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Royal Military Police 2.

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FIFTY                                                    BACK INTO TRAINING

pass out photo

This time travelling to Woking to join the Army I knew I was not making a mistake.
I seemed to have done the journey so many times. In fact I had done it only three but it had been done many more in my mind.
Passing through the main archway it was as if I had never been away. In fact it had been almost three years since I originally obtained my discharge. Since then I had learned that the barracks had been named after the battle of Inkerman of 1854 in the Crimean war.
I booked into the guardroom with little or no apprehensions. The guard Sergeant bellowed at me, almost identically, as when I had first entered though now I had inner knowledge. I was still a new recruit but this time I was not new to the system.
In training I certainly found things had changed.
Most of the squad instructors were now full Corporals rather than sergeants.
National Service had been revoked, practically all recruit intake were now regulars.
I did not have to send my civilian clothes home. When not actually doing training we were allowed to wear civvies.
In theory recruits were allowed out of the barracks providing they registered in and out at the guardroom. In practice we rarely went out of the barrack area. Although occasionally at the weekend a few mates and I would go for a short stroll.
There was still much work to be done preparing of kit but more emphasis was placed on the academic subjects.
Saturday morning workings had been phased out. When a recruit finished training Friday afternoon, providing he had no guard or piquet's, he was free until Monday morning. We had always to be in barracks before 2359 hrs. Midnight, when lights were out.
There were no cookhouse duties or potato peeling, all food preparation and washing up was now done by machines.
Recruits were now only issued with one Battledress uniform. BD was to be finally phased out. A modern No 2s uniform had been issued. The number 2 uniform was easier to iron with far less creases. Personally I would be sorry to see the Battle Dress uniform go, I always felt very smart in mine. We also were issued shoes as well as boots.
Some brasses, like buttons and badges, were now stay-bright and did not need polishing. Brasses on the webbings though still needed attention.
Boots ammunition had been changed to Boots DMS. These were easier to clean and more comfortable. They had a rubber sole, needing no studs.
The fatigue denims were issued but they had largely been replaced with 'Greens.' A trouser and top, rain and windproof uniform. Greens were designed for field use.
The old 303 rifle had been fully phased out and the SLR  (Self Loading Rifle) had taken its place.
The spider barrack rooms were now centrally heated. The flock filled mattresses being replaced by a foam mattress.
All in all life was a lot easier for recruits. Although still much attention was given to the smartness and cleanliness, more emphasis was placed on the academic subjects.

I was issued with kit and given the rest of the week to bring it up to standard. I almost immediately applied to be up squadded due to past training.
I was placed in a squad in the fifth week of training. I was overjoyed. Now I had only twelve weeks to do rather than the full sixteen.
Although a little apprehensive at first as to whether training had changed too much. I soon slotted into the new R27B training squad reasonable easy. A Corporal, John Redman, was the squad instructor. I found him to be a very hard exact taskmaster but always found him fair in all circumstances
Training was just as hard as I remembered it but now I knew what the score was. Whenever a senior rank berated me for my lapses, I did not take it to heart. I accepted it for what is was. It just made me try even harder.
Pass-out week eight came and went.
In weeks nine to twelve in Military Law I found that the old judges rules had been rewritten. A whole new set of rules and definitions had to be learnt. The cautions given to an alleged offender had changed. Whereas I had been looking forward to the Military Law stage I found that I had to work just as hard if not more so. I had to abandon much of the old Military Law and accept the new.
Weeks Twelve to Fifteen were MT training. I held both Motor Cycle and Motor car licences. I was required to take a driving test with one of the civilian instructors in a 3 ton Bedford truck. I had driven the heavy vehicles before and my driving must have been acceptable because he passed me as capable of driving most Military vehicles. Throughout the MT stage all I did was a weekly guard and fire piquet duty. Within reason the rest of the time was my own. In week 15 the Physical Training instructors held a competition to find the best recruit in PT Always being a physical person rather than an academic one I managed to win. the comp. 
Week sixteen we prepared to pass-out on the square. By now all our uniforms had now a single stripe on the sleeves. It was all over bar the shouting.
I was still having problems getting my boots up to scratch. that chore was the biggest headache that the army had ever thrown at me. Although they were acceptable when viewed on their own, when placed with other recruit boots they were inferior.

warrant


In April 1963 27B squad passed out. It was a glorious day. I felt so proud. If someone had given me a million dollars not to pass out I would have refused the offer. It gave me the greatest satisfaction of my life.

passing out parade

 I now had three weeks leave in front of me. Two weeks after that I would be off to my posting at 247 Pro. Coy RMP (Berlin) Germany. BFPO 45


On return to Inkerman Barracks after pass out and embarkation leave, again things changed. I was now an NCO and others treated me as such. I now had no fear of senior ranks or officers. I treated them with respect and it was returned.
We had to remain at Woking until our flight plans to our individual units were arranged. Some of the squad were Home Posted, meaning postings within the UK. I was glad that had not happened to me. Although I would have preferred a more exotic posting like the Far or Middle East, I was satisfied with Berlin. I had heard that it was the plum posting in Germany.

Prior to embarkation all kit, other than walking out uniforms, both civvies and army was pre-packed and sent on ahead.
The Sunday evening before my coming Fridays flight, a few of the squad mates suggested that we all go into town. It was for, what could be, the last time we socialised together as a group.
Many of the squad had already left on postings leaving only nine of us. We all agreed to as night on the town. I then remembered that I had no civilian suit. At that time we always wore a suit and tie when exiting the barrack area. It was unheard of to go out casual, just slacks and sweater. My civvies and non essential military kit had been packed away in a wooden box and had been pre-sent to Berlin, to travel separate.
I intimated that I would not go out drinking in uniform. One of my squad mates suggested that I borrow one of his two suits that he had not pre-packed. I agreed.
He lent me a very light grey, almost white, single breasted, mohair suit. It fitted me like a glove. I felt like a ten foot tall movie star.
We went out on the town for our last drink together. Towards the back end of the evening someone suggested going to the Atlanta ballroom for the last hour. We all agreed.
Every one seemed to be having a good time. I was dancing with someone when I realised there was an argument over in one corner of the room. It involved some of my mates. I went over to give support. There was this big guy shouting the odds. He was with a party of guardsmen from Pirbright, the guards camp. The argument started when one of my mates had asked the lady friend of one of their group to dance. The other had taken offence to this. All parties had a lot to drink, beer was talking. I intervened because It looked like we were outnumbered. The big mouthed lad seemed to be the leader of their group. I took the part of spokesman for our group.
I said that the outcome looked like being a fight. As they outnumbered us I suggested that he pick his best fighter and he and I would go behind the dance hall and sort it out. He agreed. He looked around at his group. I didn’t particular want to fight and thought I would try and bluff him out by saying. "Make sure you chose yourself? cos I want you". He obviously would have been one of his group but I was hoping to put the wind up him and expecting him to back down. He didn't.
He growled and replied "Yer, and I want you as well"
"Tell you what then," says I, "None of us wants a riot in this place, why not just let the two of us sort it out around the back in the car park?"
To my surprise he agreed to my suggestion
The fight was on, he seemed a big lad but I felt confident that I could give as much as I would take . It would be a hiding or else. We made an pact that whatever happened between us no other would step in. Instead of it being a free for all it would be a fair fight.
He, his group, me and my mates began heading out of the dance hall. Then I realised I was wearing someone else's white suit. I could take the coat off to fight but not the trousers. If it had been my suit I would not have thought twice. How do I get out of a situation that my big mouth had got me into.
"Was it your bird my mate was chatting up. I enquired?
"No, my mates." he replied. "It wasn't even his bird either. she a bit of a slag anyway."
"What do you say that we agree that nobody has her"
"What do you mean?"
"I'll tell my mates to leave her alone. You do the same to yours. We are Military Police after all and we should not really be doing this."
Whether he did not want to fight or did not want to get entangled with the MPs I don't know but he readily agreed to my suggestion. We each would warn our own group to keep away from the trouble making girl. We moved back into the ballroom bar together, almost as new found friends.
I was so relieved to get out of the situation that I almost bought my own beer. The white suit had made me feel like a million dollars but it just might have cost me almost that to replace it, if it had been ruined in a fight.
A good farewell party was had by all.
Monday I was to fly to Berlin.
Jock S. and George P. and myself were to fly from Gatwick to Berlin. I had never flown before it was to be a first. I was quite exited by the coming flight but I tried to hide it, acting nonchalantly. We three travelled in uniform aboard a commercial flight.
The actual boarding, take off and flight were really quite ordinary. Was I becoming a seasoned traveller? The English channel soon appeared and was left behind. France was the first sight I had of a foreign soil. It looked remarkably the same as England. What had I expected?
West Germany came next and then the air corridor through East Germany to Berlin was announced by the captain. A Soviet fighter plane soon appeared on the right side of our aeroplane. It escorted us through the corridor and left us as we entered the allied sector of Berlin. Looking out of the plane window I could see a long swathe of ploughed ground that stretched into the distance, it was my first sight of the Allied/Soviet border.
Our aircraft touched down at Templehof airport.

 


FIFTY ONE  
                                                          BERLIN

It was late afternoon as the aeroplane doors opened out to a new country and career for me. We stepped down on to the tarmac at Templehof, my first time in a foreign country. Everything seemed normal. I had been expecting a sudden rush of adrenaline or emotion but nothing, although I had the inner feeling that I was glad to be where I was.
After passport and custom controls, we were met by an MP from our new company. He was driving a Volks Wagon Mini Bus with an air cooled engine. The Volks Wagon was a very quite and comfortable ride. "Hmm," I thought. "Almost as good as British buses."
Our driver drove us through the streets of West Berlin, pointing out a few of the sights. The street lights were just beginning to come on. I knew very little about Berlin. I had the common knowledge of it being the capital city of Germany during the war where Hitler had made his last stand. I did not fully understand about Germany being split up into the four powers. Nor did I understand where Berlin featured in all this.
I had heard of the 1948/49 Soviet road blockade, where all consumable’s had to be flown in by air, even coal. I think I had half expected a run down city, from where I was looking it did not appear so. The Germans did not seem to be suffering from any deprivation. The shops windows seemed full and the street lighting along the famous Kurfustendam seemed very affluent.
Our driver pointed out the Brandenburg Gate on the right as we turned up Strasse Des 17 Juni. This road led us on to Heer Strasse. He explained that Heer Strasse runs through almost the whole of the British sector. We were heading for the Olympic stadium area of Charlottenburg.
As we drove along Heer Strasse he slowed the VW's speed down to exactly 50 KPH. (about 30 MPH) The reason, he said, that on this very long road there are many traffic lights. All are synchronised at 50 kph. At each junction as we reached a set of lights they changed to green, allowing us to carry on. If he had gone any faster, or slower, he would, at some time, be met with a red stop light. It was in every drivers interest to conform to the speed limit. The driver further explained that in adverse conditions, fog or ice etc., the civil police can lower the speed limit as necessary. At each junction there was an illuminated sign denoting the current speed restriction. More respect for the Germans.
We turned off of Heer Str. at a large roundabout called the Theodore Heuss Platz. I noticed that the main NAAFI called Edinburgh House was located there.
Towards the end of our journey we passed through an avenue called Sportsforum. The sides of the road had high double mesh fencing. The road ended at a control box and beam barrier. The driver flashed his vehicle blue light to forewarn that ours was a police vehicle. The barrier was raised just at the right moment to let us through. I felt as if we had entered a concentration camp. We had entered BIB. HQ. Berlin Infantry brigade Head Quarters.
Arriving at a very modern white marbled building, which was to be our home for the near future, we alighted and were lead into the RMP control room. It had a long raised counter behind which sat a Sergeant and two other MP attendants. The counter had a maze of radio and telephone equipment. We were first required to produce means of identification and then booked in.
Shown were to collect bedding and given a bed space, we were left to our own devices until the coming morning. The accommodation was quite luxurious by army standards.
That evening I found the Corporals mess, had a few drinks and introduced myself to the other drinkers. I was made quite welcome.
Saturday morning at nine we introduced ourselves at the orderly room. There we were instructed that Part 1 and 2 orders were posted on the bulletin board at the entrance to the building. All persons were required to read them daily. They contained future orders and notices. Part 2 orders were posted every afternoon and had a roster of duties for the coming day. Failure to read them was a punishable offence under company standing orders. They enabled you to prepare for a coming duty. When not on duty we were free to come and go as we pleased. The orderly Sergeant asked if we need any English money changing into Deutch Marks, we availed ourselves of the service.
Told that we would not required until Monday morning as per part 2s, we were given the rest of the time off. Our kit, which had been pre-sent, in the wooden boxes were waiting for us and we signed to take charge of them.

Saturday afternoon George P. and I decided to go out of camp to have a look around. We were both dressed in heavy woollen civilian suits and wore ties. It was a glorious hot summer day. We had no idea were we were heading. We had walked about a mile out of the camp area. Other Germans seemed to be heading in a general direction so we decided that was the way to go. Walking for a further mile or so, the built up area gave way to trees and countryside.
The track, called Havel Chaussee, led on to a very large lake called The Havel. It was Berlin's beauty spot for water sports. People were swimming, canoeing, sailing, sunbathing and picnicking. All were generally having a happy good time. As we neared the waters edge people were pointing and staring at us, laughing. We had no idea why.
We came upon a boat hire landing stage. George suggested that we hire a canoe, I agreed. Not being able to speak German I gesticulated to the boatman that we wanted to hire a canoe. He shook his head and pointed to a large high off the water pontoon type craft. It had four seats and 2 set of pedals. He urged us on to it. Paying our Deutch marks he cast us off. As we pedalled away many people were waving and still laughing at us. I realised we were too formally dressed for the occasion. George and I took off our coats and ties and rolled up our sleeves. The laughing stopped but people still waved at us. The saying 'Mad dogs and Englishmen came out in the mid-day sun' seemed perfectly apt for the moment.
Rounding a bend in the lake we heard. "Coo ee" Both of us looked around. The call was repeated. The sounds came from the bank a few yards away. Coming out of the rhododendron bushes was the most beautiful girl I had ever seen waving at us. She was dressed, or undressed, in a white and pink polka dotted bikini. She had the most gorgeous figure with long blonde hair. Without question she represented a product of the supposedly German super race. She beckoned us over. She spoke a little English. She motioned that she wanted a sail on our pontoon. We readily agreed, after all we were on a diplomatic mission, friends across the sea and all that. She asked if her sister come too. With that her sister appeared out of the bushes. Her sister, also dressed in a bikini, was a little plump but still very good looking. We could hardly refuse, I gave up my pedalling seat to the gorgeous one. George was in the other pedalling seat facing the plump girl. I were in the passenger seat facing the blonde. All seats faced inward. As the gorgeous girl began to pedal it became very evident that the bottom half of her costume contained no elasticised sides. My eyes.. Well I had better change the subject.
The hire period of the pontoon was about up. We paddled the girls back to where we had first seen them. Bade our fond farewells and took the boat back to the landing stage.
So this is Berlin can it get any better?
247 (Berlin) Pro. Coy. RMP. was situated in the area of 1936 Olympic stadium. The modern marble floored accommodation blocks were perfect. Centrally heated in winter, cool in summer. They had been built as athlete accommodation for the 36 games.
Not One Hundred Metres away from our HQ were three large, up to date, swimming pools. One outdoor pool had a fifty Meter racing stretch attached to a large square recreation pool area. Immaculate lawned areas were adjacent to the pool.
Indoors there was a 50 metre heated pool with fixed and spring diving boards. It also had a 10 mtr high board. Along both pool sides were granite tiered, heated, viewing stands. It was the most modern swimming pool I had ever seen and all this was built circa 1935. My new found respect for the Germans continued.
In the mess that evening I met Peter W. the mate who I had originally joined up with almost 3 years ago. We had kept in touch by letter and he knew of my imminent arrival. He informed me that his Berlin Posting was about up and now he was to return to the RMP Depot for a further posting. (He later went to Kenya.) Peter had been allocated an MSQ ( Married Service Quarters) and his wife Marlene and daughter were in residence. He invited me to visit him later that evening for a meal and chin-wag. It was gratefully accepted. Peter's MSQ was very modern and I could hardly wait to have my wife and child ensconced in one, it would make my life complete.

Studying Part 2 orders on the notice board that Sunday I found that my first duty was to be East Gate duty.



