Ken Bradshaw 2 Field Ambulance RAMC

8 Nov

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. I have put this again on the Blog, because I had not put his name on the heading. I had and still have, a lot of respect for the RAMC orderleys They were tough honest men. This is Ken’s letter he sent to me over a year ago

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 as the King’s Own Royal Border.
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 nizzen 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 scared I was being on my own. When I caught up the first thing 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. Everything happened so quickly.
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. On our return from the terrorist camp. 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 must say felt sorry for in her pathetic state
We set off down the hill and soon I fell quite a way behind until I could no longer see the platoons in front. 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 when I climbed to the top of a small hill and with luck I saw the other medic in the far distance.  I kept him in my sights until 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 tribesmen would step on. There was like a throne at one end of the hut with all the chairs arranged around the carpet. We all sat down and watched as the room gradually filled up with armed tribesmen. 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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