Never did time in the Guardroom!

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ianneilson
Posts: 7
Joined: Fri Dec 27, 2019 7:38 pm
Location: Crewe. Cheshire
Service details: 1961 JLR, 14/20 A Sqn, Benghazi, Tripoli, Perham Down, Paderborn, B Sqn, Hereford. AAC attached pilot 1976 to 1980. Munster.
Real name: Ian Neilson
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Re: Never did time in the Guardroom!

Post by ianneilson »

Contrary to most people's experience I have enjoyed every moment of this national lockdown. Instead of taking my wife of 52 years (same as JK) shopping every day and for an expensive coffee I have been at home and able to complete my autobiography of my working life.
In the spirit of the current confinement theme I enclose an extract from my early time in the Regiment.

BENGHAZI - The trip to the camp only took about twenty minutes from the airport and soon I was standing outside the main gate of the 14/20 Kings Hussars. I stood bathed in the security floodlights as my transport drove off in the darkness to wherever it was going next.

13 May 1964 I had arrived at my regiment in Benghazi Libya

It was now still early evening but fully dark and stiflingly hot. I was alone and I was the only person to get off the truck at this place in the middle of nowhere. I approached the soldier on guard duty behind the gate and showed him my identity card. He opened a side gate told me to report to the guard room and they would "sort me out", I did not expect to be sorted out in the way I was sorted out but it was my own fault. I think the long day had frazzled my common sense; After all I was in the man's army now, and should have known what to expect. Looking back, my confidence was understandable because I considered myself to be a highly trained soldier albeit very young but that was the whole point of being a Junior Leader.
Dropping my suitcase on the wooden veranda I was just about to enter the guard room when there was a screech of unintelligible sound from a half human throat just behind me. Turning quickly I saw a tight tailored shirt and slashed-peak flat cap bearing down on me with measured strides. I saw his two stripes but I'd been shouted at by tough NCO's instructors for the last three years and I was not particularly afraid of him or even bothered by it because I'd done nothing wrong.
He screeched, "Get that ####### case off my veranda now, and who the #### are you dressed in pansy civilian clothes anyway?"
I answered in a most reasonable tone. "Sorry mate, I have just arrived from England."
"Mate! Mate!" he spluttered, almost apoplectic "I'm Regimental Police Corporal Daubney, not your mate." I thought ("Nor will you ever be, you silly Pratt!") That is when the situation took a downward turn. The guardroom door opened and out stepped the Regimental Provost Sergeant, "Don" Davies. Another less than savoury character by reputation I was to learn.
One minute later my offending suitcase was confiscated and I was sitting in a cell inside the bowels of the guardroom. After travelling 4000 unobstructed miles my last 60 feet ended in a cell behind Daubney's squeaky clean veranda now unobstructed once more.
I never did speak to that ghastly man again during my whole service but have learned he became a Metropolitan Policeman after leaving the army. I was not surprised about that.
About thirty minutes later I heard raised voices nearby and moments later Sergeant Don Davies came into the cell block, unlocked the door and let me out. Inside the guardroom office my suitcase was in plain view on the floor next to a tough looking man who looked just like Desperate Dan (from the British comic paper called Dandy).

"Come with me Son," he said. "I'm Sergeant Bingham your Troop Sergeant."

Struggling to keep up with my suitcase dragging me down Sergeant Bingham chatted to me about my training and qualifications as we walked between the flat roofed barrack huts. He seemed a pleasant man but I could detect he had a backbone of steel. We arrived at a non-descript hut, he opened the door for me and gestured for me to proceed him inside. I dragged my suitcase inside and faced about 10 silent faces looking back at me.
"This is Assault Troop and this is Trooper Neilson our newest member. Look after him". Without further ado Sergeant Bingham spun on his heel and was gone. I felt as if I had just been thrown in with the lions. For anyone who does not know, Assault Troop was the place all the misfits generally ended up. Well I did make my own place among those monsters and could call many of them my friends after a while.

Pinky
Posts: 114
Joined: Thu Dec 26, 2019 11:31 am
Location: Alberta, Canada
Service details: 14/20H then that other regiment. 1979-2003
Real name:
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Re: Never did time in the Guardroom!