FIFTY TWO                                                        EAST GATE

east gat


M
onday I paraded in shirt sleeved order, (no jacket top) White gaiters, belt and cross belt, pistol and ammunition pouch. Red top and armband. My first duty proper. A pistol and ammunition had been booked out from the armoury. I had already studied the 'Terms of fire'. These standing orders covered circumstances when a weapon could be loaded and discharged. The parade was at 08.45hrs. The duty sergeant inspected and briefed the company. For the first hour I was to be accompanied by another MP who had prior experience of the duty.
East Gate turned out to be the most boring job I have ever had. Exiting though it was at first, with it all being so new, it soon became tame. The East gate house contained two German civilian security staff. They checked the identity cards of civilians who worked within the stadium area.
My job was checking the ID. of Service personnel. Looking back now I realise it was a figure head job someone to stand at the gate looking smart. I was relieved for NAAFI breaks and lunch. I remained there until being stood down at 16.30 hrs and glad to be away.
Part 2 orders noted that I was on Zonal border duty in the morning. It is here that I must, briefly and simply, explain the political situation in Berlin at that time.
After World War 2 Germany was split into two parts East and West. The allied powers, British, US and France controlled West Germany. The other half, East Gemany, was Soviet controlled. A high wire security fence had been erected separating East Germany from the West. The city of Berlin was entirely within East Germany. It is over 100 miles from Helmstadt, the nearest town in West Germany. Berlin was ringed on the outskirts by what was called the Zonal border. There were high wired fences, trip wires mines and such on the Soviet side. Berlin was further divided into the four power states. Although we had full powers in our own and limited powers in the American and French sectors, it was completely open and we had free access. The Soviet controlled parts not so. A thick 3 Meter high wall divided the Soviet sector from the allied sectors. There were four checkpoint entrances in the wall. The most famous being Checkpoint Charlie. The others were mainly for civilian and diplomatic uses. West Berlin at that time had a population of approx. 2.3 million and an area 185 Square miles. Whilst East Berlin had 1.2 Million and 156 square miles. West Berlin was completely surrounded by the Soviets. The Berlin Infantry Brigade badge flash was a Black circle surrounded by a Red ring. the Red denoting Communism. British Military Police patrolled, twenty four hours a day, both Zonal and sector borders within the British sector.
A note was pinned up on the HQ notice board. It originated from the CSM (Company Sergeant Major) stating that a visit was to be organised to the United States Military Police Berlin HQ. Anyone interested in attending were to append their names. I likened to the idea of seeing how the other half lived and set my name down. The date was for the following Saturday morning.
We boarded 2 VW mini buses 24 persons in all and duly arrived at the US MP barrack gates. There the MP on guard phoned his Top Sergeant (who has the equivalent rank of RSM). He came to see us and apologised to our CSM in that somewhere along the line, wires had been crossed. He had it in his diary that the visit was for the next Saturday and that consequently nothing had been organised for us on this day. Our CSM said he had it booked for today and we could not possibly come next week.
The US Top kick said he may have a solution. He could quickly organise something but he apologised in advance for any thing lacking.
We followed him into the camp and he went into a barrack room and roused a number of NCO’s who were in bed having worked the previous night shift.
Each US NCO took charge of four of us and was briefed to show us around their organisation and that we should all meet up for '‘chow’ at 12-30 pm.
Our guide began his tour at the transport garages. The first thing I had noticed about the US MPs was that they had their own vehicles imported from the USA. The British Army in Berlin relied on the German government to supply them with German made transport, usually Volks Wagons. Not so the Yanks they provided their own. Their normal roadway patrol vehicles were very large Ford Galaxy’s or Taurnus's and were all very smart and flashy. We were given the chance of driving one a short distance within the barrack area, luxury indeed. They had every conceivable vehicle for every situation and I formed a new found respect for the Yanks. Their vehicle maintenance area was spotlessly clean and left nothing to be desired.
Next we visited the communications room that had banks of telephones and radios. We were informed that phoning 'home' was a routine occurrence and that they could patch in to any spot on the Earth that had a US listening post. I had thought earlier that our own communication room back at BIB HQ was second to none, now I realised it was second.
We toured the camp looking in at all the aspects of life in the US Military Police both work wise and socially. The more I saw the more I envied them. The only place we were not allowed to enter was the American PX. Their PX is a Services shopping centre within every camp and we were led to understood that anything that is available in the USA can be obtained there. If the article is not to hand immediately then an order can be made and prompt attention given.
Arrangement had been made that we would all meet outside the Chow Hut at 12-30. Hut not being the operative word, the building was the utmost in modern design. Again on meeting the US Top Sergeant he apologised that nothing food wise had been arranged for us and if we liked would we join the food queue for chow. We each picked up an aluminium tray that had separate compartments for the individual parts of a coming meal. On taking our turn in the queue behind other US servicemen, arrayed before us were great banks of differing food, with at least five meat dishes all looking so succulent. There were also numerous salad dishes for vegetarians. All our group had heard about the size of American steaks and so practically to a man we indicated to the server that we wanted steak. I had heard before about American steaks but the one beset before me was ginormous. It was almost three inches thick and almost a foot long. I exaggerate a little but not very much. Vegetables were heaped onto the individual compartments of the tray until it was overflowing.
We were guided to tables that were ultra clean, litres of milk were on hand and could be taken as desired. I noticed that there was no rank discrimination within the canteen, all officers, NCO’s and men ate in the same area. We were informed that there was a small room for visiting high ranking officers and VIPs but it was very rarely used, they preferring to eat with the men. I was largely impressed.
On our departure the USMP Top Sergeant again apologised for not having anything organised for our visit and I wondered, if what we had seen and eaten was just run of the mill stuff, what would it have been like if he had known we were coming. The Yanks moved up another rung of the ladder in my appreciation of them.
 

 

FIFTY THREE                                           ZONAL BORDER

zonal border


I
was with Ernie H. on Zonal. Ernie later became my best mate. The Zonal border was situated mainly in the Spandau area of Berlin. Three of the Nazi war criminal were held at the famous Spandau Prison. A little more of them later.
Ernie was the driver of our vehicle a German made DKW jeep , a 'Deek'. It was painted black with a Military Police nameplate. The Deek had a blue light and Martin horn.
We rendezvoused at the border with the off coming shift. They handed over the standard border items of kit; flares, flashlights, Zonal standing orders, binoculars, maps, etc. and we stowed them into our vehicle.
All vehicles were in radio contact to HQ.
Ernie, the driver had been issued with a pistol and .38 ammunition. I with a 9mm Stirling Sub machine gun. Getting in the vehicle I placed my SMG down by my seat on the floor of the vehicle.
I radioed base that we had successfully taken over from the previous patrollers and reported that we were beginning duty
The full length of the zonal border, on the allied side had a small width roadway for the patrolling traffic. Civilians were not normally allowed access to this road. It is only a few metres from the first fence which was erected on East German soil. The fence, which was 3 separate fences really, was over 3 mtrs high. The 2 Metre space between the fences is freely patrolled by savage German Shepherd dogs. Further past the fences was a freshly dug and raked soil area. Anyone encroaching that area would leave an obvious trace. The fence also has a heavily mined area. Every Five Hundred meters or so there would be erected a high pylon watchtower, again manned by two border Police. The Zonal border area is almost all woodland and countryside. On the Western side it is quite beautiful. But across the wire the woodland has been ploughed under. A very foreboding place East Germany looked.
We would drive slowly along the border road, occasional stopping to note any changes that may have been, or were being made. All incidents have to be reported however slight. Every mile or so, fixed points were usually identified by a 'Bravo' number. A radio report to H.Q. as "Bravo Ten, all correct." would announced we were at the start point of our patrol and all there was how it should be.
About half way through the patrol the observer would radio to HQ , "Entering the Eis-Keller" This informed that we were preparing to enter an area known as the 'Eis-Kellar'. A literal name translation is Ice Cellar, how it arrived at it's name no one really could explain to me. This area is roughly the shape of a frying pan or a cul de sac and is completely surrounded by the East. The narrow inlet, resembling the frying pan handle was just wide enough to allow our DKW vehicle to drive down, leaving very little on either side, which was Communist held territory. The dirt roadway had a slight bend in it and was bordered by thick vegetation and bushes. Once in the area, the road opens out to a shape resembling the pan proper. Very little is noteworthy and all that can be seen is a small farm and the rough roadway edges the outer perimeter. We would drive round the area and exit the same way as we came in.
Usually there was nothing to report except for one evening. I was the observer on patrol alongside a driver. We had begun our drive up the short muddy roadway and was approaching the bend when suddenly we were confronted by a party of East German Border Guards, being led by a single Russian soldier dressed in full combat gear. The party had been coming from the East, were crossing the Western held road, and were about to pass back into the East. Strictly speaking they were trespassing on Western held soil carrying arms. A strict protocol no no. It could be taken, out of context, as an armed invasion of the West Whether the patrol realised that they were in the West I know not for they seemed as surprised as we. They reacted very quickly and pointed hand held Kalashnikov rifles at us. Nothing was said by them to us but the Russian gestured to his party to continue on their way. Still pointing their weapons at us, they moved completely across the road and disappeared back into the bushes of the East. It would have been pointless us reaching for our weapons, I only had an unloaded 9mm Stirling that was stowed in the side well of the 'Deek', it would have taken me all of a minute to locate and load My driver had a holstered unloaded pistol. We would have been no match for the Communist invaders fire power.
I, as a matter of course, reported the incident at once to our HQ and had to submit a written report of the whole incident at the end of the patrol. It was the first time I 'd had a loaded, (I assumed) weapon aimed at me and I can report that it was not a gratifying experience, quite terrifying really.
At meal break we would radio 'off watch' and drive to the British Military Hospital where a meal was regularly arranged for border duty personnel.
Occasionally we would wave at the patrolling East German guards or in their control towers. Rarely would they acknowledge us. They were never alone, always at least two of them. It was common knowledge that at the start of their duty the East German guards did not know which section they were to patrol, or who with. It was designed to prevent them making plans to escape over the wire to the West. The reason that there were always two, one to keep an eye on the other.
Looking at it all, what a sad waste of human resources.
The third time that I pulled Zonal border duty as I got into the vehicle as was usual I stowed my SMG on the floor at the side of my seat.
On the way to the hand over point, the driver explained that the vehicle we were travelling in had a fault. Instead of continuing the patrol with this vehicle we were to take over the DKW that was already at the border. Our 'Deek' would be driven back to the garages. We would not have to manhandle any of the Border kit from their vehicle to ours, it could remain as it was.
We met the off coming patrol team, handed over duties and began our patrol. There were no incidents during the patrol. At break we retired to BMH for a meal.
Arms are not allowed into the hospital. Anyone entering BMH must hand over any weapons to the guard on the gate. My driver handed over his pistol and I groped down for my SMG. Horror. It was not there. I could not understand it. It should be there I had not moved it. I realised that was the answer, 'I had not moved it.' I should have transferred my SMG from the vehicle we came to the border in, to the vehicle we were to patrol with. My SMG was still in the other DKW.
To lose a weapon is a court marshall offence.
I reported my loss to the driver. He was a full Corporal. He reasoned to me that if I reported it to him officially, then he was duty bound to report it to HQ. On the other hand if he knew nothing about it he could not be expected to report the loss. Also the SMG may still be in the original vehicle and may still be there when we were relieved with it the coming morning.
Did I want to report the loss of a weapon to him?
I felt sick to my stomach. What was I to do. I finally decided that I would wait and see if the Weapon was still in place when it arrived at our location next morning. Officially I had not reported the loss to him.
The rest of that shift was the longest night possible. I could not take my mind off the problem. The driver reasoned that it could not have been found at this time because we would have been notified of its finding over the radio.
Just before 0600 hrs next morning We waited at our relief hand over point. I in extreme mental agitation.
As soon as the vehicle arrived and stopped I could contain myself no longer and rushed over to it feeling down into the vehicle well. Low and behold all my problems had suddenly disappeared. There it was. It had lain within the vehicle all night long in the garage.
That incident taught me more about looking after your weapon than any lectures I had previously had on the subject. From that point on I always new exactly where my weapon was.
As I have reported the Zonal border area is mainly countryside. In the fields there are lots of market produce growing. Months later when my wife was in our MSQ I would plunder the fields for vegetables taking the odd cabbage, carrots or swedes etc..
Early one morning I pulled up a large cabbage and stripped off the outer leaves. Breaking the root off I flung it far into the field to conceal the plundered evidence. As I flung it with my left hand my large heavy gold wedding ring also flew off. It was pointless searching, for it was not yet daybreak. That Sunday lunch was the costliest meal I ever had.
Some dark mornings we would chase rabbits for sport. Driving along the border path many times a rabbit would be picked out in the DKW's lights. They would run away from the source of light but still within the headlight beam. As we drove after them they were unable to see any other way but forward. Soon they would become exhausted an as a last escape resort fling themselves, into the darkness, out of the headlight beam.
One time we were chasing a rabbit and instead of fleeing out of the beam, as was usual, it suddenly stopped exhausted. My driver was unable to stop in time and the 'Deek' ran over it. We stopped and found the rabbit, alive but with its back legs broken. I told my driver that he would have to finish it off. We could not leave it like it was. He had a faint heart and asked me to kill it, my heart was no bigger and I couldn't either. We both urged the other to do the dirty deed. I hated the idea of killing it. Eventually I decided that as I could not do it with my bare hands, I drove the DKW over the rabbit squashing it out of existence.
I never played the 'catch the rabbit' sport again.
One morning at about half past five we were a little early and waiting at Bravo Ten for our relief crew to take over. They would arrive just after Six. All was quite and just getting light, my driver and I were nodding. Suddenly a report rang out. It sounded like a gunshot and we both startled awake. Another report then another. I immediately radioed our HQ and we were instructed to investigate. The noises seemed to be coming from within the British Zonal border area. We started our DKW and began the drive along the border road. Another two shots were fired and soon we knew where they were coming from. We stopped adjacent to the wire fence and taking out our binoculars I observed that there was a man lying on the dug and raked ground prior to the mined area and the high series of wire fences. Two East Border Guards were pointing their weapons at the fallen man. I could not see, at this time, if he was alive or wounded. All the time I kept my HQ informed of every event. The guards who had remained outside the mined ploughed area were shouting something to the fallen person, of what I could not tell. He remained completely motionless as we continued our observations. I requested our HQ if we should load our weapons and received a negative response at this time unless life is threatened within the West. It was not being threatened at this time. We carried on our watchings of the event and before long an East German all purpose wagon arrived on the scene. Orders were shouted to the man on the ground and he regained his feet. He began walking, nay stumbling because obviously he had been shot in his right leg. He placed his hands on his head as he moved towards his now captors and climbed into the waiting vehicle, soon to be driven off. Our relief crew joined us at the scene just as the vehicle disappeared. A full report of the incident was submitted by my driver and self. It appeared to us that the shot person had attempted to escape the East by running towards the wire with the intention of climbing over it. To be quite honest he’d had no chance, even if the guards had not been on hand to get him the land mines or dogs would.
The peace of the forest resumed.
On evening I was getting ready for border duty. I had been on it the evening before and had forgot to properly clean my boots from an earlier cross country run. I could not parade in muddy boots and so reasoned that I could wear my best boots for parade then return to my room and quickly clean my working boots before putting them on. At least I would get through parade inspection without problems.
Strabelene had been discovered by someone. Strabelene was a colourless liquid that was applied with a paintbrush to the toecaps and heels of boots. It made them shine like polish although a little false. When stressed the strabelene coating cracked into white Orange peel like lines. Strabelene had been outlawed by the RSM.
I decided to put on my best boots for the inspection then ask my driver to wait while I changed back into my working boots.
I paraded. Horror it was the RSM that was doing the pre duty inspection, usually it was the duty sergeant. When he came to me he looked me up and down and then at my beautiful best boots.
"Strabelene." He pronounced.
"No sir." I honestly replied
"Strabelene." he again insisted.
"No sir, Polish."
With that he placed the heel of his shoe on to the toecap of my boot and ground it in. If it had been strabelene as he had suspected then it would have cracked white. It did not, indicating that it was indeed polish.
Looking down at my boots he said. " Yes, you were right. It is not Strabelene. A nice polished pair of boots you had there. Well done"
One of my best boots was now ruined there was a great gouge mark in the toe. I would have to strip it down and start it all over again. All that work now to do because I had been lazy in not prior cleaning my working boots in time. I learned my lesson.
Afterwards I thought of the RSM actions. Had he known that it was not strabelene? Had he known that they were my best boots only being used for the parade inspection, knowing full well that I was to change them prior to going out on shift?
Our RSM was a wily old bird. He was also a fair wily old bird.



