downloading software to allow viewing on a PC from Amazon on this link or you can read the book on an iphone or ipad, see this link
Get In Get Out and Get Away - Chapters
1) Happy Days
2) The Letter
3) The First Day
4) Bulling and Drilling
5) The Battalion
6) The Cookhouse
7) Westwick to Bamenda
8) Bamenda Camp and Showing the Flag
9) Taking Ill
10) Could you help out
11) Christmas and New Year 1960
12) Sante Coffee Customs and Patrols
13) Back at Bamenda Camp
14) Sante Coffee and Patrols
15) Going Home
16) Barford Camp at Barnard Castle
18) Epilogue - Forty Nine Years Plus
Extract from Get in Get Out and Get Away - Chapter 12 (for the pictures that accompany the story and more short extracts see below this extract. I also have links to other sites further down the page)
The French Army had been having trouble in their section of the Cameroons for years and I found it very interesting now and again to watch a propeller driven single engine plane drop bombs on a bamboo thicket high up the hillside on the French side of the Cameroons. This scenario was enacted quite some distance from the base at Sante Customs and as it didn’t happen very often, it was quite a spectacular eye opener.
On one particular day at Sante Customs, news came in that a Falani tribesman had gone missing. The Falani tribesmen are the cattle barons of the Cameroons who in their own right are quite wealthy. Two patrol sections including mine were quickly alerted and met up with a dozen horse riding Falani tribesmen. They were all armed to the teeth with all types of antiquated guns, swords and knives and etched on their faces, was a very mean look, which suggested they meant business.
For the better part of two hours under a hot sun, we followed old trails that wound there way over the hills that bordered the French Cameroons. The countryside in the border area reminded me ever so much of the Langdale Pikes in the English Lake District. Finally, after a lot of puffing and blowing our patrol came to the area of the last sighting of the missing Falani. Combing out quickly, it didn’t take long to find his body lying not too far away, half buried under some long grass. He had been shot in the back, while tending his now stolen cattle. The terrorists.............................
More Pictures and extracts from the book to accompany Get In Get Out and Get Away
Click here for details or to buy Get in Get Out and Get Away on Amazon
Chapter 1 - Happy Days
My name is Alan Edward Parkinson and I was born in April 1938, the youngest child of two wonderful parents; Fred and Elsie Parkinson. Unlike my brother Frank and sister Jean who were both born in Barrow, I was born at 34 Hastings Street, Walney Island; this made me the only true Walneyite in our family of which I am quite proud.......
Chapter 2 - The Letter
On the 21st of January 1960, I arrived home from work and probably because it was a Wednesday, for the first time I didn’t glance at the mantlepiece. Looking at my mam, who was unusually quiet, I saw her pointing towards the dreaded brown envelope. It was a strange feeling seeing the letter, more like a shock wave, but at least and definitely at last, the waiting was over.......
Chapter 3 - The First Day
A boyhood hero of mine had been down this road many years before, during the Second World War. He was my mother’s brother Bill Flockton, who lived in Leeds. He was a very tough and handsome man who had served in the London Scottish Regiment and saw action in the Middle East and the Italian campaign including the battle for Mount Cassino.......
Chapter 4 - Bulling and Drilling
Suddenly awakened by the sound of heavy feet and shouting, the reality of where I was quickly dawned on me. A corporal came charging into the room yelling and cursing, “Come on you lazy bastards get out of bed, get washed and shaved!”..........
Chapter 5 - The Battalion
Once on a day scheme while moving alongside a small wood, some clown using the two-inch mortar, hadn’t noticed that instead of firing smoke bombs, he was unknowingly firing small explosives into our ranks and the faster we ran the more the mortar bombs seemed to be following. How no one was killed that day is beyond my comprehension. Some of the older soldiers who had seen action in Korea just laughed it off as though they had been on a Sunday school outing.......
Chapter 6 - The Cookhouse
In serving out the mash, we used a scoop similar to the utensil for putting ice cream in cones. As each soldier came round the dinner counter carrying their plates in each hand, I would scoop up the hot mashed potatoes and drop it on their thumbs then listen for the utterance aaah. All done to absolute perfection, without may I add, looking up at all.
Their troubles would not be over yet, because having received sponge pudding on their other plate. They now headed for the hot custard and Arnie Marquis with a ladle type of large spoon he would swish the custard round the plate. It was done in such a way, that it would swirl over the thumb that held the plate. ........
