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

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1959-1968

Captain QM Harold Royffe MBE in Hong Kong 1962/3

 

Harold Royffe MBE

DCLI - DLI - SCLI - LI

We are heavily indebted to Margaret Baggott (nee: Royffe - one of Harold's daughters) who has supplied these pictures and who will be sending more.

If you have your own memories of him, please do Email to Keith

 

Webmaster Comment

Bob Bogan who has retained such huge respect for Harold Royffe that he has bestowed his own title on Margaret and named her "Daughter of the Regiment". This is Bob's way of showing his love and respect for HR which has endured through the years and guided him when often in difficult situations.

I now have the privilege of reading this officers huge service file before I send it to its rightful home with his daughters.

Harold Royffe was born in Harlesden London on 8th July 1917, his Father was Swedish and Mother English, he attended Furness Road School in Harlesden, his civilian occupation was a Heavy Goods Transport Driver. He enlisted in the DCLI on 3rd April 1940

Harold Fredrick Royffe,having enlisted into Duke of Cornwalls Light Infantry on the 3rd.of April 1940, from 1941 until 1945.He completed, and passed many Military courses qualifing to instruct in them all. I am greatly indebted to Bob Bogan for his help with interpreting the service records and producing this tribute to a soldier he greatly admired.

R.S.M. H.F ROYFFE. LATER CAPTAIN (QM) H.F ROYFFE M.B.E.

by Bob Bogan BEM.

While I’m certain there must be hundreds of ex Light Infantrymen, who have their own memories and stories of him (may I comment on mine). Due to cut backs, and future amalgamations I was posted to D.C.L.I. Depot early 1959, as a Weapon Training Cpl. (posted by records) into Duke of Cornwalls. My third regiment since 1952.

I found R.S.M Royffe! “An old style Tarra” firm but fair! Always immaculate! On parade, his bearing and words of command truly perfection Out of respect and awe, for our R.S.M.! We referred to him with affection “only known to soldiers” -- comradeship!!
“The Screaming Skull”

As PMC of the Cpl’s mess, after mess meeting’s or organising mess functions I had the privilege to see another side of R.S.M. Royffe. He became my mentor! Always’s helpful offering advice from his vast wealth of experience on rules/regulations concerning Mess. The giant of discipline! Who made god’s tremble! When on parade! Was a perfect gentleman. He had a wonderful sense of humour! He enjoyed a cold glass of Guinness, and smoked wild woodbines, disliked bullies and bombastic abuse of recruits. “Discipline yes” abuse no!

In late 1960 R.S.M. Royffe was Commissioned as Quartermaster and posted to the 1st. BN Durham Light Infantry from the now “Depot Somerset and Cornwall’s L.I.” due to amalgamations in 1959. The depot at Bodmin had seen many changes under R.S.M. Royffe. It is documented he had been a Regimental Sergeant Major for 14 years. Posted to the Regimental Depot, Bodmin after being R.S.M. with 1st. Bn Duke of Cornwall’s in the West Indies, etc.

He returned to 1st Bn. Somerset and Cornwalls as its Quartermaster in Aden 1966, retiring as Captain (QM) H.F. Royffe M.B.E. some years later.

Lastly! The old Barrack Blocks at Victoria Barracks, Bodmin (the home of the Duke of Cornwall’s Light Infantry) are now converted into private homes, However, the roadway in front of these new homes! That saw thousands of recruits forming up for muster and passing out parades for so many years, is now sign posted and named “ROYFFE’S WAY” a fitting tribute to a legend.

Late 1946,in the next year or two, The British Army would undergo many changes.The Second World War was over.Regiments would return to UK, some would disband, others revert to their TA titles,etc, and thousands of service men and women would be demobed."A Peace time Army was being created".

In 1946 1 DCLI was still in Palestine, some soldiers being demobed others posted out, or transfered in.Palestine at this stage was now becoming a war zone, between the Jews, and the Arabs.With the British attempting to keep the peace on both sides.

