Royal Marines

Terry Aspinall

Remembers Deal.

Royal Marine Commandos Training.
April 1962 to January 1963.

As I stepped off the train at Deal railway station, I was wearing a pair of tight Levi jeans and a black leather jacket. I was also sporting a mop of very long hair that had taken me almost eighteen months to grow. To some of my fellow passengers I must have looked like an alien from another planet. Because all around me other young men disembarking from the same train, sporting short haircuts and wearing smart Italian style suits. This being the style that was trying to replace the long favoured Teddy Boy look that I preferred. The Teddy Boy look featured a long draped jacket, whereas the Italian one featured a short length jacket, it being not much longer than a waistcoat. However, I always felt that the long jacket suited a tall person while the Italian style jacket enhanced a shorter person.
I felt out of place standing there on the platform not knowing where to go or whom I was supposed to meet. However, that was all about to change as I noticed a very tall slim built man in military uniform strutting down the platform and heading in my direction. "You one of mine" he bawled at me, "What's one of yours" I replied sarcastically. "Don't be smart with me laddie, you’ll make a bad name for yourself". "I’m addressed as Colour Sergeant to you". Fine I thought, thanks for telling me. He continued shouting at me "By the looks of you, you must be one of mine, outside and in the van". I could not understand why he had to keep shouting at me, after all we were standing within an inch of each other and he was almost licking my nose. So why could he not talk in a normal voice like everybody else.

He suddenly turned and strutted off down the platform looking like a tin soldier bawling at anything that moved, including other bewildered young men standing on the same platform just like me. I decided to make my way down the platform and out of the station building into the courtyard as he suggested, where I was confronted by a van standing in the station courtyard, just as the Colour Sergeant had told me.

The van was a dark blue Bedford Door mobile, with the letters R.M. stamped on the side. Must stand for Royal Marines I thought, or on second thoughts maybe it stood for 'Right Mess' something I thought I might just be getting myself into. I looked in the back of the van and found it full of other bewildered recruits. Unfortunately, there were no empty seats, however I did notice that the front passenger side seat was empty, so I jumped in. I could not believe my luck or the space I had around me, compared with the other guys all crammed up tight in the back.

I was just settling down when Bang, a wooden stick crashed across the top part of my thighs. Something I was later to discover was known as a pace stick and used to measure out a marching stride. "In the back laddie" the bawling Sergeant had returned with a vengeance, apparently, I was in his seat. "Not making a very good first impression are we", he continued to shout at me. I could see that life with this mob was not going to be a bed of roses like I thought. I jumped out of the front seat and somehow managed to squeeze myself into the back. We then sped off at break neck speed to the Royal Marine barracks.

Upon our arrival we were all ordered out and met up with another group of recruits standing outside of what was known as the 'New Intake Block'. We seemed to spend hours in this building filling out papers and signing forms. During this time, I became very conscious of my appearance, as I compared myself with all the other boys around me. I was beginning to feel a little out of place, standing out like a sore thumb. The Colour Sergeant, who must have noticed this, pulled me to one side and had a quiet word in my ear. To my amazement, he was able to talk in a normal toned voice. Which was just as well otherwise he would have deafened me. "What's your name son" he asked, "Terry Aspinall", I replied, "Well don't worry about your dress Aspinall, tomorrow you will all look the same". "Especially when you get your hair cut and boy is the barber going to love you." "You’re got enough there to stuff a large pillow".

After a time, we were taken into a lecture room where the brain washing began. We must have been confronted by about a dozen different people all telling us what to do and how to do it. However, I could not take it all on board. By the time the third person had spoken I’d forgotten what the first one had said. What I do remember is that I was dying to go to the toilet. I raised my hand so that I could be excused just like back at school. When the officer in charge finally took notice of me and asked what was wrong. I told him that I needed to go to the toilet. To my surprise he declined my pleading because I had not used the correct terminology. I was in the Royal Marines now and whatever I wanted to do I had to use the correct Marine slang word. Well I spent the next few minutes in dire pain crossing everything from my legs to my fingers. Finally, and to my relief a fellow recruit put his hand up and when asked what he wanted, he asked to be excused so that he could go to the 'Heads' whatever they were. However, it was not long before I realised and made the same request only to be told that I had to wait until the other guy came back. The officer went on to explain that he was not going to have two young guys playing around with each other in the heads on his shift. Boy I was beginning to wonder what an earth had I got myself into. I’d only been there for a couple of hours and already I was being classed as some sort of pervert.

The formation of a Royal Marine squad can take anything up to four weeks. During that time, you are given a bed in a dormitory style building. You draw all the necessary clothing and gear to get you started, fill out more forms, have talks about what is expected of you and what you will be doing in return. You also sort out who will be your friends and whom you will be avoiding within the squad. We were given the title of 779 Squad. It was made up of about 43 recruits, 15 came from Scotland, 15 from the London area and the other 13 from all parts of England, Wales and Ireland. Some guys had even managed to be transferred from other services, electing to join the Royal Marines.

One of the guys called Jimmy Jewel had been an R.S.M in the Plymouth junior Royal Marines unit. He started taking charge of us from day one, twenty years later I was to learn that he was promoted to the rank of Colour Sergeant. I also saw him on television on a Royal Tournament show in Earls Court London with his own drill squad, quite an achievement, and something I later admired.

I teamed up with Bob Hodgkiss who had changed over from the Navy, along with Syd Foulston from Kent and Johnny McGuirk from Widnes near Manchester. Widnes is just a few miles from Warrington, where my Father was born. A big talking point amongst us all was football. It just so happened that my local club Ipswich Town went on to win their very first 1st division football league championship that year. While being managed by Alf Ramsay, who later went on to become the England manager and was knighted, becoming known as Sir Alf.

One thing I did find amusing was that we had all come from very different back rounds and occupations. I recall that one guy had been a gravedigger, but the funny thing was, he was the biggest guy in the squad, so all that exercise had not helped to keep his weight down. Most of the officers would always make smart comments to him saying that his work experience would come in very handy on the battlefield, for digging slit trenches, or latrines (toilets). Later in the training, the recruits were to be split into pairs. Whoever was paired up with this guy was going to have it very easy, when it came to digging trenches. It was a good job that I never mentioned that I used to dig trenches while working for the Eastern Electricity Board. Otherwise some smart Sergeant or Officer might have linked us up to dig the Channel Tunnel by hand. I was learning fast and the first rule that was drummed into our heads was to keep our mouths shut unless you were spoken to.

