The food in camp was uniformly poor. The bread always had weevils baked into it and these little black pieces one just ate-they were well and truly dead. The best feature was the fresh fruit and great tins of marmalade and jam from Australia which was splendid stuff. More important beyond opening the cans the ‘cooks’ had no hand in its preparation. Virtually all the food was imported from Australia and New Zealand for the Chinese methods of cultivation using “night soil” (human excrement) for fertilization of the ground made it impossible for Europeans to eat the local produce and salads were non existent for that reason. But when hungry there was always the Naafi and egg Banjos.
Guards were a regular occurrence. We provided guards for the barracks itself, carrying rifles with live ammunition. The Guard was always mounted in style on the enormous parade ground. While on guard we were relieved by jeep, The extensive site of the barracks too large for changeovers by foot. It also meant we had a lot to cover, or hide away in and have a quiet sit down, with one eye open for the Orderly Officer, and gaze at the stars.
We also provided a guard for an isolated ammunition dump among the hills inland of Repulse Bay. We still mounted the guard on the square and then left, but we were back in time for breakfast. This duty was quite a skive. Once at the dump we secured the gates, the only authorized entry. During the night, the inspecting Orderly Officer thus had to ring for entry giving the guard time to get out on stag, and the Guard Sergeant and the rest of the guard to wake up and get properly dressed. It was quite eerie at night being on guard here. Apart from all sorts of rustlings in the undergrowth and the constant chirping of the crickets and other insects and the odd creatures that only came out at night, it was very quiet and still. Behind the dump was rising ground and up above the stars and moon, and below and out to sea the lights of the fishing boats – for this was how they caught their fish. I used to find a cosy spot and read by the light of a torch.
I can still remember all those wonderful nights with the sky full of bright stars and a moon and think that my friends and family at home could look up and see the same. In this way these guards enabled me to connect to home.
Stanley provided other guards, one at the Cheero Club when on 2 hour standby, and an honor for the Battery, a ceremonial guard for Government House. Only a selected few served this duty, with specially prepared uniforms, bags of ‘bull’ and extra drill on the square to ready them for the occasion.