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Stuart Williams RAF 1954-57

26 Jan

Hello Alan

My Granddaughter found your ‘story’ on the Web which I am reading with great interest. I was born at Barrow in 1936, and lived at 15 Hastings St with my brother Ralph Williams, my Mum, ‘Molly’ (Mary) Williams and my Dad, Jack (John) Williams, and my elder sister Joan Williams. My Father’s Father lived on the same side of the street, further up probably about opposite to your house. He was called John Williams I think. My Father worked in Vickers as a Capstan Lathe Machinist throughout the war.
I remember VE day and the party outside Joe Condron’s. We used to play with his son Colin regularly. I would very much like a copy of the street party if you can supply one. I think myself and my brother is among the boys seated on the right of the picture. I am struggling to remember you by name. In 1941 (I think) I was playing at the bottom of the street with some other boys, when a small group of other boys came around the corner from the rear of the back of your side of the street. They were calling names and throwing stones at us. One struck me directly on the left eyeball. My eye swelled up very badly, and my parents trailed me all over Barrow to various Doctors and the Hospital and they all said that the eye would have to come out. With careful nursing however I still have it although there is a tiny mark on the front of it as a reminder.

 Also I remember being snowed in during the very bad winter of 45/46 I think. The snow was drifted right to the top of the downstairs front window and my Dad had to dig a way out of the front door.
Most of the early war years seemed to have been spent at night in the Air-raid shelters that were built in the back streets, with guns firing all around and plenty of pieces of shrapnel in the streets the following day. I had quite a collection at one time. There was a big searchlight and anti-aircraft gun on some ground behind the Picture House. We used go the Saturday morning matinee for kids watching Flash Gordon and cowboy films. The place was a riot with everyone shouting and stamping their feet when the ‘baddies’ came on. I remember a bakery nearby having a sign saying ‘Closed for the duration’ and I couldn’t understand at the time what it meant. Men coming home on Leave in Uniform and local families upset when they had received news by telegram of a family member being K.I.A. There seemed to be a lot of waste ground and the Lakeland Laundry electric vans and electric milk floats coming and going from street to street. . I also remember vividly going with my father, to look at the bomb damage in and around Barrow and also watching ships and submarines being launched into Walney Channel.
.I did go to Ocean Rd School until 1946, but I don’t remember any of the teacher’s names.
.In 1946 our family moved to Haverigg in Cumbria. Just across the Bay from the Northern tip of Walney and eventually into a Council House in Millom.
In 1954 I left Millom to do my National Service and it will be 60 years this June since I left and haven’t been back since. I joined the Royal Air Force in 1954 for 3years for the better pay and served at RAF Hornchurch and RAF Kirton in Lindsey as a RAF Policeman. I met my wife Maureen who was from the village of Kirton. I ought to say that my full name is john Stuart Richard Williams. When I joined the RAF everyone called me by my first name John. Only my family still use the Stuart name. Leaving the RAF in 1957 (the year we were married) I worked for 5 years in Scunthorpe Steel Works and on the 10th December 1962 (Very bad winter) I joined the West Riding Police. I served for 30 years in and around Yorkshire retiring back to Lincolnshire in 1996. We have lived in Sleaford for the past 17years.

Sadly Maureen passed away on 31.12.2013 after bravely fighting an illness for many years. We had been married for 57 years and had two sons PAUL and IAN. Paul was on HMS Hermes for the Falklands War. He went away a bright young lad and came back a completely different man. It certainly affected him and sadly he died aged 36years of age, leaving a wife and four young girls. The eldest girl 11years of age died suddenly at home with a heart defect not detected. As one can imagine, it was a very sad time for the family. We are a close knit family and life goes on

I am enjoying reading your story, with memories of my early days flooding back. Finally I would like to wish all my family and friends, good luck and best wishes for the future

 Thanking you

Stuart Williams






20 Jan

I have just returned from a most enjoyable visit to Australia. During this visit I went with my son Ian and family to the Sherwood Services Club in Corinda Queensland. I was quite taken aback with hospitality shown to our family by the reception, bar staff and members alike. The club itself had bars, a restaurant, gaming machines, various lottery games, snooker tables. Also a stage and a small dance floor for performing artists which, incidentally was every night. It was all governed by rules which had to be adhered too. One might say, what’s this to do with the blog. Well it was noticeable in the club of plaques and reminders of places and men who gave their lives during the World Wars.