Chapter 7 - Westwick to Bamenda
On the dockside while the Kings Own Royal Border Regiment played, the gangway went up and the ship started to move away. I think you could have heard a pin drop as the last rope dropped away from its bollard. The laughing and joking stopped for a minute or two as the ship made distance from the quayside and like it or like it not, we were on our way to West Africa.........
Chapter 8 - Bamenda Camp and Showing the Flag
On October 1st 1960, Nigeria gained its independence and with the British Cameroons bordering Nigeria, the regiment was put on full alert for any type of disorder. All buildings of importance, such as pumping stations and banks had to be guarded against insurgency etc. The Camp guard was doubled and each of the guard was briefed to challenge any suspicious characters three times and if there was no given response, use the bayonet..........
Chapter 9 - Taking Ill
On a return journey to Bamenda Camp from a border motor patrol, I had looked down on the bluish mountains of Nigeria. The view was truly remarkable with it being so rugged, wild and yet beautiful.
I kept getting pains in my stomach, mostly in the region of my belly button and after a very long bumpy journey.......
Chapter 10 - Could you help out
On reporting to Major Nash what the cook said. The Major snarled. “Just go down there and tell him that I want bacon and eggs now!” The cook was as mad as hell when I gave him Major Nash’s order. Reluctantly with a lot of swearing from a very high vocabulary, he cooked the breakfast. When finished, the cook just threw them on the plate. Staring at me and without saying a word, he spat on top of the eggs. When I took them back to the Major, he said..............
Chapter 11 - Christmas and New Year 1960
Later that Christmas Eve night, lying awake and listening to the noise coming from the naafi. My mind drifted off to thoughts of what I would have been doing if I were at home. Valerie and I would have been out with my best mate Val Cumberbatch and his girlfriend Hilda Duffy. We probably would go first to the Preston Street Club, then on to a dance for some rocking and rolling. I always made sure I had a dance with Hilda because she was a good Rock and Roller. The good times that the four of us had together were too numerous to count and it was in those thoughts that I drifted off to sleep..........
<Pictured below is a King's Own Royal Border Regiment Christmas Card>
Chapter 12 Sante Coffee and Patrols
All hope of surprise had gone because of the noise that the Sergeant was making shouting at a straggler. Bob Lees looked at me and again with a grin said, “Cover me, I’m going in.” Without another word said, he steadily went forward until he reached the cave entrance then he waved and covered me until I joined him at the cave.
Going into the large dark cave, we found..........
13) Back at Bamenda Camp
At night, while patrolling Bamenda Camp on guard duty, I invariably made my way to the back of the newly built small bake-house. This was where soldiers of the Royal Ordnance Corps baked the much appreciated fresh bread. Although the Cameroons was near to the equator and with Bamenda Camp being a few thousand feet above sea level, the temperature dropped considerably at night.
The warmth and smell of baking bread as I leaned on the wall at the back of the bake-house, reminded me of my holiday in Leeds, when my Auntie Lizzie baked her own bread, the taste of which is now lost forever.
My mind drifted back twelve years previous to 1948, when with my parents, our family stayed.....
14) Sante Customs and Patrols
Just as dawn broke, they were spotted by a terrorist who was walking about. Lieutenant Olsen had to act fast, even with the knowledge the backup platoon were on their way. He had no time to wait now they had been spotted, leading from the front of his platoon, he led a charge into the terrorist camp with all guns blazing. The terrorists..........
<Lieutenant Olsen who led the raid on the terrorist camp is picture 4th from the left (wearing a watch) and also pictured below are some of the captured haul of rifles>
Chapter 15 - Going Home
With (S) Company having now no commitments, we were given the honour of being the first men of the battalion to board the Devonshire. The journey down to the dockside was only about fifteen minutes and it was the most memorable fifteen minutes, one could have in a lifetime. With everyone in such a high spirit of forth comings and expectancies, the troops on the convoy soon broke out in song. Loudly, with total enthusiasm all the way down to the docks, we sang our own version of nick knack paddy whack give the dog a bone, the Kings Own Borders going home. A Company of Grenadier Guardsmen had just alighted from barges and had formed up in lines on the dockside just as our convoy of Lorries pulled up alongside them......
Chapter 16 - Barford Camp at Barnard Castle
The highlight of my time with the Kings Own Royal Border rugby XV came when we toured and played the Parachute Regiments at Aldershot. We were billeted for a week in one of the Parachute Regiment’s barracks. Our team was down too play, Numbers 1 and 3 Parachute Regiments and the Paras Royal Horse Artillery.