FIFTY FOUR                                                 SECTOR BORDER


Sector border duty was patrolling alongside the famous Berlin wall. The wall stretched in an almost unbroken straight line through the centre of the city. It took no account of buildings, streets or property continuing through them all. In some places it actually cut houses in half. On the Western side the half house could still be in use but in the other, the owner would have been forcibly evicted. The wall is built completely on East German land along with a 10 metre lead up to it. In places a painted line denotes the exact position of the border. The height of the wall , I estimated at about 3 metres and about a half metre thick.
The British Sector border began at the French Sector near Tiergarten and ended at the American sector at Potsdammer Platz. In places it ran along side the canal behind the Reichstag, the Ex. German Parliament building. This building had not, as yet, been repaired to its former glory. It still bore the hallmarks of war and its outside walls were very bullet pockmarked.
Across from the Reichstag about half a mile away were many large blocks of flats, all of them were of different designs, many were normal looking but a few were very bizarre. When I pointed the diversity of the high rises, my partner said that after World War 2 there had been an obvious shortage of housing. With limited money in the coiffeurs to spend on housing the Berlin government could not afford to build on a large scale. They hit on an idea of offering a world wide building competition. There was a price of many millions of marks worth of Gold, as a reward to any building company who built a block of flats on that site and that block was adjudged the winner. Builders from around the world accepted the challenge and the unique set of High Rise buildings were erected. The buildings were judged and the award given. As a result the Berlin government received many residences for a relatively very low cost outlay.
The border continued behind the Soviet war memorial past and in front of the Brandenburger Tor, (Brandenburg Gate) Unter den Linden. This gateway is a very impressive Arch with Twelve large stone round fluted columns upholding the main block arch. It was built in 1788/91 It was surmounted by a statue of 'Quadriga of Victory' which was a statue of a chariot drawn by Four horses. It was heavily damaged during WW2 and was restored to its former beauty in 1957/8 by this time the Soviets had turned it round and the chariot was now facing into the East.
I felt quite proud to be able to have the privilege of viewing the Brandenburg gate from what was later known as the Kennedy stand, which was later re-built when the president visited Berlin in June of 1963 President Kennedy was able to view the memorial, from a height. It was at this time that he uttered his famous "Ich bin ein Berliner" (I am a Berliner) speech. Although I was later informed that Ich bin Berliner would have been more linguistically correct.
The border continued through to Pottsdamer Platz. From the raised viewing stand at Pottsdamer Platz over the wall and about 50 Meters in the East there could be seen the famous Hitler Bunker. The area was a kind of no mans land where very few East German guards went. The bunker was just a small concrete indistinct building.
The Sector border was mainly in a built up area. Sightseers were numerous.
One day a colleague and I arrived at Pottsdamer Platz. We had arrived a little before our appointed time. We parked up before radioing in our position and 'Sitrep' (Situation Report). Both of us were in full uniform, Red Cap, White Webbing, MP Armband. British Military Police was emblazoned on the front of our vehicle. A lady approached us and with an American accent, very slowly and pronouncing each word said. "Do You Speak English?"
My partner reacted, also very slowly pronouncing each word said, "Yes If You Speak Very Slowly."
With that reply I burst out laughing.
The lady was very offended. She thought I was laughing at her.
I did not mean to cause offence but the repartee reply was funny. I apologised to the American explaining I was laughing at something else I had seen. I hope that she did not return to America with the idea that the British police are not so wonderful after all.
One late summer evening on patrol we were ordered by radio HQ to go to an incident reported near 'the wall' at the Brandenburg gate. On arriving we were confronted by a youth who had completely undressed himself and had climbed up the wall and was kneeling upright with his hands as in a prayer position. He was completely motionless. The German Police were also in attendance. The wall and approximately the 10 Meters lead up to it is completely in the East. Nothing could be done about the youth on the wall. The West German Civil Police shouted to him but were getting no response. They told us that he was a West German boy who was showing his protest to the East, he was probably a little drunk. We climbed the Kennedy Stand to get a better view of the surroundings, eventually Four East Border Guards approached the youth and spoke to him, again getting no reply. They seemed to be gesturing angrily and began cocking and pointing their weapons threateningly. A civil Police man who had accompanied us ran down the steps informing all that the situation could escalate. The West border guards and Policemen held their loaded rifles in readiness. I radioed our HQ describing the scene and events. I informed them of the Civil police response as regards to the loading of their weapons. I requested that my colleague and I also be allowed to load our weapons. We were given the affirmative on my request but reminded about the standing orders regarding 'The Terms of Fire'. Condensed the terms stated that return fire could only be made to protect persons who were already on West Berlin soil and were in danger of life from fire from the East. The terms were held to be very ambiguous in their meaning. I instructed my driver of our orders and we loaded weapons. All in attendance waited expectantly and their was a pregnant silence. After what seemed like hours and was probably Ten minutes, the East border guards brought a ladder and the youth was manhandled down and arrested. I learned later that he was detained for four days and then released back into the West. It transpired that they had treated him rather roughly and I'm sure he did not want to repeat the incident.
It was the first time I'd had a loaded weapon in my hands waiting to use it in the manner for which it was designed.
The CSM (Company Sergeant Major) announced that for anyone who had not yet visited East Berlin, he was organising a trip there. I put my name down for it. It was to be in our own time and was planned for the coming Saturday morning.
There were eight of us in a VW Minibus. To pass through the East West border we would have to go via 'Checkpoint Charlie'
Checkpoint C was in the American Sector. It was situated in a normal nondescript street called Friedrich Strasse.
Buildings, shops offices and living accommodation were still in use on either side of the street on the Western side. Not so in the East. Across the Strasse/Street the Berlin Wall crossed. It was not intact at this point, one side of the wall runs nearly across and the other wall runs almost across, with a gap in between for vehicles. Any traffic that pass from East to West or Vice Versa must do a kind of S turn to drive round the wall. The S bend was designed to stop speeding vehicle escaping into the West.
At each side there was a risible swing barrier both controlled by a East German Guard. All allied persons, civilian or other, travelling to the East must first book out, then back in on return. Each allied power has its own desk at Checkpoint C.
We booked out at the British office and were allowed to proceed on our way. As we drove up to the first barrier from our viewpoint we could see that another vehicle was beginning to exit from the East. The East German Border guard held up his hand to halt our progress. We could see he was to let the other vehicle out first before allowing us to enter.
An American MP from a short distance away saw that the East German Guard was stopping our entry. It was a known fact that the allies cannot legally stop the Russian Military into the West nor can the Russians stop the allies entry into the East.
The American could not see the whole event and came to the wrong conclusion, that they were illegally stopping our entry.
The MP opened the flap of his pistol holster and withdrew his weapon. He began waving it in the air. He was calling his colleagues for backup.
We in the minibus could see a situation escalating. The East German guard placed both hand on his automatic rifle that was slung round his neck. It looked like a Kalashnicov.
The Americans were making something out of nothing. It only need someone with a slippy trigger finger and a whole shooting match would start, with us in between the war. Luckily the out coming vehicle turned the bend at the wall and came into view of the Americans who, after realising what was happening, relaxed.
I often wonder what would have happened if just one round had been discharged accidentally. In the British army anyone drawing or brandishing a weapon like the American had would have been severely dealt with. To the yanks it was a non event.
We drove around East Berlin with the CSM pointing out things of note I hardly remember any of it really, it was not worth remembering. The East was a very drab place with very little colour.
The only feature I do recall was: IIAMRTHNK BONHAM COBETCKON APMNN which translates as: The Soviet War Memorial Treptow. The park was a beautifully kept and the memorial buildings were spectacular.
Another time I went into East Berlin a couple of mates and I decided to organise a tour. We had to request permission from our CO to do so. It was granted and we organised RMP transport to take us to Checkpoint Charlie. On alighting we walked back to a German bank near C.C. to change West German Deutch Marks to East German Deutch Marks. The official rate in the East was one for one. We had been forewarned that the bank we were visiting would give us 3 East for 1 West. We each handed over 20 WGDMs and received 60 EGDMs. It was against Military Authority Currency Rules to change money in the West for Eastern currency. We were aware of this but we had conveniently forgot, I think.
Booking out at the British desk we walked into the East and further changed 20 WGDMs at the official currency exchange. It was 1 for 1. More important an official receipt, was given, for the exchange. We had been warned that any purchases would require an official receipt to prove you had exchanged the money legally.
Walking around we again realised what a drab place it was. There seemed to be an absence of colour. No advertisements or wall hoardings. The peoples dress was very lack lustre in style and shape. Everything seemed to be made up of different shades of grey.
We toured the apartment stores or what proported to be stores. All shopping places all had a sign outside saying that it was a HO Warenhaus. This denoted that it was a trading place as sanctioned by the State.
The products on sale at the HO were very few. I asked to see some cuff links. A pair of cuff links were produced. I did not fancy them . "Have you any more." I asked.
"No, these are cuff links." came the reply. This, to me, summed up the East. Usually there was only one type made of every product. There was no freedom of choice. Other than take it or leave it.
Looking around, there was nothing to spend our East German Marks on. We went into a cafe and had a round of beers, sandwiches, crisps, anything just to get rid of our Eastern Money.
We spent about three hours there but that was about two and a half too much. On our return we again went to the official exchange desk and handed back 20 EGDMs. Returned were 20 WGDMs. 1 for 1 We still had about 40 EGDM. each. Returning to the bank to get the money re-exchanged the bank refused saying they did not accept EGDMs.
We returned to our unit much the wiser, We gave away the EGDMs to other potential visitors, they were no good to us. I am glad I went but I never wanted to go into the East again.
A point of note regarding currency. At that time in 1964 the British Pound Stirling was worth 11.27 Deutch Marks. At the time of writing it is 2.26 100 Pfennigs = 1 DM
Has the Pound gone down or is it the Mark that has gone up?

As previously stated the Army pay day was Thursday. As duties were round the clock we could go to the Pay Sergeants offices at any time within working hours to collect pay. Usually you would decide how much pay you needed and inform the pay section accordingly. On pay-day you would collect your pay and the balance would be left in 'Credit'. Credits could be withdrawn at a weeks notice, usually just before leave when extra money may be needed.
In Berlin the army also had a system of Baffin's which stood for British Armed Forces Special Vouchers. BAFV's could only be spent in British Armed forces establishments, the NAFFI, Toc H, the Corporals mess, etc.
A soldier would normally arrange to have his pay in proportions of German Marks and BAFS.
Sterling was never used in Berlin.
'Rocking Horse' was the code word for the mobilisation of the British armed forces of Berlin. At random times and without warning an 'Operation Rocking horse' would be announced. Alarms would go off in all establishments and the standby patrol vehicles that would be dispatched from HQ. to loudspeaker announce that a stand to operation had begun. The married service quarters also had to be hailed. All service personnel, on duty or not, would have to leave whatever they were doing and go immediately to units of command. There they would receive their orders.
All units had respective detailed tasks. In the case of the Military Police we could be dispatched to key Road Junctions, Bridges, Railway stations, of the British Sector, for part of our tasks was traffic control. Tegel Airport was a Royal Air Force establishment and was an obvious key installation. Also there were lookout positions from where a potential soviet attack could come in from the East.
For the duration of operation Rocking Horse these points would be defended until announcement that 'Stand down' was announced. Everyone would then return to their respective units, returning arms and ammunition previously drawn. We could all then relax for another short period but of course another operation could begin five minutes after, for real.
It was accepted by all the allied armed forces in Berlin that in the event of a Russian invasion The Allies would have no chance in a realistic defence of West Berlin, other than as delaying tactic. It was also understood that in a real war West Berlin would probably be the last place that the Soviets would invade and probably the safest in Europe. The allies would be going nowhere anyway.

 



FIFTY FIVE                                                          ERNIE

Ernie


Ernie H. and I had became very close friends, we had a close similar interest, swimming. The company had a Water Polo team.
Ernie introduced me to Hans Otto who was the company water polo team trainer. Hans was a German civilian police officer and had been a member of the 1936 Olympic Games German Water Polo Team. Training was Tuesdays and Thursday evenings. Hans Otto initially timed me over 50 Meters. He seemed pleased and invited me to train with them. On Saturday afternoon the team had a match with the Berlin Customs Officers. They visited the company every month for a friendly match.
A Water Polo match has 4 quarters of five minutes each quarter. I was a reserve. For three of the quarters I watched intrigued. I had never seen a water Polo match before but I soon became aware of the general idea. Hans Otto told me to get into the water for the last quarter. I protested that I knew nothing of the game but was literally thrown in at the deep end.
The referee threw the ball into the centre of the pool and blew his whistle to signify that the quarter had begun.
I swam for the ball and managed to get to it first. Due to inexperience it soon was taken from me by an opposing player. I swam my heart out that game. Towards the last few minutes I was so exhausted I was almost drowning. I had always thought that I was a very strong swimmer but although I may have been fast I certainly was not strong. At one stage of the game I had to hang on the side of the pool trying to regain my strength. Hans laughed and said he would soon get me fit and was soon true to his word.
In the coming weeks I trained like I had never trained for anything before. The main point behind it I enjoyed training. Enjoying any training was another first for me. I soon became quite a strong player. I secured a regular Left wing forward position in the team.
We played all visiting Army sides to Berlin plus a few civilian sides. Under Hans Otto's expert training schedule we became very successful. I had much respect for Hans.

water polo team

That first summer in Berlin was second to none.
The sun shone practically every day. I gained an all over tan, my first ever. Oh! how I wished that my wife was in married quarters here. My life would be then complete. I was in a place and doing a job that I enjoyed. I had enquired as to the availability of married quarters. The news was not so good. Married Service Quarters or MSQ's as they were called were allocated on a points system. A soldier gained two points for every month of separation, plus five points per child. The number of points currently required was twenty plus. I realised that I would have to be apart from my wife for about another eight months.
I wrote home and explained the situation as regards MSQ's it did not bode well with my wife. I said that I would try and get private accommodation. On enquiring about a private flat they seemed out of the question the rates were very high.
Before I left my wife the last time I had converted our whole house into flatlets. My wife lived in the middle one and rented out the other three. She also worked. Although not exactly flush she had an adequate income and could even manage to save.
Later on in the year I thought I could sign a contract for a private flat that I could afford. I grabbed it with both hands. I had to bring my wife out at my own expense. When she finally came out the private owner of the flat decided to renege on the verbal contract. I did not have a place for her. We arranged to lodge temporary with another MP and his wife. We had this temporary accommodation for about six weeks. It did not work out. There were too many people trying to share one MSQ.
My wife returned to the UK.
Ernie and I continued as best friends. Whenever we were both off duty we would be down at the pool training and generally larking about. Ernie was an adventurous type of person. One day he suggested we make a parachute and use it on the high 10 mtr fixed board. We obtained 2 single bed sheets and sewed them together with string. Fastening twine to each corner and in the middle they were knotted them together to make a makeshift chute. To an extent it worked. I would hold the knotted end and jump off. Ernie would throw out and spread the sheet after me. The bed sheets did slow down our fall.
Another foolhardy trick would be to tie a rope from the top board and climb up whilst the other was shaking it attempting to dislodge him into the water.
Often we would both wrestle on the top board trying to throw the other off. Many has been the time when we have both fallen off the 10 mtr board still wrestling in mid air. How we did not succumb to injury is any body's guess.
The main pool attendant was a German national. We made a friend of him and would often bring him British cigarettes. He did not want to upset us, being Military Police I think helped. The trouble was the more leeway he allowed us the more we took. Although at no time were we other than foolhardy.
It all seems pretty childish now but we had to make our own entertainment both Ernie’s and my wife had not yet arrived in Berlin.
One evening Ernie and myself had been in the Corporals mess bar drinking. Suddenly he said that he was going for a swim. I objected saying that the pool area closed at Eight O clock. The Women's Royal Armoured Corps, WRAC’s accommodation block overlooked the outside pool and so it was out of bounds.
An armed sentry patrolled the area.
Ernie insisted, it was dark outside we could sneak up to the pool and slide in with as little noise as possible. Because I'd had a few beers I agreed. We undressed under an archway that led into the pool area. Crawling like commando's we slithered along the grassed area that led up to the pool, across a concrete path and then slipped into the water. All around was in darkness. Suddenly a flashlight swung across the water. we both dived and swam to the far side, away from the light. The sentry was unsure if anyone was in the water and began walking around the edge looking in. I stayed put under the pool steps while Ernie sneaked out. I was in danger of being discovered. The uniformed sentry was nearing my position and I was about to swim underwater away from him. Ernie by this time had crept round the outside edge. Just as the sentry was near me and bending over looking into the water, he pushed him in. The sentry was in full uniform and carrying an SLR rifle. This was my chance to escape. I exited the water sharpish and both of us ran off laughing.
The sentry was in no danger as the point of his entry it was quite shallow. We did remain under the arch until he had got out of the water safely. He may not have known but he had no chance of drowning we certainly would not have left him to that fate.
That first winter was the extreme opposite of the summer. The winter air seemed so clean. The snow once it fell remained for quite a number of weeks. It did not seem to thaw into a dirty slush like it does in the UK. Although it was a lot colder than England it was not a damp cold.
Ernie and I had a day off. He suggested that we book a pair of skis out of the sports store. We did and arranged company transport to take us to the 'Berlin Ski Run' Neither Ernie or I had ever been on skis before.
The Berlin Ski run is a large mound of artificial hills and is in the American sector. The hills were supposedly made from the rubble made from the bombing of Berlin during WW1.
The slopes were purposely built. First there were the junior and learner slopes. Ernie and I tried those. We soon came to the conclusion that we were both natural born skiers. We did not immediately realise that we both had big heads as well. It seemed easy providing you keep your skis slightly apart and lean forward maintaining balance.
We needed something harder, something a little more testing. We enquired where the main slopes were and were directed to following others who were heading in a general direction. We came across a very steep slope and stopped, other continued going ahead.. This slope had virgin snow and no one was using it. Its far too steep for everyone else we reasoned. The slope disappeared far below. I dared Ernie to ski down it. He dared me. We both dared each other.
"I'm going down." said I.
"So am I." Agreed Ernie.
"Well both go together then."
"Okay. We both get set on the edge and at the count of three we both go, agreed?
"Yes." said I. I had no intention of going down it. It was far too steep.
"I'll count us down. One two three go!" I pretended to take off. Ernie had the same thoughts as me. He was trying to fool me like I was him.
I was calling him chicken for not going, when suddenly my skis slipped forward. I was moving unintentionally down the slope. I could not stop. I tried to keep my balance but my confidence was weakening. I was out of control. This skiing larks not as easy as I had made out. As I got half way down I was going miles too fast for my liking, probably about 10MPH. Looking forward further down the slope I realised that the end dropped off. I was on a snow concealed ski jump and hadn't known it. I could not stop and I certainly could not complete the jump. I did the only thing I could think off. I flopped backwards on my skis. It did not stop me but it did slow me down, there I was going down the ski jump on my back. When I came to the end I just flopped over it. Luckily the snow was quite deep over the end and I landed in a snow drift. I picked myself up and was very lucky I had not damaged my back. I did rip my new black anorak that I had just recently purchased from the main NAAFI stores. It had cost me all of Five Pounds.
I trudged back to where Ernie was waiting, laughing. Up there, even then, knowing it was the ski jump, it still looked like one continuous slope. None of the other Berliner’s were fooled by appearances, only us idiot Englishmen.
We located to the main ski slopes. They turned out to be far too advanced for us. The slopes were interspersed with trees and very steep and severe. One workman was even spraying part of the slopes with water. When it quickly froze it made the run even faster.
Lets go home we both decided, I didn’t want to learn to ski anyway.



