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Sandbag Reminiscences of Bob Potts Sandbag
Polishing Brown Pumps Black
September 1,1959, a nervous Bob Potts, presents himself at Tonfanau camp to find out he was a week early! There were about ten of us in the same boat, so I started on a brief and thankfully uneventful military career. Accommodated in a wooden spider hut in 'R' Company, my early morning dreams were swiftly shattered by a fire bucket flung into room in lieu of an early morning call. Later in the day we were scalped, issued with kit, boots with no laces jammed on feet, and slowly staggered up the hill back to 'R' Company, accompanied by ribald calls of 'You'll be sorry' all the way - how true. Then followed 6 weeks or was it 8 weeks of drill, PT, interrupted only by more drill. It was a bit cruel to be sweating on the Square and watch the 'Cambrian Coast Express' chugging past. After we formed part of Falaise Platoon, life eased slightly, and soon evolved into Drill, Weapon Training, Outward Bound, PT, and a lot of Education, as described by other lads more eloquently than I could ever achieve.
I 'Graduated' in July,1960, and after a marathon train journey involving 7 changes in FSMO, presented myself with a few others at the Guard Room, 15/19 Hussars for Corps Training. Life improved dramatically after this, and eventually I joined my Regiment, 11 Hussars, in Aden, via a short period with 3 DG's. Eventually, I was demobbed on my 24th birthday, with somewhat mixed feelings.
I lost touch completely following demob, only to be intrigued by a call inviting me to the Cherrypicker Reunion, where I was delighted to renew friendships with a lot of old mates, and there are no mates like Army mates.
Some short memories of Tonfanau:-
Seeing someone going to church parade wearing a Tin hat as he had lost his cap badge.
Being marched to AKC, first house only, 'R' company.
Cleaning my white lanyard with toothpaste, and cleaning my teeth with Blanco, no, I made the last bit up.
Sewing all them brass buttons on,
Sheep wandering everywhere.
Firing a .303 on the short range and watching the lookout frantically waving his arms about as bullets were passing right through wall because the sand had slipped too far down.
Doubling up to Gym wearing PT kit and Greatcoat - hadn't tracksuits been invented?
Polishing brown pumps black, why didn't they give us black ones in the first place?
Looking like refugees from 'All Quiet on the Western Front.'
I went back to Tonfanau a few years ago, it looked really sad. I believe the last time anyone lived there, it was to house a load of Ugandan refugees some 20 plus years ago. I can't say I missed the place, I was much happier when I left, but I was certainly a different character when I went home on that first leave, for better or worse, well you don't know, you cannot go down two roads at once.
Bob Potts.

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