On reaching their barracks, we were met and given a lecture by a Major about the Parachute Regiments. He finished off his lecture by saying, when blood runs, it means nothing to the Parachute Regiments, but I want you all to enjoy your stay with us. I thought God; these games are going to be war like.
We won the first two games quite comfortably with only a little bit of aggro involved. The last match involved playing No3 Paras and playing at fullback was the Major who gave the introduction lecture.
This indeed, was the toughest match with no quarter asked and no quarter given. It was during the second half of the game, that Les Lowther kicked a very high up and under towards the full back playing Major. As he ran in position to catch the ball, Les was in full flight reminiscent of a steam train and ferociously crash tackled the Major. The Major flew into the air like a rag doll and crashed to the ground with a thump. As I watched the Major being carried off, the words of “blood means nothing to the Parachute Regiment” echoed in my ears.......
<Pictured below is the Regimental colours that i received for Rugby Union>
Chapter 17 - Demob
CSM Driver paid a visit to the billet; he would strut around the beds without saying anything, when he reached the door he would say, “Don’t forget you’re still in the army.”
On the Tuesday morning, we were informed that the CSM wanted the lads due for demob to parade with the rest of Charlie Company muster parade. Mixed up with the men in uniform, CSM Driver marched the company on to the parade ground. This must have looked completely ridiculous and so out of place.
The following morning, he again marched the company on the parade ground, but this time RSM Garner was in attendance. Looking quite astonished for a second or two, the RSM exploded into words not included in an English dictionary and literally chased the company off the square..........
<Pictured below are my National Service Discharge Forms, I did Get In Get Out and Get Away!>
Epilogue - Forty Nine Years Plus
Over Forty Nine years have passed since my demob from the army and indeed since National Service was abolished. During those years, a lot of water has passed under the bridge of time, but time has not and will not douse my memories of yesteryear.
After demob, I ........
<At the Sunshine Coast, Australia in 2010 with my 2 Grandsons>
Click here for details or to buy Get in Get Out and Get Away on Amazon
Should we bring back National Service?
I have some strong view on whether the UK should bring back National Service and have featured on Radio Cumbria and other local radio stations as well as in print including the Daily Express. I have added an article below the links section that I wrote on the subject. If you are a journalist and wish to feature my opinion then please contact me.
Links to Other Sites - that may be of interest to readers of Get In Get Out and Get Away
If you have a site that you think readers of Get In Get Out and Get Away would be interested in, then please add a link to www.getingetoutandgetaway.co.uk, I would be happy to add a reciprocal link - contact me.
|Military History and News Links|
|Get in Get Out and Get Away on Amazon||My Book!|
|www.modoracle.com||Comprehensive Military news and information site (including forums)|
|www.britishempire.co.uk||Superb detailed site for the history of the British Empire|
|www.britains-smallwars.com||History of British military conflicts from 1945|
|www.armedforces.co.uk||Overview of all the UK's Armed Forces|
|www.historyofwar.org||Military History Encyclopaedia on the Web|
|www.mysiteandme.co.uk||Michael Robinson National Service Site - Border Regiment 57-59|
|www.dave-davies.freeserve.co.uk/MilitarySites.htm||Military Web sites - compiled by an ex sapper|
|www.korbr.co.uk||Kings Own Royal Border Regiment Website|
|www.bidness.com/pterodactyl||Links to books by military vets|
|www.johnsmilitaryhistory.com||Dedicated military history site|
|www.nashos.org.au||Australian National Servicemen site|
|www.barrow-in-furness.info/walney-websites/get-in-get-out-and-get-away-national-service-memoirs||Barrow in Furness info site|
|www.servinghistory.com/topics/The_King's_Own_Royal_Border_Regiment||Great history site incl. KORBR|
|www.briefingwire.com/pr/should-we-bring-back-national-service-in-the-uk||Briefing PR Release site including military|
|www.smh-hq.org/linkpages/general.html||The home for military historians worldwide|
|Thoughts and blog of Falklands veteran Tony Mcnally and a link to his book Watching Men Burn - A Soldier's Story|
|http://nationalserviceblog.wordpress.com||My National Service Blog|
|http://www.military-history.us||Patrick's Military History and history blog|
|http://dalyhistory.wordpress.com||James Daly history blog|
|World History (including the Cameroons) Links|
|www.crawfurd.dk/africa/cameroon_timeline.htm||African culture and history - including the Cameroons|
|www.zum.de/whkmla/region/centrafrica/xcameroon.html||History site - including the Cameroons|
|www.din-timelines.com||World History Directory|
Excellent site dedicated to Walney Island (where I was born) and it's history and characters. Second link is to my memories of Walney featured on the site.
