16 thoughts on “A Lifetime Ago…

  1. Lovely to hear more of your reminiscences Phil (Frank), they are always so detailed and upbeat, and I am sure there were many bad times that you just took in your stride.
    Keep well and keep the stories coming.

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    • Hi David, all OK had vaccine and looking forward to scattering the shoppers on my scooter in the High Street and the weekly Lunch date.
      Certainly there were times the custard hit the fan but we got well paid for that, one shilling and sixpence per day war zone money.
      You did what was needed and gave out orders from experience that were reasoned and had a purpose if an NCO showed panic they all panicked big brother looking after younger sibling was the way I saw it.. A smile a joke or kind word can get anything done. What is the saying, “When the going gets tough——”
      Frank (Phil to you).

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      • Frank, You are being talked about on Facebook. All very complimentary about how much your writing is enjoyed. If you ever write a book about your experiences, I would like to order the 1st copy now (signed of course). Please write a book and please keep writing

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        • Julie, I am on a family facebook that drives me nuts with adverts and emojis things I do not understand. Finding anything else written about me good or bad is beyond my IT skills.
          Two books have been written by Jacky Hyams which I did input with the odd story, “The day the war began and the day the war ended” possibly not of interest to many who knows.
          I am helping my Daughter in California gather information for a book “What Women did in the war”. As to me writing a book I am happy to post on Picture Stockton when I see something of interest and that is only because my children asked what Joan and I did before they were born, I tell them we had a life.
          Frank

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  2. Hello who is this gentleman? Is he still alive. Was this national service or was he in regular army. Many thanks Susan Salt.

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    • Susan, I must report I am very much alive although some near misses through my life have made me a little more wary.
      Joined as we all did at 18 and signed on, it was a lot more money, it was the Army for me boots on solid earth, and what did I see I saw the sea, my mate in the Navy said I saw more sea time than he did.
      A widower now after 60 years of wedded bliss surrounded by family who suddenly want to know about my life before I came out of a tin can ready and willing to give them a good life.
      Through my Laptop I-pad and phones I keep in touch, Wrote for the BBC, write for Picture Stockton and contributed to two books by Jacky Hyams, “The day war broke out” and also the Day’s the war ended May 8th 1945 and August 13th 1945 though the official date is September., we never forget those dates.
      Memories of a lively and often too exciting a life are what I have today Susan and would not change any of it.
      Frank.

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    • Philip, (my second name too). Landed at Port Said, saw two men die as we waited for the train to Suez. Training camp for two weeks there to condition us for our new strange life then to Shandur and the 4th RTR we were 662 Armoured Troops Workshops REME.
      Saw the Mandate and the aftermath, back to Shandur, then followed the Tanks often to Tel El Kebir the biggest camp in the Canal Zone then on LEC’s were we would be out weeks at a time. Ended up in BMH Fayid for three weeks then six weeks at Kabrit Convalescent Camp where we mixed with German POW’s getting ready to go home, many a good night in the canteen. Because of the manpower shortage the German did Guard duty with us basically we were non combatants at the time. Two would arrive at my tent clean my Sten and Hand gun, load the Mags then push me in a whicker Bath chair to guard mounting then our position on the side of the Canal. I gave them the weapons while I made the tea and I told them if anything happens you hold them off I will run for help? It was back to Shandur then Genifa and finally Larnaka Cyprus. Served with Nato and Back to Cyprus. What made me smile my first Cadet CO told me I would never make a Lance Corporal I wish he had been around when I made it to WO1.
      It has been a varied often exciting life and now at 92 I can write about it something we never did even with our families.
      Frank.

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      • last to be called up September 1958 people called after me had been deferred probably were learning a trade sent to Kenya by the troop ship Dunera three year posting couldn’t go home those days if you were married you got leave. We spent our time of in Mombasa six month in Barhian so there was a lot of ‘dear johns’ did you get any home leave Frank?