An essential part of our training was to learn the Royal Marine Corps history. The Corps revolves around its history and is very proud of what it has achieved over the years, something that was drummed into us at every conceivable opportunity. Items like our battle honours and 'Victoria Cross' winners, there being about ten of them at that time. The last one was posthumously won by Corporal Hunter from 43 Commando, while in Italy during the Second World War. It was reported that he sacrificed his own life to save his troop from heavy casualties as they advanced over open ground just north of Comacchio.

Had he survived he would have most likely been promoted to the rank of Lieutenant. The main reason being that when you salute an Officer you are actually saluting his rank, not the person. We as other ranks would salute the officer first. The officer would then return the salute acknowledging your gesture. However, there is one exception to this rule. Everybody and that includes Officers, always salute first any person who has been awarded the Victoria Cross. So, at times you can imagine that it could be a little intimidating for Officers to have to salute first. Therefore, the quickest way to cure this problem was to promote the other rank with the Victoria Cross, to the rank of Officer.

We also had to keep up with world events and news. At any time of day, we would be asked questions by almost anybody. At one time I remember being asked about the latest spy scandal that had hit the headlines in1962. Some top government guy called Galbraith had gone over to the Russians. Up until then I had never heard of the guy and it took me quite some time to find out what he had been up to. We also had to learn all the service slang words, things like socks were known as dogs and when they were dirty, they barked. As I had learned the hard way, toilets were known as heads, while to wash your cloths was known as to dhobi them. To get your shoes repaired you had to take them to the Snob shop, although I haven’t got a clue how that one came about.

The Royal Marines were the top service, although they are part of the Navy. Who it’s always assumed are the Senior Service. This was constantly being explained to us, that you could always transfer up to any other service of her Majesty’s armed Forces. Unfortunately, you were not allowed to transfer down. Hence, the Instructors delighted in constantly ribbing us that this was the end of the line for us. From here, there was only one place to go and that was out of the gate forever.

The Deal Barracks was where all the marching skills and drills were to be learnt. Known as square bashing, this was also where taking orders was drummed into your head and thrust down your throat at every conceivable opportunity. You are expected to do as you are told the first time around and not to ask why. At times, it being a very tough lesson to learn for some people. Deal is a place where only the strong and easy to adapt people manage to survive.

Many of the recruits cannot take this type of military regime and either drop out as they say or are thrown out. If you were very slow at picking things up you were what is known as, back squadded. Back squadding is where you are dropped back to the squad that formed up behind you, in our case it would be back to the 780 Squad. It being the dreaded scenario that most recruits hated, not want to go through a repeat of your past months hard training. Another bad thing about being back squadded was that it became hard to make new friends. Nobody liked a recruit who had been back squadded, they were known as losers. Because of this, many recruits dropped further and further back until they were finally kicked out. Although if you were determined and made friends easily you could usually get back on track.

Being thrown out was hated even more, as you would have to return to your hometown. Unfortunately, your fellow towns folk soon found out that you had become some sort of a failure and you would become the centre of many bad tasting jokes. Although All this usually took place behind your back. So, there was a great deal of pressure on you to succeed in all the training.

However, back squadding also applied to the people who broke limbs or became injured during the training. Only they had to wait for the break to heal, before they were finally allocated a new squad. It usually ended up with them being a couple of months behind their original one. In the meantime, they were not allowed to lie around on their beds. Even though they were almost crippled, they were expected to undertake other chores around the camp. Jobs that included cleaning or washing up in the canteen or the dreaded coal delivery to the officer’s mess. However, this category of back squadded Marine was usually accepted back into the fold with out to many questions being asked.

We spent several days undergoing medical check-ups and testing our education. If that was not up to standard, we had to go back to school until we reached a minimum standard. Somehow, I managed to get though all that without the teachers realising that I was dyslexic and struggled with my reading and writing. It being a god send that most of the questions had a multi choice answer. It did not take me long to work out that I had a one in three chances of getting the correct answer. I could usually read some of the question parts and I guess I got the knack of working out which one to tick. Mind you I’m sure that lady luck played a large part in me choosing the correct one. I have since learnt that in those days the qualifications scores were very low anyway. The Military not wanting to turn anybody away, as recruits were hard to get. I sometimes laugh that all you had to do was walk in the recruitment shop door and you had signed on for twenty-two years. The one thing that I did not do in order to pass was to cheat. It being a problem I did not want my fellow recruits to know about and to give them further ammunition to be little me.
Then there was Physical education which was a necessary for all recruits. Having come from all walks of life it was not known how fit we were. Therefore, we all had to participate in a program that included three sessions a day, to be run over a period of four months, the duration of our time at Deal.

The Royal Marines had always prided its self in producing the fittest service personnel in the world. By the end of our training and with what we had been through, I am almost certain that we were. Circuit training was the key to this fitness, something that was very new to me. In addition, there were lots of sport and cross-country running, weights training and much more. Not forgetting the battle training and the drill, all coupled with a yes sir here, and a no sir there.

I tried to stay in the background during those early days, which I found quite hard as I am tall, and I stand out like a sore thumb. I also tend to crack jokes at every conceivable opportunity. Therefore, if I was going to blend into the background, I would have to completely change my approach and keep my mouth shut. Because there was no way that I wanted to be the unlucky Marine, who is picked on at every opportunity. Something I was never completely successful at. A squad is usually formed up with the tallest on the right and the shortest on the left method. It always resulted in me being in the front row and usually right under the instructor's nose. In fact, I can still remember where I stood to the instructor, I was always second from his left. Therefore, it was very hard not to be picked on and it was no good saying that I will not give him eye contact. It is drummed into you to always look straight ahead. If he was standing right in front of you and you moved your eye away from him, you were called shifty. You would then be given a lecture that ended in his famous words, that shifty eyes meant that you had a shifty nature. You just could not win, so I always did just enough. Anybody that stood out was picked on and treated as if being too smart for themselves. Anybody who hung back was picked on as being a malingerer or to being just plain lazy. Every time you did something wrong or something the instructor did not like, you were ordered to run around the parade ground. I’ll make a guess that it was at least half a mile around that Parade ground. Alternatively, you were ordered to do ten press-ups or climb the ten-foot brick wall at the bottom of the parade ground. In doing so you would get your uniform covered in red brick dust, thus insuring that it would take you at least three hours that night to get it all cleaned up. Not to mention before that happened, other instructors would have given you further punishment for turning up to their classes with a dirty uniform, because you had not had time to clean it up.

