Suffolk Regiment in Cyprus 1958/59

Finding Friends – Where are you now?

 

By Margaret Sheard…..

I find when writing about certain subjects that they generate more potential articles and this was the case when I did a review of the book by Martin Bell – The End of Empire.  Martin Martin Bellalso served with the Suffolk Regiment in Cyprus and his name popped up in one of my articles about Fingers the Goat, which he also referred to in his book.

This prompted me to make contact with the unfortunate Lance Corporal at the time who took the brunt of the blame for a goat being adopted by C Company of the Suffolks, which was totally against regulations but had a happy ending as Fingers was made the official mascot.

The Lance Corporal was Graham Spinks, known as Spike, and he is overwhelmed with the notoriety that Fingers has suddenly achieved.  A lovely story which probably made theFingers on the March lives of those national servicemen a little easier to deal with when finding themselves in a land very much different to their own homeland.

Spike came up with another story of his time in Cyprus and thought it might be an opportunity to make contact with 2 more of his buddies from those early years and of course Martin Bell also features in this story too.  This is Spike’s story of being granted “Privilege Leave” and taking a trip to Israel with two other servicemen – Kershaw and York :

The history of the Israel trip was as follows .

In late 1958 my section was brought back to the main camp late one night/evening from the hills after laying an ambush/surveillance operation. The cookhouse would always have a hot meal (one per man) prepared and ready for a section returning to camp out of hours like this and this was the case for my section.  On this occasion the duty cook asked me, had I heard about Martin Bell?  My immediate reaction was had he been shot or injured in some way?   The stunning reply to my question was NO he was going on holiday (on active service no one goes on holiday) so I was about to dismiss this as another unlikely rumour among many others that were about in those days, when Martin walked in with I think at least two others carrying suitcases and dressed in CIVILIAN clothes????  He told me that this holiday was granted as a privilege leave and he came to my tent and kindly explained how he got this holiday granted, which involved writing a Queen’s Regulation letter addressed to the Colonel (remember him in connection with the Fingers incident?).  I wrote an application letter which had to include the phrase “we the undersigned remain your humble and obedient servants”.  I did not want to include it but my Sergeant Major informed me that it had to be included otherwise the Colonel would not be obligated to reply either verbally or in writing if it was not there, so I did and the rest is history.  I stayed at an hotel in Ben Yehuda Street, Tel Aviv in January 1959.

l-r Pat Arbon, Kershaw, Derek Chilvers
l-r Pat Arbon, Kershaw, Derek Chilvers

There were some lighter moments during the troubled times in Cyprus in the late 1950’s and some very happy memories to look back on about events and comrades.    This is one of the reasons for this article as Spike would like to get in touch with the 2 friends who accompanied him to Israel.  Unfortunately the names are a bit vague now but this is as much as Spike can remember –

? Kershaw from north of King’s Lynn, Norfolk and a medical Corporal ? York from Yorkshire.

I remembered the name Kershaw from my very first article about the Suffolk Regiment, which I wrote together with Derek Chilvers.  Derek had included a memory when he and Private Kershaw were detailed to a mine referred to as The Incline.

So where are you now Private Kershaw and Corporal York ???  Spike would love to hear from you as I am sure would some of the other “lads” of the Suffolk Regiment in Cyprus 1958/59 and who still keep in touch.

To see some of the articles referred to above please click on the links shown below.

Review – The End of Empire by Martin Bell – click here

British Army Memories in Cyprus 1958/59 – click here

Fingers the Goat – click here

There are many other articles about the Suffolk Regiment reunions, Minden Day etc. and these can be found by inserting Suffolk Regiment in the search box at the bottom of the home page.

C Company