|Genealogy (including military) Links|
|www.cyndislist.com||Genealology links including many military site|
|Cumbria Family History Society|
|Books and other Military items For Sale Links|
|www.worldwartwobooks.com||WW2 Specialist bookseller|
|www.naval-military-press.com||Military History booksellers and publishers|
|www.thebattlezone.com||Sales of patches insignia and more|
|www.sentimentaljourney.co.uk/||Specialist suppliers of military equipment etc re 1914-1960|
|Military Forums and Information Sites Links|
|www.militaryforums.co.uk||The military forums site|
|www.4exforces.co.uk||Information if you are leaving or have left the forces|
|www.mesotheliomasymptoms.com/military-branches/asbestos-marines||Information and Support resource for veterans regarding asbestos|
|www.forcesreunited.org.uk||The largest UK military community on the web for forces veterans and serving personnel, with over 500,000 members!|
|http://www.pleuralmesothelioma.com||Information on pleural mesothelioma asbestos cancer|
|http://www.milblogging.com||Largest index of military sites|
|http://www.milblogging.com/listingDetail.php?id=5437||My national service blog on milblogging|
SHOULD WE BRING BACK NATIONAL SERVICE
Do you think national service should be brought back?
This question is asked quite frequently these last few years and no doubt there are arguments for and against this question. It has also been the subject of many debates following the riots in the UK in August 2011.
Many millions of British of the older generation of men have done national service and served their country with distinction. They served throughout World War 2, Korea, Malaya, Palestine, Kenya, Cyprus, Germany, and Africa etc.
For instance over 300 British servicemen lost their lives in Cyprus in the fifties and early sixties most of these were national servicemen.
The national servicemen of yesteryear were certainly a different breed of men, than the present day men.
The men who had to do national service all those years ago were originally called up at the outbreak of World War 2 when Great Britain was in grave danger.
National service continued for another fifteen years after the end of World War 2, when each man called up had to do firstly eighteen months service. The length of service was raised to two years due to the Korean War.
You may ask what you mean by a different breed of man, they are all the same. Well I assure you they are not.
The lads of yesteryear mostly came from poor homes where their father went to work for poor wages and their mother cooked, cleaned the house and looked after the children.
Over 80% of the people didn’t have a bathroom just a tin bath brought in usually on Friday night. The brick toilet was outside in the backyard the paper used was the day before newspaper. The bedroom for the children was shared with two in a bed for brothers and sisters depending on the size of the family.
The only wardrobe was in your parent’s room, the children’s wardrobe was a hook screwed to the back of the bedroom door. The heating in the house was just one-coal fire, which was usually lit before the children got up.
Family life was quite loving, with no television to distract conversation, but most houses had a radio.
One was made to respect elders, neighbours etc, it was always Mr and Mrs when talking to neighbours; it was no Jim, Tom and Maggie.
When your time came to be called up for National Service whether you were eighteen or twenty one, you knew it had to be done.
No one was looking forward to doing two years in the forces while just entering the prime of ones life. All the frightening tales told to by the abundance of ex-servicemen didn’t help.
The day came when you reluctantly left your tight knitted community and left to join your allotted service, be it Army, Navy or Air Force. Although it was a shock to the system there was plenty of food and for the first time in their lives there were showers.
Young men at that time had so much in common, coming from similar backgrounds, camaraderie and lifelong friendships soon formed.
The discipline and overall smartness instilled into each national serviceman during those two years made boys into men. No doubt they became better men indeed who kept the Great in Great Britain.
The lads of today have the better of two worlds, money in the back pockets, cars and a certainly more permissive society. Their homes have all the mod cons. The downside of their family life has been dampened by television.
I am sorry to say now; there are a small minority who have not much respect for elders, neighbours and the law, which of course should certainly be addressed.
Parents and school teachers should play their part in this and stop passing the problem onto others. Discipline when one is young plays a big part in future life
The overwhelming majority of young people are intelligent, dress well and courteous and should not be tarred by a few yobs.
The politicians, media and sections of the public who have never been in the forces themselves keep bringing this national service question up. Do it to them not to us attitude.
These same young men who keep getting picked on, will I am sure be the first in line to join up if the country was threatened, like it was many years ago.
No one wants to see lads who were forced to do national service being brought home after losing their life in conflicts. It is sorrowful enough seeing our brave service men and women being brought home from Afghanistan.
