I wrote this article for the Kings Own Royal Border site last year.
Through delving into books and documents over the years, I thought you might be interested in this basic report, about a Grenadier Guards patrol two months after the King’s Own Royal Border Regiment left the Cameroons in June1961.
During the regiments last few weeks of our tour, the 1st Battalion Grenadier Guards advance party arrived. Small sections of the Guards were sent to the various out station camps occupied by the companies of our regiment. The Guards then joined our patrols to get knowledge of the surrounding countryside etc, which is customary as you all know.
I wrote in my story how Lieutenant Olsen of (S) Company King’s Own Royal Border Regiment led a platoon on an early morning raid and completely over run a terrorist camp. His maps and notes of the area etc were left for the Guards who had now to patrol those mapped out areas of the Bamenda region
Two months later, because of terrorist activity in the area. The Grenadier Guards were designated to attack the same camp that Lt Olsen’s patrol had over run a few months’s earlier. The camp I can verify was situated in a very hostile terrain about 23 miles from Bamenda on the French side of the Cameroons.
The Guards had bad luck right from the start. They set off in the dark, with the rain and mist making visibility poor in finding tracks leading to their objective.
One has too understand, as the crow flies distance is no problem, but when you climb hills and go through bamboo thickets and boggy ground etc. It can and does cause problems to the individual and this of course slowed down the Grenadiers patrol considerably.
Dawn broke and they were still over a mile away from where the terrorist camp was situated. All surprise had gone so they rested cleaned weapons lit fires and had breakfast. It was obvious now if the camp was occupied the terrorists would have spotted the Grenadiers patrols. In turn they would have alerted their own camp, which of course was not good news
Later before 10am the leading Grenadiers section was in the thick bamboo wood near to the top of the hillside, where the terrorist camp was known to be.
Suddenly the leading sections were fired upon by an automatic weapon. A young Guardsman was hit in the chest and collapsed to the ground.
The Guards using LMGs advanced forward to the top of the hill with all guns firing and consequently took the camp.
Surprisingly searching the camp there was no sign of anybody or anything of relative importance, the terrorists had completely disappeared. Although later in the day, two Grenadier snipers who were positioned on the lower slopes of the hillside accounted for two terrorist who wouldn’t stop when challenged.
Just has we had done a few months earlier the camp was wrecked and anything of value taken. No doubt after a few days the terrorists would occupy the camp again.
The sad part was indeed the loss of Guardsman John Lunn who had died instantly.
He had only just got married prior to the Guards departure for the Cameroons, which again was very sad indeed for everyone concerned.
Reading what happened to the Grenadiers on their patrol. It certainly makes me appreciate what Lieutenant Olsen of the King’s Own Royal Border Regiment achieved over 50 years ago. For his action that day, he was awarded the Queen’s Commendation for Bravery and indeed he deserved it