The primary Battalion Black Watch left Edinburgh by follow one night time, possibly in October of 1958. We wore drill order which consisted of kilt and TOS and so forth. We on a regular basis travelled in kilts in nowadays. It’s such a really very long time up to now that I overlook which port we embarked from. I give it some thought was Portsmouth. Really throughout the south of England. We spent about twelve days on a extremely earlier sluggish transferring troopship to get to Cyprus. There have been temporary stops at Gibraltar and Malta the place I went ashore. Costume was trews and blue bonnets. Most of the day was spent in bars ingesting. No vacationer kind sightseeing. Just some days later all the battalion was paraded for inspection to see that we had picked up no social illnesses. The journey via the Med was not unpleasant. Not so much to do. Loads of lying spherical being lazy. Comparatively overcrowded dwelling quarters. The trick was to stand up and wash and shave sooner than all people else.
After we arrived off Limassol we disembarked onto lighters which took us ashore. Sporting drill order, kilt and TOS, we had been greeted by a pipe band of the Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders. We then obtained on buses of all points and had been taken to our camp at Polis which was throughout the North West nook of the island.
Life in camp. That winter we lived in eight man tents. Someplace throughout the camp was a primitive bathe which I might have visited a few instances. We washed and shaved out of mess tins. I take into accout I bought a small burner to heat my water. As soon as I would accomplished, the equivalent water went throughout the tent. I then ate out of the equivalent tin. I moreover bought a transportable radio. I really feel all people else was Nationwide Service and as a result of this truth broke. I do know my pay as soon as I started was about three kilos each week. As soon as I accomplished it was merely over 5 kilos. We had been paid in cash every Friday, although after we had been on operations or out of camp it was held over, nevertheless cigarettes and razor blades had been handed out free. Sometimes we obtained a rum ration after we had been throughout the hills. The alternative Nationwide Servicemen obtained about thirty bob each week with a ten shilling marriage allowance for these with wives and there have been many. They married at eighteen or nineteen in nowadays.I was throughout the alerts platoon. Throughout the subsequent traces had been the regimental band and the pipes and drums. We nonetheless had two bands in nowadays. As we labored throughout the clock we continuously wanted to atone for sleep in the midst of the day to the sweet lullabies of the bandsmen practising on their units.
The regiment having an prolonged affiliation with India, after we arrived in Cyprus we had been joined by the regimental caterers from the colonial days, Gulam Nhabi. This very enterprising gentleman prepare retailer. His employees would do the rounds of the tents throughout the morning at reveille with buns and tea. I detested tea but it surely absolutely meant we didn’t must go off to breakfast. Later working throughout the hills one would usually uncover oneself dying of thirst, forbidden to make use of 1’s water bottle, and out of nowhere would appear a cha walla with a tea urn on his once more; Gunga Din be praised.
I can take into accout switching on the sunshine at night time time and seeing the bottom thick with cockroaches which might want to have been dwelling beneath the wooden floor boards. In that winter the camp was thick with mud. I suffered from horrible constipation. The sphere latrines took some getting used to. One officer dropped his revolver down one and wanted to fish it out himself.
On night time time obligation we might take a blanket alongside and probably nod off most of the time. The officers or sergeants on obligation not at all appeared to trouble us. Radio transmission was poor to nonexistent. Having merely arrived in camp I found myself on obligation the subsequent morning, my first day in Cyprus. A message acquired right here in from brigade to ship in our sitrep. I’d not at all heard the time interval sooner than. There was a positive confusion over radio procedures. Our main intercompany radio was the Mark 19 set if I recollect. It had seen increased days with the eighth navy in North Africa. If all else failed a hefty boot in its aspect often set it to rights. The rifle battalions switched from the .303 to the Belgian FN on arriving. The HQ Agency nonetheless saved their earlier and trusty Lee Enfield’s. An exquisite rifle that I on a regular basis take into accout with nostalgia.