Sometimes we were marched into the drill shed and told too strip down to our under wear. Anybody found with dirty undies was called crabby and was ordered to be cold water scrubbed by his fellow squad mates in an old iron bath tub. A very painful experience and no it never happened to me, I made sure of that. Especially after I saw the size of the stiff scrubbing brushes that were used. We had to wear a clean set of clothes every day. It being explained to all Marines, that if you are on board a ship or in battle, you must keep yourself clean at all times. It was further explained that decease could spread very quickly throughout a ship. Later while I was on the aircraft carrier, H.M.S. Albion, we had an outbreak of ringworm on board. Even though the ship was locked down and the crew was confined to their own mess decks, the ringworm spread through the ship like wild fire. I’ve since wondered if it spread through the air vents that are connected throughout the ship.

One of the guys in my squad, who was scrubbed, was Alexandra Upsall Barwick. Way back in his family history, he had a connection to the Swedish Royal Family. This poor guy struggled from day one and I could not help feeling sorry for him. He had been forced to join the Marines by his parents, who believed it was the right thing to do, as it was a family tradition. It did not matter what this guy tried to do he was a failure. Whereas when a few of us stronger guys tried to help him, by pushing him over the obstacles on whatever course we were training on. We were only prolonging his agony and hiding the fact that he could not make it on his own, from the instructors. Later the inevitable happened and he was thrown out. He was terrible at everything he tried to do, he should never have been accepted into the Royal Marines in the first place. I often think to myself that at least he had a damn good try, he was certainly not lacking in that department. Although I doubt very much that his family saw it that way. Later I used him as example to myself if ever I was struggling, I used to say to myself that if Alexandra could attempt it, then so could I. I would also like to say that the squad was forced to scrub that guy, if you did not participate and the instructors noticed it, then there was a good chance that he would order you to be scrubbed as well. I did not take part in Alexandra’s scrubbing, although I was in the room pretending to go through the motions. I often wondered what his parents were like when he returned home, I doubt they were very understanding, having ordered him to join up in the first place. I heard later that Alex had become a Vicar, a calling I thought was more suited for him.

An incident that brought it home to me just how hard the training was going to be, took place at the Quartermasters store, that was located the other end of the camp to the New Intake Block a distance of about half a mile. We had just been issued with most of the gear that we were going to use, while we were at the Deal camp. Items that included our back pack 44 Pattern Webbing, along with all its assorted bits and pieces that included a water bottle and mess tins etc. The clothing was made up of four sets of everything, most of which did not fit me anyway. Not to mention a gas mask that was also in its own webbing bag and you know how big they can be. Then there was a sleeping bag and blankets, plus a few other items that for the life of me I cannot remember. Anyway, it was all placed into one of the largest kit bags that I had ever seen, and it weighed a ton.

Corporal Geordie Peart had become our drill instructor, it being his job to steer us through our training while at Deal. He ordered us to place the kit bags on our shoulders, he then preceded to doubled march us, which is a fast trot all the way back to the living quarters. Man, it killed every one of us, however fit we thought we were, we were all dreadfully wrong. And Corporal Peart told us in no uncertain words upon our arrival back at the New Intake Block. While adding that by the time he had finished with us, we would be able to repeat this little stroll, over a twenty-mile distance a couple of times a week. What a baptism to the Corporals first day of training with us, it did not bear thinking about what he had in mind for us for the remainder of the course.

The Royal Marines have an official monthly magazine, giving details of all the Marine units stationed around the world. At that time, they were serving in England, Aden and Singapore, plus Marines were also stationed on board of ships, known as Marine detachments. In the April 1962 issue of the 'Globe and Laurel', there was an article on my walking trek from Edinburgh to Marble Arch.

It also carried an article on twin brothers, who were from the London area and had become members of the 779 squad. Brian and John Ward had been made an exception to the rule. As brothers are usually split up in case of war, because in battle it is very easy for a family to be wiped out with one bomb blast. During the last war, I understand that they would normally split them up into different services units.

This article did not help me in my quest of staying in the back ground, as it suddenly propelled me to the front. The instructors took the view that I was a know-all and so used me for any marching demonstrations in front of the squad. Then there were the taunts about me being able to out walk all my friends in the squad. At one time the Corporal even talked of making a bet with one of the other squad leaders and to setting up a race. To my horror the figure of a hundred miles was being considered. Now I was tired enough with the normal days training I was receiving. The last thing I needed was a further hundred-mile walk. It would have more than likely taken place at the weekend and I needed that time to get over the weeks surprises that had been thrown at me. Lucky for me the race did not take place, once the officers got to hear about it.

The Globe and Laurel gets its name from the Royal Marine cap badge, which is a globe of the world, surrounded by Laurel leaves. (The European part of the globe), a crown on a lion on top, that is the Royal connection. While the fouled anchor at the bottom of the laurels, denoting we are Navy. By the way, the American Marines have the other half of the world globe, (the America’s) on their cap badge. The Royal Marines have always fought throughout the world. They were originally formed in 1664 as boat soldiers, being stationed on ships and placed between the officers and the crew. This was to protect the officers, if the crew were to mutiny or just wanted to kill one of them. Although their primary task was to protect the ship’s crew, as they set foot on newly found lands, as protection against the local inhabitants. As a footnote I later learnt that a marine was the first European to set foot in Australia during the arrival of the first fleet.

Once we had all our clothes and gear issued to us, the Corporal went about showing us how to maintain it. The first thing I was ever taught was how to wash a shirt with a detachable collar in a bucket, (or pail) called a Dhobi bucket. Then it was how to iron a shirt and collar. Then how to darn a pair of woollen socks, nowadays nylon is used, and they are disposable, but not back then. However, wool is good for your feet when you are marching in heavy leather boots. No such thing as detachable collars anymore and I wouldn’t mind betting that the shirts are now drip dry and none iron as well.

It took about four weeks to form up our squad and by then we had moved from the new intake block, into the main building that ran along the front of the parade ground. Then the instructors informed us that we were about to get down to the real hard training. I had thought that we were already doing the so called hard work, surely it could not get any harder. Oh, and how cold I felt round the ears, with my new very very short haircut. I looked just like a skinhead and just as the Sergeant had predicted I did look like everybody else. It is a safe bet to say that I certainly did not stand out amongst a crowd of Marines. However, in those days I would have certainly stood out in a crowd of civilian’s. If we were to go over the wall, as it was called and become AWOL, (Absent without leave) it would not be long before somebody would pick you up, the hair just gave you away.

