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Your first day in the army

ste14w

Old-Salt
It also usually meant, but I stand to be corrected, that the RAC Trg Regiment supplied the Berlin Armoured Sqn, the Belize Recce Tp (CVR(T)) and possibly something else. Only a small part of the Regiment actually did the recruit training and support.
Yep, QOH were resident RAC TR REGT when I arrived in Catterick, and, as you know, we never heard the last of Belize and Berlin in the squadron bars. Or the NAAFI. Or the tank park. Or down town...etc.
 

Benjamin1876

Old-Salt
16th June 1955 - a nice clear cool day, in Brisbane, temp about 24C , and I had to report to Scottish Union House in Eagle Street Brisbane to be sworn in. I was 17 years and three months, my Dad had served in the Merchant Navy 1916 to 1919, then in the British Army from 1920 to 1929, then back to the Merchant Navy till 1939 and was a RN Reservist, then in the RN from 1939 till 1946, and then the Australian Army from 1951, so I had been brought up hearing stories about “service” and was prepared for what I thought would be everything that was about to hit me.

I was sworn in at 9am with three other blokes, one who had been in my class at primary school years earlier, and then we were taken in an army vehicle to what was then the Northern Command Personnel Depot, located in the same grounds as the Military Hospital on the banks of the Brisbane River at Yeronga. We were taken to a long hut, then to the Q store and issued with a set of khaki working dress, a pair of trousers, and a zip front jacket, then the Q bloke gave us each a grass rake, and then a LCpl turned up as we were given the rakes and he told us to form up in a straight line and he marched us to the bank of the river and told us to start raking, so we spent till 12.30pm raking leaves on the bank of the Brisbane River, were then marched to the mess hall, given lunch and then marched back to the river bank to rake leaves till 5pm. The afternoon was spent listening to the LCpl tell us stories about his time in Korea, which is where he had served, and when he told us he had been in the Army for four years, that sounded to me as if he was a veteran with lots of service, until I saw him later that night dressed in his battle dress and I noticed his Corps flashes on his uniform said "Australian Army Canteen Services” so the next day when he took us to the river bank to rake more leaves I was a trifle disappointed and had trouble believing his “warries”

We raked leaves for two days, then boarded a train from South Brisbane to Sydney, spent the day at the Eastern Command Personnel Depot at Marrickville, were joined by 10 other blokes who had been sworn in that week in Sydney and later that day boarded another train to Wagga Wagga, and taken to Kapooka for recruit training in the back of an open semi-trailer that had benches bolted to the floor, a far cry from a cool day in Brisbane in June to a cold winter day in central New South Wales with a temp of about 5 degrees C when we left the train at 5.30am at the Wagga Wagga rail station. We were joined by 9 men from Victoria, two from Tasmania, four from South Australia and three from Western Australia and we became 16 Squad 7 Platoon B Coy 1st Recruit Training Battalion for the next three and a half months till out passing out parade and onwards for Corps training in various parts of Australia depending on the Corps to which we had been allocated.

Then the most exciting time of the next 38 years of my life started, and if I was 17 today I would be down at the recruiting office to enlist
 
You expect me to remember something that happened 54 years ago when I can't recall last nights tea? Harrumph!

Anyhoo, I arrived at Gobowen Station, near Oswestry bound for IJLB. This bunch of boys getting off the train were met by a huge man in No2s with a beret and budgie on it! Sgt Jackson, Welsh Fusiliers. He was very nice and gently got us on to the transport and into camp where we were dropped off at Z Company lines in Park Hall Camp, shown our beds and told to settle in. We did nothing that first day other than eat, meet and sleep as people were arriving all through out the day.

The nice Sgt Jackson the next day showed his real self.............. :( Thus started off my time in green on 10 May 1966.
I was 4 days old!
 

Tongnye

Clanker
6th of may 1959,mass arrival of boys between 14vand 16 years old, intake day for all the apprentice schools in the area,yours truly headed for arborfied along with acouple of 100 others, by late after noon the shit had hit the fan,huge queues for arborfield but no one for apprentice chef wing and no one for Crookham, so 56 volonteers were needed 2 squads of 13 for St Omer , mans service middlewallop , fareast and germany, whereI finally became a rechymech
 

Benjamin1876

Old-Salt
Huh, you Aussies are a bunch of softies. We regard temperatures like that as a warm late summers day and we are still in shirt sleeve order in the British Army catching the rays.

