Heritage

Cyprus remembered by Bill (Chalky) White, ex Welch Regiment


 Cyprus remembered by Bill (Chalky) White
ex-Welch Regiment

Introduction by Margaret Sheard …..

I love the stories of British national servicemen who served in Cyprus way back in the 1950s and 1960s and was so pleased to hear from another Cyprus veteran of the Welch Regiment who has shared his memories with us.

My Cyprus memories

By Bill (Chalky) White …..

I was sent to Cyprus to do my UK National Service and was there from August 1956 until December 1958 with the Welch Regiment and was attached to the M/T Section.   We were an advance party for the battalion and so we flew from Gatwick, via Nice, Malta to Nicosia Airport,   whilst much later the rest of the Battalion came over by sea.   I originally joined up for National Service and after my service in Cyprus I decided to become a regular and signed on in Germany and was finally demobbed in 1962.

M.T. Platoon – 1st Bn The Welch Regiment, Luneburg, Germany 

In Cyprus I did part of my service at Aberdeen Camp, Xeros, Lefka and here are a few memories of that time.

When I was at Xeros camp (Aberdeen  camp) I was a driver in the M.T section and to  relieve the boredom of playing cards, I used to volunteer for  patrol duty.  On a lovely spring day we were out in the wooded area around Lefka village, when we spotted a bloke running away from  the patrol, so as it seemed a bit suspicious we gave chase with all six of us running after him, needless to say he got away. On the way back to the lorry one of the lads called us over to a gate,  and on looking down we spotted a large snake shedding its skin,  we must have been so fascinated that we forgot all about radioing back to base and the base commander started calling us all the idiots under the sun.   The wild life was, and still is, amazing in Cyprus.

Aberdeen Camp (Xeros), Lefke

We were issued with tins of self heating soup, and you had to puncture the top, if you did not the tin would explode showering all and sundry with scalding hot oxtail soup.  Well if we got bored  you would find one of these tins of soup rolling down the floor of the NAAFI,  great fun.   On one occasion we threw an empty tin into the boss’s tent, just to see how fast he could move.   Needless to say we all suffered for that little prank,   Halcyon days indeed.

Aberdeen Camp (Xeros), Lefke

I also spent 7 months at Dhavlos (Kaplica) which I thought was a lovely part of the island.

As a 3 ton lorry driver I perfected my driving skills over the mountain roads which was pretty hair-raising but at 18 years of age who cared!

There were a few incidents during my time in Cyprus and these I am sharing below.   For instance – who remembers a 3 tonner going over the side of the road with a cargo of 2nd battalion paratroopers, the only time they jumped without a parachute, the driver was Chalky White from Cardiff, (which was mef!).

This happened because one of those ”flying mantis insects” hit me in the eye and, for a moment, I lost control of the vehicle.  The paratroopers bailed out of the rear side front  top. of the 3 tonner and I was put on a charge for failing to avoid a foreign object – 7 days guard duty and no NAAFI nights..

Our Sergeant (God bless him) was Black Evans (his nickname), once heard never forgotten, his reason for the said charge was  that I should have had the  front screen  up and closed.   Looking back in hindsight he was of course correct, but all in all a memorable time we all had as squaddies.

I remember a time coming over the mountain road from Komi Kebir (now Buyukkonuk)  to Dhavlos (now Kaplica).  I was driving the last lorry loaded with petrol cans, there was no guard on board (we were short of men at the time), on  the first bend there was a water outlet pipe from the hills on the side of the road, where we used to stop and fill up our water cans.. We used to have a bet who was last back at Dhavlos was the loser and  had to get the beers in that night in the NAAFI.

Racing away the lads left me before I could start up the 3 tonner and when I got  it going I  tried to catch up with them but the lorry was playing up back-firing and spluttering, and finally it stopped altogether.  By this time the convoy was a few miles away, still thinking I was following.   By this time the battery on the 3 tonner had gone flat so I abandoned it and I started to walk hoping that one of the gang would realise that I was not with them.  I passed a few shepherds on the way and they started shouting and making a noise, so I knew that around somewhere were a few of the EOKA lads.

I walked back towards the 3 tonner and as I got back, coming up the road was a Land Rover  with an officer and 2 other ranks,  leaving one of the ranks with me, they went to arrange a tow truck to retrieve my vehicle.   So after all this I arrived last at the camp and I still had to get the beers in that night .

Maybe it doesn’t sound exciting  now, but it  did get the old heart racing a bit at the time.

I went back to North Cyprus about 2 years ago and went to Dhavlos to have a look around.  On the headland  to the right as you come from  the old road near the sea there are some old caves and whilst I was stationed there back in the mist of time, I carved my name and the name of my girl friend (who is now my wife) in the rock.   Blow me down it was still as clear as when I carved it with my bayonet all those years ago.   My wife and I were married in 1963 a year after I was demobbed.

After leaving the Army I started work in the GPO engineering department, in the garage, then went sub contracting  with the telephone side of the business  working self employed, up until I was  71  then finally  packed it in and went touring on the cruise ships

Editor’s Note:

Bill and his wife love ballroom dancing so now he has retired they have an opportunity to go away for dance weekend breaks.   Bill has said he would love to come back to Cyprus again and we hope he will, when we can spend some time with him visiting his old camp areas and sharing his memories.

We will also have a look for Bill’s carving in the cave wall at Dhavlos (Kaplica) when we are next in the area.

 

 

 

 

9 replies »

  1. Good write up, well done! lets hear from more regiments to come forward to tell their stories, there were a lot of them during the troubled period, must be some good stories hidden in the old memory boxes. Cheers Bob Scott – ex Royal Berkshire Regt.

  2. I now have contact with over 350 1955 to 1959 Cyprus Veterans and 75 next of kin of our 351 deceased comrades. I am encouraging the next of kin to apply for The Elizabeth Cross. I may have contact with one of your ex comrades who you have been looking for?? If you are interested you can e-mail me at cyprusveterans@gmail.com with you service details.

    Les Smith Royal Horse Guards Cyprus Veterans

    • Thanks Les for your comment. We are having some successes through our website as I am sure you are as well. Keep up the good work. Regards Margaret

  3. I was in Cyprus in 1957 for three months up in the Troodos Mountains with 40 Commando looking for Grivas & co. Platres was our depot but we were hardly ever there. Always in the hills. The Kyko Monastry was were Grivas we believe operated from.

    • Thank you for your comment. We are always pleased to receive information and memories of those who served in Cyprus in the late 1950’s. I will send a separate email.

    • Bob Scott ex – Royal Berks, 1960. just after I was demob the first of the amalgamations took place between – the Gloucester’s – R. Berks and the Wiltshire Regiments. The Royal Berks and the Wiltshire share a joint museum at Salisbury, a friend of mine who lives in the New Forest area has a friend ex – Wiltshire Regiment. If you like to give me details I could what i can find out. or you could contact ! The Curator, The Wardrobe, Salisbury..

      • Thanks Bob, I will send this on to Colin. We are now receiving a lot of comments and some of the ex-servicemen are starting to write about their memories so this is good news. It is important to try and get this sort of information recorded.

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