The Argyll and Sutherland
Edinburgh 1962 - 1964
All photographs are the property of RHQ Argylls and may not be reproduced or copied without permission from RHQ Argylls.
‘B’ Coy came home to Edinburgh from Lemgo on 10 April 62. The task of ‘B’ Coy was to take over Redford Barracks and find the Guard at Edinburgh Castle after the departure of the KOSB shortly after Christmas. ‘B’ Coy also found the guard of honour for the opening of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland. These were big tasks for a single Coy to undertake, and there was unlimited praise for the efficient and cheerful way in which they undertook any duty which was assigned to them. Three weeks after the departure of ‘B’ Coy the advance party of the Battalion left for Edinburgh.
The move from Germany was not easy and was carried out by Charter Aircraft from Gutersloh to Gatwick. The main body moved between 4th and 8th June, 1 or 2 flights of about 50 men on each day. The efficiency of the Army/RAF Movements Staff at Gutersloh was most commendable and it was really due to them and sound planning that the move took place without a single hitch. Before the move took place it was realised how difficult it was going to be to deal with the many commitments in Edinburgh so soon after the arrival of the battalion. Everyone returned from leave on 20th June, and as the annual visit of HM The Queen was due to begin on 30th June there was not much time for the preparation of the House Guard for the Palace of Holyroodhouse and the Guard of Honour which had to be found on the date of Her Majesty's arrival. There was a legion of tasks to be done and it was most encouraging the way everyone carried out their tasks expeditiously and efficiently. The most difficult part of the preparation was to get men of the right sizes to fit the uniforms which had been issued!
The first Guard of Honour under the command of Major P. M. K. MacKeller was found from ‘A’ and ‘D’ Coys this guard mounted at Princes Street Station and was the first to be inspected by the Colonel-in-Chief. The second guard under command of Capt A. W. Scott-Elliot and found from HQ Coy mounted at the Palace of Holyroodhouse. This guard was accompanied by the Pipes and Drums and Regimental Band of the battalion, and Cruachan was in the same place as he had been during the state visit in the Coronation year. During the programme of the Royal visit the Pipes and Drums and Regimental Band were called upon to perform at various functions culminating in the Combined Retreat at Redford Barracks on Wednesday, 4th July, after which a cocktail party took place in the Officers' Mess.
During the first week of August the battalion again became separated. The Balmoral Guard left and occupied Victoria Barracks, Ballater. Parties moved to Edinburgh Castle and Dreghorn Barracks to help with the Administration of the Tattoo. ‘D’ Coy took over Cavalry Barracks and the administration of the 500 performers from the Royal Marines, Royal Navy, Airborne and Infantry Junior Leaders Bn. The Pipes and Drums and Regimental Bands of the Royal Scots Greys have joined together with the battalion’s two bands for a tour of America and Canada under the command of Major G. A. J. Hadow. The tour started on 17th September and they appeared in most of the main towns in the USA and Canada. One platoon of ‘B’ Coy left Edinburgh to go to the RMA at Sandhurst as the demonstration platoon, under the command of Lt H. L. Clark. The battalion was stretched from Ballater to Los Angeles.
During this time the last of the National Service men left the battalion. There is no doubt that the vast majority of National Service men who had been through the battalion have given their best. In work and sport they have been a great asset and no praise can be too high for the way they entered into and accepted Army life.
Balmoral Guard 1962
Click on pictures to enlarge
1. a b c d e f g h i
The State Visit of King Olaf of Norway
The State Visit of King Olaf of Norway in mid-October was one of the greater events of the year. On the morning of Tuesday 16th, the Royal Yacht Norge was berthed at Leith. The Duke of Gloucester went aboard to meet the King and at 11.30 His Majesty accompanied by the Duke came ashore. After a short ceremony at Leith the King travelled by train to Princes Street Station where he was met by The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh and inspected a guard formed by the 1st Bn The Scots Guards under Major Priaulx. In the meantime the Battalion, and indeed the Regiment, was well represented and resources were strained to provide the number required. On Princes Street a street lining detachment of nine officers and 150 men was formed up under Major Wood. At the Palace of Holyroodhouse a Guard of Honour comprised of detachments of every Company. Lt (T/Capt) I. Purves-Hume, Lt. R. B. Porteous the Ensign with the Queen's Colour and CSM O'Kane commanded by Major K. J. F. MacLean awaited the arrival of the King. The Battalion Pipes and Drums and Military Band were in the United States at this time, but the battalion was most fortunate to have a magnificent pipe band composed of pipers and drummers of the three Territorial units under Drum Major McDonald. It was a rare event to have representatives from three such great bands (one of them the World Champions) under three such well-known Pipe Majors as Pipe Major Ronnie McCallum, Pipe Major Weatherstone and Pipe Major Smith. The Military Band of the Black Watch under Mr. Beat also came up for this occasion. The Palace Quarter Guard was provided by ''D" Company under 2/Lt Spencer.
