Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Saturday 27th March 1937

Morning: to the office, in town clothes, with a salesman’s suitcase in my hand.

Afternoon; to Bisley, wearing old grey bags, tweed jacket, ancient Scout shirt, regulation Navy boots and a dirty old mackintosh. In my suitcase was my no.3 uniform – with a red pair of crossed flags on the jumper sleeve! I think that if ever in the next few years I waver in my love of the defence services, if ever I doubt, the memory of this happy journey to Bisley will bring back my keenness. Took a taxi from Brookwood station and arrived magnificently at the RNVR hut. Only half a dozen ratings there with a torpo. CPO and Commander Nicholson – who was acting as recruiting officer the night I joined. So the quarters were not packed as the usually are, and I leisurely selected a well placed upper bunk, three mattresses and three blankets.

After supper I went for a solitary stroll towards Brookewood, in the moon light.
I met several soldiers returning to Camp, their boots making a metallic clatter on the road. My boots made a similar pleasant noise. Then, as I walked between the woods, I saw an orderly line of glowing cigarette ends ahead, heard an even more rhythmic thud of boots. Presently a platoon of infantry marched by, rifles slung.

I reached a roadside tea kiosk and saw an oilskin clad figure there. It was Davis, one of the RNVR men. We had some tea (at a penny a cup!) and scathingly discussed the Territorials, swaggering about nearby with their rifles.

Back at the hut, seven of us settled down to a game of Pontoon. I started with 1/6 in loose change. At 1 o’clock I had 4/-. At 3 o’clock, when the last three players threw down their cards, I owed 1.1d. The room was a haze of tobacco smoke.

I turned in and wrapped myself in the blankets. Sleep.

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