One of Our Own Goes Home
What heightened our interest and made it a real one was that Tony Harris from 98 Squad had notice of his departure on July 23 sailing on the Empire Fowey. We all were glad for him. He was one of the first national servicemen to leave. Regulars had left before as their terms expired, and the unit generally received replacements with each ship as it arrived, providing a constant turnover of NCOs and gunners. Many of the new arrivals were national servicemen and sometimes new surveyors. Their naivety made us smile. We were, of course, ’old soldiers’ by now having served for 12 months with the Battery from its inception.
Time off, Leisure and Shopping
Being sited where we were there remained nowhere to go out of camp nearby so when the Troop provided recreational transport the swimming arranged for afternoons at Castle Peak Bay was always welcome. With our new interest in cameras we formed a photographic club and in sweltering conditions attempted our own development and printing. A Battery library allowed to us borrow books. Whether the mobile film unit still came or not, I did not note it so the presumption must be it didn’t. Nor did we have any more visits of the concert party.
When we could and transport was laid on, which wasn’t always, we got down to Kowloon, a 75 minute drive and then across to Victoria. There welcomed the China Fleet Club, and its facilities along with the pleasure of a visit to the cinema and shopping. At this time my weekly pay was HK$ 48, UK £ 3 or US $ 4.50. On on of these trips I went shopping for a camera and finding a German one with all the trimmings paid HK $150 plus another $20 for a case. I still have it.
While at Ping Shan during mid June we heard the news that the North Koreans attacked the South Koreans. Within days and on June 27 1950 President Truman authorized the US forces stationed there to become involved in the fighting. And so began the Korean War. Even today in 2013 it remains unresolved. All the information about this and then the subsequent progress of the War we got from the local papers. These carried alarmist reports of the continuing events in Korea, with no censorship or control of the American press, in a lurid and it seemed to me a most irresponsible manner.