Some Memories of Longleat


I joined the Army straight from school in June 1945. Although I did not have a trade I asked for the Royal Engineers and claimed family connections, because starting with my Grandfather and his older brother most of my male relatives had served in the corps.

I did my six weeks basic training at Bodmin in Cornwall and was then posted to 9 Training Bn. RE at Portland for Sapper training, then to 8 Training Bn at Lockerbie, Scotland, on a Cadre course. After passing that it was back to 9 Bn as a training NCO and then to 3 Bn. At Cove.

I then applied for a transfer to Survey and was posted to Longleat in May 1946.

I joined a Svyr Trig course which had already started three weeks previously so was at a bit of a disadvantage. The rest of the course members were all ex Boys from North Wales,  and although like all ex Boys were rather a cliquey lot, they soon appeared to accept me Ė an outsider,  and took me under their collective wings and helped me a lot. Unfortunately the only name I can remember is that of Cedric Pyne,  are you still out there?

After the Svyr Trig I then took a Dmn. Topo. course and was at Longleat for some twelve months in all before going to the A. P. I. U. at RAF Nuneham near Oxford.

Some of the things I remember about Longleat :-

Coming back off leave and filling a Palliasse and Bolster with straw in the dark and later hearing rustling in the straw while I was lying on it in bed.

Playing Rugby in gym shoes on a Wednesday afternoon and running down the wing with the ball thinking I had it made, only to hit the ground with a thump after a hefty tackle by Cedric Pyne. Maybe thatís why I remember the name.

Freezing cold winter of 1946/47 when I think every other unit on Salisbury Plain closed down except us, and we spent more time at Warminster Railway Station filling trucks with coal than in the classroom. Also going up to the cookhouse for breakfast one morning and all we got was a mug of cold water and some bread. !!  No coal.

One weekend, some of the lads went out and came back with what looked like a telegraph pole. I donít know where they got it but it kept our stoves going over the weekend.

German POWs replacing the army cooks in the cookhouse. Boy, did our food improve in both quality and quantity, there was even enough for a supper meal at night, and the pastry cook used to turn out some lovely cakes and pastries. How come our rations seemed to suddenly increase?

Walking back across the Park in the evening and hearing two stags roaring at each other and gradually coming closer. So I went up the nearest tree and watched them fight it out underneath, then climbed down and ran the rest of the way.

How when someone had to report to the guardroom in the evening for some minor misdemeanour everyone seemed to chip in with an immaculate item of equipment. They were a good bunch. Unfortunately I never met up with any of them again. I always went to the Middle East and they seemed to go to East Africa or Malaya, or our tours didnít coincide.

When on guard duty, having to take the early call book round and wake people up and get them to sign it, including the A. T. S.

Doesnít a barrack room full of people with all the windows shut PONG in the early morning, especially when you have been out in the cold fresh air.

All in all, I canít remember any bad times.


With thanks to Des Davey for this contribution.