The Somerset & Cornwall Light Infantry
6 October 1959 - 10 July 1968
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Bob Evered - DCLI & SCLI
Some Memories of the DCLI & SCLI January 1958 until April 1965.
As a newly conscripted just turned nineteen-year-old National Service man I arrived at a snow covered Bodmin Railway Station early on the morning of the 23rd January 1958, having shared the latter part of the train journey with a “Teddy Boy” (Pte Burnley?) who was also going to the same place. Little did I realise what a great leveller a haircut and ten weeks or so training would be. We were if memory serves me right the 49th Intake under Captain Petrie? Sgt Edwards was ‘A’ Platoon Training Sergeant I found myself in ‘B’ Platoon the Sergeant, who took the Roll Call, was a fierce looking man with a bent nose and the coldest most piercing blue eyes that I’ve ever seen. “My name is BULLEY. WILLIAM ARTHUR DUDLEY BULLEY. You may have heard of me from some of your mates or brothers”, he cried.
The Roll Call started okay, through the A’s and B’s until he reached the C’s and called out the name “CODY” – no answer – “CODY” – still no answer. Then from the far end of the barrack room a quiet, tall blonde, well-spoken lad came the words “My name is CODE sergeant” The reply was instantaneous “C-O-D-E he spelt out, theirs an “E” there and we’ll use it” he said. Needless to say he was always known as “Cody” from that day on. At the end of training this lad along with A N Other was selected for a W.O.S.B. (War Office Selection Board) as a potential officer.
That was the first day over, for the next ten or twelve weeks we went through the mill together, 120 assorted men (boys) from all walk of life, thrown together by being called up for National Service, by the end of training we were down to 90 the rest having been rejected or transferred to other units. After the passing out parade we were allowed to proudly wear the Green Beret and DCLI cap badge with red cloth backing. Regimental history was taught almost from the beginning starting with the raising of FOX'S MARINES in 1702 It was the custom in those days to call a regiment by the name of its Commanding Officer and this Regiment was therefore raised under the name of Fox's Marines The Regiment afterwards became the 32nd Regiment of Foot and eventually the 1st Battalion The Duke of Cornwall's Light Infantry. During the American Revolution or American War of Independence (according to which side you were on!) American troops attacked unawares on a dawn raid at Paoli in 1777. The Americans promised no quarter to all British troops, so as to identifying themselves the regiment proclaimed they would wear a ‘Red Feather’ as a means of identification, this gave rise to the wearing of the Red Cloth Backing on the Cap Badge which still continues to the present day!
A trip to the ranges far away on Bodmin Moor usually we would be transported by truck and we would be marched home. On one occasion we were practicing throwing live Mills 36 Hand Grenades. Before being used the base plate / plug had to be unscrewed and removed and the 7 second fuse fitted and the base plate replaced. Overseeing this operation from a protected watch-tower was the officer in charge, in case of failure he had to wait 20 minutes or so and then go out to the grenade, pack PE (Plastic Explosive) around it, retreat and explode the device remotely. On this day the officer was a young over exuberant inexperienced officer. The grenades were primed in a small alcove by two NCO’s before being handed out, two grenades were passed out at intervals as ‘primed’ but having only gone through the motions they remain un-primed and harmless. After the allotted time he had to go out and deal with them not once but twice! I wonder if he knew that he’d been had?
I recall one instance when I had committed some horrendous act (like being out-of-step, or something similar) whilst marching back to barracks I was dressed in faded denims, which clearly showed where two stripes had been previously on the upper arm. Sgt Bulley screamed at me “You’ll never get those stripes on your arm as long as you got a hole in your ass” he shouted. But far worse was the much-feared disciplinarian RSM (Regimental Sergeant Major) WO1 (Warrant Officer 1st Class) Harold Royffe; he only had to glare at you, to keep order.
One day midway through training we were told by Sgt Bulley to fall in outside in two minutes, last man out is on fatigues, dressed in PT (Physical Training) kit Best Boots with socks rolled down, we were taken over the assault course by Cpl Benny and L/Cpl Smith. On return to barracks we were told by training Sgt Bulley and Corporal Benny “Your Best Boots are now your 2nd Best Boots and your original 2nd Best Boots are now your Best Boots”! Towards the end of training and on our last run over the assault course, which had been, booby-trapped with PE (Plastic Explosive) or similar to make it more realistic, Cpl Smith unfortunately whilst swinging over water ditch managed to get caught up with a PE device on his boot, which was detonated causing severe damage to his boot and part if not all of his foot!
Towards the end of training PTI Mallet us all through a 3 minute boxing session, we had to pair off with each other between our selves I paired up with a fresh faced, quiet lad Pte Gill, but Mallet decided that one or two of us were poorly matched so he altered us about, putting me with Pte McCormack as I recall. Well our bout came and went and we were more or less even, although I thought that I just had the edge. When Gill’s turn came he turned out to be a real handful, handing out a severe thumbing to his opponent to the extent that he fled the ring half way through and Mallet put a stop to it. On completion of training Pte Gill went off and joined the Royal Marines, I wonder what happened to him?