Post by Pinky »

Excellent start to your military career, I suspect many new boys got similar treatment. In 1980 I was dropped of at the main gate at Hohne and 7 of us walked the mile or 2 to the 14/20H guardroom to be yelled at by 'horrible NCO's'. We even saw the QRF being crashed out looking like a NI snatch squad.....scary for 7 x 17 year olds!!
Your book will be a great read.
Thanks for sharing a little bit.
STAY SAFE
Pinky

Arnie
Posts: 76
Joined: Sun Dec 29, 2019 12:42 pm
Location: Western Australia
Service details: Enlisted in 14th/20th King's Hussars on 2 Feb 1959.
Served Hohne and Rheindahlen 1959 - 1962
Libya 1962 Cyprus with C Sqn Dec 1963 - Feb 1964. Returned to Benghazi
then to Tripoli with B Sqn until Sep 1964. Left for Courses in NBC then to 7 Armoured Brigade till 1967.
Transferred to Intelligence Corps 67. First posting to Northern Ireland 67 - 70.
Singapore 70 - 71, Hong Kong 71 - 72. NI 72 - 74. NITAT (Northern Ireland Training and Advisory Team) 74 - 76. Berlin 76 - 79. Final Posting, Preston Int and Security Section. Stupidly Retired on 1 Feb 81, and emigrated to Australia.
Real name:
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Re: Never did time in the Guardroom!

Post by Arnie »

Hi Ian, I remember that Guardroom but from an earlier time. Normally very quiet during the course of a duty there. It's a pity you arrived during the day when the Provost Staff were still on duty. Had you arrived during a normal guard I am certain things would have been different. In fact I can only recall being Guard Commander twice, they wouldn't when something out of the normal happened. The first was when I received a telephone call from the Guardroom in D'Aosta barracks where the Infantry were stationed. They wanted to know if I had room for some prisoners as there had been a drunken brawl (when was it ever a sober brawl) in Benghazi and their cells were all full. Not having any 'guests' I told them I had plenty of room to accommodate their over-fill, and to send them over.
I started getting the cells ready for their arrival and formulating how I would organize them when they got here. Best made plans of mice and men. When they arrived in a convoy of four 3 tonners, It turned out there were 8 soldiers and an escort of 20, pick-handle armed, soldiers. My guard consisted of me and 6 Troopers. Tankies can hold their own in an equal fight but these 8 men of the Green Howards were in a very, very drunken fighting mood. I immediately opened the large cell and they were pushed in very unceremoniously by their escort. I locked the door and determined that this situation would remain like that until the morning. Naive twat that I am, that was not to be case on this night.
We had not removed their personal belongings, assuming that the Green Howards guys would have done that before transporting them to Wavell Barracks. So they had matches and lighters, cigarettes as well, still in their possession. Neither had we removed the PR Staff cleaning cupboard from the cell.
Through the spy hole they were yelling threats at me and the other guards. When we ignored them they started unwinding a toilet roll through the peep-hole but not until after they lit it. "Call out the Guard" was the cry so the sentries were recalled ALL armed with pick-handles and went in. We did what we should have done when they arrived. Peace descended on the 14th/20th King's Hussar guardroom and they all fell asleep. When I went in to wake them in the morning they wouldn't move as they all had hanghovers, bigtime. Luckily just before I revealed how weak I am the RP from the Green Howards arrived. The Cpl in charge, something similar to your Cpl Daubney, asked if he could try to rouse them. I said "Go ahead". He stormed into the cell, roughly threw every bed against the wall and screamed at the soldiers to get outside and fall in, from where they were transported back to D'Aosta.
The second incident involved the shooting of the 2 i/c of the Libyan Army, in 1963. At Guard Mounting the Ord Officer told me that I had 3 extra sentries who would be armed with SMGs and 30 rds. This was because the night before the 2 i/c of the Libyan Army, a Colonel had been ambushed and shot by 'dissidents'. They had only wounded him and he was able to drive into Wavell Bks, where he knew we had the BMH. According to the O/Offr, he parked his car and walked into Reception and said to whoever, "I've had an accident" and promptly died. His body was in the hosp mortuary being prepared for burial. Those in charge considered that as the 'dissidents hadn't got body they could not prove to their followers that they had killed him. So they assumed they would try and steal the body, hence the armed sentries. I pointed out to the Ord Offr that if that was the case they would have to come through 'that front gate' and me and the normal guard would be standing there with pick-handles. So he gave me an SMG and a 120 rds. Couple of incidents happened during the night but essentially next morning everything was normal. I told that story, for many years, un til I found out that the Col did not die in reception but lived until the next day when the Brig in charge of the BATT, a personal friend of the Col visited him. He asked the Col, who was in fact, the Commandant of the Officers Trg College in Benghazi, who had shot him? He said "Muammar and promptly died. Gadaffi was at the time a student at this college. Wonder how the world would have been changed if this Col had said "Gadaffi instead of Muammar". Look up Gadaffi in Wikipaedia and in 1963 you will see that he was suspected of killing the Col.
We lived in extraordinary times. :?: :?: :?:
Arnie

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