Having inspected the Guard of Honour of the 1st Bn The Scots Guards at Princes Street Station, which had been spruced up until it was unrecognisable. The King dressed in the uniform of an Admiral and accompanied by the The Queen and Duke of Edinburgh in the State Landau drove to Holyroodhouse. The route took the procession of five carriages and four cars and the Sovereign's Escort of the Household Cavalry down Princes Street along North Bridge and down the Royal Mile to the Palace. By this time the morning mist had cleared and it was a perfect, sunny, autumnal day. The Edinburgh crowds joined in the spirit of the great occasion and encouraged by thousands of schoolchildren cheered enthusiastically. At the Palace the King received the Royal Salute from the Guard of Honour, and the Norwegian National Anthem was played. Accompanied by the Duke of Edinburgh and the Guard Commander he inspected the Guard. Cruachan, firmly held by L/Cpl Carmichael again came in for his share of Royal attention. The escort to the standard and the divisions of the mounted squadrons then ranked past and the Royal Party retired to the Palace for lunch. During lunch the Quarter Guard duties were handed over to the detachment of the Green Howards who had come up for the occasion, King Olaf being their Colonel-in-Chief. The King then visited Edinburgh Castle and inspected a quarter Guard provided by ‘B’ Company under Sgt Wilson who was especially commended on their turnout and bearing. That night the Queen held a State Banquet at Holyroodhouse and after the Banquet the Pipe Majors of the 7th and 8th Battalions and 227 Field Regt RA (A&SH) played and were honoured by being presented to the Queen. The next dav the Guard of Honour and the street lining detachments again formed up to pay their respects to the King as he left on a visit to South Queensferry which he had last seen during the war.
The Commanding Officer and Mrs Kelway-Bamber attended the Royal performance of Rob Roy at the Lyceum. A number of members of the Battalion found themselves among the cast of the film.
Thursday the 18th October was a great day for the Regiment. The Queen most graciously accepted an invitation to come to the Officers Mess for drinks and to meet the officers and their wives. Members of the battalion and their wives lined the route from the barracks gate to the Mess to cheer. The Royal car arrived at 6 p.m. and Her Majesty accompanied by Mrs Dugdale, Lady-in-Waitmg, and Lord Plunkett, Equery-in-Waiting was greeted by Major-General Graham and the Commanding Officer. The Queen then signed the Visitors' Book and RSM and Mrs Tullett had the honour of being presented. During the next hour and a half many regimental officers and their wives were introduced to the Queen who finally left to dine on the Royal Norwegian Yacht. It was a most fitting and memorable end to a great three days.
2. a b c d e f g h i j
Battalion Training Stanford
The battalion carried out field training at Stanford training area during November. The business of getting the Unit transport and Support Weapons to Stanford PTA was known as "Long Haul." It was to be the longest move by road that the Battalion had done for a number of years. It was decided to make the move over a two-day period, staying on a typical piece of rather chilly open moor near Catterick overnight.
After a great deal of preparation, at 0830 hours on Friday, 9th November, the Recce Platoon left as Advance Guard and Harbour Party. At twenty minute intervals after them came the Battalion transport and Support Weapons. There were eight packets of between six to eight vehicles. The total number of Unit vehicles on the move was 53. Ten vehicles remained at Redford. Throughout the day at a speed of 25 m.p.h. the packets moved steadily southward and it was calculated that all vehicles would reach the Harbour shortly after dark that evening. Unfortunately the Recce Platoon ran into one or two difficulties and for a short time confusion reigned at Catterick. However, by 2000 hrs all transport was in. Taking stock of the 190 miles completed, it was found that there had been two minor crashes and only one serious breakdown. 'The Blasted Heath’ was uncomfortable but most drivers managed to sleep despite a howling gale. Throughout the night the REME fitters worked to repair some of the vehicles and the following morning at 0530hrs the first packet moved out. By 0800 hrs all vehicles except two had left and were on their way south. At 1000 hrs the last vehicles left after a frantic all-night search for spares. 210 miles later at Stanford on the evening of 10th November, all vehicles were safely in and the report for the day was no breakdowns and one minor crash.