Life at Deal soon dropped into a routine, of up at 6am, for a 6.30 am breakfast, it being a crime not to have one and was enforced by military law if you passed out on the parade ground. Then there was the 8 am parade, which meant being on the parade ground by 7.50 am to be formed up by 7.55 am. The Parade starts dead on 8 am and I mean dead on. Then there is a roll call, to find out who is late or who had deserted during the night. This was then followed by a full inspection of you and your uniform. Not many people survived without being picked up for one fault or another during those early days. The punishment was usually a further inspection at the guard house later in the afternoon. Somehow, we all participated in this ritual of daily punishment that was dished out by the instructors. Who seemed to delight in the thought that they had to ridicule us every single minute of every single day? Then there was the square bashing, marching here, marching there and marching every bloody where. This was followed by physical training, battle training, educational training, swimming and more physical training, all followed up by more physical training. If you were lucky, you were allowed to finish around 4 to 4.30 pm in the afternoon. To be unleashed into a frenzy of washing all your cloths that had become dirty during the day. Not to mention the ironing, cleaning your boots and polishing brass buttons etc etc. All this had to be completed in the very close confines of your dormitory style room, amongst all the other guys in your squad. At times, it seemed more crowded than Piccadilly Square on a cup final night.

The day in, day out discipline was very strict, while the punishment being dealt out was plentiful, that included extra kit inspection, extra parades, extra uniform inspection, extra drill, extra guard duties and extra fatigue work around the camp. Oh, and I nearly forgot about the constant running round the parade ground. With the constant threat of all that lot hanging over our heads, I always did my best to get things right the first time. I can proudly boast that during my entire time at Deal, I only ever received one extra guard duty, I am thinking that it must be some sort of record. Unfortunately, I did receive a few runs around the parade ground and a couple of runs around the battle courses that came later.

I like to think that I became smart and tried to beat them at their own game. On a regular basis we would have crash locker inspections, at all times your locker had to look perfect and laid out as they had instructed, even giving us photos to copy. Even your knives and forks had to be laid out in a special order. Clothes had to be neatly ironed and folded in a certain way. We had been issued four shirts, pants, vests etc. The theory being three pairs had to be in the locker at all time, while one pair was being worn. However, during the day and because of your constant sweating and becoming dirty we had to change. Therefore, it was impossible to have the right amount of clothes on display in the locker all the time. However, I bought myself a double kit from the quartermaster’s stores, which fooled the instructors for a time. They spent a lot of time trying to catch me out, but I can hold my head up high and say, I think I beat them. Just for the record, my dirty articles of clothing were all neatly tucked up inside the sleeves of my greatcoat. So, all the time they were looking for them, they were right in front of them, but they never did find them. It was a terrible crime to have dirty clothes in your locker at any time but being practical you could not help it. They knew I had some somewhere, because they had made me change during the day. They even looked behind and on top of the locker, everywhere around the locker and even under my bed, but they never sussed me out. Which I find strange because at some time or other these instructors would have gone through the same training just like me. I often wondered how they managed to get through and where they managed to hide theirs. I did not tell any of my squad mates what I had done, just in case they tried it and were caught, then the game would have been over for me, and I would have paid a high price for that deception.

The floors in the dormitory block were made of wood and we were expected to polish them by hand every morning before the morning parade, using boot polish brushes. I found out later that it was all a test, to see what we would do and how we would react. If we still took orders, we were fine, but if we framed up and hit someone or verbalised them we were out. In a battle condition, if you are ordered to get down, you do not ask why, because that way you’re dead. You get down first and then ask why. I reckon I passed all these early tests with flying colours, because as far as I know they never caught me out.

After finishing at 4.30 pm in the afternoon, it would then take you until 10 pm and lights out, to wash, iron and metal polish your brass wear, as well as to spit and polish our boots, we usually took just a short break at 6.30 pm for supper. Upon arriving back in my room, I would get stuck in to the work hard once again, there would be no playing around with the lads. Even with my dedication, I would only just finish by the time lights out came around, which was ruthlessly enforced by the instructors. The guys who took it easy and horsed around were never finished on time. They would be under their blankets with torches trying to finish all their chores. Because boy if you did not look smart on the 8am parade next morning, you were for the high jump plus receiving all the penalties I’ve mentioned earlier. My motto was to always keep your nose and gear clean and at all times to stay out of trouble.

It was hard work cleaning your uniform every night especially the brass buckles and buttons etc. We had a special button stick that slid behind the button, so that we could apply some cleaning liquid to the brass. We would then scrub it off with a clean boot polish brush, hoping that the result would gleam like a piece of gold. The button stick was to prevent any of the liquid from getting onto your uniform. Then there was the white webbing belt and your peak cap both had to be blancoed. Blanco is a type of white polish that makes one hell of a mess if you accidentally got it on anything else. It’s the same lotion that was applied to white Tennis shoes in those days. Once it had been applied, the finished article would also show up dirty finger marks on its white surface very easy. The worst scenario with this stuff was being caught out in the rain and then you would end up looking like a white snowman, as it ran all down your dark blue uniform. Then you guessed it, it took hours to get all the blanco off your uniform ready for the following mornings inspection.

Marines are very lucky today because there is no brass used with the uniforms, it’s all Stay Bright plastic. I wonder how the new recruits of today would have coped years ago. I understand that ten years before I entered the service, it was even harder than I experienced.

On one occasion while on morning parade Corporal Peart informed our squad that there was a certain clause in our enlistment papers. This informed us that if we were not happy in the way in which we were being treated. As long as it was within the first six weeks of our nine years then we could leave the Marines with no questions asked. However, he went on to inform us that the six weeks had been up the day before. As of today, there was no way that we could leave, other than being thrown out. Not one of us in the squad had bothered to read the contract and so none of us knew of the clause he had mentioned. I guess I can only add that at least he told us, even if it was too a little too late to act on it.

Whenever there is a threat of war around the world, the training periods are always reduced, as there is always a shortage of service personnel. Just before I joined, the training lasted for fifty-two weeks. Then because the Borneo Campaign was looming it was cut back to forty weeks. I am told that since the Falklands War it is now something like, twenty-six weeks, but I'm not sure. The way it’s going it will be soon cut down to six weeks, just like the basic Army training period. However, upon reflection I can honestly say that this training was necessary and that it does what it was intended to do and that’s to turn you into an efficient fighting soldier, but mainly it’s to help keep you alive.