A rather odd, and on reflection funny incident occured. However it was some what serious at the time it happened.

RSM Royffe had enlisted in 1940 on the A-C engagement.Simply a "War time engagement". Authority came to the Battalion at "Hegiddo Camp" that RSM Royffe was with the next group who were to be demobed on 6th August 1946.
The Commanding Officer, Adjutant Chief Clerk worked fast.RSM Royffe! Was discharged under Kings Regulations 1940 para 390 (XV111) (A).

Within a few minutes he was medically examined by the Battalions "Medical Officer"Attested, and Sworn into the DCLI and Enlisted on a "Regular Army Engagement".
Authority 02E/121/1236/R. His attesttation papers,and enlistment documents (Army Form B271) were signed by his C.O. witnessed by his,Adjutant,with the Official (DCLI Hegiddo Camp) rubber stamp dated 6th August 1946.
All information is duly recorded in his service records.

1st.DCLI in April 1947 was posted from Palastine direct to Cyprus.While serving in Cyprus RSM Royffe was granted "War Substansive Warrant Officer Class 1. early in 1948 RSM Royffe was posted to England.
1 DCLI moved from Cyprus in the Oct.1948 it embarked to Somaliland and in Jan.1949 it would again move to Mogadishu. Indeed the Battalion would not return to UK until sometime in 1950.

Arriving in the UK RSM Royffe took up his duties of Regimental Sergeant Major ---- Permenant Staff Instructer at the Light Infantry Brigade Training Battalion at Bordon, although he would only remain at L.I.B.T.B. for about 12 months.
(In his record of service) (The CO of LIBTB noted on Feb.1949 RSM Royffe's documents).
The Commanding Officer of 4/5 DCLI. had made a polite formal request to a higher authority for RSM Royffe to be transfered to 4/5 DCLI if possible by November 1949.

December 1949 RSM Royffe arrived at Headquarters 4/5 DCLI which was in Cold Harbour Lane Bodmin. The main frustrations being the Battalion was scattered all over Cornwall in various towns. Initially there was a shortage of young commissioned officers in situ, difficulties training as a Battalion, and recruiting manpower, so soon after the war was slow.
The Commanding Officer, Company Commanders and Senior NCO's .over many months saw the Battalion grow from strength to strength, the other and positive reason was National Servicemen having served their time were now returning home to the UK and were commited to a period of time within TA Units. Due to this commitment 4/5 DCLI was a much changed Battalion in 1951 when RSM Royffe was posted to 1DCLI. (Late in 1951) The whole Battalion had a great deal of respect for him, the CO was sorry to lose him.

The 1st.DCLI embarked on a posting to Minden,West Germany, in December 1951, with Regimental Sergeant Major Royffe as RSM.
The barracks in Germany were those typical purpose built, central heated, double glazed, designed for the Wermacht 1st.BN DCLI's old soldiers who experienced Egypt, Palestine, etc.(i/e The Middle East), were amazed spacious 4 and 6 man rooms, showers, baths, pure luxury. Training was on going, with large excellent laid out training areas, culminating,with Battalion and NATO exercises.

May 1953 1st.DCLI's Colour Party returned to England. RSM Royffe and the Colour Party plus other representatives, were (taken on strength) of the Depot DCLI Bodmin, to prepare for the Queen's Coronation Parade, which was to be held in London.
In June 1953 a vast parade took place in London to celebrate the Coronation of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second.

This massive Parade consisted of 5 Regiments of Guards, 64 Infantry Regiments of the Line, Light Infantry, Rifle Brigade, and the Parachute Regiment, plus Military Bands including 1st.Bn Duke of Cornwalls Light Infantry Band.

The British Army in a short time would never be able to put on such a Military Pageant again! Defence cuts, disbandments, amalgamations, were well advanced for middle 1950's.onwards.The Colour Party returned back to Minden The 1.DCLI recieved news of a posting to the West Indies, sometime in 1954. 1st.DCLI returned to the UK from West Germany in late 1953. After leave,it reassembled in Plymouth and in 1954,embarked by troopship for the West Indies.

