Happy Birthday from RMP Anti Vice

By Roy Oswick

Shortly after the Independence of Cyprus was agreed troops stationed on the island were permitted to visit the towns and cities on the island and enjoy the new found hospitality of the Cypriot population. This included the bars and nightclubs that existed but had never previously been available.

Almost every town and some large villages had a thriving business in the employment of Ladies of the Night.  Naturally, with a healthy red blooded population of British Forces stationed here, there was an opportunity for a huge trade to exist and  it was decided that Military Police would clearly signpost areas containing such establishments as OUT OF BOUNDS  to British Tanzimat St is - off limitsForces and it was further decided to establish an Anti Vice section of RMP who would be responsible for maintaining files on known establishments of ill repute and details of the staff that were employed therein.

At the time I was serving in Limassol Detachment of Cyprus District Provost Unit and the NCO in charge  of the Anti vice section was Cpl Buck Jones. Buck was  a very professional NCO  with a less than sympathetic attitude and the sense of humour of a house brick. In due course my turn to serve with the Anti Vice section came around and I was given  a full briefing by Buck Jones who made it abundantly clear that any serviceman found in any one of the out of bounds areas or buildings was to be apprehended and placed under close arrest in the nearest Guard Room. These rules were to be applied to all military personnel, regardless of Rank, Service, or unit.

A day or so later I found myself detailed to accompany Buck on a night duty patrolling the OUT OF BOUNDS areas and the buildings therein. These consisted of bars and nightclubs and several houses used for the specific purpose of providing  female company.

We operated in civilian clothes and were issued with a black Landrover which did not have Tack Signs or RMP boards. The idea was that this would assist in maintaining some form of cover. In fact the vehicle was the only one of its kind in the area and was quickly identified by all troops as a plain clothes RMP vehicle.

However on this evening Buck and I saw what we thought was a soldier in uniform enter one of the out of bounds houses and decided to follow. I was intent upon going straight in but was held back by Buck, “ Hang on a bit” he said “if we go straight in, chances are he will see us and get out through a window before we get to him” So we waited about 15 minutes and then in we went. The manager wanted to know what we wanted but was well used to having his business interrupted,  Buck told him that we had good reason to believe that a soldier was in the building.

Despite his protestations we went up the stairs as quietly as we could and arrived on the landing.  Just along the landing was one door that was ajar.  Approaching the door Buck shouted for it to be opened and it quickly was. A very attractive but somewhat under dressed young lady attempted to convince us that there was no one in the room however there were  the heels of a pair of Army Issue boots  protruding from under the bed. “You get him out “ Buck said to me “I’ll go and check her card”.  Every employee of these establishments was required to have medical checks at frequent intervals to ensure that no unpleasant diseases went unidentified or untreated.

I managed to drag the unfortunate from under the bed identified myself and placed him under arrest. It transpired that he was from the Devon and Dorset Regiment, stationed at Episkopi.

I took him down the stairs and was about to place him in the Landrover when Buck joined me, at the same moment 4 other soldiers in uniform came round the corner and Happy Birthdaysaw that we had the other soldier under arrest and about to be taken away. One of the four approached us and I saw that he had Lance Corporal stripes on his arm. “DO US A FAVOUR MATE“ he said, “LET HIM OFF, IT’S HIS BIRTHDAY AND WE ALL CHIPPED IN FOR HIM AS A PRESENT”

I thought that Buck would explode as he was not renowned for his kindness and goodwill. I was therefore totally gobsmacked to hear him say. “Well Happy Birthday lad. Do not let me catch you here again” and turning to the Lance Corporal he said, “Get him out of here before I change my mind” and off they went with many cheers and thank you’s shouted to us as they went.

Before I could say anything Buck smiled and said ”Now don’t go thinking that I’ve gone ga ga but I CHECKED THAT GIRLS CARD  SHE HAS NOT BEEN CHECKED FOR 3 MONTHS AND SHE HAD BEEN FOUND TO HAVE A NASTY PROBLEM. SO I THINK IN A FEW DAYS TIME OUR FRIEND WILL BE WISHING THAT HIS MATES HAD NOT BEEN SO GENEROUS. That’s enough punishment for anyone I think”

Part of our duties was to attend the  Special Treatment Clinics during morning Sick Parade and to interview new patients with the intention of identifying the premises and the girls that had resulted in their condition. Sure enough about 2 weeks after the incident Buck and I were on duty at the Clinic when our man attended. After treatment we called him in for interview.

“WELL WELL” said Buck, “I’m sure that I know you, you’re my Birthday Boy aren’t you?  Say thank you Corporal for the nice present, and should I give LUCY your love when I see her?”

The response was short and not for print but it definitely involved sex and travel.

Just as I completed this article I learned of the death of Buck Jones. In all of the years that I served only once did I have the pleasure of serving with Buck, and that was in Cyprus during my very first army posting. I had spent the first few months as part of the C-in-C’s Escort section and after it disbanded I found myself serving with West Cyprus District Pro Coy, and fortunately placed in the General Duties Section commanded by  Corporal Buck Jones. I say fortunately because the Coy was made up Corporal Buck Jonesof several sections each commanded by a full Corporal, but without doubt Corporal Buck Jones had the best of the sections. This was not because we were any better than the others, but simply because Buck had the natural leaders ability to get the very best out of those that he commanded. Never a bully he would put his point across in the most pleasant and determined way which left no room for doubt as to what was expected and the standards to be achieved. In return for our efforts we, as his section, knew that he would always have our best interests at heart and was always there when needed to offer support and advice. As I said I never served with Buck again but the standards that he set, and the management skills that he displayed stayed with me throughout my career, and there were many situations that I faced when I would think, “I wonder what Buck would have done?” In almost every case I found the answer.

So often we hear when a death is reported, Gone but not forgotten, I know that at this point I am not alone in saying that for Buck, this will ever be the case, and there are many of us that owe him much and will never forget him

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