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Michael Robinson Border Regt. 1957-59

3 May

Hello Everyone, Michael Robinson wrote to me a few years back on my old site and it is certaimly appropiate to put it on my Blog. Michael has is own site on

My name is Michael Robinson and at the time soon to be known as 23434963 Pte Robinson, and to my new Army mates as Robbo:, I started my national Service with the Border Regiment at Carlisle Castle in November 1957 for ten long weeks training, where in the first two days I had all traces of civilian life removed from my mind and had to think the Army way. our Intake was made up of lads from Cumbria and Lancashire, and was split into two platoons most of the lads in my platoon were from Cumbria with one or two from Lancashire. Our sergeant was called Hewitson and although he was a Cumbrian himself. he would call us a load of hayseeds. He was a hard man during training but would often come to our billet after duties and explain things that we all had, been having difficulty with during the training sessions.
Our company sergeant major was a CSM Smalls he had a way with words when he was drilling you that could turn the air blue, but he could also come out with some remarks that were quite witty and funny. As you are aware you don’t burst out laughing on the parade ground. One of his favourites was, when I give the word of command to come to attention I want you to lift your foot of the ground twelve inches and plant it down eighteen inches! The army will pay for the hole in the square.
After passing out after the ten weeks training we went to join the 1st Battalion in Berlin which was stationed in the Spandau district of the city. This journey would take two and a half days; we travelled by train to Liverpool Street station London. From there to the Port of Harwich to cross the North Sea to the Hook of Holland on the troop ship the T.S. Wansbeck. This was no luxury ferry by today’s standard, just bunks hanging from chains and dust bins for the seasick among us.
The ship left Harwich around 23.00 and arrived at the Hook of Holland early morning where we disembarked got our breakfast in a very large transit shed and then boarded the military train which would take us to Berlin. This was a military train that was routed to all the British army bases in west Germany (BAOR) dropping troops off who were going back to their units after being on leave. Berlin was the last destination and we were on the train all day until we got to Hanover where we had to change. The train from Hanover to Berlin was only allowed to travel through the Russian Zone into Berlin at night. This train had an armed guard on-board and all the carriage doors were locked. All the lighting in the carriages had blue bulbs; also the blinds had to be pulled down. The train left Hanover at 23.00 and arrived in Berlin at around 7am. This arrival depended on how many times the Russian Army stopped the train on its way through the zone, which was about a hundred mile journey.
On arriving in Berlin, we travelled by truck to Wavell Barracks in Spandau where the 1st Battalion was stationed. All the draft were all put into C Company for extra infantry training, However as the MT section at that time was losing a lot of drivers through demob, myself and some of the lads who had been in the same Platoon at Carlisle got told to repack our kit and get over to the MT Section HQ Company. This was great news for me as I had wanted to get into the MT section, but as the sergeant at Carlisle told me, everyone wants to drive and telling me the only thing I drive was him daft!! So I was now driving and continued to do so until the battalion moved back to Barnard Castle for the amalgamation with the Kings Own Although it is a long time ago there are a lot of memories that will never leave me of my time in the army, and on the whole it wasn’t a bad two years and the comradeship was great
Best wishes too everyone

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