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The Virgin Soldier

Welcome to the Orihuela Costa and District Branch of The Royal British Legion

By Keith Carter

I joined the Army at the tender age of 15 and travelled north on a steam train to Troon in Scotland.  It was a cold, snowy, winters day in 1961. 

I stayed at Troon, training as driver/radio operator for two and a half years before being posted to 12 Light Air Defence Regiment RA, who were stationed in Malaya, Singapore and Borneo.

My first task was to get acclimatised to the heat so I was based at Nee-soon barracks in Singapore. This is where we all hit the town and best of all Boogie Street for a night out. Two weeks later I joined T Battery in Kuching Borneo. ( Please note no longer a Virgin)

This was where I experienced my first scary moment whilst on jungle patrol with the Gurkha’s.  Every sound was a possible attack, and in the jungle sound carries a long way when you are stalking through it. 

I finished my tour in the far east in January 1966 and was posted first to Dusseldorf and then Dortmund where I finished my time with the Regular Army.

I joined the Territorial Army in December 1977, along with a few of my Postie friends, as a Sapper in the Postal & Courier Regiment, Royal Engineers at Mill Hill, yet again on another snowy winters day.

Here I experienced a couple of my most rewarding moments in helping to get the millions of letters and parcels to our troops serving in the Falklands War and the first Gulf War.

One of the most comical moments was whilst on exercise with the TA in Scotland.

On a visit with the C.O to a Field Post Office a young subaltern wanted to impress, so he invited us to lunch.  He got out his hexi burner, mess tins and proceeded to boil the tins of compo curry. 

After about 20 minutes there was a gigantic explosion. Thinking we were under attack we all hit the ground and took cover. 

Looking up after a couple of minutes we saw the young subaltern with curry dripping from his rather large nose.  He'd forgotten to pierce the cans with the subsequent result.  A sight to behold - he certainly did impress!

In April 1993 I saw the last days of The Postal and Courier Regiment Royal Engineers serving as its very last RSM.  I then immediately became the very first RSM, PCS of the Royal Logistic Corps.

Five years later the time eventually came when age eventually caught up with me. I had to retire from the British Army on 17 January 1998 after 37 years of service, man and boy.

What a great Life!

LIVE ON

LAST OF THE BOFORS

The last operational deployment of Bofors by the British Army was during the Borneo (Indonesian-Malaysian) Confrontation, December 1962 to August 1966. 

UK already had 12 Lt AD Regiment RA stationed in West Malaysia at the start of the Confrontation; with T (Shah Sujah's Troop) and 9 (Plassey) Lt AD Batteries.

The batteries rotated between Tampin (Malay Peninsula) and Kuching airfield in Borneo, equipped with L40/70 Bofors and Radar Fire Control Equipment 7 (FCE 7), a large radar set used for target acquisition and tracking. 

Last but not least was the noisy diesel powered generator which ran for 24 hours a day supplying the power for the equipment and also for the Sub accommodation, command post, cookhouse and that most important of places – the bar for those off duty!

I did find out in 1967 that the radar with its air conditioning was also a good substitute for a fridge and that earned one a number of friends. 

12 Lt AD Regiment RA reported in Gunner in 1964:  The Kuching commitment is a taxing one, involving round the clock readiness, but morale remains high despite the fact that the battery has yet to have an engagement.

It is something to know that the object of the exercise is being achieved for as long as the enemy aircraft do not show up. 

12 Ltd AD Regiment RA returned to BAOR in May 1966.

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