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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
1. Assistant Physical Training Instructer at 16 Field
2. Close Quarter Battle and Street fighting,London
3. Driver/Mech course Carrier wing at 45th Division
4. Mine's and Booby traps Course at Eastern Command
Weapon Training School.
5. Discipline and Army Regulations at The School of
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)
5. Coronation Medal 1953.
6. General Service Medal "South Arabia"
(bar) (1962-onwards) Issue.
7. Long Service and Good Conduct Medal.
Harold Fredrick Royffe was 22years
of age at the outbreak of the Second World War in
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
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
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
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.