The senior NCOs we found were intelligent and acted fairly toward us. The Troop SM was BSM Baglow “Baggy” a surveyor, and as we got to know him found he was something of a character. Our Surveyor Sergeants were Hale and Mason and “Nobby” Hall the Signals Sergeant. Sergeant Hale was the senior, most intellectual and somewhat distant, Mason, the other surveyor sergeant younger, an accomplished amateur artist and friendly while Nobby had seen long and hard service and liked his beer. They were Regular soldiers and had had much experience in survey units and under active service conditions. We got to know our sergeants well when working with them in close proximity out in the field on survey activities in relaxed conditions. Between us there was a mutual respect. On parade they could be as regimental as the occasion required.
Bombardier ‘S’ was still with us if in body and not as a surveyor. I cannot recall him ever being of use or assistance in that field. But given us to order about he was in his element. It was Sergeants Hale and Mason with whom we spent our time on survey matters. There was another Bombardier named Smith who was a happy enough fellow. I cannot remember other NCOs, but there must have been some. From time to time we also became aware of the other Troop officers and NCOs, but who they were I cannot now recall.
Conditions at Camp
Conditions in camp to say the least were primitive. The approach was a dry, dusty and rough track that wound through the paddy fields for some distance. In the monsoon conditions the track quickly turned to mud and vehicles using it vehicles regularly bogged down. When stuck, if they could not be winched or hauled out by another truck, we were called out to retrieve them by setting to and with our shoulders, pushing them out of the deep mud and muck.
This awful track made the conditions in camp worse. Most serious of these was that there was no laid on water supply. All the drinking water was trucked in by tanker, as well as that for washing. Our situation became somewhat precarious when the tanker got stuck. Similarly our food supply was short when the ration truck got stuck – the food itself was inadequate and poor and we were often hungry. When the mail truck could not get through, mail from home was disrupted and delayed. Mail was most important to us. We became in those circumstances rather isolated.
With this lack of a proper water supply to the camp site and with only water delivered by tanker and needed primarily for drinking and cooking there was consequently a great shortage of it for washing and other necessities. Another crudity was that the latrines were open pits. In the heat and humidity these became exceedingly obnoxious infested with flies and the like. The Naafi and mess hall were huts.