I believe you, because I spent the first almost 11 years of my life in England, but in Queensland, where I enlisted, the Army doesn't even wear winter uniform. When I was posted to a Queensland unit in 1974 I left ll my winter uniforms in my army trunk, never to be worn again except when I went to the southern states to attend training courses, summer dress used to be shorts and short sleeved shirt, but some wear it all the year round. I am now retired of course, and rarely wear anything other than long pants and a shirt in winter and shorts and a shirt in summer, not sure how you pommies would cope with a normal winter day her, top temp, perhaps 20 degrees on a cold day, or in spring, like today, the temp where I live is 27degrees C at present, and I have to sit outside where there is a bit of a breeze or turn on the air con because of the humidity. I can recall in 195/576 when I was posted to Maralinga (the atomic test site) we had a platoon of the Durham Light Infantry there at the time, and they used to melt in the heat, changed their clothes four or five times a day as they sweated so much and had to carry bottles of water most of the time to stay hydrated, and most tried to stay inside when the sun was shining, poor Geordies, they really suffered. Just as an aside, which day was called summer in England this year?
 
I believe you, because I spent the first almost 11 years of my life in England, but in Queensland, where I enlisted, the Army doesn't even wear winter uniform. When I was posted to a Queensland unit in 1974 I left ll my winter uniforms in my army trunk, never to be worn again except when I went to the southern states to attend training courses, summer dress used to be shorts and short sleeved shirt, but some wear it all the year round. I am now retired of course, and rarely wear anything other than long pants and a shirt in winter and shorts and a shirt in summer, not sure how you pommies would cope with a normal winter day her, top temp, perhaps 20 degrees on a cold day, or in spring, like today, the temp where I live is 27degrees C at present, and I have to sit outside where there is a bit of a breeze or turn on the air con because of the humidity. I can recall in 195/576 when I was posted to Maralinga (the atomic test site) we had a platoon of the Durham Light Infantry there at the time, and they used to melt in the heat, changed their clothes four or five times a day as they sweated so much and had to carry bottles of water most of the time to stay hydrated, and most tried to stay inside when the sun was shining, poor Geordies, they really suffered. Just as an aside, which day was called summer in England this year?
A few weeks hot weather by our standards which is as good as it gets. I like Perth as it seems with the 'Freemantle Doctor' you always have a cool breeze on the coast at least although as a pale freckled pom I always use factor 50 sunscreen for babies, young children and gingers (I think you Aussies call them blueys), as with the breeze it can be deceptive how fierce the sun is.

Is it correct that in the early sixties that there were so many poms in some units that the joke was 'that this is a good little British Army f*ucked up by a few Australians'.
 

Benjamin1876

Old-Salt
A few weeks hot weather by our standards which is as good as it gets. I like Perth as it seems with the 'Freemantle Doctor' you always have a cool breeze on the coast at least although as a pale freckled pom I always use factor 50 sunscreen for babies, young children and gingers (I think you Aussies call them blueys), as with the breeze it can be deceptive how fierce the sun is.

Is it correct that in the early sixties that there were so many poms in some units that the joke was 'that this is a good little British Army f*ucked up by a few Australians'.
I'm not sure. about the 60s but could be true as we have always had lots of ex solidiers from the British Army who decided to move to the land of plenty down under - beautiful one day day and fabulous the next - and at recruit training our platoon instructor for drill was ex Scots Guards, had served in France/German in WW2. He used to walk to the Army canteen (which also had the food store for families at the married quarters as part of the building) on Saturday afternoon with his wife and five children, the kits all walked in line, swinging their arms as if they we're marching, and always in step, with him behind saying left right left right every now and again if one appeared to be getting out of step. but he was a great drill instructor, we learned drill so easily, and we knew it and felt good about ourselves compared to other squads. Also had an ex Brit major as the Unit 2IC in another unit in which I served, and did courses with ex Brit soldiers many times over the years, but have no idea of why, but certainly had a lot changed over during the Korean War, as I can remember serving with lots of them in the period 55. to about 60, they had a series of Army numbers that showed they had enlisted in the UK at Australia House tten in those days they were moved her at the expense of the Aust govt, and mostly they were single blokes. I can recall their army numbers were usually all NSW numbers, with the first number being a 2 (meaning 2nd Military District - NSW) then the numbers 12, a five figure number after the 2, whereas our numbers were the state prefix of 1 for Qld, 2 NSW, 3 Victoria, 4 south Aust, 5 WA, 6 Tasmania and NT blokes were enlisted in Adelaide so they are all 4. UK enlistment first bloke enlisted would have been 212000, but for many years it would have been expressed as 2/12000, then when computers came in for Army records they dropped the / stroke. Female enlistments were F1/ and F2/ etc, but now they all seem to start with an 8, and the army number does not appear to indicate the state of enlistment, but as I reiured at age 55 in 1993, I am a bit out of touch with all that stuff, only go to reunions now, and never had chance to ask about new numbering systems but husband of eldest grand daughter did serve for a while after he left school in 2007 and his number was an 8 and 5 or 6 other numbers after it and he enlisted in Queensland. I attended a parade at the RAAF Base at Amberley a few years back, a large Army unit is also based there, and saw a group of WO2 who were all ex Brit Army as they were all wearing Brit medals for Middle East, and they all had the LS&GCM - for which we had to do 18 years compared to the 15 in the Brit Army. My father served with 1st (Royal) Dragooons in 1920, lasted less than a year as he could not cope with horses and transferred to the Royal Fusiliars for the rest of his service in the Brit Army, and when he transferred was given a new Army number, I thought that was strange, but I have a copy of his records, with scorch marks and part of some pages burned but still readable, guess they escaped the fires after the bombs in WW2 that burned lots of WW! records.
 