 It was during the early part of World War one, the first Australian Imperial Force and the 1st New Zealand Expeditionary Force amalgamated together. They were named the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps Commonly known as the ANZAC’s. They trained in Egypt before being sent to Gallipoli. The Anzac’s fought with courage and endeavour during the fighting in Gallipoli. The Anzac’s lost many lives during the disastrous campaign in Gallipoli. During, 1915 following the allied evacuation from the Gallipoli Peninsula the Corps was disbanded. Both New Zealand and Australia formed their own divisions, but still fought alongside each other as ANZAC’s even to this present day. During the First World War 60,000 Australian Forces lost their lives and New Zealand forces lost 18,000 lives. Many thousands were casualties and maimed for life. This was a massive contribution by both countries for a war that was so far away.

During The Second World War 27,073 Australian Forces and 11,928 New Zealand Forces lost their lives and again many thousands of casualties. Since the World wars the Australian and New Zealand Forces have fought in many conflicts even to this present day with the same bravery shown by their forefathers.  April 25th is ANZAC day; it is a public holiday in Australia and New Zealand. In years to come the future generations of Australia and New Zealand are being brought up to recognize the contribution and sacrifice, paid by so many men and women.

Going back to what I wrote about the Sherwood Services Club in Corinda. The memory of the Australian forces that lost their lives in all the Wars and conflicts is certainly not forgotten. Every night come what may, at 6PM the last post is sounded and everyone respectively stands, while it is being played. Well done Sherwood Services Club.





Gnr Geoff Wheeler Royal Artillery

12 Jan

Hello I have been reading with interest the stories of times in Suez. I did my national service in the Royal Artillery 1948-49 and after completing my training, I was being posted to Egypt. I first travelled by the troopship to Malta, everyone hanging like bats in their hammocks on the troop decks. Eventually reaching Malta, where I awaited my posting to the 71st HAA RA Regt. I had three good weeks in Malta; before travelling on to Zavia Tripoli It was here I joined the Regt rear party, because the regiment had just left for Suez. I had 2 or three months in Zavia, and then sailed by LST, with AA Guns and Radar Port Said. We then joined a motor convoy on the very hot sweaty drive down to the camp at Fayid in Egypt
Being based in Fayid and very well remember doing Guard duties at C-in Cs residence. What a hot sweaty place Fayid was. I remember quite vividly doing my guard duty on the Suez Canal road with sweat running down my back within 10 minutes of starting my guard. Having to salute every vehicle containing an officer, how the hell you were supposed to know which vehicle to salute with the many vehicles using the road? No doubt quite a few Arabs felt chuffed from receiving a salute!
I travelled home on the troopship Westralia from Port Said to Trieste and then by train all way down to Hook of Holland and eventually Aldershot for my demob.
I would like to thank you for bringing back memories and I wish you all my ex comrades best wishes for the future.

21056640 Gunner Geoff Wheeler ex 187 Bty. 71st HAA R.A

A Letter

26 Nov

Many years ago, I received a letter from a lad who had been on attachment to the King’s Own Royal Border Regiment. The attachment was because of the regiments’ assignment in the Cameroons West Africa. There was many regimental Corps attached to the regiment that sailed on the troopship Devonshire. For example: RASC, RE, RAMC, RAOC, QARANC, and ACC. I cannot speak highly enough of the valuable work these Corps do, as I am sure you ex-servicemen will agree. The lad in question came from one these, but I am not disclosing which one!
When he wrote to me he said it was an honour and a pleasure to serve with such a most efficient regiment as the King’s Own Royal Border Regiment. He had been with our platoon a few times on patrols and found it a real eye opener. He said it was the professional way they went about what was put in front of them. On his return from the Cameroons, he was attached to another regiment in England, which remains nameless. He said what a difference there was; they never came anywhere near to the King’s Own Royal Border Regiments level. He did not like mentioning this but he just felt he had too.
What he said, no doubt speaks volumes for the now amalgamated King’s Own Royal Border Regiment. I was only a two year national serviceman, but I have never found the comradeship I experienced during those two years, ever again. I read many letters from former regular soldiers of the KORB. They have a friendship between themselves that will be with them all their lives. It was a great pity, when the powers above decided to amalgamate such a fine regiment, as The King’s Own Royal Border.

Not Again !

