JIm Dove until 1954


Born 1930 at 3 CAD RAOC Bramley Camp near Basinstoke. Father a corporal in the RAOC trade - ammunitions examiner. Bombed out (not directly) of Portsmouth/London/Bath that was the period 1939/40. Attended all sorts of schools sometimes only one day a week.

Applied/accepted as a pupil at the Duke of Yorks Royal Military School located Saunton Sands hotel N. Devon from May 1941 to August 1945. The school evacuated from Dover 1940 returned to Dover 1946, approx 30 of us boys never saw the Dover school. We are referred to as the LIMBO Dukies. There are at least three of us living in Australia. The school was run on strict military lines. Out housemasters were all ex WW 1 veterans, they knew boys back to front, we marched everywhere in squads/classes/company's, Trooped the colour once a year. Had a wonderful band and drums. Church parades every Sunday, RSMs parade every Saturday. RSM a product of the Coldstream Guards. Education staff RAEC. Very little if any bullying. We had to do boxing, bullies usually found themselves in the ring with a school champion. Enjoyed my time at Dukies and am a life member of OBA Downunder, an offshoot of the OBA UK.

August 1945. Two weeks before WW2 ended, called back off leave early, mentally prepared to join my brother at the Boys Training Company R. Signals Catterick. Sent to Chepstow instead much to my disgust, did not know that I did not have to go. Got into all sorts of strife at Chepstow, I disliked the place intensely, By December 1946 the Commndant and myself decided that we should part ways. I became a civilian for the first time, definitely not suited, (thereby hangs another tale) Worked in a brickworks in Exmouth, that toughened me up physically, did a stint as a bakers labourer, was offered an apprenticeship, turned it down. Father came home and family moved back to Bramley Camp, by this time father was a Major. I got a job in a Bakery, left there and worked for Thorneycroft motors as a labourer, sweeping floors, getting tools for the tradesmen/machinist and generally had a great time. by this time it was 1947, had a big row with Dad (my fault) left home and went to London, my brother was stationed in London working as a Keyboard and Wireless Operator War Office Signals. Fortunately for me my brother and some Ex Duke of York Boys managed to keep me out of serious trouble (another story) I stayed with an Aunt in Hillingdon until I joined up again.

July 1948. Enlisted (re-enlisted???) in the Royal Signals. Did the usual basic training course (3rd time) then six months Operator Wireless and Line (OWL) training at 3 Training Regiment. Finished my OWL training mid Feb 49 and posted to 27 Indep Inf Bde Group Sigs Sqn assembling at Tidworth,

My first task - operate the telephone exchange, no training but learnt quickly.Brigade on standby to embark for Hong Kong (HKG) Embarked on the "Empire Halliday" sometime in May 1949. Set sail for HKG via Port Said/Aden/Colombo/Singapore then all ashore at HKG. The squadron was based in Whitfield Barracks on the Kowloon side for about six weeks. What a start for a young signalman, I was'nt even 19 years old. We got a fair sort of o/seas allowance, we anjoyed ourselves accordingly. By this time Mao was getting close to the New Territories (NT) border. An advance party was sent into the hills and told to start building a camp to be known as Far East Farm. We did Divisional HQ duties until the Div arrived. By this time my morse speed was down to about 12 wpm and I was working in the Signal/SDS office/Telephone Exchange (a 40 line F & F) F&F being Field and Fortress. later on a Fullerphone was installed this was a point to point line morse link connecting Bde HQ with Div HQ. My morse speed improved to 18 wpm.The morse link was replaced by a No 7 teleprinter which operated at a speed of 46wpm flat out. The Cpl in charge of the Signals Office was taken seriously ill and I was left to sort out the SDS etc and run the office, at that time we were handling all the SDS for the NT north of HKG. I must have done a reasonable job because the powers that be gave me a stripe, I was the youngest soldier in the Squadron.The Division finally became full strength which included a Commando Brigade and we downsized to a Signal Troop. By this time we were waiting for the Chinese hordes to cross the border. It is now well known that this did not happen. The Army then went into garrison style routine, rather boring but lots of fun for us young guys at weekends. We shared the camp with 410 Plant Troop Royal Engineers - The road builders. Did those chaps work hard, and how!! There was always a lift into the fleshpots of Kowloon and back at weekends. The drop off/pick up point was outside the Peninsula Hotel, squaddies were not allowed to darken its doorstep. I made up for this in the 1980s when I stayed there with my wife for a couple of nights, great stuff. Approx March 1950 three of us were told to pack our bags and report to Kai Tak airport link up with about ten othere signls bodies and fly by DC3 to Singapore via Saigon.