Sept 1983 16 yrs old AACHarrogate. My abiding memories are the conveyer belt in the gym, hair chopped, uniform thrown at you. Off to you lines.

Proper first day, being doubled at oh Christ hundred hours to the cookhouse in PT Kit, black plimsoles & flasher mac.

The amount of food on offer was impressive but unfortunately finding out leisurely breakfasts were a thing of the past. One mouthful & every body out.

Oh, and to this day I’d like to meet the cretin who decided to put 17 & 18 yr olds apprentices in charge of 16 yr old recruits. The absolute fcuking idiot...

Exactly the same, other than I was 82C rather than 83C.
 

Cold_Collation

LE
Book Reviewer
My first day?

I remember there being rose petals - lots of them, scattered before me as I walked through the gates - and a Praetorian Guard of large men in green, almost all with moustaches, prostrating themselves before me.

Somewhere, gently, music played.

Finding my bedspace was easy - "Please just follow the rose petals, Apprentice Tradesman Cold_Collation."

The carpet underfoot was lush, springy and new. I remember it particularly from when I put my shoes out to be cleaned that night. The decor was otherwise perhaps a little Spartan but I had already accepted that I was entering into a fully masculine environment.

The rest of the afternoon was passed in personable conversation with the Praetorians, who complimented me repeatedly on my already soldierly bearing. I remain very fond of them all to this day.

The evening repast was pleasant - I've had better meals, and I've had worse. I did remark that perhaps the quails' eggs were on the turn but I was promised that the local farmer would be informed and reparations made.

Upon retiring, the bed was freshly turned down and whilst I dined my outfit for the next day had been pressed and hung just as I like it.






I've been told that I have something of a dissociative disorder.
As an adjunct to this, over lockdown I tracked down the sergeant who took me through Basic - a good guy. We spoke again a few weeks ago for the first time in 33 years. Once the world allows it, we’re going to meet for a few beers.

I’m really looking forward to it.
 
You expect me to remember something that happened 54 years ago when I can't recall last nights tea? Harrumph!

Anyhoo, I arrived at Gobowen Station, near Oswestry bound for IJLB. This bunch of boys getting off the train were met by a huge man in No2s with a beret and budgie on it! Sgt Jackson, Welsh Fusiliers. He was very nice and gently got us on to the transport and into camp where we were dropped off at Z Company lines in Park Hall Camp, shown our beds and told to settle in. We did nothing that first day other than eat, meet and sleep as people were arriving all through out the day.

The nice Sgt Jackson the next day showed his real self.............. :( Thus started off my time in green on 10 May 1966.
Auld Yin, I don't know when you joined, but a Sergeant Major Jackson, RWF, rejoined the regiment in Londonderry 1972 as CSM Command Company (I think he'd come from JLR). He was 'old school', but looked after his guys and was one of the best Sergeant Majors that I served under.
 

Auld-Yin

ADC
Kit Reviewer
Book Reviewer
Reviews Editor
Auld Yin, I don't know when you joined, but a Sergeant Major Jackson, RWF, rejoined the regiment in Londonderry 1972 as CSM Command Company (I think he'd come from JLR). He was 'old school', but looked after his guys and was one of the best Sergeant Majors that I served under.
Probably the same guy. He was a Sergeant in 1966/67 and when he met us at Gobowen Station he was in No2s and I wondered why he had some black cloth handing off his collar! I didn't ask! He was loud but fair, as were most PS Sgts' at Oswestry.
 
Got my first bollocking before I’d even joined up. Had a very brief flirtation with the Army before seeing the light and joining Crabair. Went to the careers office in Birmingham for a medical, something wrong with the piss test. Take this bottle home, do another one in the morning, drop it in tomorrow.

This I do, dressed in phys kit, to run home afterwards. “That’s fine, sit there”. Officer comes out, takes one look, walks away. Comes out again couple of minutes later, points at office “in here”, proceeds to bollock me for turning up to my attestation looking like a sack of shit tied up the middle, not the behaviour expected of a potential officer etc etc blah blah blah. Never having experienced this before I thought it better to say nothing.

when he finally stopped, I got a chance to explain that I came in to drop off a urine sample, and was going to run home, and nobody had mentioned attestation at all up to that point. But very sorry, should have thought ahead etc etc.