This was to prove a wonderful posting for 1st.DCLI.The Band and Battalion excelled on Ceramonial Duties and Parades.
The Battalion was split into a number of Company detatchments,across the Caribbean, "Bermuda","Jamaica", and hundreds of miles away, British Honduras, albiet "Belize" on the mainland of South America a fantastic place for Jungle training also.late in the tour one Company was sent to British Guiana. A detachment from DCLI, also went to assist with hurricane relief,in Haiti.

RSM Royffe as always was not content to remain at Battalion headquarters. He visited these outstations to maintain the standards of discipline,and comradeship of a family Regiment. He went to these outstations for several day's at a time, either by sea, or air.It was about this time in the West Indies,"young National Servicemen from all walk's of life, out of respect and pride in the DCLI, and their RSM, started to whisper and tell their stories"----- RSM Royffe's bearing words of command, precision of the Ceremonial Parades. How the God's feared him, on his parade ground. These young men added more and more to the growing legend,"Screaming Skull".Which even after the West Indies, continued to grow.

1st.DCLI was to return to England, in 1957 and was posted to Walker Lines, Bodmin, which was adjacent to the Regimental Depot, in Victoria Barracks. (For a short time the 1st.DCLI,and the Depot also DCLI TA were in a few hundred yards of each other, in Bodmin). Truly, the family was together again, although 1st.DCLI was soon to be on the move again, to West Germany.

In 1958 1st.DCLI would embark for West Germany, Osnabruck (without RSM Royffe),who on his return from the West Indies took up the appointment as the RSM of Depot DCLI,Victoria Barracks,Bodmin. The reorganisation of the British Army, was now well under way, this included the Light Infantry in 1959 and 1960.

In late 1959 Victoria Barracks became "Regimental Depot, The Somerset and Cornwall Light Infantry". also in West Germany (Osnabruck) 1st.SLI + 1st.DCLI amalgamated to become "1st.Bn The Somerset and Cornwall Light Infantry". The amalgamation was a great success, and over the coming years 1SCLI would become a professional unit, in every way. Soldiering, Sports, Ceremonial no matter what task it was given the Officer's and soldiers, commited themselves 100% the histories,and spirit of it's Regimental forbears continued to be upheld by 1st.Bn S.C.L.I.

The Depot saw the last National Service draft undergo basic training in late 1960, this N.S. draft went direct to the Kings Shropshire Light Infantry. Their Depot in Shrewsbury was undergoing a huge refurbishment, and would become "The Light Infantry Brigade Depot", for the whole of Light Infantry, when the work was completed.

Life went on "Depot SCLI" training now Regular Recruit Intakes for 1/SCLI and 1/KSLI until 1962.With SCLI and KSLI Instructors mixed together. It was hard to tell who was who, we were Light Infantry comrades. It was normal KSLI Cpl. SCLI.Cpl. KSLI.Sgt. SCLI.Officer.(One Training Team), or visa versa. No matter which Light Infantry Bn. the recruit squad would be posted to, indeed at times there was even mixed squads, of SCLI. & KSLI.recruits.
RSM Royffe had guided the Permanant and Training Staff through some hectic times over the last two years.

(I digress to mention).The Depot during this period had a fantastic Commanding Officer, Major G.T.G.Williams (Toots) later Lt,/Col.Williams. It was obvious to us Junior NCO's, there was a great deal of understanding,and loyalty between our C.O. and our R.S.M. The atmosphere in the Depot was a very contented and happy one.

"TRUE STORY"
The locals in Bodmin would know when there would be a Passing Out Parade. In the Queens Head Hotel in Fore St.Bodmin, often used by Training Corporal .an old gentleman remarked one evening "Ee must be have'n a pass out parade Friday next! because I was walking the dog up the Beacon this morning,and could hear The Screaming Skulls orders, as clear as day". He had me marching about.
Even the locals had latched on to RSM Royffe's nick name, also "The Beacon" was approx.8oo yards away as the crow fly's, on a clear day the Beacon and the Depot were in sight of each other.