Of all the uniforms that I had to draw from the Quarter Master Stores, I hated the worsted shirts, the serge trousers and the old-style Battledress. My skin is very sensitive to rough material, as I have mentioned earlier. The roughness would just craze me, causing me to itch all the time, especially the shirts. I do not know how I tolerated it sometimes. Lucky for me after the first year, most of the uniforms were changed for a smoother material. The Battledress was changed for an olive green lightweight suit known as Lovat Greens. This change certainly went a long way to make every day living easier for me.

Before I had joined the Marines, I had always been given snippets of information about life in the services. Being told to never and I mean never, volunteer for anything. There was even the advice that whatever you volunteer for, you would probably get the exact opposite. This bit of advice went by the wayside for me and during my time in the service, I volunteered for several things. Everything I volunteered for I got and each one turned out to be a worthwhile experience.

Starting at Deal I volunteered for a canoe trip, upon being accepted it was then extremely hard to get the time off training. Being informed by the instructors that if I went on this crazy trip. Then upon my return, I would have to double my workload to catch up with the rest of the squad. The trip turned out to be four days canoeing around the waterways of Kent. Something I really did enjoy, only about six of us went on the trip with a Sergeant. Going on a weekend meant that I only missed two days training, which was easy to make up.

The next trip I volunteered for took me to Holland for ten days, we went over on the Submarine Depot ship, 'Rame Head'. The trip was an excuse for the Navy to get the ship painted on the cheap. While the end result for us was a valuable few days leave ashore upon our arrival in Den Heldar, the Portsmouth of Holland. Boy did we work hard scrubbing and chipping every single piece of paint that could be seen on the outward-bound trip. Then on the return trip, we had to paint everything, and I mean everything. The Navy has a motto, if it moves then throw it over the side and if it is bolted down you paint it. Anyway, it was worth all the hard work, just to see Holland. A group of about ten of us was about to be let loose on the country all under the wing of a protecting Sergeant.

Upon arrival, we all decided to thumb a lift around the country to have a good look at the sites. Unfortunately, we only got as far as the small cheese-producing town of Alkmaar. There we pitched our tents on the out skirts of the town and promptly got stuck into the local booze and girls. The whole trip was very hazy as we went from bar to bar drinking. Being in uniform and British we were easily identified by the locals, who I might add loved the English very much, or at least they did in 1962. I believed they were still trying to thank us for looking after their Royal family in England during the 2nd World War.

We settled on one particular bar that was by a canal where I became very friendly with the local barmaid, although she was a little older than me. Her name was Ria, I would drink in her bar all day, as they never seem to shut in Holland and go out with her during the evenings. I even went home and met her parents, that was a laugh as nobody could speak English and I could not speak Dutch. I think she had about four brothers, they were all Otter catchers, to stop them causing damaged to the Dikes, boy that means something totally different in today world. I forgot to say that Ria could only speak a few words of English, but it did not stop us having a good time and we got on well. I remember being in her kitchen and we were having a cuddle with the lights off, when in burst her brothers putting the light on. Opps sorry!!! They put the light off and beat a hastily retreat from the room. Ria was the youngest member of the family, but I also believe she was the boss over her brothers. We wrote to each other for several months but with my writing problems I struggled badly. At that time, I was scared to ask somebody to help me in case I was found out and then thrown out of the Marines. At one time she sent me an engraved cigarette case as a love present. I believe I still have it somewhere amongst my treasured possessions. I think it was the vast distance between us that ended the courtship about six months after I had returned to England. In those days people did not travel the world like they do today and I’m sure I could not see me every going back to Holland in the near future.

One day while drinking in her bar with the Sergeant, who was well on his way to being drunk. He was constantly putting a Petula Clarks record on the Jukebox and playing it repeatedly. I asked him why and he told me a very long story that at one time before she was a star he had courted her for some time. He was just drowning his sorrows in the booze and music, while reminiscing of what might have been.

Another day in the bar, all the Marines became drunk and started to pick on a drunken local guy who had been getting on their nerves. After an argument, they picked him up and carted him outside where they threw him in the canal.

On another occasion while I was drunk Ria took me, Bob Hotchkiss and another local girl shopping. We were in the lady's underwear department of a large department store. Under the influence we started trying on all the lady's bras, causing many laughs from the local women.

We were a big hit with the locals and every Marine managed to attract more than one girl friend during the trip. One day being too drunk to find our way back to the campsite, Bob hailed a police car and we were whisked to the local police station, unfortunately the police could not speak English, so it was hard to communicate. I thought we had gone too far this time, thinking that we were about to be locked up. As we entered the station, the local Sergeant sat at a desk with a loaded pistol lying on its top. Oh no, I thought, as he opened the desk, but instead of another gun, he produced a bottle of whisky, boy had we made a friend. When the bottle was finally finished, they drove us back to our campsite. All this time, hardly a word of English had been understood by them, I suppose gestures speak louder than words.

One day we did thumb down to Amsterdam to have a look around the red-light area. This was all new to us, but we were inquisitive especially when we saw the girls sitting in shop windows, very unladylike, wearing no under cloths. We also went to see a war film, more laughs there when Billy Wishart went into the lady's toilet by mistake, said he could not read Dutch. The film was, 'Merrill's Marauders' starring Jeff Chandler, but with Dutch sub tittles. A total different war to the one I would find myself engaged in, the following year.

All in all, a great trip was had by all, sadly ending with us all having to thumb a lift back to Den Heldar. A truck picked us up on the understanding that we all rode in the back sitting on its cargo in complete darkness. Well as you might imagine it was a strange conversation as we all sat there in the dark. Upon our release when the door was opened we all suddenly realised that we had been sitting on top of cartons of booze. I dread to think what might have happened during the trip if only we had known.

This was followed by two days of hard painting, during the 'Rame Heads' return trip to Harwich in England. Then it was back to the hard work and discipline we had missed at Deal. We were hoping that we could catch up with our squad’s training and fitness. We also hoped that the instructors did not pick on us at every opportunity and in doing so parade us in front of the other guys to make fun of us. Unfortunately, the instructors delighted in ridiculing us, calling us fairies and farts, whatever that meant.

We were all given a rifle and had its number stamped on our brains. I still remember mine to this day, 72364. Like my Royal Marine number that I would always answer to, it being R.M. 21414. These are your identification numbers, something you are never allowed to forget, as they are drummed into our head like a rubber stamp.