Ski Training at Ballater
Four courses of 20 men and a fortnight's duration learnt to ski during the winter. The courses were run from Victoria Barracks. Ballater, which were occupied by the Royal Guard during the summer; and a permanent staff remained there throughout the courses, much to their satisfaction. Capt Ross and L/Cpl (Wedel) Brooks instructed on ski-ing. S/Sgt Caitens as chief administrator; L/Cpls McGowan, (Chips) Rennie and (Wyatt) McQuaid were NAAFI Manager, Chef and Storeman/Medical NCO respectively. Crawford, Low and Harvey drove successfully over some very slippery roads and a combination of Cfns MacFarlane and Thomas kept the vehicles in working order. The courses spent the mornings in ski instruction on the Piste and the afternoons consisted of a langlauf or cross country walk on skis. Lunch was brought to the slopes to save time and petrol and consisted of all-in-stew or stovies.
3. a b c d e f g h i
The training directive for the Rifle Companies at Cultybraggan had to be considerably altered to suit the severe weather. D Coy, who went in the middle of January, might well have trained for a Chinese thrust in the Himalayas. As strategic reserve Coy in the Battalion they were more likely to fly to Brunei than the Arctic. Although D Coy encountered the deepest snow, and the freeze up was at its worst, they still managed to put in some useful training, They fired the SMG course, and they covered Section and Platoon tactics. It was a full-time job to keep the camp fires burning day and night. Even so there were always a handful of frozen pipes. D Coy, including Sgt Adam's dog, were glad to return to the steamheat of Redford.
B Coy followed immediately after, the weather conditions were slightly better. Braziers were still kept going. The Coy Commander found a bed in the centrally-heated M.I. Room, while "Hutch" ("Wong to some”) practically slept on the stove in the stores. Sgt Boylan kept the cooks up to a high standard, so much so that “Daft" Robbie had to go to Bridge of Earn for a rest cure. With the aid of the Television and Darts, L/Cpl Paddy Vaughan managed to sell a fantastic amount of beer cigarettes and chocolate—no Smarties, so we do not know how Cordiner managed to survive. On the training side the ten days were extremely valuable. Despite an urgent appeal for White Snow-Suits, they were not forthcoming. It is difficult to imagine what vital use they were being saved for by Scottish Command, if they are not released for training during such appropriate conditions. Nevertheless B Coy concentrated on patrolling by day and night, compass-marching, and map reading. The climax was a full 24 hours of patrolling. After a day of recce preparation, two fighting patrols were led by Cpl Nicol and Cpl McLean against platoon positions manned by the remainder of their respective platoons. Among the lessons learned, McGillivray and Spence (Woolie) now realize that the enemy will rarely be snatched without putting up some fight, Coy Clerks are made of stubborn stuff. We also know that there is no need to give Robinson (Big Joe) a radio set, we could hear him quite well without one over a considerable range. The Map-Reading Competition was won by L/Cpl Donaldson's section very closely from the section led by Kennedy. Duncan decided the course was too short so headed south with L/Cpl Gordon's section. 5 Platoon finished a short head in front of 6 Platoon on the march round Loch Earn, but they ran! The Platoons went opposite ways round the Loch. The SMG Course provided a welcome break from footslogging. Finally the Coy raced along a two-mile stretch of road by Abermuchiel with snow falling fast, to do the P.E. Tests in a minute under the scheduled time with no stragglers. Forrest (Wee Bob) and Lever (Bud) set the pace as usual. The company managed to escape in the nick of time with drifts forming on the Crieff-Dunblane Road. Connolly managed to escape too!