On arrival Singapore( ten hours later) we were immediately put on a train bound for Kuala Lumpur (KL) No weapons were issued. There was a Scots Guardsman one end and a Gurkha rifleman the other end of the carriage, our armed escort. There was a flat wagon in front of the engine that had a couple of sections of infantry and a machine gun mounted behind a sandbag emplacement. The train was ambushed , fortunately it was the front of the train where most of the action was, we were in a sleeping carriage down the back. We finished the journey in 3 tonners escorted by Armoured cars. We were briefed and issued with weapons in KL and transferred to Seremban where we became 63 Gurkha Inf Bde Sig Troop. The Bde was made up of 1 Bn Green Howard Regt at Kuala Pilah, 1/6 Gurkha Rifles at Bahau, An Artillery Regt doing infantry work (jungle patrols) at Tampin and a company of Gurkhas at Kuala Kluang a very dangerous place to be. Each location had two rear link operators , a L/Cpl and Sigmn. Rest of the troop consisting of DRs, Drivers, lineman, clerk the OC etc based at Bde HQ Rasah Camp Seremban.

Myself and Sig 'Sailor" Grimes were attached to the 1st Bn Green Howards Regt. There was not a great deal for the Sig detachment to do, mainly Sitreps at night when all the patrols sent their daily sitreps and some admin messages during the day.
Battalion HQ had a telephone exchange with connections to Brigade and accesss to everybody in the area, the Police more or less the same. The 1 GH did not expect us to attend parades or do any regimental duties, I recall grenades being thrown in the cinema so the police put a curfew on the town which was supervised by the Army. I was called out to help patrol the area, otherwise up to then it was a fairly uneventual routine. Sailor Grimes and I were sitting in our tent which was also the radio room (19 set) when the 1GH RSM - RSM Peacock DCM MM 3 MIDs paid us a visit, he gave the tent a cursory inspection, sat down on one of the beds told us to relax and asked us "did we have any comics" (it seems he was an avid reader of comics) we did not have any comics only girlie mags. He then asked us if we had ever been in the jungle, we in our innocence said "NO" then he asked "would we like to see the jungle?"we both said "yes", the outcome of this conversation was that we started doing jungle patrols, Sailor Grimes and myself took turns to go on patrol.
Later Sailor returned to 'blighty' and was replaced by a national serviceman Frank Yeomans. Frank and I became very good friends, Frank also did jungle patrols.
The infantry looked after us very well indeed, they cooked for us, made up our "Bashas" always carried a lot of our gear i.e rations, batteries, those old 68 sets were very heavy. All they asked of us was that we maintained communications, especially should we be ambushed or if we were being resupplied by air. These were very interesting times.As far as I know no other Signals radio ops did patrols as infantrymen like we did. The first patrol I did was with 9 Platoon C Coy, the platoon Cpl was one Cpl Monks, his family owned the Monks Custard Powder company well known throughout the UK in those days. He gave me a quick lesson on hand signals used on patrols that is stopping, moving on, taking up positions on either side of tracks, then he said "Jim if/should we be ambushed, you will head for the nearest tree, get your head and arse down and let us do the job we are trained for" it turned out to be very good advice. Incidentally C Pl were one of the first to use Eban (Borneo) trackers on jungle patrols, The Ebans all wore necklaces wrapped in cloth strips, one night we were in the canteen having a beer when Cpl Monks asked one of them to show us what the wrapping covered, it was human ears of people they had killed in fights/tribal battles in Borneo. I became very goods friends with the Green Howards Signal platoon, so much so that I am an honoury member of their Malayan Vets association.

Early 1951 the GH moved out and were replaced by the 1 Bn Malaya Regt. They were good soldiers and became good friends. Frank and myself did jungle patrols with the Malay soldiers They treated us very well indeed. Frank was really respected, he played football for the Battalion footy team. We had a lot of social interaction with the Bn signals platoon and got invitations to most of their social events, this included the ending of Ramadan when the big feasts were on.

I also did a lot of patrols with the Malayan Police, usually patrols of short duration, sometimes 2 nights out but usually on a 1 day or emergency call out. The Police did not have their own radio network, I had an arrangement to use either the Bn network or the Bde network The police liked this, made them feel safer if we could call out the Army in the event of a bad ambush.

