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Sandbag Reminiscences of Colin Holroyd Sandbag
That's Very Interesting
I had what can only be described as a "very interesting" experience at Tonfanau camp in 1962.
In December 1961 I had left grammar school with a good batch of GCE "O" levels. I knew that it was possible to continue my education through the Armed Forces and, as a result applied to join the army in February 1962. The staff at the Northampton Recruiting office confirmed that I could take my "A" levels and go to university as a soldier. It seemed ideal - I wanted to study modern languages and then become an interpreter. On February 19th I enrolled in the Intelligence Corps and was told that I would be joining the AAJLR at Tonfanau the next day.
The day after my arrival in Tonfanau I was summoned to see one of the senior officers there. He told me were that he did not know why I had been sent there and that there were no facilities to teach me "A" levels in languages. This was a mighty shock to a 16 year old lad. I asked him to arrange a transfer to a place (Welbeck College) where I could pursue my studies. He saw me later in the day to tell me that I could not be transferred. I can remember being furious and I told him that I wanted to leave. He asked me to think things over for a couple of days and then see him again. The next time I was able to see the officer was 4 days from the date I had joined the army. I reiterated that I wanted to leave the army as it had reneged on the deal it had made with me regarding my future education. He then informed me that had I had missed a 3 day deadline during which time I apparently had been free to leave. I knew nothing about this 3 day period in which a recruit could change his mind. It was now going to cost me £20 to buy myself out of the army and I had no money!
It took me until May 1962 to raise the necessary funds to buy myself out. During the period from February to May I continued my training and in March passed out from Recruit Company - 2 Platoon, hence my appearance on the photograph for March 1962. I was a sporty lad so threw myself into all the sport and physical activities and particularly enjoyed abseiling down the cliffs and mountain climbing. After a spot of leave I was put into Falaise Platoon in A Company and stayed there until, on May 5th, I put £20 down on the desk of the CO of A Company. But this wasn't to be a straight forward transaction as the CO tried to tell me that I had missed the £20 deadline and that the figure had now risen to £200. It is impossible to put into words how I felt on hearing this. However, I went through the dates of my army service with the officer until he eventually reluctantly agreed to my buy out.
May 7th 1962 was a great day. It was the day that I travelled home happily clutching my "pending discharge by purchase" document.
Regards Colin Holroyd

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