Surveying Opportunities & a chance encounter with the CCRA
With the Internal Security duties and new infantry role survey work took a secondary place in our duties. We finished a little of what we started and had occasional exercises. Sometimes a small survey job needed to be done and then Ian Styles and I and a couple of Sergeants would often perform the duty.
And it was returning from one of these we had a chance encounter with the CCRA, for as we sat in our jeep on the ferry to cross back to Stanley another drew alongside and much to our surprise (and a certain consternation), with him in it. Sergeant Mason smartly and immediately performed the military honours, we were put ‘at ease’ and he inquired as to what had been our duties and politely engaged us in conversation the duration of the voyage. He seemed quite human.
On one occasion I even went out on my own with just a driver. And then I prevailed upon him to take the longest route which was all around the Island and on to Clearwater Bay. These surveying duties so different to our current unwelcome duties were red letter days indeed. But we did get another limited opportunity later when intakes of new Surveyors had to be trained in a specialty, like flash spotting, for 192 Training Battery turned them out a quicker pace with only basic survey training. We welcomed this task.
Surveying Trade Test Preparation
One pleasing surprise was an announcement that we gunners and some of the NCOs were to be prepared for our 2nd Class Trade Test. To refresh us with the techniques we would be tested on, Captain Tilburn organized several day and night survey and flash spotting exercises. These took place on the Island and mostly along the Shek O peninsula looking across the Bay to Stanley, and were again welcome changes to routine. This also meant 2nd Lieutenant Hango lost us to play soldiers with, and despite the opportunity he took no interest in the survey we were doing.
Back in the classroom we reviewed our surveyor training, mostly the notes we had kept and the examples we had worked at Larkhill. We were also tutored by several of the the BSMs – all Warrant Officers, Surveyors RA, A1 – in some new topics such as astronomical observations, star shots, at night and observations of the sun during the day to establish our position by these means as well as other esoteric matters. All this was most interesting and challenging, a nice change and a welcome and unusual opportunity to use one’s brain and intellect, not something the Army in our present circumstances encouraged.
Along with organizing exercises to help us, Captain Tilburn also gave us gunners the opportunity to organize our own survey exercise. We did it with gusto and re-surveyed in by triangulation and resection a survey point on a nearby mountain top.
For the Trade Test those who could not already drive a vehicle were taught to do so. This was part of the Test and a useful and practical skill. Learning as I did in a left hand drive jeep on right hand drive winding mountain roads was at times a little alarming until I mastered the art.
Gunner Flann, Surveyor RA, A2
For the actual test and some prior preparation a senior WO came out from the School and spent some time with us. Out of fifteen who took the test six passed-all National Service Gunners, the NCOs having fallen by the wayside. I was happy to pass and become a Surveyor RA, A2 for this was not only intellectually gratifying but brought a welcome increase in pay. Apart from that however, it made no difference then or later to my duties.