19 Nov

So, Hugh Grant has urged Britain to reintroduce National Service. He said it suits us and it goes with our personality. What a load of rubbish from a person who has never served or likely to serve. Here we have a celluloid person advocating young men being called up for national service. Does he not realise that the Government have controversial plans to replace regular soldiers with Territorial reserve forces. The regular soldiers are all volunteers who have made the army their career. These brave men and women serve throughout the world in many conflicts. Sadly some pay the supreme sacrifice losing their lives and many suffer with injuries both physically and mentally. This Government and future Governments must look after our forces and not just while they serve, but also in their retirement with good pensions.
For the attention of people who advocate national service please read this. The men who had to do national service all those years ago were originally called up at the outbreak of World War 2. This was in 1939, when Great Britain was in grave danger of being overrun by the jackboot.
National service continued for another fifteen years after the end of World War 2. When each eligible man called up had to do firstly eighteen months service. The length of service was raised to two years due to the Korean War.
The lads of yesteryear mostly came from poor homes where their father went to work for poor wages and their mother cooked, cleaned the house and looked after the children.
Over 80% of the people didn’t have a bathroom just a tin bath brought in usually on Friday night. The brick toilet was outside in the backyard the paper used was the day before newspaper. The bedroom for the children was shared with two in a bed for brothers and sisters depending on the size of the family.
The only wardrobe was in your parent’s room, the children’s wardrobe was a hook screwed to the back of the bedroom door. The heating in the house was just one-coal fire, which was usually lit before the children got up.
I was in a much loved family life with no television to distract conversation, but as you must be aware homes had a radio.
One was made to respect elders, neighbours etc. it was always Mr and Mrs When talking to neighbours; it was no Jim, Tom and Maggie.
When your time came to be called up for National Service whether you were eighteen or twenty one, you knew it had to be done.
No one was looking forward to doing two years in the forces, while just entering the prime of one’s life. All the frightening tales told to by the abundance of ex-servicemen didn’t help, because they did it and you were no exception.
The day came when you reluctantly left your tight knitted community and left to join your allotted service, be it Army, Navy or Air Force. Although it was a shock to the system there was plenty of food and for the first time in their lives there were showers. Young men at that time had so much in common, coming from similar backgrounds, camaraderie and lifelong friendships soon formed.

The lads of today have the better of two worlds, money in the back pockets, cars and a certainly more permissive society. Their homes have all the mod cons. The downside of their family life has been dampened by television.
I am sorry to say now; there are a small minority who have not much respect for elders, neighbours and the law, which of course should certainly be addressed.
Parents and school teachers should play their part in this and stop passing the problem onto others. Discipline when one is young plays a big part in future life.

The politicians, media and sections of the public who have never been in the forces themselves keep bringing this national service question up. Do it to them not to us attitude.
These same young men who keep getting picked on, will I am sure be the first in line to join up if the country was threatened, like it was many years ago.
No one wants to see lads who were forced to do national service being brought home after losing their life in conflicts. It is sorrowful enough seeing our brave service men and women being brought home from Afghanistan.
National Service should not be introduced, because of our country being involved in conflicts in far off places or any other feeble excuse. Do you honestly think the armed forces want to start training lads who are not making the services their career? I am sure they will agree that it would be a complete waste of time for everyone concerned. Look after the lads who are in the forces both now and in the future, because they have earned the respect of the British people.
Politicians should stop swanning around and start earning their wages, in sorting our own country out. Make it a peaceful and happy place to live, with no such thing as dole queues, poverty and racism.


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


5 Nov

Remembrance Sunday is this coming week-end and as we all know it is a sad day indeed. When, one looks at the figures of United Kingdom men and women, who sacrificed their lives in the name of freedom. It is completely mind blowing. During the 1914-18 War some 886,342 lost their lives. In the Second World War from 1939-45, 383,667 U.K. men and women lost their lives. The various conflicts since 1945 to this present day, 3,739 U.K. men and women have lost their lives.
The overall total since 1914, who paid with their lives for you and me to live in a better world, is 1.273748. I get very angry when I hear a person say they are ashamed of being British over some very minor incident. Obviously they are not in the real world. I again say that the Remembrance to the fallen and the injured, during the conflicts concerning United Kingdom service personnel, should be taught at school. When, young people wear the remembrance poppy. They must have the knowledge of what the British Men and women before them endured in those conflicts.
All ex and present service men and women have their own memories of Remembrance Day. I have mine. It was November 1960. I, along with the platoons of(S) Company King’s Own Royal Border Regiment and men of Ex-King’s African Rifles, who had served in Burma. We all marched through the local village then into a large grassy area in a valley, where the remembrance service was performed. High up on one side of the valley walls there was a small plateau. It was from here a bugler of our regiment appeared. He beautifully played the last post and the sound echoed loudly down the valley. I had a sensational feeling in the back of my neck which is hard to explain. That moment in time has lived with me ever since.
I hope for the sake of this great country of ours. The future generations to come, will remember the sacrifice that was paid by their fellow countrymen.


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