Extension of National Service
The major event in our time at Stanley was, of course, the extension of our service by six months and this came in September 1950 just shortly before we hoped to leave for release; thus delaying our leaving from October 1950, to May 1951. Long heralded this extension was part of Britain’s rearmament program in view of the deteriorating world affairs, so it came as no great surprise. It was greeted with resignation and as something we could do nothing about so we had to make the best of it. We all agreed that if we had to do it, we would sooner do it together and in our present unit.
Tony Harris who had gone back in July and home, was by a few weeks caught for this extra time. He was sent to a Training Regiment not far from his home and being Tony and an ‘old soldier’, wangled a cushy job in the office. I corresponded with him and he said he would sooner be back with us, which knowing him I read with some skepticism.
After covering the event that overshadowed all our time at Stanley, this account switches to narrative form to cover our day to day life at Stanley Barracks with special emphasis on matters squaddies regarded as important, like staying in touch with home.
Links to British People and Home
Other than the facilities in Victoria of the NAAFI Cheero Club, and the better ones at the China Fleet Club there were few opportunities to interact with other British people. The local British population ignored us and did nothing for the ordinary soldier. My only contact with an Englishwoman was the member of WRVS related earlier. And as for contact with girls of our own age there was none at all in any shape or form. I kept up a desultory correspondence with a particular girl friend, Eileen, whom I was always pleased to hear from. But it didn’t help that she never seemed to put the correct postage on the letters for airmail service, so them came by ship and I always had to wait a long time for each one. Even so the friendship continued on my release until I started living and working away from home, and she married a fellow ahead of me at Tiffins and went to live in Cheshire.
Mail was what kept us in touch with home, parents, relatives and friends. My Father was an indefatigable correspondent writing regularly each week. My sisters and relatives wrote on occasions, and I kept in touch with ex-schoolfriends doing their National Service; Mac reaching the end of his in the RAF having spent the entire period in the UK and virtually every weekend at home, Donald in Malaya, and David in the Royal Engineers in Kenya, where he spent much time on leave in fine style with the resident English settlers. Compared to him and Mac mine was a rough posting. I heard too of others doing their National Service in the UK, and the derision these ‘weekend civilians’ attracted from parents who had sons further afield. We heard too how they wore their uniforms on every occasion whereas we were only too happy to get out of ours.