National Service should not be introduced, because of our country being involved in conflicts in far off places or any other feeble excuse. Do you honestly think the armed forces want to start training lads who are not making the services their career?
I am sure they will agree that it would be a complete waste of time for everyone concerned.
Politicians should sort our own country out, making it a peaceful and happy place to live, with no such thing as dole queues, poverty and racism.
As I said earlier, my generation were a different breed.
Click here for details or to buy Get in Get Out and Get Away on Amazon
THE HISTORY OF NATIONAL SERVICE
National Service came into being in September 1939 by an act of parliament at the outbreak of the Second World War. Britain had a regular army, but it was not up to strength for the conflict that at the time was foreseeable. The men called up in this act were eighteen up to thirty plus, who were not working down the mines or working in armaments, aircraft factories or shipbuilding yards. The men who were exempt were classed as reserved occupational, men and women who worked in the factories etc during wartime, were just as essential as men on the front line. I have to point out, those men who were employed in armaments and shipbuilding etc. tried in there thousands to join up during WW2. It was to no avail, because of their strategic work they were always turned down. It upset them, because they thought serving personnel would look down on them as dodgers and they certainly were not.
After the war in 1945 all this changed with a new act of parliament. This decreed all male personnel in the British Isles, barring coal miners aged between eighteen and twenty-five years of age had to do eighteen months National Service in one of the three services. This went up to two years service at the outbreak of the Korean War in 1950, much to the dismay of the national servicemen.
After hostilities ceased in 1945, and with the new national service act in force, the national servicemen served alongside the regular servicemen in all theatres of operation throughout the world. India became a large posting for thousands of troops during the India and Pakistan struggle for independence. While all this was going on, a further large presence of troops were engaged in Palestine. The fifties were a powder keg of problems for the British services with the Malaya campaign, Korean War and the Mau Mau terrorism in Kenya. Also the EOKA terrorism in Cyprus in the middle fifties alongside the Suez crisis became a big problem. At the same time many countries in Africa and of the old British Empire were gaining their independence, similar to the British Cameroons where my own regiment was posted. Not forgetting the large garrison of troops that were stationed all over Germany and Great Britain
All men called up had to undergo X-rays and a full medical, before being passed fit for service. Lads who had no trade mostly went into the services when only eighteen. Tradesmen went in when their apprenticeship was complete at the age of twenty-one. University students were called up after obtaining their degrees. Some men went into the Merchant navy, but they could not leave until they had completed five years service or reached the age of twenty-six. If they left before completing their five years etc they were liable to be called up for national service. The shrinking Royal Navy dispensed with national servicemen in the early fifties. The bulk of national servicemen went mostly into the various Corps and regiments of the British Army, with a smaller percentage going into the Royal Air Force.
What is paramount, I cannot forget without writing of the steadfast work of the NCOs and officers of the services. They had the enviable task of training the countless thousands of national servicemen over the years. Also the expertise passed on by the regular servicemen was appreciated by most.
During 1960 National service was terminated and barring an odd one most national servicemen were demobilised in 1962.
As one can see in the areas British forces served in the years of the national servicemen, it was some task for such a small country. Although not fully appreciated, it could not have been achieved without those young men who served their two - year call up. I must add this; during the national service years Great Britain had the cream of the country serving in the forces. Those men were always to the fore in everything the services could offer, whether it was sport, drilling, discipline, smartness and soldiering. There is no doubt everyone who had to do their national service, knows deep down that it did them no harm whatsoever. Strangely it is only years later and well after demobilisation that one comes to that conclusion. They all went in as boys and came out as men and no doubt, better men indeed. I hope after reading my book, Get In Get Out and Get Away you will agree.
Click here for details or to buy Get in Get Out and Get Away on Amazon
THE CAMEROON INVOLVEMENT - 1960 -1962
I decided to add a few more details to the site giving the background to the time in the Cameroons. Hopefully this will spark your interest to read more in the book. It is also a good reference with the details on the camps.
During my service with the battalion at Barnard Castle in County Durham, after a request by the United Nations the war office instructed the regiment that they were being sent to the British Cameroons in West Africa. The purpose of our involvement was to oversee a Plebiscite that gave the British Cameroons a choice of joining Nigeria or joining the French Cameroons.
There was no ifs or buts; it was it was a simple choice at a time when all our Empire was gaining their own independence. There had been terrorist activity on the border of the British and French Cameroons for years, more so on the French side. The French military had quite a substantial force stationed in the Cameroons that had been trying to suppress terrorism for years.