A Coy arrived ten days later. Conditions were by now considerably improved. C/Sgt. McKenzie and Sgt Johns remained in their capacity as training aids. Training was not only valuable, but a welcome change from the musty routine at Redford. The highlight was an inter-section field-firing competition which was won by L/Cpl Gallacher's section. The Map-Reading competition was won by Scally's Section. Like B Coy, A Coy walked round Loch Earn, and they completed the 2-mile P.E. Test. As a preliminary to Bellerby, the company spent one night in bivvies, Platoons patrolling against each other. On the recreational side, the company were lucky in that the village of Comrie organised a dance which came off, where B Company's proved mythical. The canteen also made vast profits. Again like B Coy, A Coy had a football match. C/Sgt Ross's curry proved a great success, although it nearly poisoned the Coy Commander. Meanwhile two lambs mysteriously found their way into the CSM's bunk. Robertson and Nairn cooked their hearts cut. And the final memory of Cultybraggan is of Sgt Johns who was so nearly lynched when he sang "Glorious Devon" off key at the Comrie C.
All Companies are extremely grateful to Tommy Hutch and his staff for laying things on for us so efficiently, which was the basic reason that life at Cultybraggan was at all bearable.
Raising of the Regiment Day
The previous day the Colonel of the Regiment had arrived and addressed the Battalion and he was shortly followed by two notable figures from RHQ who attended the guest night that evening in the Officers' Mess. The Adjutant will remember Raising of the Regiment Day for a long time. There had been no opportunity to hold a wet weather rehearsal and to add to his joy the Battalion Padre, Padre Strachan, had got himself snowed up in Ayrshire. However, at very short notice, Padre Gordon Bennett announced himself fit and ready with the result that once again the Battalion were privileged to listen to a first class sermon. Church was followed by a desperate attempt by Company Officers to get their platoons paid and away, during which the Colonel of the Regiment wisely retired to the Sergeants' Mess. A luncheon party was held in the Officers' Mess at the close of which the Barracks were deserted, the Battalion having gone on a long week-end.
Battalion Training - Bellerby - 31st March to 10th April, 1963.
The Battalion had an extremely useful ten days training at Bellerby in Yorkshire in which much that had been forgotten was revised. The Companies arrived at Bellerby Camp having marched the three miles from Leyburn Station, spent the first night in the huts and then departed for the training areas, where for the first week tactics up to company level were practised.
‘A’ Coy spent the first day practising platoon battle drills in the Cordilleras area before advancing across the northern training area in a series of coy attacks culminating at Primrose Gill. On arriving one heard the unmistakable voice of the CQMS urging the cooks and Coy HQ to push the B ...... truck out of a rather nasty muddy ditch. He was terribly hurt when the CSM suggested that if he had unloaded the vehicle first it would have been so much easier. That afternoon the two platoons sent out recce patrols to locate each other before sending out a fighting patrol during the night. The following day Sgt Gow, Cpls Lloyd and Watson plus the mortar section were sent off as enemy. The remainder of the Coy then advanced mopping up any resistance they came across in a series of platoon and company attacks. In the evening the company took up a defensive position and dug in. So well were the positions concealed that the Bn second-in-command spent a rather wet and uncomfortable few hours trying to locate Coy HQ. In the end he gave up in disgust and returned to camp. The following morning Pte Tonner of the mortar section reported having seen the Bn 2IC passing his position but thought he was on a routine inspection. The CO came out and congratulated the mortar section on their excellent mortar pits. That evening a rather wet and bedraggled Coy withdrew tactfully to Wathgill Camp where the CQMS had lit the fires and had the rum ration waiting for us. The next day we acted as enemy for the trainee Signallers from Catterick. Mr Sloane, Mr Mitchell, Sgt Grant, Cpls Allison and Gordon took out recce patrols to try to locate their positions returning, or at least some of them with varying success. Sgt Grant was louped upon by a dozen young Signallers and dragged off; Pte Henderson was seen running for dear life pursued by a band of beret-headed recruits and Mr Sloane was picked up by the Company 2IC hours later having been chased half-way across the training area. Nevertheless all patrols eventually returned, the result being that most of the Signallers' positions had been located. That evening the Company put in a successful attack—tanks rolling—guns firing—and pipers playing; a tremendous climax to a most successful week. We then proceeded to win the Bn competition and so rounded off our week-'s training.
4. a b c d
‘B’ Coy defended, withdrew, advanced and attacked across every inch of the two training areas of Catterick and Feldom, and finished company training at the highest point of Feldom the farthest point from “home" in a howling blizzard. They all had their tot of rum except Ramsay who is still hopefully asking about it and Cpl. Ogilvie's section who were very nearly never seen again. On the inter-company competition they were placed second, only narrowly beaten by A Coy.
The CQMS proved that they fed better than anyone else by winning the cooking competition, goodness knows how! He was assisted by ''Robbie" and their new cook Scott. Sgt "Paddy" Boylan was carried protesting to hospital in the middle of the ten days and Mr Monro went away the next day. However, Mr.
