Luxury – The Gun Club
What made this duty so attractive, apart from the scenery, and the weather had to be good to get satisfactory results, was that while on it our small detachment of less than 20 involved were billeted with 58th Medium. This regiment occupied permanent brick built barracks known as ‘The Gun Club’, why I know not, in central Kowloon. We found it amusing that they complained about their accommodation. It was the height of luxury compared to ours at Lo Wu.
The food too they got was better prepared and served in larger portions than we were given. This was due in no small measure first, to the meager basic rations we were supplied with. And second, being a new unit it had not built up the funds that the Naafi gave out of its profits, which could be used by established units to purchase food locally to supplement that which the army provided. At Lo Wu one was often very hungry.
The barracks of the 58th were but a short walk from the Star Ferry across the harbor to Victoria. Once we had completed a day’s shoot we were normally free and thus often got across to the Naafi run Cheero Club or the Navy China Fleet Club. At the latter we could have a bath, hair cut and get a decent meal, or enjoy the ease of a comfortable chair in relaxed surroundings and that we did not have at Lo Wu.
Lo Wu Pleasures
There only was one pleasure and that was swimming. This we did when a recreational truck was laid on once or twice a week to take us the 12 miles or so to Castle Peak Bay. It was a pleasure to be able to get wet all over. But more so to those accustomed to the rigors of the English beach and sea this was quite heavenly. For one thing there were no chill winds blowing, the beach was a fine sandy shingle and the sea was warm!
For ten fellow gunners at this time there was a particular escape from camp, including Frank Beames from 98 Squad and who had the bed next to me in our tent, these lucky fellows – they were decided by drawing the names from a hat – went on a 5 day trip as guests of the Navy. Frank went aboard a frigate HMS Morecambe Bay whilst it patrolled the seas around looking for refugees and hoping to catch some pirates. He had a grand time. Whilst he was away I had his job as Troop clerk, it kept me off fatigues but I did not like clerking.
Lo Wu Greater Pleasure
The greatest pleasure for us all was to get out of camp at weekends if not on duty. Often, but not regularly, trucks would be laid on to take us the 40 odd miles or so to Kowloon. But at least on one occasion we walked about a mile or more to a railway station at Sheung-Shui and took the train. This was another experience for it was crowded to capacity and more in both the passenger carriages and open wagons attached with refugees and all the possessions they had been able to bring with them.