In Sept.1960 RSM Royffe M.B.E. was Commissioned from the ranks. He was posted to the 1st.BN Durham Light Infantry,from the Depot Somerset and Cornwalls Light Infantry as -Lieutenant (QM) H.F.Royffe M.B.E. He had served in various DCLI Battalions,and Depot's over 14 years as the Regimental Sergeant Major. He will have during this time commanded and trained many thousands of young soldiers both Regular and National Service.Who will no doubt have their own stories,and memories.

Lt.(QM) Royffe in Sept.1960 departed from the Depot SCLI direct to 1st.BN Durham Light Infantry,which was stationed at Honiton in Devon. He was to complete 3 Military courses, Quartermasters Course, Regimental Messing Officer, and Military Transport Officers Course, and was to be initialy the M.O.T. (Motor Transport Officer),with 1/DLI.
In 1961 1st.DLI would embark for "West Berlin" on a two year tour, as part of "Berlin Brigade", Berlin was still a divided city "East and West" surrounded by the Infamous "Berlin Wall", also East German,and Russian troops, who on occasions made life difficult for West Berlin. The Battalion had Ceramonial duties, Guards at the Russian War Memorial and Spandau Prison, patroling West Berlin Borders, besides normal Infantry training in the confines of West Berlin.

In 1963 1st.DLI returned to the UK,from West Berlin. However within a few weeks the Battalion and LT.(QM) Royffe would embark on a two year posting to "Hong Kong"(Far East Land Forces). In mid 1963 1.DLI was settled into their new home "Gun Club Barracks" Hong Kong. Their duties in some way similar to Berlin.Ceremonial and Border Patrols including internal Security duties.This time under the watching eye's of the Chinese Army.

Oct.1965 Lt.Royffe was promoted to Capt.(QM) Royffe, and left 1/DLI to assume his appointment of the Quartermaster with 1/SCLI, which was stationed at Milton Barracks in Gravesend. It's role to protect the Outer Northern Flank of N.A.T.O. working with Norwegian, Canadian, Italian troops who were skilled in Winter Warfare. 1/SCLI had been training hard in Canada, Norway, and the Scottish Mountains in weather that was often bitterly cold. It is recorded that conditions near the Arctic Circle on most exercises dropped below minus 30 degrees, not including "wind chill factor". The Battalion was in Norway and Canada when it was warned by M.O.D. at short notice for an "Emergency tour in Aden",

Late January and into February saw 1 S.C.L.I. returning to Gravesend. The Quartermaster and Storemen, working at top speed to de-kit soldiers from "Winter Warfare" to "Desert Tropical", at times it was a heavy burden,and work load on the QM and his Storemen.
In March 1966 the "Advance Party" was on the move, with Capt.Royffe.They would take over "Radfan Camp" in the Northern Area of Aden State.1/S.C.L.I. as a Battalion was soon to follow. It was a spectacular and professional effort by Officers and soldiers to be in Aden, at such short notice.I/E by April 1966.

Radfan Camp was on a flat strip of desert mid way between the Coast Road and the sea to the east, Shiekh Othman surrounded by several evil shanty towns, and the Lahej Border to the West.
Marquee type tents on concrete pads, each tent was surrounded by a 3 foot wall of sandbags,(protection against mortar/rocket attacks). Each tent had in the roof a single light bulb, and an awfully noisey clacking/wobbly fan, the washing facilities, plus showers,and toilets were very basic, the constant hot wind blew dust, sand into everything, the heat and humidity was over bearing. Most of the time the flying insects, and flies buzzed constantly making sleep off duty either by day or night, almost impossible.