FIFTY SIX                                            ALLIED KOMANDANTURA

Another duty in Berlin was 'Allied Kommandatura'. AK. was situated in Kaiserswerther Strasse it was a large four story building plus cellars. It was supposed to have been a Gestapo headquarters during WW2 Now it was the four power conference building. Regular three power conferences were held at AK, the Soviets had long ceased to attend them.
On entering the double massive oak doors that led into the ground floor foyer, a British MP was on duty at a desk. All persons entering had to prove identity.
The top forth floor had been allocated to the Russians but as they had pulled out of the regular conferences theirs was empty of staff or furniture.
To the left of the foyer a French Gendarme had an office. His responsibilities lay on the third floor.
In the right office was an American MP. His floor was the second.
Ours was the first floor. The German Policeman controlled the basements and ground floor. In the basements there were many cell like rooms that in the past had been used for the incarceration of political prisoners.
On taking over the duty at 2000 hrs an MP had to sign over to his relief. During working hours most rooms would be used.
Of an evening the respective policeman would go up to his floor and check that all doors and rooms were locked and made secure. There were supposed to be numerous secrets held in the many offices. Any doors that were found not secure he would take the key from his key press down in his office and lock it. Each was required to check his floor at least every hour.
In the case of the British MP he had to record all incidents however slight in the Daily Occurrence Book, DOB. Anything and everything had to be recorded in the DOB. The American, French and German Policemen had similar responsibilities. It was an ideal place to study or catch up on your reading. Most MPs would visit the others in their respective offices for a chat.
One evening, on duty at the AK, in the wee small hours I visited the American in his office. As we were talking he kept putting small counters into paper packets, making notations and sealing them in envelopes. He would then address the envelope. I enquired what he was doing. He replied that he was playing postal chess.
"Oh! you play chess do you" I asked and he nodded.
"I play a little as well. Do you want a game?" I thought I was quite good at the game.
He produced a chess board from within his desk drawer. We set them up and I drew the white queen. I played a pawn. He quickly played his piece.
No more than a couple of dozen moves after I was completely beaten. And I thought I could play chess. He proved me such a beginner and compared to him, I was. We were not in the same class. All the time we had been playing he hardly looked at the board and had continued playing his postal chess games in between.
Afterwards, and without any sense of boasting, he said he was the American Forces Champion. He had travelled the world playing chess for the American Army. He hoped to make a living from it when he was demobbed. I had a few more games with him but I could not really enjoy them. I had no chance of winning, but he was a really nice guy.
Another time at Allied KOMANDANTURA. I was in the Americans office. We were chatting away about things in general. I was to one side of his desk. The yank was laying backward in his chair balancing himself on the back legs.
He enquired what my pistol was. On receipt of it I had not noticed if it was a Webley or a Smith and Wesson. They do look similar. I removed it from my holster. It was not loaded. It was a Webley. I re holstered the weapon.
The American took his out. It was a 45 Browning. He was explaining the virtues of a large bore weapon like the 45. From his pouch he produced a clip of ammunition. Sliding the clip home in to its hand grip housing, he pulled the cocking slide back. It was now loaded. I warned. "Be careful."
He was a little cocky and said not to worry the safety catch is on. I asked him to uncock the weapon.
He replied "Okay, seeing as it makes you nervous." Just as he was about to do it he overbalanced his chair. The weapon exploded. The safety catch cannot have been on. He had pulled the trigger as he was falling back.
I could exaggerate and say the bullet just missed me, but I will not. Suffice to say it missed. The round embedded into the wall in front of him. The noise was deafening. I had never been in a room where a round has been discharged. There was a large pall of smoke.
Alarmed by the noise, both the French Gendarme and the German Policeman came running into the room. The American realised that he could be in serious trouble. He pleaded with us not to report the incident. All agreed not to. The whole in the wall was hastily covered up.
When I asked him how he would account for the spent bullet he replied that it was easy to lose or gain rounds. Little checks was made on them. Not so in the British army all rounds are carefully checked and have to be accounted for at all times.
I felt guilty for not reporting the incident but no harm came to anyone and I could not let the others down.
The next time I visited the American's office a calendar covered the bullet hole.
Another time at AK it was months after the a/m incident. Again I was visiting the American MP again he was showing off his Colt 45. The Americans seem mesmerised where hand guns are. I warned him not to load it. He agreed that he would not.
"How long does it take to strip your weapon." He asked of me.
"We do not have to strip a hand gun. That is the job of the Armourer. We only have to clean them." Was my answer.
"I can strip mine in 9 seconds." He boasted.
He then asked me to time him. I looked at the second hand of my watch and as it reached the top said. "Go" He began stripping his 45. Sure enough he stripped it well within the 9 seconds. There were about six to eight pieces in all. He then said he could reassemble it in 20 Seconds. "Go on time me again." He urged.
Again I said "Go."
This time he had decided to explain his actions reassembling the weapon. "This cocking spring locates here." He began. Unfortunately, the indicated spring would not go in it's place. Something must have gone wrong. He continued to try to relocate the spring. It would not fit. He picked up another piece still no joy.
Two minutes passed and he still had not completed his task. I got bored and left him. No I didn't get bored. I left because I wanted to go outside so that I could have a good laugh at his expense.
Two Hours later his relief came. The yank had still not completed the re-building of his weapon. He gathered up all the pieces and wrapped them in a newspaper. His parting words were.
"Well I can do it in 20 seconds with a Browning 45."
The Americans have a fatal fascination with guns.
I had been on home on three weeks leave.
My first duty back was AK. It was an evening shift. The first duty was to make sure all doors on my floor were secure.
When I checked room 127 it was unlocked. I entered the room but there was no furniture or anything in it. It was a small room with one wrought iron barred small window. I got the key from the downstairs keypress and locked the room.
One hour later, on re-checking the doors, 127 was unlocked, once again the room was empty. I determined that the lock on the door was faulty and locked it once more. I noted in the DOB that the lock on room 127 appeared faulty and repairs may be needed.
Each time that evening I checked the offices, room 127 was found to be unlocked. Although each time I relocked the door it appeared very secure at the time. No matter, no problem.
At the end of my shift my relief came. He studied the DOB and said "Oh no, not that room again."
I asked him what he meant by that. He replied that two weeks previously, when I had been on leave, a Lance Corporal Garle had been on duty there. When he checked room 127 it was unlocked. On entering the room he was supposed to have seen a women cringing in the corner crying out as if in terror. The women turned out to be an apparition and faded away.
He is supposed to have fled the building refusing to re-enter it. The German Policeman phoned our Head Quarters and related the incident. A relief was sent for the L/Cpl. A search was made but nothing was found. L/Cpl Garle was RTUed (Returned to unit) that day to Woking.
I must have looked as if I disbelieved the incident for my relief asked if I had read the DOB of two weeks ago. I admitted I had not, there had been no reason to. The past Daily Occurrence Book was retrieved from the back issue cupboard and turned to the relevant dated page. Sure enough L/Cpl Garle had been on duty and some other, a Corporal Sedman, had reported the event as described.
I myself had found nothing untoward about the room or the building. I have to admit that AK was a very gaunt and severe place. All the landing lights were on time switches. If you did not check the doors on the landing quickly enough the lights would go out. It suddenly left one in a very dark and lonely place. AK was supposed to have been a building were many Gestapo tortures had taken place. If ghosts do inherit buildings then I am sure they would have liked AK.
A point of coincidence, my surname is Gale his was Garle.

 


FIFTY SEVEN                                                   SHOOTING

Sergeant Tilbury (that is not his exact name but he will recognise himself) had newly arrived at BIB HQ RMP. He was a short lean impressive man who always looked immaculate dressed, civilian or uniform. He seemed to have no regular duties around the HQ and his name very rarely came up on the standing orders duty roster. Very occasionally he would appear on the ranges and proved what a competent shot he was, both with Rifle and Pistol.
The first time I spoke to Sgt. Tilbury proper was one evening when I had drawn night desk. I had done the duty on numerous occasions and considered myself almost competent at the job. I always liked the desk duty because it made me feel important, every time I answered the phone and said "Royal Military Police Berlin, Lance Corporal Gale speaking, Sir." gave me a little buzz. I was always the most junior and lowest rank on desk duty but at that time it mattered not.
When he took up this first duty I expected Sgt. Tilbury to ask, what the score was, how everything ran etc. Normally a new senior rank would take advice from his full corporal, or even his Lance Corporal at times. The Sergeant must have done his homework because he slotted in as though he had been doing the job for years. He was equally competent or more so than many of the other senior ranks. I now realise that most of the duties of the desk were common sense and having the confidence that incoming problems are only old ones in a new guise. I respected and liked the new Sergeant.
On desk in normal circumstances, the early hours of the morning are very mundane, every ten minutes or so the Zonal and Sector border Patrols will radio in to confirm that all is well but in general there is little excitement.
The other duty Corporal had gone to the cookhouse to get his mid morning meal, leaving just Sgt. Tilbury and myself in the room. He opened polite conversation by asking what I had done previous to the army. I briefly explained my pit career and he immediately bonded by stating that both his father and grandfather had been old colliers in Kingsley, South Yorkshire and that he initially had worked on the pit top but soon realised underground was not for him. We began chatting like long lost cousins, each relating to the other. I felt that if Sgt. Tilbury had carried only one or two stripes on his sleeve instead of his Three I could have made a serious friend of him. The rest of the duty hours passed without comment.
Since our initial introduction whenever our paths crossed Sgt. Tilbury would acknowledge me and pass the time of day, he became a kind of peer figure to me.
Looking on the duty roster one evening I noted that I had to report to the Sergeant Tilbury after morning parade. After the duty Sergeant briefed all as to duties, the parade was dismissed. As ordered I reported to Sgt. Tilbury who took me to a nearby interview room. He explained that our coming task was to be carried out in civilian clothes and to speak out now if I objected to that condition. He could easily replace me. Exited a little I immediately agreed.
"Don't go reading things that are not there." he cautioned "All we are to do is to go and pick up a parcel. Once that is done we return here and the duty is done. No cloak and dagger stuff, a simple case of receipt and delivery. Understand?"
I answered "Yes Sergeant."
"That's another thing when we leave BIB HQ in civvies it would be wise if you called me by my Christian name Reginald, well call me Reg, it will save explanations all round. I'll call you Jack, Okay."
Again I answered in the affirmative then added. "What type civilian dress do you want me to wear.
"Casual. Just a Shirt and tie, slacks and a jumper should be about all right, keep the colours low key. Manage that?" I nodded. "See you back outside the duty room at Ten sharp then. Don't forget to bring your ID and Warrant Card with you." and with that he left the room.
At Quarter to Ten I entered the duty room foyer, true to my initial training RSM’s saying, 'Be Five minutes early for the Queen and Five minutes for me', I had decided on Five for me as well.
At Five to Ten Sergeant Tilbury, Reg, walked in his dress similar to mine but more sombrely. He beckoned and I followed him outside to his own private transport, an old black 220s Mercedes Benz. Sitting in the right hand real leather upholstered passenger seat seemed like the height of luxury. The highly polished walnut dash-board was very appropriate, a magnificent car. I made a mental note to have one, one day.
As we left BIB HQ Reg began to talk further of our duty. We were to go to a flat in Charlottenburg and meet a male person. After identity verification a package would be handed over by him and another received from the other man. It was to be a straight forward deal and nothing should go wrong. I was to take no part in the proceeding other that once inside the flat position myself by the closed doorway and deter anyone from entering until Ted had said so. Did I understand and were there any questions?
I didn't have any, other than to ask why did he pick me for the duty. He replied that he hardly knew any others in the company and he rather liked me and looked as though I could look after myself. I grew a little in stature.
Arriving at the designated address we drove through a arched driveway into a small square cobbled courtyard. All Four sides were built up into what looked like flatlets.
We debussed and after noting the numbered addresses on the outside wall we began climbing two flights of stairs. As we reached a landing, just coming out of the numbered door we were to visit was a man aged about thirty. Ted spoke to him in a language I could not verify but it certainly was not German. The man became agitated and started to re-enter the flat. Ted followed him in and I brought up the rear. All the time the Sergeant was speaking to the man in his own language, the man was becoming more agitated. As previously instructed I closed the door and stood with my back to it. This action further made the man more uneasy and he gestured at me. Ted said to me "Jack take out your Id card and show it to him." As he was speaking he put his hand to the inside of his shirt, I assumed to produced his. I reached to my back trouser pocket for my ID card but before I could produce it the man suddenly produced a small hand gun from his jacket side pocket and pointed it at us. I instinctively cowered to one side, never ever having a loaded (I assumed) weapon pointed at me, I am truly ashamed to say this but I was extremely frightened. Nothing like this had ever happened to me before A report rang out.
At this point I would  lik to report what it is like to be shot. Feelings of pain, numbness or at least something, but I felt none of these. I was too astounded and shocked by this sudden turn of events.
Sergeant Tilbury did not seem to be surprised at the production of the gun or the deafening sound of the gunshot, he immediately jumped on the man grabbing first at the hand that held the gun, immobilising that. He shouted to me for assistance, for at that stage I was just stood there. As we suppressed the struggling man Sgt. Tilbury was talking to him in a calming manner. It surprised me how calm Ted was as my heart and mind was going ten to the dozen. Eventually the man stopped struggling and once again my Sergeant told me to produce my ID card and to show it, at the same time he reached for his. The man seemed more calm now. I was instructed to let the man regain his feet. Just then there was a hammering at the door accompanied by German voices. The man answered back in halting German and Sergeant Tilbury went to the door to explain away the loud report of the pistol shot and show means of identity. It was around this time that I realised I had been hit by the discharged bullet. My upper arm did not really hurt but blood was oozing into the wool of my sweater. When all had calmed down Ted pulled down the V neck of my sweater to look down at my arm injury. He pronounced it nothing more than a simple flesh wound and said something to the man, who produced a clean looking piece of cloth which was tied over my sweater directly on the wound and quite tightly. He then took off his own sweater and instructed me to wear it over my own. Wondering why I complied, it was a little tight but it stretched sufficiently for me to pull it over. After, I realised that by putting Ted’s jumper over mine it would hide my injury to outsiders when we left. During the first aid treatment the man was talking to me in his own language, Ted translated it as words of apology. I nodded my acceptance.
Once I had been seen to, the two men conducted the business we had originally come to do, of exchanging packages, or more to the point thick envelopes. The Sergeants envelope coming from the waistband of his trousers which his jumper had been covering. What each envelope contained was never explained to me.
When the business was concluded we both shook hands with the man and left. Exiting the building a German Civil Polizie car pulled into the square. Someone had obviously called the Police. Both policeman alighted and as one began his approach the other stood back with the covering advantage of the patrol car. Identification was requested and produced Sgt Tilbury spoke in, what appeared to be,  fluent German explaining the circumstances. After my ID was shown notes taken and our identity confirmed by radio the German Police allowed us to drive away. Ted immediately drove me to the British Military Hospital in Spandau where I was treated for a gunshot wound to the triceps area of the Right upper arm. On the journey I had been told that the reply to any enquiry as to my wound was that it had been sustained by accident on the ranges. Funnily enough, no one asked me how I came by the injury, not even the doctor, which in it's self was very unusual. Although insisting that I was physically okay, the MD decided that I should remain overnight for observations of any delayed shock. Whilst in hospital I was visited by Sergeant Tilbury who said it would best in all our interests that the past events be not mentioned to anybody other than my Commanding Officer, if asked, of course. He reminded me that I was subjected to the Official Secrets Act which I signed on enlistment.
Whilst in hospital I was required to submit a full written report to my CO. detailing all the past events.
Late afternoon the next day I was released.
The injury healed almost fully within ten days with no detriment to me other than a scar which I still have. I was later fully re-embursed for ruined civilian shirt and sweater. This is the first account of the incident I have made since the event happened in May 1964


FIFTY EIGHT                                              STANDBYE

standbye duty

 