Patrols would have a bren-gunner throughout the open turret of the three quarter ton truck. He would placed on a flak jacket. Nobody else ever wore one. None had been issued in any case. We had helmets nevertheless that they had been not at all worn. That winter robe was very relaxed and there was almost no bull. No parades each. No parade flooring. If there was an alert at night time time one would exit with the emergency patrol. One agency was on a regular basis on standby. Others had been posted to outlying stations. That New Years Eve or Hogmany most people obtained reasonably drunk. The stand by agency was saved sober. The drivers and signalers weren’t billeted with them nonetheless and it is unsure if the drivers might have navigated the gates. Thought-about one in every of our signalers was launched throughout the subsequent morning on a stretcher from an outlying publish, rigor mortis not pretty having set in. The regimental band carried out airs applicable for the occasion.
There was to be an operation throughout the Troodos Mountains; Mare’s Nest it was referred to as. The first assault was to be despatched in by helicopter. In some unspecified time in the future we had been instantly ordered to positioned on full package deal with rifles and to report again to the air strip for teaching. A light-weight-weight spotter airplane would fly over this on occasion and drop our mail out. A helicopter arrived. We obtained in, had been taken for a spin, a rope was thrown out, we had been ordered to climb down. Only one broken leg. We had been then completely expert.
On the exact day of the operation the helicopters had been despatched in. That they had been to be adopted the following morning by lorry born infantry. It was too windy to land the troops, aside from one luckless fellow who had been the first to descend, with out his rifle. He spent a night on the mountain sooner than being relieved the following morning. Promoted to lance-corporal.
We went up by road. I was throughout the alerts van. It obtained caught someplace. That night time time a corporal and I wanted to spend the night time time guarding it. Very lonely. I was solely nineteen on the time. I spent plenty of days at our base camp. Very small. I’d obtained preserve of some espresso so was able to brew my very personal. Detesting tea this was a godsend. It was very troublesome for me to carry out in a nation of tea drinkers. The meals appeared to embody mutton scotch sort. There have been C rations or was it Okay. I can not at all take into accout which had been British and which had been American. Russian salad, corned beef, bars of chocolate. All wonderful. I can take into accout deciding to get a bathe. There was a mountain stream 100 yards from the camp so I went off to it and swam spherical on this freezing water for a while. I might want to have been highly effective in nowadays. I not at all wore socks each. The sergeant had instructed me sometime a yr sooner than to each darn my socks or not placed on any. Being cussedly stubborn I’d stopped sporting them. Our highland hose didn’t have any toes on them each so it appeared logical. Arriving once more in camp I noticed I’d left my rifle by the stream. A sort of moments of panic. Luckily I was able to pay cash for it sooner than there was a difficulty. One fellow in our platoon had dropped a single spherical of .303 on the underside on descending from a truck after an operation and by no means seen it. He was positioned on a price and misplaced thirty days pay. One different fellow in a rifle agency had misplaced a bayonet scabbard, not the bayonet, and there was a courtroom docket of inquiry. When a bren gun had been misplaced by some nameless regiment two battalions had been turned out to hunt for it.
The Suffolk Regiment had a small base camp subsequent to ours. This was in a small vale extreme up throughout the Troodos Mountains. A corporal put his hand into his tent to decide on up his Sterling sub-machine gun. The set off caught in a person rope and he shot himself via the chest. Our medical officer tried to avoid wasting a lot of him nevertheless he died. A corporation had been supplied with donkeys for present capabilities. At completely different situations airplane would fly over dropping us gives.
I went to affix Don Agency. From there I went to an outpost which consisted of a corporal, two privates and me as radio operator. We had been on their lonesome on our private assertion publish faraway from all people. The perfect place to soldier in. We had a small Australian radio which fitted onto the belt. It used Morse, so I spent quite a lot of my time there talking in Morse with our HQ. One night time time there was a horrible storm. The wind howled via the mountains, the thunder crashed like cannon, the lightning flashed. We solely had two small two man tents. I can take into accout being on guard obligation after midnight. Beneath a tree, bayonet mounted, a spherical throughout the chamber, safety catch off, I may need shot one thing that appeared. Who had ever heard of precautions to take all through a storm?