Thomson transferred his allegiance and became an enthusiastic member of 6 Platoon for the duration of the training. There is still no sign of Sgt "Paddy" Boylan and everyone hopes that he will recover and return soon. The Battalion exercise will be remembered for the march on the second day. The company all made it, including a small splinter group led by Donnachie, easily identified at a distance in the rear by their leader's luminous sky blue cap comforter. Their final effort was a spirited attack on the QM's staff on that well-known feature where Cpl Ogilvie's section missed their rum.
‘D’ Coy having spent the first few days in Wathgill camp braved the elements and decided to rough it. Tactics at all levels, from section upwards were practised time and time again until near perfect. ("Near" being the operative word). In spite of the amount of work which was done, the task was made easier in that private soldiers were beginning to think things out for themselves. 14 Pl's batman solved the problem of how to transport equipment from one spot to another. The air around Primrose Gill, rang with the dry "down here men," and two small boys came over the brow of the hill with two more tents on their backs. From the comfortable haven at the Gill D Coy made its way on to a formidable feature the Stone Man, where it began to snow. Not being equipped for that sort of thing, they slithered back to the Gill at about midnight where they were privileged to witness the Coy 2/ic leading the troops up a near vertical slope, which he came down rather faster than he went up. Cries of ‘Don't get off now Sir’ were disregarded. Perhaps the most successful feature of D Coy's stay in Yorkshire, apart from Cpl Boyle captivating the female magistrate at Darlington Police Court, was their night attack. Packed full of incident they arrived at their objective almost unannounced and it would be true to say that complete surprise would have been achieved had it not been that one of the enemy, relieving himself, ran, into one of his own trip flares. Undeterred the Coy sprang into action; the objective fell swiftly and it was with considerable indignation that they were herded away again, where, by the light of two dozen Verey cartridges, the enemy tried to find their maze of wires, and having done so, proceeded to blow most of what D Coy had captured into the air. Finally a mention must be made of our gallant enemy ; the QM, Bootsie and Snudge, the P's and D's and CSM Campbell and his Minions. Without their untiring frolics to our front setting off their own trip flares, defending and patrolling against us, the ten days' training would have been just that little bit duller.
With Bellerby over, Public duties once more became the battalion’s major commitment. The season opened with the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, on Tuesday, 21st May. A Guard of Honour commanded by Major B. A. E. Malcolm paraded at St. Giles, where it was inspected by the Lord High Commissioner, HRH The Duke of Gloucester, who in a message received later, stated that he was most impressed by the bearing and turnout of the Guard. During the course of the General Assembly house guards were mounted at Holyroodhouse, marching each morning from the castle to Holyroodhouse behind the Pipes and Drums. At the conclusion of the General Assembly on 30th May a message of congratulations was received from the GOC-in-C Lt-Gen Sir William Turner.
5 a b c d e f g h i j k
The following day 1st June also saw a large number of important guests at the Barracks. They were too numerous to mention by name, being some 400 members of the Regimental Association who attended a garden party. The weather for once was very kind, and a very successful day was rounded off by a combined retreat played by the bands of the 1st, 7th, 8th Bns and 227 Regt, followed by a dance in the gym.
Not all public duties were ceremonial on Wednesday, 5th June, the British Paraplegic Games were opened on the sports field at Redford Barracks. Much assistance was provided by the Battalion in the pitching of tents, the laying out of the arena, and both the pipes and drums and the military band supplied music during the lunch breaks and also combined to beat retreat at the closing of the games on Saturday, 8th June. In addition, certain members of the Battalion voluntarily undertook to help push the wheel chairs of the paraplegic competitors, usually the better looking female paraplegic competitors.
On the 5th June also both bands beat retreat on the Castle Esplanade, for HRH Princess Marina, who was attending the International Life Boat Convention in Edinburgh. In a letter received after the performance, the Staff officer to the Governor stated it was the finest retreat he had ever seen on the Esplanade.
On 13th June, 30 school children visited the Barracks as part of a study of "How People Live" the people in this case being the battalion! They visited the tailor, the butcher, the shoemaker, the cookhouse and various barrack rooms, finishing up munching hard tack and drinking compo lemonade supplied by a soft hearted messing officer.
