It was a definite improvement over the conditions at Lo Wu. However, many of the problems remained; eg., the shortage of water. And we still had to live under canvas with little improvement in the conditions in the tents. Once again the camp was located in a malarial area so we continued to sleep under mosquito nets. Ping Shan seemed particularly plagued with a host of horrible flies and innumerable peculiar insects. One especial hazard was the local toads took up residence overnight in our boots, and we quickly learned to shake them well out before putting them on in the morning. Add to all this the intensely humid monsoon conditions and so our clothes and boots still grew molds.
When the actual move took place we in Able Troop went ahead as the advance party to prepare the camp for the rest of the Battery. Although this duty involved cleaning up after the previous occupants, it was enjoyable in that we acted as an independent unit if only for a short time.
As always there were guards and fatigues to perform and a number of ceremonial parades and inspections had to be got ready for and submitted to with all the accompanying bull, spit and polish. We had been spared these at Lo Wu.
Exercise Seek It
Happily there was Exercise ‘Seek It’ to get involved in. We set up bases on the hills over Deep Water Bay, doing the survey work by day, digging in the OP’s by night and setting up bivouacs from our ponchos – all good Boy Scout stuff. then making observations Through the nights we made observations on thunderflashes to simulate gunfire set off in the distance. One other exercise that I recall was a joint one with C Sound Ranging Troop and 173 Locating Battery using radar, and we were the only Troop to get satisfactory results. All this used our surveyor skills, was interesting enough and the time passed quickly when we participated. My notes tell me that with guard duty the night before one of these exercises I had virtually no sleep in 48 hours.
Besides these exercises, C Troop went off on a 3 week scheme to one of the islands. X Troop also went out to tie the survey to the mainland, difficult to do with the rugged terrain, and heavy rain made it harder. Of course, while they were out their duties fell on us.
Speculation On Returning Home
Despite these exercises at times we did not have much to do. With this being July and us hoping to leave in October the perennial topic was when and on what ship. Surprisingly perhaps, we could establish this because we knew how long the voyage took and what ships were due to arrive in Hong Kong as all the shipping news was published in the local paper. Complicating our analysis was trouble in the Middle East that could close the Suez Canal to British shipping. If that closure occurred all the troopship’s schedules would be disrupted with longer voyages across the Indian Ocean and around the Cape of Good Hope. Not that a longer voyage would be a hardship to us, providing it was not on the Devonshire! But such a voyage could delay our departure and release.