Our regiment had been in a state of readiness for quite a few months for any part of the world if required. Everyone was fit after the many hours of route marches and battle training on the nearby Bowes Moor and being sent abroad was a relief from all of this.
After an overnight journey on a special troop train to Southampton the battalion, along with detachments of RE. REME, RAOC, RS, RAMC, RASC, ACC and QUARANCS set Sail on August 31st on the SS Devonshire for the Cameroons. The voyage took two weeks and the Devonshire anchored just off Victoria in the British Cameroons. The country itself was 250 mile by 80 miles and was until our arrival being policed by the Queens Own Nigerian Regiment. We were the first British Regiment to be stationed in the Cameroons. This was the last time the regiment was together as a regiment for nearly ten months; this was because the regiment was being split up into three camps.
Camp one was at the capital named Buea about twenty miles from Victoria, the occupants of this camp, was “C” company and “HQ” company. The billets were made of aluminium corrugated sheeting divided up into sections for three or four men, which was quite good accommodation. The advance party of Engineers and local native labour had erected these billets only weeks before the main party arrived.
The camp itself was on the lower slopes of Mount Cameroon, which naturally had good views of the surrounding countryside. “C” company patrolled all the Delta regions sometime using motorised boats and had quite a few successes in apprehending terrorists and smugglers in these areas.
Camp two was at Kumba 50 miles from Buea; this camp was in a jungle clearing, where the climate was hot and sticky. This camp was allocated to “B” company. The billets were open planned and made of aluminium and housed forty to fifty men.
One hundred and fifty mile from Kumba was a place called Mamfe, a very flat jungle area where the RAF had made an airstrip and camp. The climate was the same as Kumba, very hot and clammy.
The last camp was in the savannah upland, 90 miles from Mamfe, it was named Bamenda. This camp was high up on an escarpment, which gave wide views of the surrounding countryside below. The camp was allocated to “A” and “S” company, of which I was a member. The Bamenda region was very hilly with valleys infested with bamboo thickets
Patrols were mostly on the border regions of the British and French Cameroons. The French had been having trouble with terrorists for years and one could witness now and again a lone propelled plane bombing an hillside close to where we patrolled.
My own company which was “S” had only a month prior to embarkation, been turned from a Support company into a rifle company for the duration of the stay in the Cameroons.
The out stations were named Sante Coffee, which was an abandoned coffee estate. One was named Sante Customs, which was close to a terrorist burned out custom building and the other was named Pinyin. Most patrols started out from these camps which were occupied by platoons of that company, with sections of the platoon patrolling different areas, always one section stayed behind at the out station.
“A” and “S” Company had many successes in capturing known terrorists over the months.
I personally was in a large patrol that was back up to another large patrol led by a Lieutenant Olsen, that went into French Territory, looking for a terrorist camp that intelligence had reported in a certain vicinity. In the story that you can download I cover the raid in detail.
The vote for the inhabitants too see if they wanted to join Nigeria or the French Cameroons, went off quite peacefully with just the odd bit of violence. The outcome of the vote went overwhelmingly to join the French and form the now Cameroon Republic. The result came as no surprise to the battalion, because the people in our area alone hated the Nigerians. This was probably because Nigerians had policed them for years and it must have swayed the vote in the long run. I cover the relationship between the locals and the Nigerian police in the book, it was often uneasy.
With the plebiscite over and done with, the handing over had to be done peacefully.
The battalion, had been in the Cameroons 9 months and were being replaced for the handing over, by the first Battalion of the Grenadier guards. The main body of the Grenadier guards arrived late in May 1961 on the troopship Devonshire.
Considering the regiment was spread out over the 250 miles, on hindsight they did a fine job in helping to bring peace and stability in the Cameroons. At the time the regiment had quite a lot of National Servicemen in the ranks, who were lucky to have been trained by men such as CSMs. Sgts and other NCOs who had fought in the Second World War and Korea. To their credit and experience not one man lost his life on any patrols in the Cameroons. The only fatality was due to an unfortunate road accident when a lance Corporal named Gardener was killed. I have no information about the Grenadiers time out here
Known terrorists captured by the KORB, were 73, Suspected terrorists captured by the KORB, were 239.
Although mentioned on the initial itinerary, no medal was issued.
I can not finish without mentioning the wonderful work done by the various Corps in particular the RASC drivers and 59th Field Squadron of Engineers, they were absolutely magnificent in making life a lot easier out there.
If I can be of any help or any question to be asked I will be only too pleased to answer. I cover all of the Cameroon Involvement in detail within the book and hope the above gives you some background.
