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Pull Up A Sandbag
Sandbag Reminiscences of Eddie Jonas Sandbag
Like A Duck To Water
When Richard Abraham contacted me out of the blue I was very happy to take a trip down memory lane and re visit my time at AAJLR Tonfanau. I dug out my old photos and I fondly remembered what was really a very important albeit short time in my life.
I was an older junior leader joining in spring 1962 at nearly 17 years young. I was living at home in the Northeast in a miner's cottage with no internal sanitation having messed up my grammar school GCE's in 1961 and a bit of a baby boom rebel. My elder brother had joined the military police to avoid national service and when he returned from a stint in Kenya persuaded me and my family that the army was the best place for me. The advice was to "learn a trade" and I selected Royal Signals Radio Technician. Because of my age I joined AAJLR and one damp spring morning left home in the North East to take that long train journey to North Wales. Posted to 4 Platoon I got stuck into basic training and took to it like the proverbial duck. I met some great guys with their colourful hat badges but my best mate was a vicar's son in the military police (Taffy Thomas). He was later persuaded to join a blood and thunder tank regiment by an officer whose view of the army for a trade was slightly coloured.
Posted to Normandy Platoon "C" Company I sailed through my army senior exams; passed another couple of GCE's; enjoyed 2 summers at home with plenty of money; played Basketball for the Regiment at places like RAF Cosford; took the regimental minibus and compo rations on a trip to Germany with Bob Dawson Education Corps and Taff and others (Acker Dee was there). Platoon Commander Lt Norris of the Lancashire Fusiliers took a shine to me and decided to groom me for officer entry; I attended the Towyn Outward Bound centre for this purpose. The "bad" bits were lack of money during term time and selling stamps for fags - I also remember JFK's shooting.
Because of my background I quickly rose up the ranks to Junior Sgt. Taff did the same so we mixed with the junior CSM (Geoff Morton Welch Fusiliers) and junior RSM (Terry Scriven RMP). This was my first introduction to the privileges of rank; we had our own rooms and barged to the front of the queues at mealtimes. This spoilt me for the rest of my army "career".
Graduating in December 63, I was posted to Catterick for trade training - what a let down. I didn't like the change to full army life and did not identify with Royal Signals the way I had with AAJLR- the advice given to Taff was very true. I actually attended a WOSB while at Catterick for officer entry following Lt Norris's recommendation and was deferred. - I didn't try again. I trained as a Radio Technician and was posted to Krefeld Germany to 16 Signals Regiment. I met some great guys, lots of whom had come from other Junior Regiments in particular the Army Apprentice College in Harrogate. I spent 4 years in Germany got to T2 Corporal but got bored with the life and couldn't see myself staying on long term. I got married and because I had only signed on for 6 years left at the first opportunity.
I was only 24 and I was able to start a new career and actually studied to be an accountant doing some of my training at the RAPC Worthy Down with the Royal Ordnance Factories. I am now 60 and a Granddad 4 times over.
The AAJLR web site has some great stories and I am very impressed with the number of Junior Leaders who stayed the course and spent their lives in the Army. My elder brother left the Military Police as a full Colonel and stayed on until he was 65 as a Retired Officer. I have posted all of my photos and been in contact with a couple of long lost pals - but where is Taff?
I am forever thankful for what I believe was a major character shaping event in my life and I will always be proud to say that I was a Junior Leader.
Eddie Jonas

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