Standbye duty was the cream of duties. Standby gave you the chance to be what you had been trained for, a proper policeman, rather than just a glorified guard.
Normally there would be two persons working standby duty together. One was the driver and the other was the observer. The driver had full charge of the vehicle but the observer, provided he was of similar or senior rank, was in command of the situations as they arose.
Usually the pair would wait in the standby room. A bell would summon them to the control room, from there they would be dispatched to what ever incident. These were many and very varied.
One time the alarm bell summoned my partner and I into the control room. we were given orders to sign out an SMG (Stirling Sub-Machine gun ) and 2 mags of live rounds. We did so and were ordered to report to Bravo four on the Zonal border. Bravo four was an area that at one time had been a cross over point between the East and the West. A Wooden control building had been erected on the Eastern side and was usually attended by border guards. On the Western side there was nothing to denote it from any other part of the Zonal border. When we reached the designated place we were met by a Military Police Major, whom I did not know, and the regular zonal border patrol. This officer seemed not to be in control of the coming proceedings this was being organised by 'suits'. We referred to 'suits' as persons who although dressed in civilian dress were obviously someone of importance, even being deferred to by officers, high ranking officers at that. On our side of the border were 2 'Suits', 2 uniformed Officers (the other one carried the cap badge of the Intelligence corps) a civilian dressed person who was handcuffed, our border patrol and ourselves. Our officer explained to us that there was to be a ' hand over'. We were in attendance just in case there was any trouble which was not expected. I remembered a few weeks earlier when confronted by a Kalashnikov Russian rifle in comparison with my SMG. I hoped all would go off all right. Not the weapons! the coming events.
Anyone who has seen the film "The spy who came in from the cold' showing the handing over of a Soviet spy for a Western one describes almost exactly the events that were to come. At a pre arranged signal the handcuffed man on our side was released and he was allowed to begin his walk to the East. The released man in the East began to walk towards us. As they past at the half way point little recognition of the other was given. They passed like ships in the night apparently unnoticed by the other. Our returned spy, for that was what I assumed him to be, was ushered into a waiting limousine and was whisked away. We were ordered to return to HQ and hand in our weapons. A non event really for which I was quite grateful.
All vehicles, service or British civilian that were involved in a Road Traffic Accident, RTA. in the British sector had to be reported to and attended by the British Military police.
On arrival at a RTA (Road Traffic Accident) an MP had to take charge of the situation. First Aid had to be organised if needed and ambulances called. Traffic control may have to be initiated. Measurements taken. Plans of roads and positions of vehicles involved were drawn. Statements taken from all persons involved and witnesses. Moving of vehicles to be organised and roads reopened as necessary.
I attended many RTA’s and found that no two were alike. I have been to some where the vehicle has been a complete write off and it had seemed impossible that anyone could survive and all passengers and driver have come out without a scratch.
One RTA I attended was where a large American Maroon Ford Galaxy that had been driven, full frontal impact, into an oak tree just outside BMH. The car was a complete write off and at first glance seemed covered in a white dust that I later learned was powdered glass. It seemed impossible that anyone could have survived the impact. Before our arrival the driver had a disentangled himself from the wreckage, which was a feat in itself, and walked to the nearby hospital. When we met him there later his injuries were a slight cut to his chin that needed little treatment other than cleaning. A very lucky Yank.
On the other hand, in some cases little vehicle damage could be observed at a RTA but serious injuries had resulted. I only ever attended one fatal accident. That had to be handed over to a more senior rank. Serious repercussions can result from a 'fatal' and have to be handled very diligently.
One time My partner and I were returning from an incident involving British soldiers having problems in the American sector. On arriving it was a minor incident which Iwe sorted out. It required no further action (NFA) from the military point of view. We allowed the soldiers to continue on their way.
We were driving along Bismarck Strasse at the usual 50 ks. (30 mph) As we approached a set of traffic lights they changed to Amber then Red. Across the road on the other side of the junction a small Fiat, German registered, car suddenly had the brakes jammed hard on. It stopped at the lights. There was no reason for the driver of the Fiat to carry out an emergency stop. He had plenty of time to safely carry on through the lights at Amber.
A German lorry driver with a long trailer who was behind the Fiat had expected the Fiat to go through the lights.
The driver locked his brakes on to avoid collision. His trailer jack knife behind him. He struggled to maintain control and managed to avoid hitting the Fiat, ending up just inches from it. His trailer skewed across the road and collided with two other on coming cars. Behind three other vehicle also ran into the back end of the lorry. two other cars, one of them was a British Army DKW, had to swerve to avoid further impacts and ended up in a ditch.
It was primarily a German Police job but because we were on hand we took charge until they arrived and were given full control. Our main concern was with the British Army vehicle. He would be reported, by me, for not driving with due care.
Immediately after the accident when the lights changed, the fiat which had escaped unscathed, drove off without even a backward glance.
In all eight vehicles were involved with no serious injuries in any of them.

One evening I was ordered to attend 23 Polizie revier. The 23rd was a German civilian Police Station. The German Police were holding a British Green Jacket soldier.
On reporting, a German Policeman led me into one of their cells. There I interviewed a soldier who told me that he had been having a few drinks at various bars and had gone into the Rainbow Bar. He had asked for a drink but the woman owner ignored him serving all but him. He raised his voice to get a drink but with that the woman came from behind the counter and began hassling him out of the bar, shouting to him that they did not serve coloureds. He was a half cast soldier. She was pushing him out of the door saying he was drunk. He explained to me that to break contact with her he put his hand up behind him. But he made no purpose contact with the female. He then left and went to the ABC bar lower down the road, he had not run off but walked the whole time. At the other bar he joined some of his mates. The barwoman at the Rainbow had called the civilian police who found and arrested him at the ABC
I asked the German Policeman to put him back in the cell until I could take a statement from the owner of the Rainbow bar. I went to the bar and through my interpreter I took a statement of complaint. The woman's statement was at odds with the soldier story. She said he was staggering drunk and hit her before running away. I could see no sign of drunkenness in the soldier, he had a drink but certainly was not staggering. he had admitted putting his hand up but not to making contact. He had not run away, the owner of the bar was easily able to follow him to the next bar. There were other facts but the soldiers story rang more true to me, although it was not my job to decide fault.
I returned to the police station and took charge of the soldier. I told him that although I believed his version of events It was not my decision. His commanding officer would decide. I told him that I would not place him under arrest provided he peacefully accompany me back to his barracks. There I would hand him over to his own duty officer with the recommendation that he be allowed to sleep in his own bed that night rather that in a guardhouse cell.
The soldier thanked me for being understanding and agreed to my suggestions.
As we were leaving I noticed that he was in shirt sleeves. It was cold outside. I asked him where his coat was and he replied in the ABC bar, he had not collected it when the German police had arrested him.
I said as we are passing the ABC we would drop in and collect it. We did. My driver remained with his vehicle while I went in to the bar, I had told him I would not be too long. As I entered the bar all hell broke loose, the bar was full of squaddies and all the soldiers mates began accusing me of arresting an innocent man. The Green Jacket was trying to explain that I was treating him fairly but I was in no mood for explaining my actions to anybody.
"Get your coat now" I ordered the soldier. Just at that time a very large drunken soldier began prodding me telling me I was not going to arrest his mate. He was head and shoulders taller than I. He was very drunk. I shouted out to all in the bar. "I have not arrested him yet. But I can arrest him. In fact I can and will arrest everyone in the bar if you do not quieten down and behave yourselves. I will close this bar down."
There was no way I could have carried out my threats.
Looking around I saw one soldier who was sat quietly. I knew him to be an NCO in the same regiment. I said to him.
"I know you to be an NCO. I give you a direct order to get this man off my back." indicating the large soldier. I then grabbed the first soldier and began ushering him out of the bar. Just as I was pushing him out, my partner thinking that I had been a long time, came to see if I was all right. Just then I heard a smack. It was obviously the sound of a punch. I looked back. The NCO whom I had ordered to control the large soldier had hit him. My mate saw this and said "Jack its a fight" He began to try a bustle past me into the bar. I pushed the soldier and my partner out. I had got my man and I didn't want any more.
I returned the soldier to his barracks and handed him over to his duty officer with the recommendations as promised.
My statement of evidence to the soldiers CO slanted in favour of the soldier. Although in theory I should have remained completely unbiased.


Prostitution in Germany is Legal providing the rules governing it are observed and acted upon.
Squaddies whether it be legal or not will always avail themselves of the services of women of the night. Although strictly speaking it is not an offence for a soldier to pay for sex, it is frowned upon and discouraged. To ensure that the German Civil Police can be seen by the British army to regulise and keep in check legal prostitution, occasionally an MP is detailed to accompany a Civil Policeman on his vice rounds.
I was instructed to escort a civil police officer on his vice patrol. We visited the many bars of the red light district of Spandau and requested the health documents of known prostitutes. At that time providing they were registered and that they kept up medical checks at least every month the civil police treat them with respect. We also visited the rooms that the ladies took their clients to, I must remark that they seemed very clean to me. The brothel that I saw was also clean and very efficiently run. The average going rate for services rendered at that time was around 25 DMarks (around 2.50 Pounds) at that time.
I did notice a person in anticipation of service in the waiting area of one of the Brothels. noticing his short haircut and an English suit he was obviously a British soldier. I could have asked for his ID of confirmation and then sent him packing or even reported him to his Commanding officer but he wasn't causing anyone any harm and was going about his own business. I conveniently looked the other way.
In a way I envied his daring I had not seen my wife for many months now and it did enter my mind, however fleetingly, to..... Well
On our rounds the German policeman did approach one lady who looked to me to be around sixty years old. Again he spoke to her very respectfully. After inspecting her Medical card and passing a few pleasantries he said. "Wiedersehen Lottie" as he bade her good-bye.
He told me that her nickname was One mark Lottie. She had been on the game most of her adult life. She used to charge 1 Mark for services rendered but due to inflation her price was now 10 marks (1 Pound). She was said to be worth every penny and her services was always in demand by the Germans and hard up British Soldiers.
He said that if he had to be in a position to have to use one he would see Lottie, not because she was the cheapest but because she was the nicest.
I learned a lot of lessons that evening. Even females, practising the oldest profession, can still be given respect. The ones that I met seemed very nice persons. It made be revise my idea of the 'ladies of the night'.
It certainly made me believe that Legal prostitution should be allowed within the UK.
There were many different characters within our unit. Some I liked and respected. Some I disliked but still respected and one I did not like and did not respect. I would hate being his partner in any duty. I was not alone. Many of the unit had requested not to be accompanied by him. I will not give his correct name but will call him Colin.
Colin had been in the RMP for over 4 years. He was a thick set loud mouthed man. He was also thick in the head. How he managed to pass out of our depot in the first place amazes me. He had tried twice to pass promotion exams but failed miserably each time. These exams to gain the second stripe, although not easy, are well within the average mans capabilities. He remained a Lance Corporal.
Whenever he was out on patrol he would take every opportunity to belittle any soldier he could lay his hands on. Because he was your partner there were times that you had to back him up and hate it at the same time. Whereas a normal procedure would be to check a soldier when he had committed a minor offence, caution him as to his future conduct and then let him proceed on his way. Colin would dangle the man on a piece of string berating them in a loud voice, trying to prove how powerful his stripe was, which it was.
The stripe and police powers are very powerful and most times they were used in a correct manner. Colin always picked on Privates or other Lance Corporals, never any of senior rank to himself. He gave the Military Police a bad name. In many cases he tarred us all with his brush.
Usually the powers that be kept him on duties out of the way of other soldiers.
Colin had not been around for some time. I assumed he was on leave or had been transferred. One day, who should be striding down the pathway to our unit was Colin. He was wearing 3 stripes. I looked amazed especially as he was wearing a Karki forage hat with a badge that I did not recognise at the time.
I asked him what the story was and he grinned. He had taken a course and transferred into the Military Prisons Unit. Their lowest rank, it seems, is Sergeant. I know very little of Military Prisons other than they are very hard places to be in. The film 'The Hill' starring Sean Connery springs to mind when I think of them. And from what I have heard it also describes the type of person needed to run them. A prisoner is treated like Shit within the system. Tales I've heard about the 'Glasshouse' are quite believable.
Colin was a hard man and although he was a square peg in a round hole whilst within our corps he certainly would have been in a square hole in the Prison Service. Hole, Square and thick being operative words.



Spandau was a suburb of West Berlin and was within the British sector.
In 1945/46 at the Palace of Justice Nuremberg, the famous Nazi war crimes trials were held. Twenty alleged criminals were tried. Twelve were sentenced to death, five were jailed and three were acquitted.
Spandau Prison that the criminals were incarcerated to, now held only three of the originals, Rudolph Hess, Albert Speer and Balder Von Schirach.
 

belsen

A leaf from the Belsen concentration camp and Baldur Von Shirach's autograph.


RUDOLPH HESS (1894-1987) Had been Adolph Hitler’s second in Command. At his trial he had conducted his own defence and had entered a plea of insanity. That had been rejected by the court He was sentenced to life imprisonment and died in August 1987
ALBERT SPEER. (1905-1981) He had been Hitler’s main architect for the new third Reich.
BALDUR VON SCHIRACH. (May 9, 1907 – August 8, 1974) June 1933 Adolph Hitler had made anti-Semitic Von Schirach the head of the German Hitler youth organisation. Gualeiter of Vienna 1940/45 he carried out the policy of deporting all Jews. He was released from Spandau in 1966
Spandau prison was a strictly Military one. Consequently it was guarded on a monthly rota basis by the four powers, British, American, French and the Soviets. It was against prison rules for any guard to speak to any prisoner without good reason. A soldier guard was liable to be reported to a superior, by the prisoners themselves just to cause problems. Rudolph Hess was the main trouble causer in this. Very rarely did Military Police have cause to go into Spandau Prison.
In 1964 Baldur Von Shirach had a medical problems that could not be treated in the prison, he had to be escorted to the British Military Hospital. The BMH was also in Spandau. He was detained there for an operation and treatment. It fell to the task of the RMP to guard him.
He had a private ward that consisted of 2 rooms. All windows were barred. One MP guard was permanently on duty within the first room, he was unarmed. Unless an emergency arose he was instructed not to go into the inner room that contained the prisoner. There was also a guard stationed outside both rooms who was armed. An armed guard was also situated at the entrance to the hospital.
My friend Ernie H. guarded Von Schirach on many occasions. Although it was strictly against regulations to speak to the prisoner, Ernie made friends with him. He had told me that the prisoner spoke perfect English. Von Shirach was supposed to have said to Ernie that Hitler had been completely wrong in the war against Europe, and often atoned for his misdeeds during that part of his life. Ernie always looked forward to that guard duty and the long conversations with the prisoner.
After a few weeks of treatment Von Schirach was returned to Spandau Prison.
A few months later he was returned to BMH for with a re-occurrence of his problems.
I was to do duty guarding Von Schirach within the first room.
Ernie by this time had joined the MT (Motor Transport) section. His prime job was as a driver. Ernie drove me down to BMH for the guard duty. He decided to look in on Schirach.
As he was more aquainted of the layout than I, Ernie entered the room first. He opened the door of the inner room Von Schirach was standing with his back to the door looking out of the barred window. Ernie opened the door and seeing him said. "How are you going you old Nazi fat bastard."
With that and even before he had turned round Von Schirach shouted. "Ernie. How pleased I am to see you." The War criminal spun round and grabbed Ernie round the shoulders in a hug then taking his hand, pumping it up and down in greeting. He was genuinely pleased to see him.
Ernie then introduced me to Baldur Von Schirach. He held out his hand in greeting. I, hesitatingly, shook it.
A long conversation between them took place. Von Schirach said that his 20 year incarceration in Spandau should come to an end in the mid 60s. He felt that he should be given parole now and that it was only the Russians that were holding things up. They did not want to give up the excuse of regular entry in to Western Berlin. He insisted that when he was released, Ernie must then come to visit him and his family. He had said that his family was quite well off. If Ernie ever had any money troubles he was to contact his wife or elder son, they would help.
Very few words were spoken between Von Schirach and myself during the duty. Although I did get his autograph. I tried not to appear rude but I kept any answers to his questions as a plain yes or no. I was cognisant that even those few words could have got me into trouble with a superior.
I lost contact with Ernie when I left Berlin and I often wonder if he ever took up Baldur Von Schirach's offer.