On Friday, 14th June, the President of India arrived in Edinburgh and a Guard of Honour was again mounted at Holyroodhouse, commanded by Major A. J. Cookson and consisting of men from HQ and A Coy.
On Thursday, 18th June, Major General Sir Hamish Campbell, Paymaster in Chief, visited the Battalion. A Quarter Guard was provided by B Coy. After inspecting the guard, the General toured various departments visited the sergeants mess and attended dinner in the dining hall before lunching in the officers' mess.
On Friday, 28th June, Her Majesty the Queen arrived in Edinburgh. She was met at Princes Street Station by a Guard of Honour formed by A and D Coys and commanded by Major A. C. S. Boswell. A special feature of this guard was the fact that the Military Band was found by the 7th Bn. In the forecourt of Holyroodhouse a Guard of Honour found by HQ and B Coys under the Command of Major Wood with the Pipes and Drums, the Military Band, Cruachan and the House Guard under Lt Clark, was formed up to receive Her Majesty on her arrival at the Palace. House guards commanded by Lt Mitchell, Lt Younger, 2nd/Lt Spencer and Lt Dewar Durie were found during Her Majesty's stay at Holyroodhouse. That the duties were carried out satisfactorily was borne out in the following extract from a letter received at the conclusion of the Royal Visit. "Her Majesty was particularly impressed by the smartness of the Guards of Honour mounted by the 1st Bn The Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders on the day of her arrival and also by the drill and turnout of the Guard which the same Battalion has mounted at Holyroodhouse during her residence."
7th to 27th July the battalion sent a company to Germany on Ex ‘Eiffel Tower’ to act as enemy for Sandhurst. On the 6th and 7th July the signal platoon supplied the communications at Lochearnhead for the water ski-ing championships. On Friday, 12th July the Regiment was granted the Freedom of Oban, the Battalion provided a Guard of Honour of 48 men from HQ and D Coys the Pipes and Drums, and the Military Band, the parade was commanded by Major B. A. E. Malcolm.
July to 14th October the battalion provided the Royal Guard at Balmoral.
Royal Guard Balmoral 1963
EXERCISE FIERY CROSS
In September, 1963, the 1st Battalion were wholly committed to Public Duties, the manner in which these were undertaken reflecting great credit on the spirit and discipline of All Ranks. With the return of Her Majesty's Guard from Balmoral on 14th October, an intensive training programme was started, though this was necessarily scheduled to end by 1st December when the hand-in of unit stores and equipment prior to departure for the Far East began. The time available for training was indeed very short.
Coincident with the need to train was the requirement to carry out a Regular recruiting drive throughout the Regimental area. It was decided that the two ventures should run together, in the hope that the publicity afforded by the training would act as a spur to the recruiting. At the same time a certain amount of reorganisation within the Battalion was necessary, in that the existing Reconnaissance Platoon was to be disbanded and an Assault Pioneer Platoon formed. Fortunately the Royal Engineers came to the battalion’s assistance by arranging a special Course at the School of Military Engineering Chatham, with emphasis on assault pioneering methods likely to be needed in the Far East.
The first task before the training of the Rifle Companies could begin, was to study the existing techniques for the conduct of anti-terrorist operations in South East Asia. In this the battalion were guided by a Directive from GHQ FARELF and much useful advice from 1st Battalion Queen's Own Highlanders, at the time in Singapore but recently engaged in operations in North Borneo, Brunei and Sarawak. After consideration the CO laid down that the following training must be undertaken:—
1. Air familiarisation and the employment of airportability drills with aircraft of the Royal Air Force.
2. Co-operation with fixed wing and helicopter aircraft of the Army Air Corps.
3. Practice in troop carrying procedures with the larger helicopters of the Royal Navy and RAF
4. Jungle fighting skills at individual, section and platoon level.
5. The working of a Company Jungle Base; including the conduct of searchers, ambushes and medium-range patrolling culmianting in offensive operations with the employment of air re-supply.
6. Watermanship and the use of powered assault boats.
7. Close-quarter shooting.
Anyway Fiery Cross it was and for the next few weeks certain elements in the War Office and Air Ministry did their best to extinguish it because no financial provision had been made in the Treasury Estimates for the Current Financial Year!
