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Sandbag Reminiscences of Kenn Griffiths Sandbag
A Mundane Existence
Whilst writing this it struck me how few Christian names I can remember; I suppose that we were too tied up with training and polishing kit to get to know each other.
I'm not a great one for reminiscences and my memories of Tonfanau are not too clear. Most of what I recall is pretty mundane. I obviously recall the winter days on the parade ground, or in the drill hangars when it got really cold. Strangely enough the most useful piece of information I gained from those drill periods was not to blow on my hands to warm them up, as it causes condensation. Now who would have thought of that, but that advice has served me well over the years as I've spent a great deal of my spare time in the mountains of North Wales, and that is one thing I will forever be grateful to the A.A.J.L.R. for - giving me the outdoor bug.
I remember being marched to the cinema to watch Dr No, clad in greatcoat. (I've never watched a James Bond movie since). Then having enough time to smoke a quick Players Weight (with parental permission) before being cast into the darkness at ten o'clock, where we could sleep the sleep of the just, at least until we were dragged out at some ungodly hour (usually in a state of embarrassment) for a pyjama inspection.
I remember having to drink small bottles of milk, after successfully dodging the evil liquid throughout my schooldays, and being forced to shave when I had not so much as a hint of bum fluff on my baby face.
I remember having to go to education during the night as part of some futuristic experiment, which obviously didn't catch on.
We had two contrasting warrant officers whose party piece was to address the assembled audience separately. One would say that he didn't care how long our hair was as long as our boots were gleaming, which sounded great in the swinging sixties. But then his sidekick would take over and tell us the opposite. "I don't care how dirty your boots are as long as your heads are shining". And I never heard either of those two bawl at us - and that was rare.
I was a member of the cycling hobby club and recall assembling a bike from the big box of spare parts. When it was as complete as it could be with the available parts, we (Dave Aldcroft and I) cycled all the way to our annual camp at Menai Bridge. I don't recall what Dave had missing, but I do remember that any attempt to sit down on my bike could have changed my sexual orientation for life, as I was minus a seat. I was also deficient brake blocks, which wasn't very wise as Wales isn't exactly the flattest country in the world. Oh happy days.
As I said - pretty mundane.
It was during one of my trips to Snowdonia with an Air Force colleague - yes you heard right (** see below) - that I decided to take a look at the old place, and it was then that I took the photos. The demolition was well under way then, although I have no idea when the camp actually closed. I believe that it was used as an ostrich farm during that brief period when the Great British public were being conned into believing that ostrich meat (at £10 per lb) was going to make them rich beyond their wildest dreams (No I was not one of them). Since then I've heard that it was a motorcycle circuit of some description. I have not been back since.
** I was never the type to stick it for a lifetime, and after my nine years with the Army I had a spell in civvy street before doing another nine in the RAF, a softer option all round. Since 1984 I have been working with the Royal Saudi Air Force - another lost cause. Incidentally, the RAF colleague I mentioned was also ex-army and ex-Tonfanau. He was a gunnery officer there before it became the A.A.J.L.R. Remember those grainy old training films that were shot over the railway line - that's his claim to fame.

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