FIFTY NINE                                                     PT COURSE
As previously said, in October my wife Brenda had returned to the UK after a brief visit to Berlin. I was still applying for married quarters. I had been promised one early in the new year after acquiring enough MSQ points.
On the 9th of November 1963 I received 2 letters from her.
The first letter opened said how lonely she was. How just that day a tenant in one of our flats had done a moonlight flit taking furnishings from the flat and owing 3 weeks rent. She had no idea what to do next. She was feeling very depressive.
After reading that I was really down. How could I help almost a thousand miles away?
The second letter I opened apologised for the first. It had been written and posted in haste. The letter confirmed that everything had now been sorted. She had been to see her father and he promised to redecorate the flat. He had already got a new tenant and was in the process of tracing the previous one. Anyway it was only one weeks rent, discounting the deposit, not Three and not a substantial amount, the furnishings were easily replaceable. My father in law was to become the landlord of the property when she came to join me. He would sort everything out. All was now in order at that end.
The Second letter was the exact opposite from the first.
I was greatly relieved to receive it. It helped a little. Having said that, I was still feeling I should be home to sort it out.
I had an idea.
That same morning I applied to see my Commanding officer.
I explained to him the content of the first letter saying how desperate I felt in that I was losing money. My wife was due to come to Berlin soon and I must have all my financial affairs in order before that.
I omitted to say that I had received the second letter.
The CO asked that he might read the letter for confirmation. I agreed and handed him the letter. He read it then sympathised with me, especially about my losing money.
He asked if I had any leave left. I had not. He said that he was prepared to grant me 2 weeks compassionate leave.
Did I have any free air flights in hand. I didn't
He called the Orderly Sergeant into his office and explained the circumstances. The Sergeant said that he could issue rail travel warrants that would get me to 50 miles over the German border into Belgium. I would have to pay from there to Ostend at a reduced serviceman's rate. The same would apply on the channel crossing ferry. Another rail warrant would be issued from Dover to Leeds. All the warrants would be return. He said that the total cost to me would be in the region of five Pounds.
The CO asked if that was agreeable. I affirmed. He gave instructions to the Orderly Sgt. "Get this man on his way ASAP."
I was jumping for joy. I caught the Military train down the Zone and was home fourteen hours later, with a fourteen days leave pass in my pocket.
The incident proved how the army can be understanding when it wants. The Military machine has a heart.
I sorted some of my domestic problems out in the first few days and enjoyed the rest of my leave.
I began my return to my unit.
On Friday the 22nd of November I had reached Hannover, West Germany. I booked in at railway station with the RTO (Rail Transport Officer), to reserved a place on the Military Train that returns through the East German land corridor.
Once on board I could relax until the train arrived in Berlin. We arrived at Brunswick (Braunschweig) the train, as normal, stopped prior to being allowed to enter Soviet territory.
An officer of the RTO section walked through the corridors of the train re-affirming the identity of the passengers. He explained that there was an emergency and a decision was being made as to if the train should proceed any further that day. On sighting me in MP uniform he suggested that I contact our Brunswick unit for instructions. I did so and was informed that I was to proceed there immediately. I found that the Helmstadt unit was on a full alert.
The US President J.F. Kennedy had been assassinated in Dallas that day and a world crisis could escalate.
I was issued arms and ammunition and instructed to help guard the Road/Rail Transport Checkpoint at Helmstadt. For Twenty four hours the British Army was on alert. I understood that all Three allied powers were at a state of emergency.
The theory was that the Soviets may decide to take advantage of the American power vacuum due to the assassination. They may begin an advance into Western Europe.
The Russians did not seek advantage. We were later stood down. I was two days late in getting back to my unit but I had a unique excuse.
Whilst on compassionate leave in November 63 I had discussed past events with my wife. It would be some months before an army MSQ would be available. I had always been interested in anything physical and had already decided that some day I would apply to become a Physical Training Instructor. As the Course was held at Aldershot, UK I thought that I could kill two birds with one stone. Whilst my wife was at home I could also be in the UK. I should be able to visit her of a weekend and as a bonus I would be accruing MSQ separation points.
On my return I applied to my Commanding officer to be considered for a Physical Training Instructors course.
A week or so later I was tested by an Army PTI as to my suitability and passed. On Monday the 2nd of December I began a 3 week course of instruction at Sennalager, West Germany. The course was designed to get rid of unsuitables and to get a soldier super fit for the main event.
A successful passing of the pre ACI would allowed me to take the full twelve week course in the UK.
The first morning we paraded in PT kit. Immediately 4 instructors set us out on a cross country run. We had gone about 2 miles when the route looped and we were headed back to barracks. That was easy enough I, and most of us, thought perhaps they are just taking it easy on us with it being the first day. As we neared the barrack entrance the instructors did not halt us but carried on past it. They are just having us on we all thought but we then continued on the second part of a figure of eight run. This lasted about another 2 miles. Again we approached the barrack entrance. Ah! this must definitely be it, again we thought. Wrong again. Once more we ran past it. We began running in the direction as at the onset of the run. We were to do it all again. Another 2 miles. For the second time from that direction we approached the entrance.
A soldier adjacent to me muttered, "If they (The instructors) take us past the barracks again I'm packing in" I felt the same way although I would never have admitted it.
One instructor overheard this. He halted the Squad. Pointing to the soldier who had said he was packing in, the instructor said. "Fall out you. Report to the CSM in the orderly room." (Company Sergeant Major) To the rest of us he ordered. "At the double double march" and the run set off again for the second part of the figure of eight course.
It was not at a very fast pace but very few of us had ever had to run as far as this before. Up to that point I had thought that I was fit. Probably for water polo swimming, I was. But for running this far I definitely wasn't.
Constantly the instructors kept urging us on and not to give in. We were not being bullied but were cajoled. The bullying would come later.
After the run I realised that they were not looking for trainees to be superbly fit at the start of the course, they could soon train that into you. They were looking for soldiers that wanted to be on the course and not shirkers.
The soldier who had complained earlier had been RTUed. No sign of him was left, by the time our run had finished.
For the next seven days my calf muscles ached because of the first extended run. We ran at least five miles every day for the first week and thereafter we ran as a team carrying long heavy logs.
By the time the course had finished I was the fittest I have ever been in my life. True fitness is a heady feeling which is impossible to describe, you can actually feel your blood coursing through your veins.
I gave my all physically and mentally during the course and managed to gain 'The certificate of Merit' as the outstanding student on the 84 Pre A.I.s course.

cert of merit


I returned from the pre-course on Saturday the 21st of December and spent the next few days of Christmas 1963 in Berlin.
On the last day of the year I travelled back to the UK overland, arriving at the Army School of Physical Training, Aldershot at 2300 Hrs. I had been travelling most of New Years Eve day and had nothing wholesome to eat. I went to the cookhouse and requested the duty cook to fix me a quick meal. I was eating beans on toast as a peel of bells and hooters heralded the New Year of 1964
Here I was, completely stone cold sober, a lot nearer home to my wife and son but still some Two Hundred miles away.
The following Wednesday morning the PTI course started proper.
The main course was not as tough physically as the pre- course. We were already super fit and all that was needed to keep us in shape were a few top up fitness periods a day. The bulk of the instruction was learning the technique of physical exercise and passing it on to a class.
Most sports that are played in the army were studied and the coaching techniques learned. In the minor sports we had to have a good basic grounding but in the main sports, Rugby, Football, Athletics etc. we had to have a thorough knowledge.
I was promoted to Section Senior Leader of our Squad. I had to present the squad, as a whole, to whatever place and time for instruction. Part of my job was to organise the daily cleaning of the barrack room. Every Friday morning, throughout the British Army, there is the CO’s inspection. He, accompanied with a senior NCO, usually the RSM, inspects the living accommodation and conditions of his soldiers.
The sword of Damocles is hanging over the soldiers head during this inspection because the CO can easily say the room is not up to scratch and order no leave passes for the coming weekend.
Hence Thursday evening is busily spent getting the room up to perfect cleanliness for the coming inspection. All squaddies are busy doing their respective cleaning duties, then as if at a signal at 6.55pm all work stops. Everyone retires to the NAAFI or the lounge. There 'Top of The Pops' is on television. All watch the programme until it has finished at 7-30 and then they would leave and resume cleaning duties.
I had often thought that if the Russians were going to attack the British Army they should do it at 7-15pm on Thursday evening, they would then be sure of the element of surprise.

I worked hard at the cadre and again, determined to pass it, gave of my all. The course obviously enough involved much strenuous effort and it was in the mind of all that any serious injury could involve an RTU (Return to unit) until fit again, in that event the soldier would be able to return and retake the course. It was not unusual for an entrant to pass the majority of the cadre weeks before succumbing to injury and being RTUed as unable to physically carry on.
In the Twelfth week of training I was in a class that was learning and practising grand circles on the High Gymnastic bar. On one of the circles at the height my grip became dislodged. I fell off and my chest connected with the bar. It was a very painful injury but I was afraid to report it for fear of RTUed. Unfortunately for me the next period was boxing training. Whilst sparring with an opponent he punched and connected to the injured part of my ribs. Down I went and was unable to get up. Taken to the Aldershot Military hospital a simple fracture to a left rib was diagnosed. The treatment for a simple broken rib at that time was to leave it to heal itself and not applying any strapping. On my return to the APTC school I reported fit to carry on. The thought of my having to come back and do all that training again really frightened me. I was very lucky as most of the more strenuous parts of training had been completed all that was left was theory exams in the many differing sports.
On the final week of training we were taken to the military swimming baths for a recreation period. High above the water was a pair of trapeze stands fixed to the ceiling with accompanied ropes and bars. We were all given the opportunity of swinging from one trapeze stand and in the middle letting go to grab hold of the other bar as it swung towards you. Because most of us had forgotten to dry our hands before attempting the traverse none could contain the grip on the oncoming bar, consequently we all fell into the pool. I decided to dry my hands and try once more, determined that I would be the first to succeed. I managed to grab and keep hold of the oncoming bar and began my swing back to the other landing stage. Unfortunately on landing my feet slipped under the landing stage and my left foot connected with a bolt that kept the steel stage in position. As I swung back to the centre now I had lost my momentum to regain any position on any landing stage. I just hung there with blood pouring from my foot. All I could do to get down was to drop into the pool. The chlorinated water entered the cut and it hurt like hell. Helped out of the water I was rushed again to the BMH. The doctor, after examining the cut, announced that he would have to stitch it. The worst was yet to come, he said that he would give me a local anaesthetic and that needle going in the ball of my foot was the very worse part. It was impossible to keep my foot still, it is bad enough just touching the instep, never mind sticking a needle in there. My leg had to be strapped down to contain my involuntary reactions. Six stitches were inserted
Luckily the course was about over and once more I was not RTUed.
I passed the course and as a consequence I was allowed to attach to my uniform the insignia of the crossed sabres on my right upper arm. A very proud day, no one had given them to me, I earned them.

pt school cert


I had excelled in coaching PE, Boxing, Swimming and Gymnastics and was recommended for special courses in these subjects and also for a further Advanced PTI course which, on graduating, would grant my acceptance into the Army Physical Training Corps and a promotion to Sergeant.
How I felt at this stage to transferring into another Corps I was not sure. The idea of being a Sergeant greatly appealed to me but leaving the Military Police did not. A Sergeant in the APTC or a corporal in the RMP? But it was a decision I could leave until later.
Promotion to Sergeant in the RMP was dead men's shoes. With the RMP being a very small Corps there was little scope for early promotion. It only came after years of exemplary service.

 



SIXTY                                                           JIM'S VISIT

Our Company water polo team continued to succeed, due mainly to the efforts of our trainer Hans Otto. We won the Berlin Brigade Shield which gave us entry to the BAOR Competition. (British Army of the Rhine)
We made a tour of the British Sector of West Germany playing matches at different garrisons. Whilst the team kept winning we were going further forward into the BAOR. competition. It gave me an ideal opportunity to travel widely within West Germany.
Ernie and I visited Belsen, the sight of the infamous concentration camp of World War Two. There was very little to see really. It looked like a large landscaped park. There were great mounds of earth. Each had a sign denoting how many bodies were buried beneath. '10,000 TOTE' was the first plaque I saw, indicating 10,000 dead. There were many such mounds.
It is said that no birds sing within the grounds of Belsen. I don't know how true that is but none did whilst we were there. I took a small twig with a few leaves from one of the bushes to put in my scrapbook and even now when I open it at that page my thoughts return to the place.
It was a very moving experience.
Our team won the BAOR Water Polo championship which qualified us to go to the UK for the finals of the British Army finals.
In the UK we managed to win all qualifying rounds to the final. There we were runners up, being narrowly beaten by 3 coy of the Parachute Regiment.
When we considered that our team was chosen from only around forty soldiers of 247 (Berlin) Pro. Coy RMP. We had done very well. Most regimental teams had hundreds from which to chose their teams.
All credit was to our trainer Hans Otto.
In June of 64 I was finally allocated an MSQ. My wife was a little reluctant but returned with my son Stephen to Berlin.
The MSQ we were allocated was one of a block of four. Inside was very modern. They had been purposely built and were completely self contained. All and everything was provided.
Because of subsidies by the German government we were able to afford a maid 3 days a week. My wife soon tired of the help. She reasoned that she could clean the MSQ better than any maid. Anyway she had always made sure that all was spotlessly clean before the maid arrived. She soon dispensed with the services of her.
In August my brother Jim and his wife visited us on an assisted army flight scheme. I had arranged some leave that coincided with his visit. For the short period my wife was happy to see family faces. We visited all the main sights of Berlin during the day and Jim, Ernie and myself took our leave in the evenings to visit our mess and to take advantage of the local brews.
The Germans are proudly famous for their beers and it is a well earned fame. I had been told that just before the turn of the century the German parliament equivalent had passed a law that stated the strict conditions for the brewing of beer, that only natural products could be used. My favourite tipple was Shultheiss, although there was no German beer that I did not like.
Ernie was on Zonal and Sector border a few of the nights of my brothers holiday. Jim and I arranged to meet him. Although it was strictly forbidden Ernie took Jim on a tour of both of the borders which no normal tourists ever see. It certainly added to his holiday.
Towards the back end of the holiday, funds were getting low. Jim said he would have to tighten his belt for his last few days. Ernie suggested we all go to give blood for cash.
In the past, Ernie and I had been to the Krankenhaus (hospital) in the French sector to give blood. The current price was 25 marks, a beer, a sandwich and a return autobahn rail ticket. With beer at around 50 Pfennigs (100 Pfs = 1 mark) one could have a good day on the beer with the proceeds. Brother Jim had never given blood before but was quite willing to earn the little extra cash.
We explained the procedure to Jim, the only identification needed was a passport or an identity card. We duly produced these and was admitted. Both Ernie and I were laid out on a bed before Jim entered the ward. My plastic blood bag was half full even before Jim was hooked up to a system. When he saw that he was behind us he immediately began pumping his fist and arm. The blood began to flow into his bag rather quickly. We urged him to slow down but his bag was filled even before mine was. We were unhooked from the system and collected our cash vouchers. We began queuing at the pay out window. Suddenly Jim looked over to me and with an ashen face said. "I feel light headed." With that he turned and fell forward, with his head butting a door that was slightly ajar. He fell to the floor as if poleaxed. Immediately nurses came from all directions to attend to Jim. They insisted that he go into a separate ward to lie down for a half hour and gave him a yellowish liquid to drink. The nurses would not let him out of the hospital until the time was up. He later said that as soon as his head had reached floor level, he felt all right. It has something to do with having less blood pressure in the brain after a blood donation and as soon as the body is level then the pressure levels.
When we left the hospital, our first thought was to have another drink to even our body fluid levels up. Well you would have to, wouldn't you? We had already been given one bottle of beer with our cash reward. Going to one of the many lean to bars it was beers all round. Once we had the taste, there was no stopping us. We began an 'All Dayer' returning home rather late that night. Both Jim and I were in the 'dog house' with our spouses but it was well worth it. We three musketeers had a most glorious day, memorable even to this present time.
Over the coming months I slowly began to realise that my wife would never adapt to life in Germany. She would always resent living in someone else house. She wanted to be in one of her own. She had one of her own and wanted to live in it. She wished to be back home in the UK so that she could easily visit her parents. I began formulating plans to appease her.
My second son David was born at the British Military Hospital in Spandau in November 64. Both my wife and son could not have been better taken care of even if they had gone private.
She was keen to take our new son home, to her parents, for Christmas. I had to take a course of instruction to prepare me for another cadre that would eventually gain me my second stripe. This would last from just before and to a little after Christmas. After discussions I agreed that we should pay for her and my two sons single flight home, well before Xmas. I would arrange for me to have UK leave early in the new year. I could buy a car and drive it home. We all could return after my leave to Berlin by car.
I answered an advertisement in the 'Berlin Bulletin' which was a forces newspaper printed by the Education Branch of the British Army.
It was for the sale of an Opel Caravan being sold by another soldier who was soon leaving Germany. The name suggests that it was some sort of mobile home but it was just a normal modern shaped car with a hatch back. I fell in love with it immediately and the price was right. I was very proud of the car and it turned out to be a beautiful runner. I never had a moments problem with it even though I drove many thousands of miles in it. I sold it when leaving Berlin and easily recouped my original investment.
I passed my pre promotion course and drove home soon after it. We had a glorious leave in the UK.
I drove back to Berlin with my wife and two sons. The drive both ways was incident free; other than stopping in France, on the return journey and being charged the earth for a mid-day meal for what we considered stewed offal. But even that meal, though horrible, is still memorable.
Memories, I felt, were/are like having your own private bank account. You can take a memory out of it, use it as you will and it can still be put back, still whole, into your account. Any amount of use of the memory bank will not depreciate the balance.
I gloried in the chance of travelling, seeing and doing different things, if only my wife could relax and enjoy the uncertainty of it all. I was living, and enjoying, a life that would be hard to imagine if I had stayed down the pit.
Brenda still continued to be uneasy with life in Germany. She wanted to be back in the UK. I discussed it with her and applied to my Commanding Officer to be considered for a post as a Physical training Instructor at the RMP Depot, training recruits.



SIXTY ONE                                       BEGINNING OF THE END

                                                    staff instructers
In April 1965 I was transferred to the RMP Depot and Training establishment. The Depot had now moved and was at the New and modern accommodation at Chichester, Sussex. Inkerman Barracks at Woking had been bulldozed.
I was immediately given an MSQ within the barrack area. They had been newly built and were quite luxurious. My wife, my two sons and I moved in. The MSQ (as all are) was completely self contained and even more modern in outlook than the ones in Berlin. I hoped that Brenda could settle down a little and grow to enjoy 'Army Life', some hopes.
Within a few weeks I was on a promotion course and qualified for my second stripe. I now reasoned that I was senior to around eighty percent of the British Army.
I easily and soon slotted into the life of an instructor at Chichester. I was doing a job that I enjoyed. It gave me a lot of job satisfaction. I like to think I was very good at my work.
In October 1965 I attended and passed a 'Self Defence in Relation to Police Holds' course of instruction at the Civil Police College Hendon, London. It qualified me to coach the subject.
Some of the other instructors and permanent staff had night jobs on the side at 'Winguards'. The quite famous motor spares manufacturers had a factory in downtown Chichester. I applied to my company Commander that I may be allowed to take a part time evening job provided it did not interfere with my army duties. Permission was granted.
Between the hours of 7 and 10 weekday evenings I worked at Winguards. The jobs were many and very varied, about the only similarity they had was that they were all boring and repetitive. One evening I was bending wing mirror stems. The job entailed taking a short length of steel bar and putting it in a bending crank. I then had to pull a long handled lever and the crank bent the steel bar to the required shape. Release the bar, take out the bent steel, throw it in a receptacle, repeat the process. Can you imagine a more boring job?
Time after time I bent bars, thousands of them. I was so good at it that I could look and talk to a work mate at the same time. Unfortunately my mouth got me into trouble again, I left my Left index finger in the crank as I pulled the bending handle. My finger bent much easier that the steel bar. The resulting injury was a broken finger. When the CO heard about the accident he reneged on all permission for members of his establishment in having sideline jobs. For a while I was not the most popular person on camp.

