This account is of my National Service in 1952-1953 where I was conscripted into the Royal Artillery, trained as a Surveyor, RA, and served in Korea with 15 Divisional Locating Battery, RA.
It is written some sixty years and more after the event with an ageing memory; that means I don’t readily recall dates, locations or names. Some events remain distinct others have passed with time. Some came back as I was writing this. Others came from reading experiences of fellow National Service Gunners, and some from reading the histories of those times and in particular of the Korean War itself-long forgotten today by many ordinary citizens.
Too what made it harder was that I failed to keep my small personal diary, which understandably now would have been of great help.
For factual matters about my National Service I obtained a copy of my service records. These became available to the individual concerned or their immediate relative, following the Data Protection Act 1998, commonly referred to as the “Freedom of Information Act”.
I was born during 1931 at Paignton in Devon, and became liable for National Service. In my case, the term had already been raised from 18 months to 2 years. I applied for and was granted a short deferment to accommodate my studies. My medical examination to see whether I was fit to serve was held at Exeter on 4th September 1951 when I was graded A1.
(My father had been a gun sergeant during WWII, serving with the BEF in France in 1940, being successfully evacuated before Dunkirk to join the British contingent of the Norwegian Campaign, as Germany had started to invade the country. By the time of his unit’s arrival, the enemy were well advanced with their invasion, necessitating another hurried evacuation. True to the spirit of the Royal Regiment of Artillery, all the Bofor light anti-aircraft guns were destroyed by the gun crews before returning to the UK by any ship available*.
Note: Medals were not awarded for either campaign, neither were campaign clasps which could have been worn with the 1939-45 War Medal – this also applied to soldiers captured at Dunkirk and other locations).
*The guns of the Royal Artillery are its Colours.
When asked what service I would like to serve in, I felt it appropriate that I should follow in my father’s footsteps, and asked to serve in the Royal Regiment of Artillery.
Motto of the Royal Regiment of Artillery
Quo Fas Et Gloria Ducunt (Where Right and Glory Lead)