Other National Service Stories 3 -Ken Bradley – RAMC Field Ambulance

12 Dec

In my story Get In Get Out and Get Away I mentioned the Medical Orderly who was with our patrol when the terrorist camp was attacked, but until now I did not know it was Ken Bradshaw

Hi Alan,

I read with great interest your article on the Cameroons. I was in the RAMC field ambulance serving in the Cameroons with your regiment. It was a privilege to have been there with such a professional regiment.
When I read your article it was like being there again and what seemed like a dream suddenly made me realise that it did really happen.
I spent the first couple of months at Beau camp and then moved on to Tiko cottage hospital if you remember we had a surgical unit there not in the hospital itself but in I think it was 2 like mizzen huts with about 6 beds in each. We hardly had any patients but plenty of tarantulas that I had to kill as it worried the patients. Most of the patients seemed to be circumcisions with the occasional appendix operations. We sometimes help with civilian operations.
I then went to Bamenda camp and was soon sent to Sante Coffee. It would seem that we were on to same patrols. In particular I remember the raid on the terrorist camp high up in the bamboo forest I was with the patrol that came up the mountain after the shooting had started. I remember clearly those shots at dawn. You perhaps did not realise that most of us medics were not as fit as you boys and often got left behind as on this occasion. I was probably about 100 yards behind you lot and I could hear the cries of agony coming from the forest and could see the blood all over the bamboo trees. I can’t tell you how scarred I was being on my own. When I caught up the first think I was asked to do was to verify that the two shot were dead and I can tell you that I took a very quick Glance and said yes they are. I know that you said there was only one dead but I am sure there were two.
Our next mission was to destroy the camp although I don’t think I had much energy if you remember when we slept the night before it had rained and I just happened to be lying where the water channelled down. I remember we all had to carry two or three weapons that we had captured and I remember that the prisoners were made to carry the ammunition on their heads. There were three prisoners one of whom was a woman who I felt sorry for in their pathetic state
We set of down the hill and soon I fell quite a way behind until I could no longer see the platoons there didn’t seem to be any waiting in those days. I was again scared as you can imagine after all that shooting I would have been an easy target. I had almost given up and climbed to the top of a small hill and with luck I saw the other medic in the far distance and I kept him in my sights. When I eventually caught up you had all had a rest and just as I reached you the order was given to move out.
Another patrol went out a few days later I think to recover the bodies and when they
Reached there the camp had been put back up.

The other patrol I was on was where we went to see the chief in the village. We went into the hut; Quite a big hut, there was a large carpet on the floor which none of the tribes men would step on. There was like a throne and one end of the hut with all the chairs arrange around the carpet. We all sat down and watched as the room gradually filled up with armed tribes men. Do you remember when they spoke to the chief they covered their mouths. Your sergeant went in a back room to ask his questions and the chief asked if there was a doctor. I was of course called upon to act as a doctor. It was not for the chief but for one of his wives. I handed out a few pills and told him it was very powerful medicine, he seemed happy with this.
Do you recall how the medic had his own little tent where I used to get a small queue of locals outside in the morning? There was little I could do for many of them but I did my best.

I get the feeling that we must have rubbed shoulders, as many of your experiences are very similar to my own.

I won’t bore you any more but congratulations on a good article.

Best Wishes,
Ken Bradshaw 2 brigade field ambulance

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