In the middle of April 1966 the 1st.Battalion Somerset and Cornwall Light Infantry arrived at their new home for the next 6 months plus.(Radfan Camp). Some of the young soldiers still suffering from minor problems of frost bite to fingers,and toes. There had been no time to acclimatize, or train for Internal Security Operations. Only a very small rear party had been left behind in Gravesend and secure and guard Milton Barracks, and act as a rear link.

On the 24th April 1966 S.C.L.I. took command of Area North of Aden State from Coldstream Guards. In aid of Aden Civil Powers and Internal Security Operations. 24 hours,7 day's a week the Battalion was responsible for all of the following ---------
The vehicle and foot patrols manning the 4 main road block/check points, searching all vehicles, persons, and even camel trains, they carried out Cordon and Search Operations guarding the detainees of Mansoura Prison,etc. Also being called out to various riots and other hostile civilian incidents.
The QM Capt.Royffe ensured the dining hall/cookhouse ran a 24 hour service,for soldiers coming and going at all hours of the day and night. He also visited the road blocks and check points, ensuring equipment was up to standard and servicable,at these points.

Area North in particular Sheikh Othman and it's dozens of Shanty towns, was a hot bed of intrigue a teeming ant hill of Yemeni and up country arabs who were fierce tribesmen who asked no quarter and gave none.Then there were the various factions of terrorists.This was the terrorists own backyard. When not fighting and killing each other, in the narrow streets, back alleys, and the open sewers.
They would on a daily basis set ambushes, snipe, throw grenades from the same back alleys and sewers at the British vehicle and foot patrols.The young soldiers of S.C.L.I. came to expect what they called Big Bang Time, at twilight and well into the night time ,in any part of Area North.(daylight attacks were quite common).

It was because of the British Governments Inept Policies. The terrorist factions fought for control of Aden State, between themselves killing each other in fierce battles, also attacking the British soldiers sniping, grenades, explosives devices, mines, stoning riots all of which was faced with calm professionalism in which the British soldier excelled, again the British soldier was piggy in the middle,of a Political mess.

Oct.1966 - 1st.S.C.L.I. it's tour of Aden completed. It handed over the Aden North to the Royal Anglican Regiment, and on the 26th.October 1966 it moved back to Gravesend, leaving behind a small party, and Capt.QM Royffe to finalise all details. They would follow the Battalion within a few day's.
After leave the Battalion was to reassemble at Milton Barracks and in January 1967, saw Capt.(QM)Royffe and his storemen kitting out the Battalion, for it's former role as part of A.C.E.Mobile Force to defend the Outer Northern Flank of N.A.T.O.

In early February 1967 the Battalion returned to Winter Warfare Training, and was deployed in Canada,Norway, etc."A"Coy moved to Norway with the Recce Platoon, and they were confronted by blizzards and a force 10 gale. Some soldiers were treated in the field for snow blindness.
S.C.L.I. soldiers were now becoming adept in Winter Warfare, moving on ski's, snow shoes and living in snow holes etc.taking it all in their stride. Capt.Royffe returned from Norway to Gravesend, sometime in Sept.1967.

Capt.Royffe retired on retired pay, on the 8th.November 1967, his record of service states, on AFB 199a "liable for R.A.R.O.class 1 until 8th.July 1972." An entry was made in the London Gazette 14/11/1967 to this effect.

Lastly, the Legend and stories of Harold F.Royffe are still alive today 2009. In February I was speaking on the phone to a gentleman in Truro this gentleman had never served in the British Army, in any Regiment. However, we discussed the D.C.L.I. Depot,Victoria Barracks, Bodmin, he enquired what years had I served there, and RSM.Royffe was mentioned. (OI ! me hansom you mean the Screaming Skull,don't ee).

I understand that after his passing, his family and friends were present when the great man's ashes were placed around the D.C.L.I.War Memorial, that is on the small green in front of the main gates of The Old D.C.L.I.Depot which is now The Keep,at Bodmin.

