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The Somerset & Cornwall Light Infantry
6 October 1959 - 10 July 1968

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1959-1968

SCLI Memoir by - Angus McKay - SCLI

SCLI Depot Bodmin Nov. 1959

Somerset & Cornwall Light Infantry

How not to travel between Berlin and West Germany!

by Angus McKay, Chief Clerk 1SCLI

Foreword by Webmaster:

I was absolutely delighted to hear from Angus McKay as I remember him so well as Chief Clerk at Osnabruck, Plymouth and Gibraltar. As I was Major Meredith's QM clerk I had many times to step into Angus McKay's domain and it was this domain that he ran with a tight rein. He was good friends with the late RQMS Nobby Clarke who was my immediate boss.

Angus writes, "I was very close to Nobby Clark (who died last year after a long illness), he was in the Orderly Room of 1 SOM LI when I joined it in 1953, and was my mentor for many years. When I left 1 SOM LI in 1959 and was posted to the DCLI Depot in Bodmin as Chief Clerk I was the first to move between regiments prior to the amalgamation and despite my protests was made to change my badges to DCLI. I was not very happy about this but it was only for a few months.

I was then posted to 1 SCLI to take over Chief Clerk from Nobby who moved over as RQMS, and was one of the Sgts Mess guys who threw him into the Officer's Mess in Berlin on his commission".

ORQMS Angus McKay was always to be seen going about his regimental duties with great efficiency. I am sure from what I know that the regiment owed him a great deal.


How not to travel between Berlin and West Germany.

We were due to have a party of Old Comrades visiting us in Berlin and it was decided that rather have them wait for the Military Train we would send a coach to collect them and bring them through the Russian Zone by road. I was "volunteered" for the job by RSM Worster and the officer in charge was Lt. Alan Ramsay. He and I met at the guard room at some unearthly hour (about 3am I think) and duly boarded the army coach driven by a lad from the local RASC Pool.

Obviously the documentation for the journey had to be perfect otherwise the Russians would not allow us to proceed. We passed through the RMP and Russian checkpoints in Berlin without trouble and proceed down the autobahn towards Helmeted - and this was where the fun started! It was daylight by now and at the Russian checkpoint a NCO took our documents, glanced at the vehicle and ran into the office - now that was strange for a start!

Berlin NAAFI 1964

Lt. Ramsay and I got off the coach and lit cigarettes, then the office door burst open and out strode a very indignant Russian Officer shouting that our documents were incorrect! We looked at the document, checked the registration number of the coach and to our horror they were different! We were stuck! Our driver had collected the wrong coach! Then a Major of the Russian Army came out, spoke to Lt. Ramsay, shook his hand and gestured that the barrier be lifted and we were free to go. What a surprise!

It was then explained to me that the previous week Lt. Ramsay had been on the Military Train and had presented the same Russian Major with flowers and chocolates for his wedding anniversary - as a resulting thaw in international relations (as far as the Major was concerned) we were allowed to proceed with a smile.

Needless to say we made sure the documents were perfect for the return journey!

 

 

Copyright Text and Image: Angus McKay

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