Sometime later two privates in a rifle agency had irritated the colonel. The incident had taken place in our main battalion base nevertheless he had them launched as a lot as him someplace throughout the mud of the Troodos. They wanted to look i n full overview order, kilt, white spats and sporran and all. They every obtained fourteen days.
Throughout the spring we moved as a lot as relieve the Royal Welsh Fusiliers at Xeros. I was throughout the advance social gathering. It was on a regular basis agreeable to be detached from the regiment. There have been some Royal Alerts on this base who wore civilian clothes. When the battalion arrived, our RSM, Patterson by title and an unlimited of an individual, virtually went via the roof. I’d on a regular basis felt that when he roared even the gods of their heavens trembled. There have been to be no civilian clothes in his camp. We had been nonetheless in tents, nevertheless there was a parade flooring so we wore khaki drill and started to look wise as soon as extra. I’ve pictures of us in overview order, kilts and blue bonnets, white spats and sporrans and so forth.
The shut by village was Turkish, was it referred to as Lefka? Typically we had been allowed available on the market. Trews and blue bonnets. The native money was piastres. The beer was harmful, the wine worse, nevertheless every very low-cost. We had not had an precise break for six months so it was decided to permit us to go to Nicosia, a company at a time. I was not with the first agency. The commander of the Navy Police in Nicosia said afterwards that he had not at all seen so much hurt carried out by a single agency in all his years of service. Correctly, the Black Watch had a fame to maintain up.
I was detached to a publish in some Greek metropolis. This was throughout the interval principal as a lot as independence. The Greeks paraded earlier our publish with flags flying calling for independence. I cannot take into accout so much about that interval as a result of the politics of the state of affairs did not really concern me. When my mother died 5 years up to now and we had been clearing out her points I found my two earlier copies of Bitter Lemons, by Lawrence Durrell, and Grivas and the story of EOKA by W. Byford Jones, and although I possibly be taught these after the events concerned I could unlikely have been with out curiosity. At Polis we had had an interpreter. He was a scholar of Greek at Glasgow School and largely sympathized with them. The Black Watch had been very Gung Ho and couldn’t really give a rattling for Greek Cypriot sensitivities. If I take into accout the Gordons had had 5 males burnt to lack of life in a single operation. The Argylls had reasonably terminally tousled some captured Cypriot suspects after two British women had been gunned down. We had been pretty nice with the Turks whom we considered stout fellows although one among them accidentally discharged his shot gun into the stomach of one among our fellows sometime. One different private misplaced his eye on parade whereas unfixing bayonets with the model new FNs. As widespread accidents had been far more frequent than battlefield casualties.
Possibly our habits of transferring proper right into a church to go searching it and the bren gunner inserting his machine gun on the pulpit to cowl the worshippers was overly aggressive. When out we might help ourselves to regardless of fruit we found. One night time time we had an accident and slept the place it had occurred. Throughout the morning we found ourselves in a water melon self-discipline so that took care of breakfast. I can take into accout taking my rifle and going via orchards serving to myself to oranges. An order went out to the motor platoon to try to stop driving over so many animals. I really feel there was a contest amongst the drivers to see who had the perfect kill charge in a month. It ought to seem uncommon instantly that in my three years throughout the navy I cannot recollect ever seeing a tank. The battalion was outfitted with two armoured cars, a Ferret and a Dingo.
And as for Archbishop Makarios and Grivas or was it Dighenis. That they had been for generals and politicians to stress about, not the rank and file.