One morning Colour Sergeant Dinger Bell took over the squad to assess the progress of our marching skills, it also being a test of our instructor Corporal Geordie Peart capability. In the service everybody is known by nicknames, Whites are Chalkies, Millers are Dustys, the Irish are Paddy’s or Micks, Welsh are Flappers and the Scots are Jocks or just plain tight. Hence, Sergeant 'Dinger' Bell, anyway during one of the drill routines, I must have missed a step or something, Dinger picked upon the mistake I had made. Then screaming at me at the top of his voice he declared, that he would break my bloody arm off and beat me to death with the Soggy End. This was a well-known terminology used by Marine drill instructors at that time.

Along the bottom of the parade ground was a ten-foot high brick wall. As a form of punishment for any small parade ground crime or infringement, the whole squad would be ordered to climb to the top of the wall the best way you could and then down again to re-form up once again on the parade ground. Unfortunately, after landing back on the ground, your uniform would usually be covered in red brick dust. Upon reforming up on the parade ground, the instructor would then accuse you all of having a dirty a uniform. He would then award you another uniform inspection later that day. Now came the twist, if you did not manage to climb to the top of the wall you would receive an extra uniform inspection because you failed. You would also receive an extra uniform inspection for having a dirty uniform. Therefore, it occurred to me that whatever I did I was going to get that extra uniform inspection. Then again, if I scaled the wall I would have to re-clean my uniform, which would possibly take me a couple of hours to complete. Fine, I thought I would just hang back and not even try to scale the wall. In the mad scramble of forty odd guys all trying to scale up and down, it was easy to blend in and not even participate in the climb. Fine, I got the extra inspection of my uniform, but at least I did not have to spend three hours cleaning it. The Drill Sergeant finally cottoned on to what I was up to and just grinned at me. I guess he thought I had found a way of beating the system, but he never said anything to me at first. However, on another occasion he did walk past me and said, "You think your bloody smart don’t you Aspinall". He just happened to be the same Sergeant who greeted me on Deal station a couple of month earlier.

It also became a bit of a problem when we found out that the Corporals taking the squads were also training to become Sergeants. So, a little bit of rivalry developed between them. Unfortunately, this did not help the recruit, because on many occasions what one squad was ordered to do. Another was ordered to follow only it had to be done quicker or slicker or whatever order was shouted at us, as these Corporals tried to outdo each other. So, as you can imagine sometimes there could be as many as three squads all climbing the wall at the same time. While the Corporals stood back laughing and joking with each other. Imagine the cleaning that would have resulted from each little escapade they challenged each other with. On one occasion we were just one of three squads all being drilled on the parade ground at the same time. Our respective instructors gave the necessary orders that culminated in all three squads walking into each other. We were then all chastised for looking like a rabble and made to attend an extra hour's practice.

If for some reason, you had to report to the sick bay in the morning. It meant that you would miss the forming up of the 8 am parade. Therefore, upon being released from the sick bay, you would have to ask the inspecting office of the day, for permission to join his parade. Now on this particular day, the inspecting officer just happened to be the Adjutant and he inspected while riding his horse. One Marine marched up to the adjutant as he was sitting on his horse having approached him from the front as we had all been instructed to do and stood to attention and saluted it being the custom. Unfortunately, the horse kept moving its head so that the recruit could not see the adjutant. As the recruit swayed his body from side to side, so he could see what was happening. The horse must have thought that he was playing a game with him. Because the more the recruit moved his head, the more the horse followed suit. By this time, the Adjutant knew what was going on and shouted at the Marine ordering him to stand still. He then told the recruit that he should have approached him from behind. He then pointed at the recruit shouting at him to get behind. With that, the recruit grabbed hold of his hand and tried to swing himself up behind the Adjutant and onto the back of the horse. The parade ground fell about laughing, but unfortunately the Adjutant who by this time was lying on the ground, ordered everybody an extra parade after work that day, for our crime. The recruit did not come out of his predicament quite so easy, within just a few minutes he was whisked off to the guardhouse. Where he was charged with striking an Officer and was sentenced to several months of hard labour punishment, before finally being released and thrown out of the Marines. Although there was a rumour going around that he had used this situation to get his ticket out.

When we first arrived at Deal, it took almost four weeks to form up the Squad. It was then a further six-week before we were allowed out of the camp for an afternoon on a weekend. I might add that you were only let through the gate, after a fair amount of blackmail threats and intimidation from our instructors. We still had to undergo an inspection of our appearance upon our presentation at the guardhouse, before finally being released through its gates. We were only allowed out in our uniforms, as our civilian clothes had been taken from us upon our arrival. Sometimes I wondered whether it was all worth the effort, because it was just a case of looking around Deal and having a drink. With our short haircuts, we never managed to pick up any of the local girls. The short haircuts told them that we were only passing through as recruits and that we would all be gone in just a few weeks. To my knowledge, there were no long-term relationships amongst my squad members at Deal. Who wants a boyfriend who is constantly leaving home and travelling around the world. By the way, we did not get our civilian clothes back, until we had finally finished our full training course at the end of January 1963. Yes, you guessed it, even in civilian clothes we had to be inspected by the guardhouse commander before we were allowed ashore as it was called.

The 770 squad, along with quite a few of the trained Marines that were based at Deal, all travelled to France where they took part in the filming of, 'D Day 6th June'. A very big and successful War film that came out around 1963, I cannot remember any of the stars, but the film was packed with them. By all accounts everybody had a great time, with some of them hanging on to the gear that had been issued them for the film, so that it looked 1940's authentic. One Marine was badly injured when he fell under a landing craft ramp as it disgorged its cargo onto the beach. He was a deep blue in colour and only just alive when they pulled him from the water, but at least he did survive. There were thousands of other troops from all the armed services, used as extras on this film.

A funny instance that makes me laugh whenever I think of it, happened one day when we were at the Old Marine Barracks across the road from our more modern block. It was during one of the 779 Squads hated monthly fatigue days, a day in which we had to undertake all the camps dirty chores. I was detailed to the coalbunker, a dirty job that entailed delivering coal on a trolley throughout the camp. After delivering a few bags of coal, we were returning with an empty trolley to the coal yard. Three were pulling the trolley while three of us were riding. I was sitting at the head of the trolley having taken charge and shouting mush, mush to the pullers. As we picked up speed, we became slightly out of control as we came flying around a corner onto the main parade ground area. Unfortunately for us, a very large parade was under way, so we had to do a rather quick 360 degree turn as fast as possible to get out of their way. Lucky for us the Adjutant who was taking the parade at the time had his back to us and never saw what was taking place. However, every one of the two hundred or so recruits on parade all saw us, and we became the highlight of conversation for a couple of days. We would have been charged if we had been caught. I’m sure the charge sheet would have read, acting in a manor unbecoming of a Royal Marine.

