Weekends in Hong Kong
Once in Hong Kong on the Saturday or Sunday we followed a routine due to lack of choice, getting a hot bath at the China Fleet Club if the water was on, doing some shopping, going to the cinema, having a meal, and in the season Tim Tate-Smith and others spending some time at the Happy Valley Race Course, home of the Hong Kong Jockey Club. Horse racing never appealed to me, but the Chinese are inveterate gamblers and Tim Tate-Smith, I think, always made a profit, which was more than the officers did as we found out when conversation in some manner and on an informal occasion, turned to that subject.
Returning to Stanley
Getting back to Stanley was never a problem, and was always fun. While we would come down in the back of an army truck, we returned in style. We hired vast American sedan cars with soft suspensions covered in chrome, taxis, and induced the drivers to race them back to the guardroom. The Chinese drivers enjoyed the challenge and we survived to tell the tale. When split three ways, it was not expensive, about 4$HK (25p), and far better than returning in the back of a truck with many drunken companions. We acquired a certain reputation for doing things in style, we could afford it after all being the highest paid Gunners in the Battery drawing about 65$HK a week. On arrival the Guard Sergeant’s customary greeting was ‘…Ah, the barons of Able Troop have returned!…’
Spending my Pay
While my pay allowed the extravagance of these nights out with the taxi race return, I did not necessarily draw it all. Being confined to camp so often I had no need of it. In camp there was little to spend it on, and when we did get out I always had enough, and enough to save.
The Barons of Able Troop
Our group invariably was made up of Tim Tate-Smith, Ian, Jock, Frank and myself. Occasionally we would be joined by members from 98 Squad, and from time to time one or two from other squads.
The Prospect of Return Home
After Christmas leave we had the bad news about our definite infantry role and from this point I and the others could not wait for release. We had real concerns about what we would find though. In January 1951 matters in Britain were in a sorry state, the meat ration had been reduced1, coal for heating was scarce, the rearmament program was under way, and the Government considered calling out the Army Reserve. Inevitably with this call out, the Government also considered a further extension of National Service. Happily for us that came to naught, but it was a worry of ours.
More of the Same
And our lot got no better. Duties and fatigues continued without respite. We got little or no survey work as a relief. And Hango remained his usual self. We participated in countless exercises, stand to’s were ordered with arms issued, rations drawn and ready to move at 20 minutes notice. Often times with one and the other duty they came every other night. It was a wearing and wearisome time.
- food rationing still was in force although WW2 had ended in 1945 ↩