Click here for details or to buy Get in Get Out and Get Away on Amazon
A GRENADIER GUARDS RAID IN THE CAMEROONS
Through delving into books and documents over the years, I thought it would be interesting to post this report, about a Grenadier Guards patrol two months after the King’s Own Royal Border Regiment left the Cameroons in June1961.
During the regiments last few weeks of our tour, the 1st Battalion Grenadier Guards advance party arrived. Small sections of the Guards were sent to the various out station camps occupied by the companies of our regiment. The Guards then joined our patrols to get knowledge of the surrounding countryside etc, which is customary as you all know.
I wrote in my story how Lieutenant Olsen of (S) Company King’s Own Royal Border Regiment led a platoon on an early morning raid and completely over run a terrorist camp. His maps and notes of the area etc were left for the Guards who had now to patrol those mapped out areas of the Bamenda region
Two months later, because of terrorist activity in the area. The Grenadier Guards were designated to attack the same camp that Lt Olsen’s patrol had over run a few months’s earlier. The camp I can verify was situated in a very hostile terrain about 23 miles from Bamenda on the French side of the Cameroons.
The Guards had bad luck right from the start. They set off in the dark with the rain and mist making visibility poor in finding tracks leading to their objective. One has too understand, as the crow flies distance is no problem, but when you climb hills and go through bamboo thickets and boggy ground etc. It can and does cause problems to the individual and this slowed down the Grenadiers patrol considerably.
Dawn broke and they were still over a mile away from where the terrorist camp was situated. All surprise had gone so they rested cleaned weapons lit fires and had breakfast. It was obvious now if the camp was occupied the terrorists would have spotted the Grenadiers’ and their camp would have been alerted.
Later before 10am the leading section was in the thick bamboo wood near to the top of the hillside where the terrorist camp was known to be.
Suddenly the leading sections were fired upon by an automatic weapon. A young Guardsman was hit in the chest and collapsed to the ground.
The Guards using LMGs advanced forward to the top of the hill with all guns firing and consequently took the camp.
Surprisingly searching the camp there was no sign of anybody or anything of importance, the terrorists had completely disappeared. Although later in the day, two Grenadier snipers who were positioned on the lower slopes of the hillside accounted for two terrorist who wouldn’t stop when challenged.
Just has we had done a few months earlier the camp was wrecked and anything of value taken. No doubt after a few days the terrorists would occupy the camp again.
The sad part was indeed the loss of Guardsman John Lunn who had died instantly.
He had only just got married prior to the Guards departure for the Cameroons, which again was very sad indeed for everyone concerned.
Reading what happened to the Grenadiers on this patrol. It certainly makes me appreciate what Lieutenant Olsen of the King’ Own Royal Border Regiment achieved 50 years ago. For his action that day, he was awarded the Queen’s Commendation for Bravery and indeed he deserved it
A few years ago, I met up with my old mate Eric Shaw from Ashton-under- Lyne.
He came to Barrow-in-Furness with his wife Elsie and eldest son Eric and his wife Cherylyn and three children. I had not seen Eric since February 1st 1962.
I must say it was quite an occasion and I was so pleased to see him after 43 years.
Eric’s son was only a baby when at 19 years of age, he started his national service and like thousands others he took it in his stride. He kept his thoughts to himself and looking back it must have been quite traumatic. One can only admire men like Eric Shaw for what they must have gone through.
While reminiscing with Eric in the Ferry Hotel, Geoff Stubbs who had been a big mate of Eric’s in (C) Company came through the door with his wife Shelia.
I asked Eric if he knew him and with a puzzled look on his face he shook his head. Then Eric’s face lit up like the rising sun and he shouted Geoff Stubbs, it was absolutely brilliant to see.
Geoff had broken his leg three months before demob and whereas Eric and I were demobbed in the February 1960. Geoff had to wait until April when his leg had healed at The Chester Military Hospital, before he could get back to Civvy Street. It was quite a reunion for both of them.
Quarter of an hour later Tommy Swann who also was in (C) Company came in and sat down amongst us. We again asked Eric if he knew him and again he shook his head. Geoff told him to think of a bird and again Eric’s face lit up and shouted Tommy Swann.
It was certainly a memorable evening with many a tale told with plenty of laughs thrown in. Like everything else there comes a time when once again, you have to say Goodbye to friends of long ago and it his said with sadness.
I have said this many times before; the camaraderie between ex-servicemen who have served together is tremendous and will never be broken.
