A diary of one man's utter failure, depression, frustration, cock-ups, depression and impecuniousness, starting in August 1947
So there we were, me and Dave, a lad from Newcastle, posted along with many others to man the outer defences (wire fencing) around the submarine base, in response to some threat or other received by the top brass.
Of course we being in the British army, and outside the concrete housing of the Pen, were not permitted to carry any live ammunition. In the event of any attack, incursion, or intruders at the site, we were to use the crackly RT to inform Naval control, and await back-up.
Best we could do was conceal a bayonet in our denims, and hope for the best.
The first night it never stopped raining, and we got absolutely soaked. It didn't help that the RT packed up, and control could not inform us that our relief was going to be an hour or two late.
We were actually defending a field of rough grass, unless they had something top secret buried under it.
The relief eventually arrived, and after the hand-over, me and Dave jumped into the back of the Bedford, only for Dave to slip on the wet wood, and fall back out of the lorry onto the concrete... taking me with him.
Several stitches later, and a really excellent bollocking, I was told we were both being posted elsewhere.
That was the end of my Guarding the Submarine Pens!
After the IRA bomb attack at Woolwich Police station, I was sent to beef up the defences of the QE hospital. It was part civilian. part military then.
On the front, was a large car park adjacent to the road, and an archway into the premises. After the attack, this was cleared and parking there banned.
The first night on duty, they had me cleaning the blood-wagons (ambulances).
The second night, they posted me at the entrance arch, and had rigged up a temporary alarm bell on the wall, with the instruction that should I press the button without genuine cause (false alarm), I would prefer to be hung, drawn, and quartered as opposed to what he would do to me! (6'5" Staff Sergeant speaking)
Yet again, as I walked out to do me guarding, the rain started to pour down, and did so all night. I was stood back under the protruding roof as much as I could. The night brought forth no incidents, and by 0640hrs I was thinking of my breakfast - when a black Wolseley car pulled up at the kerb.
It had three occupants, and they sat for a minute or two with nothing happening. Then two of them exited the vehicle, both wearing long raincoats, and brimmed hats, pulled down over their faces!
They walked toward me.
I could see the exhaust fumes from the car, it was still running with the driver hunched over the wheel. A quick getaway situation or what, I thought?
As they got within a few feet of me, I wanted to press the alarm, but was just as scared of the Staff Sergeant as I was of the approaching two tall visitors!
(Always been a problem of mine that, being so scared of people and things I found it hard to decide which one to be more scared of!
As the taller of the two got to within 4 foot of me, his left hand delved under his coat on his right chest.
I leant toward the alarm button, finger ready...
He withdrew his hand holding a Metropolitan Police Warrant card!
That is only time I have ever sworn at a police officer, as I inquired into why he did not announce himself earlier. (Or something like that!)
I was excited as I boarded the train to Nottingham, knowing that a selection of bills, the cat, unemployment, and Mabel Trubshaw would be awaiting my arrival at home in Nottingham.
Unfortunately I fell asleep at the wrong time, and woke up as the train was pulling into Derby Station.
I struggled off with all my luggage, and walked across from the station to the bus depot, and caught a Barton 5x Express bus to Nottingham. (1/11d)
A taxi from Mount Street Bus station to the house (3/6d), calling at a corner shop to get some nosh and IPA.
I soon got the fire going, had a beef dripping sandwich, put the kettle on, and some bacon in the oven, and called on the next door neighbour 'Nobby' to find out what had been transpiring in my absence.
Where I discovered that the cat had died the week before, and Mabel has got engaged to someone else.
We commiserated with the IPA, and had a laugh about old times, and my getting the latest news, and then I returned home, quiet jolly, to a smoke filled kitchen courtesy of burnt bacon in the oven, and the boiled dry kettle.
I wondered if Field Marshall Montgomery had gone through anything similar when they got rid of him?