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Pull Up A Sandbag
Sandbag Reminiscences of Mick Bradley Sandbag
All Alone Was I
It is 48 years since in September 1964 I first stepped off the train at Tonfanau halt and what a shock to the system that was ........
It was late evening and I think I was the only new recruit, well if not the only new recruit I was certainly the only person to get off at that stop. I can't remember how I got from the station up to 'R' Company at the top of the hill?
The first members of permanent staff I met was Sergeant Jim Daniel's (R.M.P.) and Sergeant Charlie Payne (R.A.S.C. ), as it was at that time, I was also scheduled for the R.A.S.C.
From then on all we seemed to do was to bully boots and clean brasses, I have never used so much brasso before or after.
Then the usual drill down on parade ground and when it was bad weather (6 days a week ) it was in one of the drill sheds which made the shouts of Sergeant Daniel's seem even louder, if that was at all possible.
I do remember some of the other guys, Ken Wright who was a Geordie, John Horrocks a Londoner, a rather large guy called Thomas who I think was welsh and a well over 6ft giant who's name I can't remember but feel sure it will come to me.
There was a lot of what you could call bitching after staff left for the night but then again we all were all only around 15 to 16 year old.
The food, if you could call it that, was to say the least sparse but I met a guy in the cookhouse who like me as we were both from Belfast so when he got the chance he slipped me that little bit of extra food. I do remember that he had a very bad motorbike accident that nearly killed him; it was near the end of our three months recruit training so I did get to visit him in hospital. It was a hospital miles from the camp in one of the biggest towns, I just can't remember which town but it cost me nearly a week's pay to get there.
Then it was graduation day at last and home on leave.
When I returned I was in Dettingen platoon 'D' Company. Not much of a difference from 'R' Company, just slightly more freedom if you could call it that?
I also remember a Roman Catholic Padre who I and a few other guys got to know, we actually went nearly every Saturday or Sunday down into Towyn, as it was then, to his home where we worked in his garden getting it in tip top shape all for a decent cuppa and a few cakes.
Then on the 9th November 1965 I got a compassionate discharge due to the fact that my mother, who was a widow, was dying of cancer.
If I am to be honest I actually didn't want to leave the Regiment as I wanted to stay on and go into man's army. Oh well that's life I suppose.
One other thing, as I said earlier I joined up as a recruit in R.A.S.C. but when I was about half way through rookie training the M.O.D. for some reason decided to change it to R.C.T. so I had to change all the buttons on my uniforms. It took what seemed like forever and was, I think, the first time I used, what I think it was called, my housewife.

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