As a result of the state of affairs turned further peaceful the battalion created its private seaside the place one might preserve in a single day, get fairly drunk and spend the day swimming and photo voltaic bathing. No swim suits or one thing. No women each. In my three years apart from seeing no tanks I cannot recollect ever seeing a female soldier. Had been they referred to as WRACs or one factor? In camp we began the day at 5 o’clock and accomplished at lunch time. One was able to take depart. I spent a month in Turkey and the Aegean. The Turks had been very nice, the Greeks lukewarm. In Cyprus there was no fraternization with the native inhabitants the least bit. I was there eighteen months and in all that time not at all spoke to at the least one female. As soon as I used to be on depart I did fall head over heels in love with e beautiful Armenian in Istanbul nevertheless she was chaperoned and I could not at all be alone collectively together with her. In Khios throughout the Aegean I found a Greek girl from Egypt. Chaperoned moreover. Not at all alone each.
Within the path of the highest of 1959 the battalion moved all the way in which right down to the model new British enclave of Dhekelia throughout the South East of the island. This had a mannequin new barracks in it with the entire regimental bull that went with it. The earlier colonel and RSM had moved on to completely different postings, the troubles had been over and it was form of a return to routine garrison life. There was a utilizing faculty shut by which meant I could take up one among my passions as soon as extra. I take into accout one incident. A gaggle of us had been out utilizing and we might started a reasonably wild gallop. My horse pulled ahead which was efficient by me. Then I seen a extremely intensive ditch ahead and decided it was too giant to leap so tried to tug the horse up; in addition to that I not had it beneath administration and couldn’t so I believed what the heck we’ll should leap it. On the ultimate second the horse seen it and dug his hoofs in and acquired right here to a sudden halt. I went flying over his head, cleared the ditch, did a parachute roll on the alternative aspect and acquired right here up on my toes with no broken neck. I then tried to remount nevertheless the horse was very nervous and my knees none too common. The Second in Command of the battalion, an earlier 2nd Battalion India navy man rode up and said the rattling fool (me) can’t mount.
Authority and I not at all really obtained on. I was far too unbiased. So a personal I remained. Thought-about one in every of my biggest mates was a corporal. Ian Holden by title. He’d been despatched down from Saint Andrews School on account of he’d been too good to trouble to examine. He turned a corporal which I must have carried out moreover, nevertheless which will have meant conforming which I was too unbiased to do. We continuously went out collectively which was frowned on. Nonetheless he was on a regular basis in hassle on account of we used Christian names with each other. It was utterly detrimental to the maintenance of wonderful conduct and navy order that such points must happen. There is a most nice passage about that in Robert Graves’ “Goodbye to all that”. His e-book in any case refers to The Royal Welsh Fusiliers throughout the First World Wrestle.
Lord Mountbatten acquired right here by and a Guard of Honour in full robe turned out for him. As I am typing this I uncover my laptop queries the spelling of honour. I as quickly as wrote to the Events about their spelling of that phrase. That that they had used the American sort of Honor Guard. They said it was all of the equivalent nowadays. I disagree. I was part of the earlier navy. I was a three yr volunteer. Higher than half the people throughout the battalion had been Nationwide Service males. We nonetheless had church parades. We had been woken up on the fifteenth of each month by the Pipes and Drums having fun with The Crimean Prolonged Reveille. Drum Principal Costly was one in every of many most fascinating males I knew along with RSM Patterson and our agency CSM whom I solely take into accout by the title of Gobby nevertheless who had obtained an MM in Normandy. There was moreover my platoon commander, Captain McMicking, who went on to command the battalion. He was on a regular basis very respectable to me and I was most likely a trial for him.
In 1960 I went once more to the depot in Perth Scotland to be demobbed. As soon as extra a sluggish journey by sea. Possibly the equivalent ship. I saved a bottle of whisky in my bunk to help cross the time. When it was accomplished I put a discover in it and threw it overboard. Some months later a girl wrote to me throughout the Bahamas which was then my dwelling nevertheless I not at all answered. Life had moved on. Now wanting once more after half a century one will get nostalgic for the earlier, nevertheless the earlier isn’t there. Earlier mates have died off. The Black Watch which was raised in 1739 and can trace its roots once more to 1725 has disappeared. The highland regiments, the entire Scottish regiments for that matter have been amalgamated out of existence. So have the earlier Irish, Welsh and English regiments for that matter. They solely exist in historic previous books and the recollections of earlier troopers.