The three-level building that housed the recruits was divided in half on each level by what we called the sex door. While we were on one side, on the other were the junior recruits. These youngsters had mainly lost their Fathers who had been Marines in the past. They were trained just like us, only the instructors going a little easier on them. Unfortunately for them, their full-time service did not start until they reached the age of eighteen. Some of these youngsters had been at Deal for a few years and because of their age, you did not touch these guys, otherwise you might be accused of sexual misgivings. However, these guys were aware of this and used it to their full advantage on many occasions.

Like the time they were on the parade ground being instructed by a Sergeant that they all disliked. He was being a bit of a pain while constantly picking them up for the most minor of faults and issuing out a long string of punishments. He was trying to get them to present arms with their riffles. Every time he ordered them to go through the routine, it would end up being wrong. Therefore, in desperation he walked over to one of the juniors in the front row and snatched his riffle off him. He then proceeded to go through the routine himself, when he had finished he threw the riffle back at the junior with great gusto. The force of which pushed the guy backwards half a step. The instructor then screamed at them to do exactly what he had just done.

He called them to attention and ordered them to present arms. They obeyed his order and went through the complete routine that he had just demonstrated to them. Only as they completed the routine they all threw their riffles at him. Now part of the SLR riffle is made of wood and at times when it hits the ground hard it can break. Can you imagine a pile of riffles all lying on the ground in front of him, with a selection of broken pieces of timber flying everywhere?

Most of our battle craft was taught to us at a place near Dover overlooking Dover Castle and the White Cliffs. After which we would always have to double march back to Deal, I think it was about twelve miles. While making, my walks home from Ipswich in my Teddy Boy days look a little sick. Our rifle training and shooting all took place at Kingsdown riffle range under the White Cliffs of Dover on the beach. An area where one of the famous James Bond spy Books was based. If I remember correctly, it was Moonraker and a passage in the book goes on the say that he could hear the Marines shooting on the Kingsdown riffle range.

Our Squad membership had dropped from the original forty-three members down to around thirty-six, as we lost a few guys back into the clutches of civilian life. A few more were back squadded, while we had gained a further couple of back squaddies from the 778 Squad. One guy who had been in hospital with a broken leg for six weeks, was back squadded two months, it must have broken his heart to go through all that training again. One or two guys who could not take service life had tried different tricks in order that they might get out. This was always hard to accomplish, as we had all signed on for nine years, plus a further three years to be served in the reserve. Trying to work your ticket was not easy, because most of the instructors were up to all the tricks. They had been around for many years and it took a lot to pull the wool over their eyes.

One such guy caused a lot of trouble while trying to work his ticket, but he eventually did get his discharge. On pay days an officer would stand at a small table handing out our wages slipped inside of our pay books. On this particular day, the pay officer happened to be a Lt Gordon, who was later to become the heir to the Gordon Gin Empire. He had his leg in plaster the result of a parachute accident a few weeks earlier. Anyway, your name would be called out and you then march forward to the table, to confront the officer. Reaching the table, you came to a crisp halt clicking your heels and then saluted the officer with your right hand, bringing it up to the side of your right eye and then dropping your hand straight down to your side. You would then thrust out your left hand towards him palm up to receive your pay. One guy saluted Lt Gordon correctly and then thrust his right fist straight out, punching poor old Gordon right on the chin knocking him flat on his back. Before you could count to three, he was rushed off to the guardhouse and placed under arrest. I think he was finally thrown out of the Marines, but not before he was dealt, some server punishment while in the guardhouse.

Then all of a sudden, our time at Deal was drawing towards an end. As I look back, it seems incredible that I survived all the torture and hard work that was dished out on the squad. Especially as I had been the kind of guy who did not want to join up in the first place and certainly found it hard to take orders without making some kind of remark, especially during the first couple of weeks.

It was true, that by the end of this action packed four months I was fit. I amazed myself at just how fit I had become. I had hated running, now I found myself enjoying twelve-mile route marches. Good job for me that I did, because towards the end of our training we were completing two and sometimes three of these a week. Not to mention, that we would be carrying very heavy rucksacks on our backs. We only marched up hills, doubling on the flats and down hills at a rate of one mile every twelve minutes. No breaks or rest periods were taken, we had to just stick it out to the end. I even started entering cross-country races as a pass time, being a glutton for punishment, but I did enjoy it. I also picked up a couple of medals in the swimming pool, during an Inter Squad competition. For being first in the 100m freestyle, 100m backstroke and second in the 100m relay and 200m Medley relay. I even started playing water polo, yes, I enjoyed being fit, as it did make all that training a lot easier.

Towards the end of those first four months, we had to pass out in what is known as the Kings Squad. A type of drill demonstration and appearance test that all our parents were invited to come and view. It was too far for Mum and Dad to come for just a half an hour's display, but I did feel good to know that I had finally passed the first of the many tests that would be thrown at me.

All the time I had been at Deal I had never been allowed to go home. To add to that it was six weeks before anybody could leave the camp and to walk around Deal. Something I believe I only did on a couple of occasions. I did not want to be tempted just in case I tried to walk away from this very hostile heavily law enforced way of life I had chosen for myself. However, I believe we were allowed three train travel warrants a year. Later they were to become currency for some Marines to make a bit of spare cash, if you did not want to use them.

The end finally came on 11th August 1962 and what a hectic four months it had been. In all that time, I had never heard a radio, as they were not allowed on the camp, so I cannot tell you who was the top of the Pops during all that time. The only news we were allowed was via the local newspapers. Yes, I was happy to see the end of Deal and to move onto the next challenge, whatever that might be. Although the instructors had always tried to scare us with what laid a head we really did not have any idea.

We were all granted a long weekend pass home, something I had been looking forward to. It was nice to see Mum and Dad and to show them that I was well. I think they got a shock at how I had shaped up and was looking so fit and muscular. I also had a night out with Brenda and we went to the cinema and followed it up with a few drinks. She had many questions for me and of what I would be doing next. I had my suspicions that she was worried that I was going to be spending a lot of time travelling around the world and so we would not be seeing much of each other. Something I had realised was going to be the case. It must be hard for service personnel to cope with these long breaks apart. I guess that’s why most people go into the service as a single person. Because it does hurt when you can’t get to see somebody you love until the service says you can. Then all too quickly the weekend was over, and I had to return to Deal. The very next day we were all moved by truck to Portsmouth.

