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Pull Up A Sandbag
Sandbag Reminiscences of David R. Scott Sandbag
Food, Glorious Food
I remember the fire in the YMCA although I didn't think it was burnt to the ground, it was badly damaged but it wasn't in use at the time anyway. As far as I know some of the lads were a bit homesick and wanted a bonfire on Guy Fawkes night. I mean we wouldn't destroy something we actually used, would we? Actually, it was a fortuitous happening for a couple of us. I was in 'R' Company at the time and one of our hut members had been caught smoking so the duty sergeant decided to have a spot search in our hut for cigarettes. We were all given a chance to own up and a couple of mugs did just that but Jake Sherry, a lad from Fife, and myself kept mum, thinking, 'Do your worst'. Anyway old Sgt Chitticks's hand was about 6 inches from Jake's hiding place when the fire alarm went. Saved by the bell, as it were. We all rushed out with fire buckets but were turned back as the fire picket arrived about the same time. Anyway the result was that, as Jake and I were the only guys with cigarettes, the price went up sharply, good old fashioned capitalism.
Another memory that will always stay with me was the way we were always hungry. 16-year-old lads leading a fairly physical life meant that our appetites were never satisfied. We were always complaining that there was never enough to eat and the Catering officer went to great trouble to explain how much we were entitled to and how we were actually getting more than that. It didn't wash with us though, especially later when we were into man's service and you could get as much as you wanted. Quality was crap compared with boy's service though. Anyway I learned after couple of years that everyone on the catering side was on the fiddle so I don't suppose it was any different at Tonfanau. Because of our appetites we started raiding the cookhouse at night, it was next door to our huts in Knightsbridge Platoon. We started off in a minor way and then one night we made serious inroads into the packed lunches for the next day's outward bound lot and the excreta hit the fan. The company QMS came round looking in our dustbins looking for evidence but we'd burnt all the wrappers etc, we weren't that stupid. So after that a member of the guard used to bed down in the cookhouse for the night, that kept us quiet for the rest of term.
I remember, vaguely, the Omdurman incident. I didn't realise that it was as many 48 boys that absconded although it was hushed up and we didn't socialise much between platoons. The other side of camp was unknown territory! Can't say as the name McLagan rings any bells with me although doubtless it will to the former Omdurman lads. On the whole I thought the staff were pretty well picked but obviously the odd bad apple slipped past the screening.

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