Having completed my Air Despatch training at Watchfield under the guidance of the then Corporals Armitage, Les Hickling and Dave O’Bee, the unit was assembled and on roll call divided up. The division turned out to be the difference between those going to Suez (July/August 1956) and the rear party who were to be staying behind thus making up the permanent staff. Later that year the Southern Command Championships were held at Tidworth and the Unit had already nominated athletes for their various events. Those of us left behind had to double and treble up on events to take the places of our absentees. It proved to be quite a strenuous ordeal, but, at the final reckoning 47 Coy did not by any means disgrace itself in that we managed to achieve second place being beaten only by the Royal Artillery of Regimental strength by one single point. Truly a credit to those of us who took part and the fitness that our normal routines required of us in Air Despatch.
For those who may remember the expertise and the working environments of the Far East and 55 Coy in particular, I wonder how many can still remember the honour granted to 55 Coy in that of all the units in Far East Command the Company was awarded the privilege of being the Guard of Honour for Malaysia’s first Prime Minister, Tunku Abdul Rahman on the night of independence in 1957. I was a member of the Guard and believe the Corporal Willie Watson was Guard Commander for that occasion.
In respect of Les Hickling, I was to meet up with him again in 200 Hovercraft Squadron RCT in 1971 where we were both pilots (he was also the Squadron Sergeant Major) and again later when on route to an exercise in Turkey we met at Brize Norton where he had been posted to as the Regimental Sergeant Major. That was the last time I had any contact with Les or his wife Brenda, although theirs and my children did for a time attend the same school in Hampshire.Open Door Contents