The Malay Battalion moved out towards the end of 1951 to be replaced by the 2/7 Gurkha Rifles. I only did one patrol with them, the Gurkhas preferred to work on their own. After about three months the Gurkha Royal Signals took over our duties, our troop was disbanded and we all went to 17 Gurkha Div HQ at KL. A long story, I was not happy at 17 Div HQ, after six weeks of doing radio exercises and making full use of the Corporals mess bar I asked for a posting to any active service unit. I was posted to "C" Sqn 13/18th Hussars located at Kluang central Johore, this was about Jan 1952. I must have behaved myself as I was promoted to acting Cpl not long after my arrival. Had one weird incident worth recording, I was ordered to get hold of a Scammel Recovery vehicle and tow the old 3 ton battery charging truck to the vehicle disposal park in Singapore, I organised this, our escort vehicle to be a 3 ton Bedford (not an Armoured vehicle) carrying about fifteen troopers. We arrived in Singapore safely, handed the vehicle over and started making our way back to Kluang. It was a really wild night ,monsoon rain and about the only time I had felt the cold in Malaya. There were five of us in the front of the Scammel, I bought a bottle of rum which we passed back and forth until it was empty, the escort vehicle was behind us all the way. We got back to camp and were disembarking from the Scammel when the SSM said to me "Cpl, I would like a report from you regarding the ambush you were involved in" I said, "what ambush?" he took me to the rear of the Scammel, it had been sprayed with machine gun fire, the wood was all splintered and the crane wrecked. None of us including the escort had heard or seen anything. No idea where it occured. The Squadron was moved from Kluang to Johore Bahru, I was put in charge of the move and had radio control of all the convoy. The move was accomplished successfully, had to use the recovery team a few times. Due to the Korean war the Sqn was short of personnel so I ended up being in charge of a troop of Armoured cars, that is two scout cars and two armoured cars with two pounder guns. The squadron patrolled all the roads in southern Malaya and escorted all vehicles using these roads. On one occasion I was taken off a convoy duty and put on the Brigade Commanders escort . The escort vehicle was a Daimler Armoured car equipped with twin bren guns and magazines that held a hundred rounds. It was one of those days when everything that could go wrong did. On the road north the escort scout car I was in broke down, we radio'ed the nearest Gurkha camp, they came and took over the escort duty, towed us to their camp and got their REME to fix our vehicle. The Gurkhas took over all escort duties. On the way back to Johore Bahru our radio broke down, valve problem, We finally got back to camp very late but at the same time as the convoy I was supposed to have been on. The Sgt in charge said "your were lucky today Cpl on our way out we were ambushed and the radio operator who took your place got shot and was killed.
My tour of duty (three years) ended and I was shipped back to England,

I had three months accumulated leave owing which I spent in Germany where my father was the OC of an ammunition depot and also doubled as the town Major (military Lord Mayor) in a town called Viersen near Dusseldorf. Dad gave me a great timetook me all over Germany. I think he was secretly pleased that both his sons had seen active service, my brother in Korea and me in Malaya. After leave I reported back to the depot Regiment at Newton Abbott and was posted to Catterick as a drill instructor. After three years in the Far East the last place I wanted to be was 7 Training Regiment where all the instructors , Sgts and below were mainly national servicemen with no signals or overseas experience, the SSM had served in Malaya, I knew him well, we did not get on, he was the reason I again asked for a posting. I got the posting and went to Colchester and joined E Troop 48 Field Regt Royal Artillery. Once I got used to Gunnery procedures I enjoyed the job. For some reason the Gunners RSM took a liking to me, even asked me to transfer to the gunneers, I politely declined, The signal troop were good chaps but not very good tradesmen.

Then my life changed completely, my brother came home from Korea and said to me you have got six months to finish your time, why don't I put in a claim for you and you apply for a posting, This we did and it worked out well. I was posted to NATO HQ Fontainbleau France. I was put in charge of a small radio shift consisting of one Frenchman, one American and one Dutchman and me. I coasted along and enjoyed being with my brother. My brother was married to a French lass so it was quite good to have a home to go to, John by this time had been promoted to Sgt. We were chatting away one night and he asked me what are you going to do when your time is up. I told him I would probably emigrate to either Canada or Australia, he said to me go to New Zealand, I asked why NZ his response - I served with the Kiwis for six months in Korea and they were all good blokes, their discipline would suit you. I applied to the NZ High Commission and was accepted provided that I was willing to start at the bottom again And that is another story which I will tell when I do my NZ photos.