The concept was that the three Rifle Companies should carry out a tactical field training circuit. Suitable areas for forest training were reconnoitred throughout the Regimental area and as most of these belonged to the Forestry Commission we were indeed very fortunate in obtaining their support and co-operation. The first was at Saddell on the Eastern side of the Mull of Kintyre. The second was the area of Minard and Asknish on the Western side of Loch Fyne. The third was the Carron Valley, South West of Stirling. In the latter case we also required the use of the Reservoir for our Assault Boat Training. After negotiation, the Stirling and Falkirk Water Board kindly agreed to let us rule their particular waves, provided we promised to keep the water pure and not advertise our presence in the newspapers; in the circumstances these were very fair conditions.
Despite unpopularity with the Air Ministry financiers, the battalion were able to borrow "on the old-boy net" a Beverley aircraft from 28 Group RAF at Abingdon. The kindly Wing Commander who organised this had to remain anonymous but on 28th October the great machine duly arrived and flew B Company complete to Machrihanish in Argyll, where the field training circuit began. Here we were fortunate enough to have another RAF benefactor in the shape of Squadron Leader Henry Anderson, the Station Commander, who most successfully housed each successive Company at the beginning of the circuit and to whom we owe much. The fact that he announced his retirement from the Service shortly afterwards was, he assured us, purely coincidental! Having successfully transported B Company the Beverley then developed engine trouble and was eventually evacuated back to Abingdon leaving A and D Companies to get to the start of the circuit "doon the watter" on the McBrayne Steamer!
In the meantime the battalion was joined by Captain Gordon Herring and the Reconnaisance Platoon of the 1st Battalion 6th Queen Elizabeth's Own Gurkha Rifles. It was felt that the provision of real-live Gurkhas to act as enemy on our schemes would greatly add to the training value of Fiery Cross and that they could pass on their jungle-lore direct to our own soldiers. We were not to be disappointed for the zeal and cheerfulness of the Gurkhas was an inspiration to us all and it is fair to say their influence on the Exercise was immeasurable.
By the second week of November the Fiery Cross was truly burning. B Company had been lucky with the weather but on the 10th Scotland was hit by a gale which created havoc in the Carron Valley and the Umpires declared the wicket too wet for play. This brought a backhander from a certain television commentator but nevertheless a most successful Press Conference was held on the ground the following day and both the television and newspapers" took some excellent photographs, with Corporals McNae and Munro in starring parts.
By this time the attached Beaver aircraft had, quite understandably, given up trying to land in mid-Argyll. However, the Scout helicopter braved the elements to no uncertain tune and the enthusiasm of Lt Andrew Pike, our attached Army Air Corps helicopter pilot, made the command and control of the overall Exercise particularly successful. Meanwhile D Coy, after three hectic days in the soaking jungle of Asknish moved to Dunoon where they completed the jungle firing range and night-shooting exercise. Within a few hours of arrival they were dried out and ready for more and Asknish was already assuming the aura of a Company tradition of the "I was there" variety. At the same time A Coy were still based on Machrihanish but training hard in the Saddell Forest which lent itself so well to basic training for movement in close country.
The weather continued to deteriorate and by the time D Coy reached the Carron Valley on 18th November the whole area was under snow and "Jungle Training" was an imaginative description of activities which were better suited to the lusty background of "Eskimo Nell." Undaunted the exercise continued and frozen Gurkhas flitted through the snow in brilliant moonlight, pursued by red-nosed Jocks with footprints so reminiscent of Good King Wenceslas that the need for trackers as described in the jungle training pamphlet raised but a faint cheer of scorn.
Finally, on Tuesday, 26th November, in a grand finale, which included A and B Companies and elements of Battalion HQ, the Exercise closed. As a final gesture the weather perked up and so in the best tradition of the training manual it 'ended on a high note."
If anyone can put names to faces with companies, dates and locations.
Please e-mail with page name, row number and picture letter to email@example.com
Move to Singapore
5th January the pre-Advance Party flew to Singapore under the Battalion Intelligence Officer to arrange the reception and accommodation of Married Families. 11th January 20 Officers and NCO’s flew to Malaya to attend a special course at the Jungle Warfare School. 19th January 105 All Ranks and certain families flew to Singapore as Battalion Advance Party under the 2i/c. They took over the accommodation at Selarang Barracks, Changi from 1st Battalion The Queen's Own Highlanders. 11th February the Commanding Officer arrived with the first aircraft of troops and families. The air trooping programme continued till 23rd February.
Source - Thin Red Line Magazines
Singapore 1964 - 1966
Return to Home Page
Updated: 11 October 2014