On each floor there were three barrack rooms. How we were initially allocated between them I do not know. But as I recall I was in the center one. Ian Styles had his bunk with me in the front right corner then I was along the front wall, next was Jim Dallaway and across was from me Alan Rose, Tony Harris and perhaps Jock Lyon. In the room to the right along the far wall was Tim Tate-Smith and to the front Frank Beames.
About thirty squaddies were in each barrack room. We each had a double decker bunk. With no furniture other than our ‘boxes soldier’, we put our kit in the upper bunk and slept on the lower one, another bed of boards and biscuits. Later because of our Internal Security (IS) duties we had to double up and the rooms became very crowded and unpleasant. In the damp and cold weather when the fire was lit squaddies tended to congregate around it, talk and cook suppers from food scrounged from the cookhouse. With my bunk being nearby I went to sleep with them sitting on it and talking with the light and radio on. I became accustomed to sleeping in these conditions.
Entertainment – Listening
The only comfort we had in the barrack room was a battery powered radio. When it ran down, we prevailed on a driver for an exchange from his vehicle. There was a choice of two programs; Radio Manilla an American station and Radio Hong Kong. The latter only broadcast for limited hours, was exceedingly amateurish, and mostly consisted of items culled from the BBC. It did improve when at weekends it broadcast more items of interest to the forces. One show played records requested by units, usually the popular tunes of the day. But it did give the opportunity for a little humor and when our time came for the CO was chosen – we had little say in the choice it was organized by the BSM – ‘If I known you were coming I’d have baked a cake’, and for the Battery drunk, Gounods drinking song from his opera Faust. For the Battery, the lady announcer chose ‘I’ll be seeing you’ – saying that it was appropriate for an Observation unit. We being too far away from the UK and because of the time difference did not participate in the then very popular BBC ‘Forces Favourites’. But later a program was instituted I believe for forces in the Far East like ourselves.
Entertainment – Reading
We were never short of anything to read. We had that sent out from home, and never were local papers so closely read. An enterprising Chinaman brought into camp the Hong Kong papers, the China Mail, and the South China Morning Post, and from these we kept up to date with current affairs and the most important shipping news. From these we received all the details of arriving and departing troopships, in which we were the most interested. Our Chinese entrepreneur also brought magazines and the like, most of American origin. We could also borrow books from the library, but what its content was and how it was organized is lost to time. But I know I made good use of it as did others accustomed to home libraries, mostly the better educated National service men and not the regulars.