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        • Peter, our only mode of transport was by Troop Ship so we only got leave to the WVS Leave Camps in Port Said or if very lucky to Cyprus and Famagusta. I got Port Said and even after three weeks BMH Fayed and six weeks recovery at Kabrit did not get any leave, you went back to your unit and what you were doing before being laid up. You did not even come home if you died none of this flag covered coffin for us.
          The first Married Families went out to Egypt on our troopship the Empress of Scotland and that was a story,
          I was single writing to three girls and also writing letters for a couple of lads who could not read or write (Quite a few people had that problem), they would tell me what to write and I admit I got a bit flowery at times so one of the lads got a Dear John saying “I am finished with you I want the bloke who writes the letters” dear Johns were rife, two and a half to three years was too long a wait for many girls, when I got back to Stockton on leave the girls I had known were gone or pushing prams, the lads who had not had to serve were still school boys after what we experienced, I went back early to be with my own.
          My Son served in Kenya, Germany, Canada but they flew everywhere unlike us who sailed quite a few of the seven seas. I did fly later and back to Cyprus in 1974 to service American Marines, I got to fly everywhere by Helicopter? I think I preferred the Ships.
          Frank.

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          • Frank yes the same thing was going on regarding the letter writing three lads were killed accidents buried in the local cemetery While waiting to go through the canal a magician came aboard the Hully Gully man did you come across this person I believe he was quite famous. Our accommodation was six man tents in Kenya mini whirlwinds used to sweep throug,h it was a nightmare all those years ago I remember every minute of it. Three jobs I did guard on a train taking military vehicles from Nairobi to Mombasa the railway line is called the Lunatic line big steam engine on the front Beyer peycock garret Manchester built I still have two friends who I keep in touch we have a good laugh no trouble in Kenya when I was there lot of Tuscer beer was drunk. take care Frank just a small part of my story

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            • Peter, the reason we never spoke of it was because people did not know what it was like. We had the Khamsin winds and sand storms when you could do nothing but cover yourself up and just sit with your water bottle, every sip full of grit.
              In Garrison we had Nissan huts sunk into the sand and some men spent their whole time never leaving the Camp. On L of C we slept in the vehicles or where we dropped, we often did repairs in the dark when it was cooler.
              Water was rationed fresh food lasted one day so we took tinned and dried food on L of C and often had to make it last when the relief was late.
              Later years took me to Germany and Luneburg with snow up to our ears from one extreme to the other but I would never have missed a minute of it.
              Frank.

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    • Graham, He was a German Mastiff type, trained by the German Army to keep Arab Thieves from their depots. Re trained by the British Veterinary Corps for our Military Police at Genifa for the same job, it was a huge Stores area for the Army.
      18 of us were at the German POW camp Genifa not to keep the German POW’s in but the Arabs out. We had arms the Germans had pick axe handles, the thieve broke through into the storage area and with such a large perimeter it was hard to patrol all of it.
      I was the driver with a Bedford truck and a Jeep, at night we mounted two Bren guns and a spotlight with a wire cutter mounted on the front. During the day I took our men for meals in the stores depot and in the evening had to pick up Twenty Arab Gafferes as we called them they did sentry duty through the night.
      I got the dog from the Kennels in the Depot having to take an item of clothing I had worn in each day for him to sleep on then I fed him each day until I could walk him out and give him commands. The dog was then mine although I took him into the depot each day for his feed.
      Although the Villages I had to go to picking up the Gafferes were normally quiet there was always the risk of the lone driver being attacked for his weapons so we did not carry.
      The dog was fastened by a very stout chain to the rifle rack in the truck cab with me as to him there were no friendly Arabs. With his head out of the window he also kept them away from my petrol tanks, they could bleed a sixteen gallon tank dry in minutes, needless to say I never had any trouble.
      He was a real comic who played jokes on me waking me up by dropping his heavy head on my chest and then his nose touching mine when he wanted to go walkies. I would lock his chain round my iron bed leg in the Guard Room and wake up the other side of the room where he had dragged the bed. He loved the Jeep sitting on the front seat, (the Sergeant in the back) snarling if any one got close.,
      I tried to keep him but was posted to Cyprus so he went back to the MP’s. A lovely dog to me just do not get in his way when he was on a mission.
      Frank.

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      • Frank, thank you so much for taking the time to reply and with that level of detail too. He sounds like you have some fond memories of the dog and that time too. Take care and best wishes, Graham.

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