At the end of basic training and the Passing Out Parade behind us I signed on for twenty-two years with a three-year option to come out! We were almost ready to join the 1st Battalion in BAOR (British Army Of the Rhine), when Pte Bunney one of our number and a nice lad went missing AWOL (Absent With Out Leave) over a girl most likely? Anyway he later joined us in Germany having spent twenty-eight days in the Guard Room back at Bodmin, joining us in Germany a month or so later, he went into the Bugle Section and the rest of his army career went without a hitch.
We caught the train to Harwich on the 22nd April 1958. At the Embarkation Point we had supper from there we took the overnight flat-bottomed troop ship to the Hook-of-Holland from there we boarded the train and were given Continental style breakfast, the train took us through Holland and into Western Germany and finally to Osnabrück. At Osnabrück Railway Station Army transport took us to the out-of-town Mercer Barracks near the village of Dodesheide, arriving some twenty-four after our departure! This procedure was repeated every time anyone went home on leave or any other business. Attached to our camp below us was a tank regiment, The 3rd Dragoon Guards. Movement between the two was minimal.
Cpl's Bob Evered and Joe Rowe. - 1959
On our arrival we were all posted to ‘D’ Training Coy under Capt Harvey for a further period of training before being sent to our respective Companies; which in my case and my friends from day one Tyrrel Francis and Ray Beeks was ‘B’ Coy. The OC (Officer Commanding) was Major Bush. The Company Sgt Major was WO2 (Warrant Officer 2nd Class) Cook. As we lined up out side ‘B’ Coy Office for our first roll call, with CSM Cook taking our particulars, when he came to me I came to attention and said “23446278 Pte Evered RJ, Sir spelling out my surname (as most people got it wrong) “E-V-E-R-E-D”. Quick as a flash he replied, “If you’re going to be my f****** Company Clerk I don’t want you teaching me how to f****** spell.” Well later, somehow I managed to talk myself out of that one and my mate Tyrrel took my place as Company Clerk, I’m not sure if it was willingly or not? Not too long after being posted to ‘B’ Coy I was appointed Lance Corporal and life settled down to normal Regimental routines in barracks, guard duties and the like for the unfortunate few and muster parades, square bashing and weapon training etc. etc. for the rest!
As the “greenhorn” Lance Corporal my Section Leader Cpl Harrison told that we had a new man joining our section and that he would be assigned to my Barrack Room his name was Pte George Bolton well George must have been nearly forty had at least twenty years service in and was a complete ‘one off’ It seems he had been promoted to sergeant many times and each time had ended up being busted for some reason or other. On this occasion he had been busted and RTU (Returned To Unit) having told a WRAC (Women’s Royal Army Corps) Officer to “F*** off” or words to that effect. It was soon obvious that no one wanted George because he was seen as Trouble! Whatever, he must have seen how green I was, knew the score and settled in with us youngsters fine, in fact he couldn’t have been more helpful, and when I was lecturing he would always help asking you good questions or prompts. He was certainly not like that with everyone and could spot a smart ass from a mile away. Not only that but he was a first rate Barrack Room Lawyer too, he once got away with a minor charge (252) refusing to accept the OC’s (Company) punishment and like wise the CO’s (Battalion) when asked if he accepted their punishment? He replied No and asked to be tried by District Court Martial, needless to say it was all thrown out long before that point was reached.
Quite early on we had a trip over the German / Dutch border to Enschede, Holland in the DCLI Regimental bus, an old Bedford decked out in Regimental Colours, not too far over the border we dived into the nearest pub eager to practice our newfound German language skills “Guten morgan” or “Guten tag” followed by “ein bier bitter” etc. etc. For a few minutes we were meet with a frosty silence then as we started speaking to one another in our native language their faces lit up “So you’re English?” “Yes” we said to their delight. It would seem they still hadn’t forgotten the war! All in all we had a fine day and we even managed to meet some local nurses in the park. Exchange rate for the Pound in those days was 10 Guilders.
Every day life in barracks was regulated by bugle calls from Reveille to Last Post and in between Assembly (Fall in ‘A’ fall in ‘B’ Fall in every Company), Battalion Orders, Post Call and most important the three times daily Cook House Call (Come to the cookhouse door boys, come to the cookhouse door). Away from camp we had frequent visits to the Rifle Range and the extensive training ‘In The Field’ (as it was known) at Achmer. Back in barracks the highlight of the week was RSM’s Parade on Saturday morning followed by Barrack Room Inspection, if all went well the rest of the weekend was your own barring Duty of course. This might mean staying in camp and visiting the NAAFI, or going into Osnabrück, also very popular were the two or three pub type establishments and the Army Globe Cinema in Dodesheide, which was, shared with our Tank Regiment neighbours.
This photograph. was taken at the rear end of D Company
block. JNCOs Cadre Jan/Feb 1959