One recruit in training had said he was interested in boxing. He wished to compete within the army championships. Me being also interested in the event gave him every encouragement and sought out the dates of competition which was only a few weeks away. Whilst enrolling him I decided to enrol myself for I thought that I could still 'do a bit'. The recruit was well under my weight and so although we trained together we could not spar fully.
The army championships came round. I having not properly boxed in years still had confidence that I was as good as ever.
The competition began. I was matched with a Scots Guardsman. He was short, for a Guardsman, and stocky. He looked a pushover to me. The upshot of the fight was that I was not as good as I had thought, he beat me easily.
I must be getting old. I should have boxed him not fought him. I was ring rusty. I was ...Well there was a few other excuses I consoled myself with. But none of them seemed satisfactory. I realised I was just not good enough anymore.
As I was always interested in Rifle shooting I joined the Depot Small Bore team. Matches were arranged and eventually I progressed far enough to compete in the army competition at Bisley. Although not coming first in anything I did shoot well enough to become one of the GOCs 20 I received a medal that certified that I was one of the 20 best shots of Southern Command. Not bad when considering that Army trained 'snipers' also took part in the competition.
It was towards the end of 1966 and my wife was still unhappy within the army and was determined not to stay in it. She wanted us to buy another house near her parents.
We still owned the large Victorian House and it continued to bring in rents. The mortgage on that had been paid off long ago. We had a little money saved and so I agreed. We raised a mortgage on a 2 bedroomed bungalow within shouting distance of her parents.
Brenda now wanted to live in our new home and I had to agree, we would vacate our MSQ and she could return home to live in the newly acquired bungalow. I would go into single accommodation within the barrack area. I had said to Brenda that I would leave the army as soon as I could get it out of my system. But inwardly I knew that time might never come.

Within hours of Brenda leaving I felt so alone. I began to question the judgement of my agreement in to letting her go back At the very beginning I was very lonely, during the day I had my very agreeable job and revelled in it but in the evenings all I had to look forward to was watching TV in the NAAFI or chatting to the other instructors, permanent staff or NCOs passing through the Depot on route to other postings.
It was around this time that females were integrated into full Military Police Training and a Female Physical Training instructor called Leslie was assigned to our Gym. One of our other PTI instructors, Leggy, and Leslie soon became an item.
It became a regular occurrence for a number of staff to meet regularly in the NAAFI of an evenings and all kinds of fears dreams and themes were discussed. One subject put forward was the after-life and how contact could be made via the 'Ouija' board. At this stage I still had not made my mind up about the existence of ghosts or spirits and became avidly interested. I had only fleetingly heard about the Ouija board and was a little exited at the prospect of getting a session going. Joe R. seemed to be the most knowledgeable of our group and at first, although he would relate his past experiences, was reluctant to take part in any session proper. Eventually, after much persuasion by us all, he relented and set about making small cards. On each he printed a single letter of the alphabet and the numbers 1 to 10 He also made cards, one YES the other NO. He said he would need a short wine glass with a wide base and I went to the bar counter to get one. The barmaid, Beryl, said that there were no such described glasses in use. I noticed that there were two very fancy coloured wine glass ornaments on the glass shelves behind the bar and asked to borrow one. Beryl said it was more than her job was worth to remove one from the display, they were the personal property of the Manageress who was quite an Ogre. I urged and gave my assurances that I would take good care and be personably responsible for it. After much cadgoling the barmaid relented and I returned to a table that had been set up in a back room, the electric light had been switched off and somebody had produced a lighted candle, the scene was very eerily lit. Four persons were chosen for the initial experiment and I found myself seated in the order of Leggie to my right and Leslie to my left, across the table was Joe. One other was assigned to take notes of any answers and the rest crowded around as onlookers.
The candle that flickered and cast many shadows provided the only light. It was quite hard to make out the whole proceedings.
Joe had placed the letter cards around the outside edge of the table and instructed each of us to place our Right forefinger lightly on the upturned wine glass in the middle. He said not to try and push the glass but if it did move allow it to and not to hinder any movement.
The atmosphere, for me, was very tense and I knew not what to expect. At first, for quite a few minutes, the glass remained motionless and I began to feel a little disappointed and foolish. I was about to rise from my seat to conclude my part in the fiasco when the glass moved, then stopped again. It had been only a small movement but move it had. A chill went up my spine for, knowing that I had not pushed it I equally believed the others had not either. I was uncertain what I was getting myself into and unsure if I wanted to go any further with the experiment, should I pack it in? My excitement and curiosity got the better of Joe R. suddenly said, very sombrely, "Is there any body there?" Who was he taking to I tried to reason, surely not to someone in the spirit world. In normal circumstances I would have laughed at the thought of someone talking to a ghost but the atmosphere at this time was far from funny.
"Is there anybody there?" again intoned Joe. This time the glass shot to one side of the table and although not going over to the YES card it did go to the Y card. It then continued moving around the table without stopping and I had quite a job trying to keep my finger up with it.
Ask it a question, Leggie" said Joe
"What shall I ask it?" enquired Leggie.
"Anything you like, anything you would like to know"
"Who will be the first, among us, to die first?"
What a stupid question I began to think, but before I had chance to continue my thoughts Joe swept his hand across the table knocking the wineglass from it. Fortunately it fell to the carpeted floor and did not break.
I began to rebuke Joe for almost breaking my borrowed wineglass.
Joe, with obvious anger replied "Blame him, has he no more sense than to ask such a question as that? Does he really have no respect, I'm packing in." With that he looked about to get up to leave.
All, myself included, began to scold Leggie at his stupidity. He apologised with the excuse that he couldn't think of a suitable question to ask at the time.
"Ask it what will win the 2-30 at Goodwood tomorrow." someone laughingly asked.
Suprisingly Joe did not treat the remark as unusual. "You have to be in proper contact with someone one the other side before the board will answer questions like that." he answered seriously.
Joe was reluctant to begin the experiment again but after
much inducement he relented.
It was as before, the glass would not move at first but before long, move it did. Slowly to begin with it then it began to circulate the centre of the table.
"Can you tell me the name of whom we are in contact with?" Asked Joe. The glass then veered to one side and stopped at the Letter J. "Put that down." said Joe. The person with the pencil and pad wrote J down.
The glass then quite quickly moved to other letters and slightly pausing before carrying on. "It has spelt out JRYECROFT" said our note taker.
"Does anyone know a J Ryecroft?" asked Joe. "I knew a Jimmy Rycroft." answered Leggie "Ask it how long it's been dead."
"How long have you been on the other side?" asked Joe
The glass responded by going to the figures 3 and then 2
"Thirty Two Years someone murmured.
"That can't be who I'm thinking of," said Leggie "the Jimmy I'm thinking of has only been dead around Two or Three years."
"Lets try and experiment." announced Joe. "Have you been on the other side 32 Years?" The glass moved to the NO card then continued moving round the table in a general circle. "Please J. will you keep control of the circling glass?" intoned Joe and the glass, first moving and stopping at the Yes card, then continued it's movement round the table.
"Leggie," said Joe, "When I say now, take your finger from the glass but continue to follow it around. Now "
I could just make out Leggie taking his finger from the glass but continuing circling with it smoothly
"Leslie can you now take your finger from the glass but same as Leggie continue following it around." Leslie did so.
"Jack take your finger off." I complied and the glass continued unchecked.
"I am now taking my finger off and the glass should continue moving." said Joe. The glass did so.
I could see that Leslie and Leggie were not touching the glass only following it with their forefingers. I knew I was not in contact with the wine glass. This left only Joe who could be moving it but as he was at the opposite side to me I was unsure if he had genuinely removed his finger. Was he pushing the glass around? After a few seconds the glass stopped moving. Someone turned on the electric light. Joe then stood up and with a quiver in his voice said. "If you did not believe in the 'Ouija board before tonight then you most certainly must believe in it now." With that he took out his handkerchief and began blowing his nose and wiping obvious tears from his eyes.
"Oh! come on," says I "I could see the three of us were not pushing the glass but you could have been." I contended.
Joe seemed genuinely hurt by my accusations and said "I promise you I was not pushing that glass, believe me or not, please yourselves."
He was either a good actor or he genuinely believed in the power of the Ouija board, his tears seemed real enough. I did not know what to believe.
"Lets try it again." said someone and with the agreement three others took the places of Leggie, Leslie and myself. We Soon the glass, as before, began to rotate. Questions were asked of it and they neither proved anything one way or the other. "Ask it a personal question." said Joe to one of those round the table.
"Who will be the next to get injured?" said one. With that Joe swept the wine glass from the table and it smashed to smithereens against the wall, shouting "That's it You stupid XXXX. I’ve finished." and with that he flounced off.
The wine glass that I had personally taken charge of lay in shatters at the foot of the wall, how do I explain this to Beryl the barmaid.
Making my profound apologies to Beryl I said I would pay for any damages and offered to meet the NAAFI Manageress myself to explain. Beryl seemed to take it all in her stride and told me she would square it.
The whole Ouija incident left me more at loggerheads with myself, did I believe in the afterlife or not? Many times after we practised with the Ouiga board but no conclusive results were obtained one way or the other.
One of our group announced that a seance was held every Wednesday evening at the Christian Science Church down in Chichester. Along with others I expressed the opinion that I was keen to attend. The following Wednesday a group of us attended the church. The proceedings were exactly the same as in most Christian church services, prayers were offered, hymns sung and a preacher gave a sermon. At the end of the service the preacher announced that this evening's visiting medium was a Mrs Hodlin. A small round of applause was given her and she began. "Would you all think of someone departed this life." I couldn't at that point thing of anyone other than my grandfather.
Can I take you first." she said, indicating one of the ladies in the congregation. The lady affirmed and Mrs Hodlin said" You seem to have the apparition of a man standing just behind you, could this be your husband?" The lady nodded and Mrs Hodlin then tried to find the husbands name which she did after a few tries. The Medium began giving names of spirits that wanted to be remembered to the lady along with other information that only the lady could relate to. Sometimes the lady nodded in agreement at what was said and sometimes shook her head. The medium moved on to another person, then another.
Then she looked into the direction of our group, at the time I was sitting next to Leslie (Leggie was on the other side of her) The medium said "Do you mind if I take both of you together?" Indicating Leslie and myself. It could have been misconstrued that we were couple, we were within a group but not together, together. We both nodded agreement and the Medium carried on, "There seems to be a rainbow like aura coming from each of you and joins in the middle, it is of a golden or silver colour. Are you married by any chance?" I could not resist the facetious remark. "I am, she's not." My comment seemed to put the medium off her stride, she flustered a bit asking if we were engaged, trying to explain her remarks. Failing to make any impression she quickly moved on.
The whole episode was really a damp squib and nothing like what we had earlier imagined any seance to be like.
At the end of the service as we began to move out of the pews a Lay Preacher came over to us and said that he knew it to be our first time and that we should not to be put off by the evenings events. Without exactly coming right out with it, he indicated that that evenings medium was not very good. He explained that, as in all walks of life, there were good and not so good people at their jobs. He urged us to try again the following week and assured us that when we heard some information from a medium that no one else could possibly have known then we would be assured at the existence of life after death. The evening had been different and we'd had a laugh, it was agreed that we would come once more. We wandered off to a local pub
The following week we again turned up at the church for the service. There were Six of us this time Four fellars and Two females, Leslie and Beryl. Beryl had now began to join our company when she was not on duty at the NAAFI. This evening the visiting medium was a man. I forget his name I'll call him Mr X. He began talking to members of the congregation handing out deceased names and backing then up with facts. Up to this stage most had agreed with Mr X, in what he said, to be true and correct. He seemed quite impressive. Looking over to me he asked if he might take me as a subject and asked that I think of some who I knew had departed. Again the only one I could think of was my grandfather. I nodded but was sure in my mind that he would not get him. "Do you know a name beginning with J?" he asked. I nodded amazed within myself in the knowledge that my grandfathers name was John. "It's either Jack or John." he stated. A lucky guess I thought. He began reeling off a number of names who wished to be remembered to me but I shook my head that I knew none of them, which I didn't. Then he quite determinedly said "Harry is looking over you and wants to be remembered." Again I shook my head in the certain knowledge that I knew no one, named Harry, in the spirit world.
"Ah! but you do know someone called Harry I am positive this message is for you, think back it will come to you." Again I definitely disagreed with him. With that he moved on to another of the audience. Parts of what he had said to me were ambiguous and facts could be related to his words provided you wanted them to fit. I was totally unmoved by the experience.
Our group retired to a nearby bar for a round of drinks and the past events were soon forgotten.
As our group was walking home from the pub we were all chatting, Beryl asked what I had done before joining the army. Always ever eager to relate my mining experiences I went into a story telling mode. Part of it went:-
"And there was this fellar that got killed down the pit, he was a good friend of mine was Harry D." As soon I said the word Harry my mind went back to church medium. The hairs on the back of my neck bristled and stood out. I looked up in to the star spangled night sky and inwardly gasped. "Wow" I'll never ever forget that feeling, is there more into this than meets the eye? Have I just learned another lesson of life?
(Harry’s death has been described in an earlier chapter)
Andy was another PTI instructor and we had became very good friends. One time we all visited the Christian Science Church Andy was told that the medium could see Andy in Uniform and that she could see a brown uniform did that mean anything? Andy, who was dressed in civilian clothes, replied uncommitedly. Seeing that the whole group of us had short military style haircuts and that there was a barracks just up the road did nothing to help us believe the Medium was genuine. She also told Andy that soon he was soon to go on a course of instruction. Again most soldiers go on courses throughout their Military Life, nothing enlightening about that. She also said that he would succeed in his course and would then completely change his occupation. Andy at that time was waiting to go on a pre-advanced PTI course and if he passed and was accepted as suitable, would transfer from the Military Police to The Army Physical Training Corps. A very large step indeed with the certain promotion to Sergeant. Myself and the other PTI staff did not think Andy up to the standards required of the APTC and consequently thought he would fail the course. Six to Eight months later the Mediums prophesy came true and Andy passed the course with flying colours and transferred from the RMP to the APTC with the rank of Sergeant. Coincidence again? maybe.

Every Friday evening at 5.00pm providing I did not have any guard commanding or other duties, I would vacate the barracks and begin a trek home to Leeds. Occasionally I might have a train warrant, or sometimes a mate may be going in my general direction but 95% of the time I hitchhiked. The journey by road, door to door, was over 300 miles and if things fell into place and I was lucky I could reach home by Midnight. By train it would be around 1.00 PM the following morning. Hitch hiking was a most enlightening way to travel. I have had lifts with some fine people. Come to think of it only good persons give lifts in the first place. But seriously, hitch hiking in uniform was easy. During the daylight hours I could even be very particular and almost chose the vehicle in which I wanted to travel. Obviously lorries were slower than Jaguars. During the night hours all oncoming lights look the same and I had Hobsons choice.
I have met all types of people from Bankers, Lawyers, Diplomats, Engineers on the oil rigs and even crooks. Being willing to talk and listen I have had many enjoyable journeys. I thank them all they all added to my memory bank.
I particularly remember the then Belgian Ambassador and his wife who picked me up on the A1 just outside of Leeds. We had a most scintillating conversation about the state of the world and how if we ruled it we would change it.
They were travelling to their London residence. Normally I would have been dropped off at the A1/A3 junction but they insisted and drove me to right up to my barrack gates. Almost 150 miles round trip out of their way. Many thanks to them
I hitch hiked, almost every Friday and returned Sunday for almost six months
In November 1966 a Southern Television Camera crew visited Chichester Barracks to film the training of recruit Military Police with the emphasis on females. All aspects of training were filmed including a visit to our gymnasium. Being Senior PTI NCO I was assigned to take a class of recruits, both male and female, in a Self Defence Period. The lady director of the programme first ordered her camera crew to take general shots of the lesson.
At that time females, about six of them, always Self defence practised with other females and never mixed with the men. The director asked could a judo throw be demonstrated on a female just for effect. I explained the training procedure as far as
females were concerned but the director was insistent.
I proceeded to demonstrate such a throw on Leslie the female PT instructor following it up with a ground restraining hold.
A week later in the evening a show was televised showing all aspects of recruit training included PT. The clips of myself hip throwing and ground restraining a female seemed totally out of place because no such training is given nor needed.
I continued as a PTI and enjoyed my work, but all good things must soon come to an end.

In February 1967 I had cause to see the posting sergeant. He told me that my tour of duty at Chichester was about up and I would have to rotate. He had the position and authority that could post me to any of the places in the world in which the British Army serves. I got on very well with him. He asked if I had any preferences of posting. I had known of my coming move and had thought about it a great deal. I had two choices; to try and carry on with my marriage or to abandon it altogether. My marriage would not survive another move abroad, without going into fault finding, all was certainly not well.
To call it a draw and forsake my marriage I would then be able to take an option for posting to Hong Kong, Singapore, Kenya Cyprus Gibraltar. My only problem would be of choice.
To save my marriage and continue in the army would be impossible Brenda was insisting that I, once again, obtain my discharge by purchase. This time though it would be Two Hundred and Fifty Pounds. The money was not the problem, I was.
Trying to appease my marriage and also myself I requested to the posting Sergeant that my posting be to Catterick, North Yorkshire.
The Posting sergeant almost laughed in my face when I told him. "Only fools and idiots are posted to Catterick. It is a real dead and alive hole." was the way he described Catterick.
He intimated about all the other exotic postings.
I reaffirmed my decision to go to Catterick and explained the reasons. As Catterick is only some forty odd miles from Leeds I hoped that I would be able to visit my wife and family most weekends. I could still have the best of both worlds. It could prolong my army career a little longer.
He agreed to see what he could do.
He was as good as his word and soon I was on my way to Catterick.