Portsmouth Sea Training
H.M.S. Sheffield

The Royal Marine’s Latin motto is 'Per Mare Per Terrum', 'By Sea By Land'. Therefore, after learning the rigors of marching around a parade ground, a skill that one day might take us into battle. It was only fitting that we also undertake some form of seamanship, just in case we went to war on a ship. What better place to be taught these skills than at Portsmouth, the home of the British Navy. We spent fourteen days on board of H.M.S. Sheffield, the second such ship to bear this famous name. During the Second World War, the RAF had bombed her by mistake believing her to be the German pocket Battleship 'Bismarck'. It having survived that attack along with several other very hostile encounters during the Second World War. Now she was only being used in the training of sea cadets and Royal Marines. By a cruel twist of fate, a few years later the third H.M.S. Sheffield became involved in the Falklands War and was sunk with heavy loss of life. My cousin Ivan Abbott, who was also in the Navy, had one of his sons Kevin on board. While my Auntie Betty and Uncle Bob also had their son Melvin on board, luckily both was saved uninjured. I guess tradition will one day demand that they build a fourth, H.M.S. Sheffield.

Anyway, I was on 'H.M.S. Sheffield' for fourteen days of learning, how to hang and sleep in a hammock, something that I consider is almost bloody impossible. We were taught how to splice and tie knots in ropes and wire. We were shown boat craft, how to row and handle a wooden whaler boat. The name whaler came about after its use years earlier to hunt and kill whales for their oil.

While rowing around Portsmouth Harbour we were allowed to board a couple of old war ships, both moth balled up and ready for the next war. One of these was a Cruiser that had been completed at the end of the Second World War. Upon testing its very large guns that were all fired broad side at the same time, the force of the explosions had twisted its keel, so that was the last time it had ever put to sea. Can’t see it being of any use when they eventually remove the moth balling material. Maybe it will end up like the 'Vanguard' the last of the British battleships. Being sold to Gillette and then cut up and made into razor blades.

Then there was the ships drill, eight bells here and four bells there syndrome. We were treated like full time sailors and had to undertake ships watches even though we were docked in port. The highlight for us was the daily issue of the tot, it being a spirit measure of rum that you had to drink in front of an officer at midday. To stop you placing it in a container, to either drink it latter or to sell it. A bit farfetched you might think, but many people did just that to make a few extra shillings. If you did not drink then it was entered in your pay book that you were tea total and instead of the daily ration of rum, you received the handsome sum of three pence a day added to your weekly pay packet that was around £5 at that time. It was one of the great traditions of the Navy to mix the rum at midday, it being so many parts water and so many parts rum.

Corporal Geordie Peart had taken us to Portsmouth and on the last night of our stay, we were finally allowed into Portsmouth town to sample the nightlife on a drinking spree. I hasten to add that before we were allowed out, we had to once again undergo a rigorous uniform inspection on board the ship.

While Syd Fulston, Johnny McGuirk and I were in one of the pubs, we met up with Geordie, who was already half drunk by that time. We were surprised when he allowed us to team up with him and to join in the party. However, Geordie laid the law down to us right from the start. It is out of working hours now so it’s Geordie, I will not answer to Corporal. This was hard to do, as we had just spent four months having it drummed into our heads to call him Corporal. He then went on and added that by 8 am the following morning, it's back to working hours and once again he will be known Corporal. Fine by me I thought with that we all got blind drunk and ended up watching a couple of strip tease shows. As was usual for me I could not help throwing in my well tried and tested one liner jokes that seemed to fit in with the girl's routines.

Poole Dorset
The Amphibious Warfare Unit

Next day along with a very bad hangover, we took a short three-ton truck drive to Poole in Dorset, for a one-week stay. Poole is the home of the Joint Services Amphibious Under Water Warfare Centre. It’s is also the home of the famous SBS, (Special Boat Service) the Cockleshell Heroes who carved out a very famous history for themselves during the Second World War. They were the guys who under took a famous canoe raid across the English Channel into France. The name Cockleshell refers to the type of canoe that was used in those days. One of the Heroes was a Marine named Sparks, but unfortunately no relation to Ricky, my Teddy Boy friend from Stowmarket.

One of the best known of SBS Marines at that time was one Sergeant Gilly Howe. This guy had won the Westminster Devices canoe race several years on the trot, way back in the late fifties. Somehow my Aunt Queenie, Ivan’s Mother knew him, but I must admit I never ever met up with him.

Poole was where we learnt how to disembark safely from landing craft and to what was involved in underwater warfare that was carried out by the SBS. Who are also known in the Royal Marines as a Swimmer and Canoeist, it being a rating that they are rewarded with on successful completion of their course. This very small plain looking badge is worn on the top of their left arm to prove that they have been to hell and back, just to earn the right to wear it.

We were also shown how to fight fires of all description and even went inside of a spectacular stage-managed building fire wearing breathing apparatus. On another occasion we were shown how to use fire hoses and extinguishers in all sorts of different situations.

We spent the week in Nissan huts and bunk beds, a little more comfortable than the hammocks on board HMS Sheffield. I decided to grab the top bunk above Syd Foulston, which turned out to be a blessing in disguise. After a day’s fire-fighting practice Syd must have gone to bed dreaming about the day’s events. He later told me that he dreamt he was activating a fire extinguisher by placing his thump over the exit hole. He then picked up the extinguisher and shook it violently high above his head. Then once he’d lowered it down to an upside-down position he slowly removed his finger from the exit hole and aimed the nozzle at the base of a fire to extinguish it. When in fact all he did was to release his finger and pee the bed. As I said, lucky for me I was above him at the time.

The Marine camp was right next door to a holiday camp, so every night when possible we slipped out of our dormitory accommodation and climbed through the barbed wire fence surrounding the camp. So, we could mingle amongst the holidaymakers. The lure of course as always was the Wine, Women and Song. A highlight for one of the Marines was a few dates with Anne Sidderly who was working at the camp at the time. She later went on to become a Miss UK Beauty Queen.

With our short stay at Poole over it was time to say good-bye to Corporal Geordie Peart, for good. His arduous work with us was over and most of us felt sorry to see him go. After all we had just spent four months with him chasing us around. At times we had been fed up because no matter which way we looked he was there ordering us around. Although in one respect he had been our Father, a term he had frequently referred to during our training. During his final speech to us, he wished us well and went on to tell us that he hoped what he had taught us would one day save our lives. It was only now dawning on some of the recruits that they would more than likely go to war during their stay in the Marines. For the remainder of my time in the Royal Marines, I never met up with him again. Therefore, I guess you could say that it was the end of an era.