Courses

1. Assistant Physical Training Instructer at 16 Field Unit,and Aldershot.
2. Close Quarter Battle and Street fighting,London Area.
3. Driver/Mech course Carrier wing at 45th Division Battle School.
4. Mine's and Booby traps Course at Eastern Command Weapon Training School.
5. Discipline and Army Regulations at The School of Military Administration.
In 1950 he completed the Drill Instructors Course at the Guards Depot at Caterham.

As an R.S.M. and Quartermaster he was respected at all levels.His knowledge on all things Light Infantry was vast,which was used to develop,assist, and give guidance to soldiers and Junior N.C.O.'s in the Regiment's he served in.

Medals and Awards

Captain (QM) H.F.Royffes list of medals in order.They would be displayed or worn on his uniform as Captain (QM) of 1st.Bn.Somerset and Cornwall Light Infantry in 1967.

1. Member of the British Empire (MBE) London Gazette,41727/5-6-59.
2. Defence Medal (39/45).
3. War Medal (39/45).
4. General Service Medal "Palestine" (bar) (1918/1962).Issue.
5. Coronation Medal 1953.
6. General Service Medal "South Arabia" (bar) (1962-onwards) Issue.
7. Long Service and Good Conduct Medal.

Postings

Harold Fredrick Royffe was 22years of age at the outbreak of the Second World War in 1939.
On the 3rd.April 1940 he enlisted into his Regiment of choice the Duke of Cornwalls Light Infantry,on a A-C engagement for the duration of the war only.

He joined the 4th BN DCLI,and served with this Battalion until "August 1944".A great deal of time was spent on training for what lay ahead.He also completed and passed many Military Courses.On the 23rd August 1940 he was appointed "Unpaid Acting Lance Corporal".His first steps on a very long,and distinguished career,as an NCO.

4/D.C.L.I. continued military training in various areas of England,and he went on completing other courses.Thus gaining experience,and promotion rather quickly.On the 16th July 1944 he was a "War Substansive Sergeant" in 4/D.C.L.I.

On the 27th August 1944 Sgt.Royffe was posted to the 1st.BN Duke of Cornwalls Light Infantry in the UK.
On the 10th August 1945 he was granted,"paid acting" Warrant Officer 11.a Company Sergeant Major with this Battalion.

In the December 1945 1st.DCLI left England,as part of the "Mediterranean Expeditionary Force" landing in Egypt for a short time.Then moving on into Palestine.

While serving in Palestine he was promoted to a "War Substansive WO11",and within a few months was appointed "Paid Acting WO1" and became the Regimental Sergeant Major on the 17th February 1946,of the 1st.BN Duke of Cornwalls Light Infantry.In less than 6 years "Pte.Royffe was the Regimental Sergeant Major" of 1st.BN DCLI his chosen Regiment on his enlistment.

NOTE! RSM Royffe was to hold this rank and position for many years to come whilst serving in the Duke of Cornwalls Light Infantry (i/e Feb.46 -- Aug.60) over 14 years. Harold Fredrick Royffe was to become a legend in his own life time.

 

The Harold Royffe Gallery

DCLI Depot Victoria Barracks Bodmin - the Keep in the background. RSM Royffe - centre rear, Sgt Ron Delap second right seated front - Officer seated could be Major Toots Williams.
DCLI Depot 1957 - 3 RSM's Jan Passmore 1 DCLI - Harold Royffe DCLI Depot - Peter Firth TA DCLI
DCLI Colour Party - Bermuda
Depot DCLI Bodmin
1 DCLI in Jamaica
 
Mr McCullum with Biba the dog - Jamaica 1955
 
DCLI Cpl's Mess West Germany - note RSM Royffe with his "Wild Woodbine"
 
Mrs McCullum - Jamaica 1955
 

 

Captain QM Harold Royffe MBE in Hong Kong 1962/3
 

Copyright: The Royffe Family

All the articles and galleries on this website have been registered with the UK Copyright Service - Copyright © 2003/2008 Keith Petvin-Scudamore

Copyright Notice fact sheet from UK Copyright Service.

 


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