SIXTY TWO                                                DEAD AND ALIVE HOLE

In March I was on the train to my new posting, Catterick.
Arriving there I was allocated to a four men accommodation room that had seen better days. The place was the 'dead and alive hole', exactly like the posting sergeant had said. I began to regret my past decision already.
My new work mates were okay but there was a very poor morale within the company. The main problem was that it was seriously under strength. Consequently the hours of work were long and unsociable. I had very little chance to regularly visit my family. I had to snatch a few hours with them at a time. And then it was never more than eighteen hours at any stretch. At least in Chichester I was able to visit every weekend.
The duties of the company were many and varied. They in themselves were quite fulfilling. At least I was doing the job of a Military Policeman again.
One event that springs to mind. I was on Saturday evening patrol. My driver and I decided to visit the Starlight Ballroom in Richmond. On arrival the Civil Police were already in attendance. They had been alerted to a disturbance inside.
A military Policeman can only enter civil premises at the invitation of the owner or the police. We entered the dance hall with the Civilian Police. One almighty fight was in progress. There was about equal numbers of civilians and soldiers involved. The two policemen and ourselves quickly brought the skirmish under control. We arrested a number of soldiers and placed them in our army multi-van. The Police had also arrested a number of civilians. After placing them in the respective vehicles I stood guard over them. The two policemen and my driver went back inside to see if all was still quite and we could leave.
There were a number of soldiers and civilians outside the ballroom. Many were still restless. One Soldier, who was in civilian clothes, began harassing me, uttering the words, "Let my mate go, He didn't do anything"
I had no intention of letting his mate, or anyone else go and said so. He became verbally abusive. I said to him. "I know you to be a soldier. I am giving you a direct order, leave this area now or I will arrest you. Do you understand the order?"
Ignoring my direct command, he then reached over to the vehicle door handle to open it, in an attempt to release his mate.
With that action I took his arm and said. "I am arresting you..." Before I could finish my sentence he suddenly and without warning swung round, grabbed my lapels and head butted me. I remember things going quite dark and I actually saw stars. I was blacking out. As I was going down I realised that he was trying to kick me on my way down. I instinctively grabbed hold of his coat lapels to try and close up to him and save myself from falling down and a kicking.
As I grabbed his lapels he turned his head sideways and downwards and bit my knuckles with his teeth.
I was almost out on my feet and could not defend myself. Luckily the Civil police and my mate were just coming out of the dance hall. They intervened and saved my bacon. The soldier was arrested.
We drove the soldiers to their respective barrack guardrooms and had them placed in the cells under arrest.
The soldier who assaulted me was handed over, under arrest, to his duty officer for detention to the cells. The serious gravity of the charge was explained to him.
My next course of action was to go to the Catterick Military Hospital. I arranged to be examined by a medical officer.
I asked him to examine my teeth and confirm that two front ones were loose. He did. "Are they consistent with being head butted?" I asked. He confirmed they were.
Would he examine my Left index finger, main knuckle. He did and confirmed that it was an open wound. "Was the injury consistent with being bitten by someone's teeth?" Again he confirmed that it was.
I requested that the officer put the injuries to my person in writing and asked that the consistencies with being head butted and bitten were detailed.
The officer did so and the certificates were attached, with my report, to be forwarded to the offending soldiers Commanding officer. He would dole out any punishment he saw fit.
Although any punishment given to an offender should not concern a policeman, and in the past it has not interested me; in this instance I made it my business to get to know. He received 56 days under close arrest within his own guardroom. I am unashamed to say he deserved every second of it.
Another time I was on stand bye duty. My driver and I had a call out to the Main Catterick NAAFI. The NAAFI was a large two story building that had bars, cafes, a social area and a dance hall.
There was a fight in progress at the dance. We raced to the NAAFI. The duty officer and another two man squad had also been informed. They met us there. The duty officer was dressed in civilian clothes.
When we arrived we all walked slowly into the dance hall. It had always been instructed in training to take your time when attending a fight. You never saw the old time policeman, like Dixon of Dock Green, racing about. They were quite content to retrieve the broken bodies after the fighters had spent themselves. The fighters were not smashing your furniture or bones in the fight.
The duty officer who was comparatively new to the job did race in. As he entered a very large Fijian was about to hit another soldier.
Our duty officer said to the Fijian. "I am Lieutenant Le Tissier of the Royal Military Police. You are under arrest."
He had hardly got out the words, ' under arrest' out before the Fijian slammed a punch directly to the chin of our officer.  He went flying across the room as though he was weightless. He then hit the soldier he was about to hit when he had been so rudely interrupted by our Duty Officer, Lt. Le Tissier.
If the incident had not been so serious I could have laughed, it seemed so funny at the time. It still brings a smile to my face to retell the incident. We of course had to take action. I must say that it took four of us to place the Fijian under close arrest. I wished he could have been on our side he would have made our job so much easier.
The many times I have been called to fights that were already in progress I tried to keep a low profile. I always found that my mouth was my greatest asset and used carefully could stop an incident or certainly help not to escalate it.
Having said that last paragraph one evening I was on patrol duty and I passed the then famous Catterick Fish and Chip shop. After a few beers many soldiers congregate outside prior to returning to barracks. This particular evening a group of Tank Corps soldiers were having a heated alcoholic argument with some Royal Signals lads. Things looked as if they were going to get out of hand, or so I thought. I would nip the problem in the bud.
I decided to separate them and walked over.
As I've said, in the past my mouth had usually calmed down a lot of situations. This time it must have let me down. As soon as I arrived and asked them to call it a draw and shake hands, a fight started. I managed to separate the two main offenders. After I had cooled things down I reminded them that we needed all branches of the British army and that no one regiment is better than any other. They both readily agreed and said they had no intention of fighting until I had arrived on the scene. The original argument had about who was to pay for the fish and chips. Seemingly they both wanted to pay. Seeing me they had forgot what their argument had been about and thought that they might as well give me something to do. In beer people do some odd things.
I cautioned them and said that I would take no further action if they left the scene and returned peaceably to their barracks. They asked if they could get some food first. I agreed. They left arm in arm seemingly the best of friends.
I will never understand human nature.
One Saturday afternoon I was on mobile patrol. My driver and I had little to do. All was quite. We drove around the garrison showing our police presence. As we neared the Catterick outskirts the racecourse came into view. A race meeting was being held that day. The driver stopped our vehicle by the side of the course where it skirts the road. A race was in progress and we began watching it. A message from control came over the vehicle two way radio. We had to report back to the HQ immediately.
On reaching HQ the duty sergeant gave us one almighty roasting. What were we doing watching the horse racing instead of patrolling?
How did he know we had been watching the racing?
When he had calmed down he said that the company commander had been watching racing on Television at his home. He had seen our vehicle parked up and had got on the phone to our control. We were showing the whole nation, on TV, that the Military police had nothing better to do than to watch horse racing.
On afternoon I was duty desk duty in the control room. A man entered in civilian dress and said he was a Staff Sergeant in the Military Police and was just passing through. He wanted to look up and old acquaintance of his in our Sergeants mess. I asked him for some means of identification and he produced his 2603 identity card. I noted that he indeed was a Staff Sergeant and that his surname was Friende. I asked if he had any relations in the Corps. He replied that he had not. I said that my old squad Sergeant back in 1959 had a squad sergeant called Friende.
"Yes" he said "That was me"
I was flabbergasted. The man I remembered was a very large man. head and shoulders taller than me and built like a brick wall. Here was a Sergeant who looked normal and was in fact much smaller than I.
I introduced myself and he replied that he remembered me, which I very much doubted. He probably did not want to hurt my feelings and was using a man management technique. It made me feel good at the time though.
We had a little chat about old times and I felt perfectly at ease with him. I remembered in the past when I trembled whenever he gave me a dressing down on parade. I recalled how one day he had threatened to stick the end of his pace stick up my Left nostril and throw me bodily over his Right shoulder with it. At that moment of threatening I believed he could do it. How things had changed.
I realised after that in my younger days when I was very impressionable I was in awe at my squad sergeant and looked up to him as an example. My mind had made him larger than life.
How the mind can play tricks and distort events.
One Friday A sergeant and five Corporals were briefed about a coming escort duty. We were to escort a convoy of the Royal signals Regiment in a move to Salisbury, Wiltshire.
There was to be a Military Police vehicle at the front and one bringing up the rear. Our two vehicles would be in radio contact and also in contact with the Signals officer who was in command of the move. We were briefed that the convoy contained many secret documents and electronic equipment. It was reminded that a potential enemy would give their high teeth for some of it. At the time it seemed a little over the top to us but the fact that we were issued with arms and ammunition made it all too real.
Very little of note occurred during the move but I wondered how many persons had been trusted with loaded arms on the roads of mainland UK. A far cry from my previous life down the pit. Of course it is different now with the IRA threat but in those days a heady trip indeed.
I was detailed for A&Ds, Absentees and deserters. There are few serious A&Ds in the British Army. Most soldiers who do not return to their units do so because of emotional problems that once are solved are happy to return to the army. I could relate to that.
When a soldier has been absent from his unit for over 21 days his commanding officer will inform the RMP.
An absentee soldier only becomes a deserter when he disposes of his kit and is determined never again to return. In theory a soldier can be absent for years without becoming a deserter. Most times A&Ds is a pretty much a non event but a couple that spring to mind are:
This instance I had to go to a soldiers previous address in Bradford, Yorks. My colleague and I first contacted the local civilian police and requested that they accompany us. A civil policeman came with us. I knocked on the door as my mate went round into the back garden to prevent any attempted escape from the rear door or window. A lady, who turned out to be the mother of the absentee, answered the door. No she had not seen her son in weeks, was the reply to my question. Could I come in and have a look round? I requested. She invited me in.
I have been in a lot of untidy or dirty houses but never in one such as this. The front door led into a hallway and in front was the stairs. Beneath the stairs was a space that had been fenced in. The space contained a medium sized pig.
They tell me that pigs are clean animals but this one had not been allowed to be. The straw, faeces and food combined to make a smell that was nauseating. How any human can live in such conditions was an insult to the pig. I made a very quick cursory search of the house to fulfil my duties but I was more than glad to get out into the fresh air.
Another time on A&Ds I visited a house in Durham Town. After pretty much the same preamble as the previous incident I asked to be allowed to enter the premises. Consent was given. The householder accompanied me round every room. I looked in one of the bedrooms. The large double bed had not been made and the blankets were strewn around. Nothing unusual I turned and was about to leave. Out of the corner of my eye I saw a very slight movement. I turned about and approached the bed. Pulling back a corner of the covers a small beady eye peeped up at me, it was the absentee whom I was looking for. Had he not moved I would certainly not have discovered him. He was arrested and returned to his unit guardroom.
Another time on A&Ds I had arrested a Soldier from the North East. We were travelling down the A1 at about 50 MPH I was in the back of a Land Rover. Because he had made a prior attempt at resisting arrest I handcuffed his right wrist to my left wrist. Suddenly he made an attempt to escape by trying to climb over me and to jump out of the back of the vehicle. I had to haul him back in. He was almost over the tailgate. I was trying to save myself injury even more than trying to prevent his escape. It was a case of self preservation first. What he was thinking of I know not. He could not possibly have got away from the handcuffs even if he had survived the fall from the fast moving vehicle.
One evening I had drawn standby duty. As reported we were seriously undermanned at 150 Pro Coy. RMP. I had already done duty on the day shift and although normally I delighted to work stand Bye, this evening I was ill at sorts. My driver and I were in our barrack room, cleaning kit and generally getting ready for the coming duty. I remarked to him that I felt very tired. He said he had just the job. When asked what he meant, he produced 2 small Yellow pills. In my sight he took 2 and offered me a further 2. I refused saying I did not take drugs.
He had now put me in a quandary, should I report the matter? At that time there was no serious drug problems in the Army, in fact there was no drug problems in all the British Services. It was unheard of in normal circumstances.
As I refused I told him that I ought to report him on the matter. He produced the packet that they had come from. They were 'Phylosan' and were advertised as "Fortifying the over Forties." They were openly on sale at any chemist. I had seen them advertised on TV. He convinced me that they were harmless. He said he took them all the time when he had pulled frequent duties. It was like taking Aspirin for a headache.
In normal circumstances I would not have but I took two with water.
That evening I had completely forgotten all about the pills and the tiredness for I was full of life. It was only the next day that I realised the effect that the 2 tablets had on me. I remembered purposely going out looking for any trouble that I could clear up.
I had entered the NAAFI hoping that something would happen. This fact in it self should not have occurred. We were supposed to wait for an invitation to enter by the manager. The sight of MPs walking in amongst soldiers trying to enjoy themselves is antagonistic.
As I strolled, or shall I say as I strutted in through the NAAFI past a group of soldiers having a quiet drink one of them began singing "Little Red monkey, monkey, monkey" It was a tune of the day. The Red part of the song pertained to our red covered hats. I swung round and threatened to arrest them all and to clear the place if they did not behave. Really they were just having a bit of fun but I took it the wrong way. They knew I meant business what I had threatened. They shut up and said nothing. I was completely out of order. I should have been the one to be arrested myself and put in the nick.
To those soldiers if they get chance to read this account, I apologise.
Through out that evening I was looking for problems to solve I was full of my own importance. I was acting completely out of my character, at that time though I did not know it.
When 2 soldiers began a small skirmish outside the chip shop I waded in and grabbed both collars and crashed their heads together. Again completely wrong, my action was worse than their minor disagreement.
It was a good job that nothing really serious happened that evening because I was not in a right mind in which to deal with it. At the time I was 'under' the influence I felt perfectly normal I was unaware of the extremes of my actions. It was only the following day that having reviewed my self I realised that I had acted improperly. I was rather lucky that evening.
I learned a valuable lesson about drugs and never again took mood enhancing drugs, legal or otherwise again.
Another time I came into contact with drugs I had been legally issued with them. I had pulled convey duty. We had been briefed that the duty would last approximately 36 hours without rest or sleep. We each were issued with 2 small white tablets that looked just like saccharin. Briefed that we should only take them if we could not keep awake during the duty but warned that they were amphetamines and would keep you awake for at least 36 hours after taking. During the time after taking we would have heightened stamina. After that time we could expect an extreme low.
There is no more boring duty that driving in convoy. A driver is instructed to keep approximately forty yards from the vehicle in front and the speed is restricted to forty miles per hour.
If one feels sleepy in convoy it is almost impossible to keep ones eyes open. Sleep deprivation is an experience in itself.
The convoy was about ten miles from barracks and the end of duty. I was driving and tired. My eyes were heavy with sleep and I was tempted to take the issued tablet. I remembered that if I did I would remain awake for about 36 hours after. How I managed to stay awake without driving my vehicle off the road or into the one in front, I don't know, but I did. As soon as I reached barracks I was to bed. Others who succumbed to taking their speed remained awake for ages after and afterwards came down to Earth with a bang. The unused tablets were returned to the camp MO afterwards.

I continued to get home at my every possible opportunity. I hitch hiked the forty odd miles to Leeds and return as often as I could. Very rarely would I be able to sleep overnight at home. Although my two sons made me very welcome my wife didn't.

I now began to suspect my wife, but had no definite proof, of adultery. Many times when I arrived home she would be out elsewhere. A male persons name, called G, kept cropping up in conversation. When I taxed her on the subject she denied everything. Had I been like the proverbial Ostrich and hidden my head in the sand?

Looking back over the past few years could I have seen it coming? Could I blame her? Yes in some respects, no in others.  I knew in my heart my own marriage vows were still intact and that I loved my wife but had I committed adultery with the Army? Was I was just as much at fault as her?

I realised that I was guilty of being selfish and wanting the best of both worlds. Now I was torn between two worlds, worlds that I now realised could never come together. I realised that it had been my selfishness now my marriage was in such jeopardy.

One Wednesday morning in a fit of depression I made petition to see my Commanding officer. I explained my predicament in that I could not have both the army and my family. I requested that I be able to obtain my discharge by purchase for the second time in my army career. He sympathised with my problems and granted it. Within a few hours my discharge was arranged and I was in possession of discharge documents. My discharge certificate reference comments written by my Commanding Officer were second to none and I was/am justifyingly proud of them. Soon after handing in all my army kit I was on my way home.

Arriving home, my wife's parents were already at our bungalow. They had heard of the situation that she was in love with another. They, and I began to berate her, trying to show her what she was in danger of throwing away. We had two fine children two houses and no money problems. Suddenly in a fit of tears Brenda ran into the bathroom to later emerge saying "Now no one will have me, neither you nor G. ." with that she threw an empty pill bottle to the floor. What type of pills the bottle had contained I know not. My wife had made a suicide attempt and an ambulance was called and she was confined to a hospital bed for four days. After much discussion and to cut a long and difficult story short, the upshot of the situation was that we no longer had any future together. We would separate it was agreed that I would take custody of our eldest son Stephen. My wife would take charge of the younger one David, who was then 3 years old. Later I would also gain custody of my other son. Both our house properties and assets would have to be sold.

If I had realised this situation would end like this, could I have pre-empted it and remained in the army. Saying good-bye to my marriage? I have asked myself this question on numerous occasions. Even now, depending on my feelings at the time the answer always comes out differently.

I was now stuck in a situation with no career prospects and no training. Where was I to go from here? How did I solve my problems? Well that is another story and it can't be told yet, for I'm still adding pages to it