The Open Door
Ramblings of A Yorkshire Yeti: John Butler

The Yorkshire YetiIn late 1961 Yorkie, Acting on advice given by his best mate Alf, decided he would join the British Army. He had two reasons for doing this; one, he trusted his mate, and two he was pissed off with being treated like a moron on the building sites that he was working on.

So armed with this pristine and lonely thought in his mind, he set of with his mate Alf, to darkest Doncaster to the Army recruiting office. There he had to undergo a medical to see if he was fit to join up. “Cof!” Said the doc. Well that worked so he was asked to stand on one leg, and close one eye. Quite what the point of this was he was unable to figure out at the time, but it soon became apparent that if you were a soldier, there could come a time when you only had one leg and one eye, so you had better be able to use them.

Next stop Aldershot. Where the 'kinell was Aldershot.

After a long train ride and God knows how many changes of trains he and a bloke called Bill finally got to Buller Barracks. A name that was to stick in his and a myriad of other men’s memories for ever as a place next to hell.

Next morning he and Bill and around a hundred other blokes, who it seems had had the same daft idea as him and Bill were dragged out of bed at six a.m. by a bunch of stick waving dustbin bashing morons, they looked just like the morons on the building site only these ones were wearing uniforms.

“What the 'kinell have I got myself into now”,  thought Yorkie, but he thought it can’t be as bad as those bloody building sites, so he decided to stick it out, and anyway Alf had told him it was OK in Germany once you got through training, and he would soon meet up with Alf over there.

How wrong he was to think that. Alf had fallen in love with a girl back home and had bought himself out without telling Yorkie, and he never did meet up with him.

So after training to be a killer of men, and terrorizing the inhabitants of Yeovil and Taunton whilst learning to drive, off to Germany Yorkie. Along went his new mates Bill and Brian — a re-enlisted man, who should have known better than to join up again. For a change, they took to terrorising Germans with their driving.

After some time spent moving trucks that needed moving, and some that didn’t, it was time for new postings. Brian had the bright idea to rejoin his old unit, in the world of Air Despatch. Unfortunately for Brian he got kicked out of the army before they got posted, so Bill and Yorkie went without him.

Here they met men who they would travel the world with. But first a bit of training in how to put things in boxes and chuck em out of aeroplanes.

It was not all work for these lads, and they had some memorable times at a few nameless places in Swindon (names withheld to protect the guilty). SAome of the locals were not very friendly and Yorkie advised at least one of them to go back to the jungle. (I remember it well — Editor.) Little did Yorkie know that he would be the one heading to the jungle before very long.

Next came a posting to Tangmere airfield where Yorkie made a lasting impression on the SSM, by telling this unbeliever that the laundry would not clean his combat kit. The laundry having said it was too old to clean and that perhaps he (the SSM) should put it in the laundry for him. How Yorkie stayed out of jail that day still remains a mystery. Perhaps the SSM did believe him after all.

More likely was the fact that Yorkie was to make up a troop that was needed in the Borneo Jungle. More training and jabs for things that none of the men had ever heard of, and of they flew to Singapore. Another place they had never heard of but were destined to grow to love.

They did even more training here, part of the training being the drinking of Tiger Beer. This is an art that they were to get really good at.  A good thing that we had  the 20 cent breakfast machine (Coke). They had to learn to count in decimal here as the local currency was the Malaysian Dollar and they could all sing the song about that.

Next stop Borneo. Here we were at Kuching airbase where we started packing and flying and throwing things at the poor buggers down below in the jungle. Most of the stuff got to where it was supposed to go, though some of it took strange paths on the way. Meat and ice through the roof of the cookhouse, Ammo into the bunkers, and chickens freshly plucked from their 100 mile per hour flight from the aircraft to the drop zone. Chickens of course are not designed to fly at that, or any speed, the cages they were in sometimes disintegrated in the slipstream from the aircraft. The ones that did make it down gave the troops on the ground lots of training in jungle escape and evasion tactics.

All the boys at the jungle DZs were expert swimmers,  as witnessed by the Despatchers as they (the dz. crews) rescued NAAFI packs from the river that ran through a lot of the DZs. Even the hilltop DZs seemed to have a river running through them.

One day the boys got a signal from an irate captain somewhere in the jungle. He was complaining that the pocket watch from his family that had been very carefully packed and dropped to him was not working. The next day the boys dropped him a clock face they had made from a 44-gallon drum baseboard, and added the message that this one would be right twice a day.

One-day Yorkie and his mates were flying with Uncle Tom (wheels up coffee up). A Master Pilot, whose last job was flying Spitfires over Germany. They were all leaning out of windows and doors, looking for a new drop zone, when Yorkie saw sparks that seemed to be flying off the engine. Popping his head back inside Yorkie asked his No 1 Despatcher to ask Uncle Tom, if there was trouble with the engine. “No”, came the reply. “In that case tell Uncle Tom to get the 'kinell of here. Someone is firing at us”, said Yorkie. Uncle Tom needed no second bidding. He had been there before, and this time he had no guns to shoot back with.

Flying low over the local Dyak and Iban tribes’ longhouses, was a welcome treat for these men. As the young nubile ladies of the tribes, raised their eyes to the sky. Tribal dress consisting only of a sarong type skirt with no top, was the cause of more than one Despatcher wanting to fly down to the longhouses.

There is far more to the tale of Yorkie and his pals, but it would not be the right thing to expose some of the antics they got up to. They are far better off being kept as dark secrets for the enjoyment of those who were there. They should not become common knowledge for the men who were supposed to keep these lads under control. Some of them were far more high spirited and got up to tricks of their own.

Open Door Contents