I am sure I speak for everyone in saying we were all pleased we did not miss out, in having to serve in the forces during national service, where we all met such great friends.
THE REUNION 2
On a separate occasion in 2004, myself and George Day met Tony Olsen (Major). Tony Olsen as a young Lieutenant in the Kings Own Border Regiment 43 Years ago, planned and led a successful raid on a terrorist camp in the then French Cameroons. George Day a National Serviceman and British Army trained Physical Training Instructor, was the platoon corporal on this raid. George like me was a fellow Barrovian. I have described this operation through my eyes in Chapter 14 of my story. For the operation Lieutenant Olsen was awarded the Queens Commendation for Bravery and I must say he certainly earned it. Personally I think it should have been a higher award for this fine officer and man.
The three of us reminiscing so long ago brought memories flooding back thick and fast. Photos were passed around with familiar faces easily recognised, others we tried hard to put a name to their young faces.
There is no doubt it was very interesting and enjoyable meeting.
It also goes to show, that the bond and camaraderie between men who have served together abroad, whether it be officers or other ranks, remains strong.
Click here for details or to buy Get in Get Out and Get Away on Amazon
Book News Blog
8/7/12 - The book has now been on sale over a year and sales still incredibly continue to outsell all expectations. Please check out my blog for further updates http://nationalserviceblog.wordpress.com
5/5/12 - Been a while since i updated this as I have been keeping the blog noted below up to date. In one week the book will have been on sale a year, sales have been probably 10x what I expected.
19/2/12 - Wow just had my record week so far!
5/2/12 -Sales just keeping getting better with January now the record month so far. I am also updating blog frequently with stories of National Service and other items of military history - http://nationalserviceblog.wordpress.com. The book was also featured in the Blackpool Gazette this month where I subsequently learnt of the sad loss of Arnie Marquis, a real character.
4/1/12 - Incredibly December smashed both the record week and month for the book, boosted by the Christmas Kindlle Sales. I have also started a blog on general National Service information http://nationalserviceblog.wordpress.com
26/11/11 - It just gets better - sales have broken the record week and November is a record month. Also made the top 2000 books sold for the Kindle and number 23 for Military History.
20/11/11 - The record week has been smashed twice in the last 3 weeks and November will be a record month. Book has hit number 1 in African History and number 38 in Military History books. It has also hit the top 3000 in all books sold by Amazon. Thanks to all who have purchased the book, all expectations have been surpassed.
30/10/11 - The book has been in the top 2 for African History books in the UK for a while now and is often in the top 50 for military history, quite an honour when you look at the books in competition e.g. Black Hawk Down. Looking forward to post Christmas when I expect a further explosion in sales!
1/10/11 - Just had a joint record sales week for the book. Great new re the release of the Kindle Fire. The 'Kindle Fire' has been receiving rave reviews and is due for release in November in the USA and soon after in the UK. This should provide a tremendous boost to the ebook market.
17/9/11 - Sales are stil fantastic with the book back at number 1 for an African History ebook
11/9/11 - There has been a lot of talk in the press following the UK riots in August about whether the UK should bring back National Service in the UK and the National Citizens Service. This has sparked much debate and also a lot of interest in the book with record sales drving the book to number 1 bestseller for both National Service books and ebooks about African military history as well as a high placing in the overall Kindle charts.
12/8/11 - Sales still excellent last 2 weeks have been best and third best since release - thanks to all.
17/7/11 - Excellent feedback from some of the military forums out there including the informative KORBR site -see the link above to view that site. Last week was the second best sales since launch. Thanks to all who have purchased the book, I would be delighted to hear any feedback.
26/6/11 - Great feedback from the article in the North West Evening Mail and the book has received some excellent 5 star review on the Amazon UK site. Hoping to commence looking for some of the former servicemen who I have not yet made contact with from my National Service days.
12/6/11 - Sales are still going strong on both UK Amazon and USA Amazon and delighted that the North West Evening Mail featured a 2 page article in their 10th June edition.
20/5/11 - Get in Get Out and Get Away launched on time on the 12/5/11 and has reached the heady heights in Amazon's Kindle Book bestsellers of number 3 in African History as well as top 40 in Military History. It was also featured in a Daily Express article on Should the UK Bring Back National Service. Thanks for all the positive feedback.
27/5/11 - Another great week with the book remaining at number 3 in African History and placing high in Military History. On the US Site Amazon.com, the book reached number 1 in History - Cameroon and number 2 for West Africa. The book was also feature in a Daily Express article linked here.