He then attested me, and told me that to my credit, I could take a bollocking well and this would stand me in good stead.

still ended up in light blue. What a good choice that was!
 
Probably the same guy. He was a Sergeant in 1966/67 and when he met us at Gobowen Station he was in No2s and I wondered why he had some black cloth handing off his collar! I didn't ask! He was loud but fair, as were most PS Sgts' at Oswestry.
That would have been the 'Flash' - the Royal Welch were serving in the West Indies when the order came out to cut back the tarred pigtails and remove the black flash on the collar that stopped tar getting on red jackets. The Royal Welch were the last to get the order so were allowed to retain the flash. One sensible thing that they did was the CO banned the wearing of the hackle whilst in Northern Ireland, reasoning that it made an excellent aiming point!
 
I'm not sure. about the 60s but could be true as we have always had lots of ex soldiers from the British Army who decided to move to the land of plenty down under - beautiful one day and fabulous the next, and at recruit training our platoon instructor for drill was ex Scots Guards, had served in France and German in WW2.

He used to walk to the Army canteen (which also had the food store for families at the married quarters as part of the building) on Saturday afternoon with his wife and five children, the kits all walked in line, swinging their arms as if they we're marching, and always in step, with him behind saying left right left right every now and again if one appeared to be getting out of step. but he was a great drill instructor, we learned drill so easily, and we knew it and felt good about ourselves compared to other squads.

Also had an ex Brit major as the Unit 2IC in another unit in which I served, and did courses with ex Brit soldiers many times over the years, but have no idea of why, but certainly had a lot changed over during the Korean War, as I can remember serving with lots of them in the period 55. to about 60, they had a series of Army numbers that showed they had enlisted in the UK at Australia House tten in those days they were moved her at the expense of the Aust govt, and mostly they were single blokes.

I can recall their army numbers were usually all NSW numbers, with the first number being a 2 (meaning 2nd Military District - NSW) then the numbers 12, a five figure number after the 2, whereas our numbers were the state prefix of 1 for Qld, 2 NSW, 3 Victoria, 4 south Aust, 5 WA, 6 Tasmania and NT blokes were enlisted in Adelaide so they are all 4.

UK enlistment first bloke enlisted would have been 212000, but for many years it would have been expressed as 2/12000, then when computers came in for Army records they dropped the / stroke. Female enlistments were F1/ and F2/ etc, but now they all seem to start with an 8, and the army number does not appear to indicate the state of enlistment, but as I reiured at age 55 in 1993, I am a bit out of touch with all that stuff, only go to reunions now, and never had chance to ask about new numbering systems but husband of eldest grand daughter did serve for a while after he left school in 2007 and his number was an 8 and 5 or 6 other numbers after it and he enlisted in Queensland.

I attended a parade at the RAAF Base at Amberley a few years back, a large Army unit is also based there, and saw a group of WO2 who were all ex Brit Army as they were all wearing Brit medals for Middle East, and they all had the LS&GCM - for which we had to do 18 years compared to the 15 in the Brit Army.

My father served with 1st (Royal) Dragoons in 1920, lasted less than a year as he could not cope with horses and transferred to the Royal Fusiliers for the rest of his service in the Brit Army, and when he transferred was given a new Army number, I thought that was strange, but I have a copy of his records, with scorch marks and part of some pages burned but still readable, guess they escaped the fires after the bombs in WW2 that burned lots of WW! records.


Broken down into easier readable, paragraphs.
 
Got my first bollocking before I’d even joined up. Had a very brief flirtation with the Army before seeing the light and joining Crabair. Went to the careers office in Birmingham for a medical, something wrong with the piss test. Take this bottle home, do another one in the morning, drop it in tomorrow.

still ended up in light blue. What a good choice that was!
RAF? Tch Tch - Far too trusting. The queue in the WC to fill individual sample beakers during my recruit selection tests at RNB Portsmouth was held up by a young blonde guy. Dithering & fretting because he was unable, having 'already been', a big scouse bruiser, fed up with the delay, said 'Gizzit here, La', topped up Blondies beaker and our queue moved along once more.

I often wondered whether that potentially diabetic blonde lad slipped under the radar for a full RN career.
 
RAF? Tch Tch - Far too trusting. The queue in the WC to fill individual sample beakers during my recruit selection tests at RNB Portsmouth was held up by a young blonde guy. Dithering & fretting because he was unable, having 'already been', a big scouse bruiser, fed up with the delay, said 'Gizzit here, La', topped up Blondies beaker and our queue moved along once more.

I often wondered whether that potentially diabetic blonde lad slipped under the radar for a full RN career.
No, it was the Army Careers Office! RAF wasn’t until later.
 

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