Suffolk Regiment “Old Boys”
relive old times and new
with entertainment by one of their own
Introduction by Margaret Sheard……
A few of the ex-servicemen who served in Cyprus in the late 1950’s with the Suffolk Regiment will be making their normal visit to North Cyprus to attend the Remembrance Service in Kyrenia, followed by a lunch where they have a chance to get-together with ex-servicemen from many different branches of the Armed Services who spent time in Cyprus with the Army, Navy and Royal Air Force. Our little group of friends make a trip to Wayne’s Keep each year and this year we will be joined by 3 members of the Royal Horse Guards.
I keep in touch with Derek Chilvers, ex-serviceman with the Suffolk Regiment and he keeps me up to date with what is happening with the “old boys” of that regiment who keep in contact and attend get-togethers whenever they can.
Derek has recently been very busy, together with one of his fellow ex-servicemen – Chris Black Veness, organising an event at Derek’s local club where Chris was to entertain with his friend Rosie who make up the duo The Black Katz. Chris formed a band when he was in Cyprus at Kykko Camp and he has had a musical career ever since.
I am giving below the review which Derek has written which includes a trip he made with a person he had met who remembered Chris from years ago, which brought back some nostalgic memories from his time in Cyprus, and the entertainment evening which had given Derek a few sleepless nights wondering if it would be successful As you will read, he need not have worried, it was a great success.
Review by Derek Chilvers
The Black Katz entertain at my local club
At one of the Suffolk Regiment “old boys” get-togethers, it was suggested that Chris (Muncher) Veness, who continued as a musician following his army days in Cyprus, together with his partner, Rosie, who are now known as “The Black Katz”, should give a performance at my local club Claydon & Barham Community Centre, Claydon Church Lane, Claydon, Ipswich, Suffolk, where many of the “old boys” would look forward to seeing them perform. I volunteered to organise this with the help of the Club Manager, Michelle, a good friend who gave me a lot of support during the time of my wife’s battle with cancer, which sadly she lost 2 years ago. I must admit I was very apprehensive about whether the concert would be successful and if enough people would attend, but I needn’t have worried, it all went extremely well and I must give credit to Michelle who gave me a lot of support with the organisation.
It was a terrific night with Chris and Rosie, quite an eye opener. They arrived at my home at about 3pm and as Chris stumbled out of his van his first words were I need a lovely cup of tea so as we went inside I put the kettle on and we went into my lounge to sit down, Rosie sitting on my settee and stretching her legs out saying it was lovely to stretch out after something like three and a half hours sitting in the van and Chris in an armchair fumbling with his baccy pouch to make a rollie and asking permission to smoke which didn’t worry me as he shoved a third of it in his mouth and lit up, that is his style and I think he chews the third in his mouth but he enjoys it.
Our next stop was down into Claydon in my car for a meal at The Crown. After the meal it was back to collect their van then down to the club where I helped them unload all their gear (an awful lot of it) into the club and onto the stage then I left them to it and went home to change for the evening.
When I was ready to go I went out to my car and there were my neighbours Michael, Larraine, Christine and Peter getting into their car to come to the club so they followed me down and when we walked in there was already quite a number of people chatting with Chris and Rosie.
I left my friends to find a table because more people were coming through the door and among them were Barbara and Noel King, Jacqueline and Brian Stock, Les Andrews and a friend from my schooldays Geoff Ship and his wife June and behind them came Margaret and Bernie Manning who came to our last reunion then June and Pat Arbon came in so we now had a good turnout of the Suffolk’s lads. Brian Stock’s son Gary and his wife Karen turned up a little later due to work and it is Gary in front of the stage with his mum Jackie.
At 8.15 a lovely lady named Kerry who is a club member came in with a microphone in her hand and welcomed every one and then introduced Chris and Rosie, Black Katz, and away we went with Chris playing guitar with back up music and Rosie singing a mixture of well known songs then Chris showed up his talent on the guitar with some fabulous music and then a couple of songs again and the first session was over and during the interval Kerry went round selling raffle tickets for the wonderful array of prizes the audience had brought in with them.
During the interval after the raffle Chris and Rosie were busy moving chairs near to the stage and bringing out a mixture of instruments, some home-made, among them a tea chest and broom stick, and by the end of the interval they had us army lad’s all sitting on the chairs all holding an instrument and wearing one of the assortment of hats and from the stage Chris introduced us as the Cyprus Six Playing Together Again. He turned his music on and we all began playing our instruments to pre-recorded skiffle music and I think everybody in the hall had a good old sing-along with Rosie on the stage leading us on, a fantastic fifteen minutes of fun.
After we all settled down again Chris showed his talent again with some more guitar music singing along as well then the evening was drawing to an end with both Chris and Rosie singing and at 11.20 Kerry brought it all to a happy ending.
A brilliant evening with tremendous entertainment. As everyone left the hall saying what a wonderful evening it had been I helped our musical friends to pack up and load all the gear back onto the van and after saying goodbye to Michelle, the club’s manager who was very pleased with the evening, I said goodbye to Black Katz and as they went off on their long journey home I went home to my bed a very happy relieved person.
BLACK KATZ GIG AT CLAYDON
There was an evening of real nostalgia for some of us old Suffolk Regiment National Servicemen who served together in Cyprus in 1957/59, many of us in 7 Platoon (The Grave Diggers), C Company, when we had a get together at Claydon & Barham Community Centre near Ipswich on Friday 2 October 2015, where Chris Fender Black & Rosie B put on their Black Katz show.
Chris & Rosie put on a great two hour show of guitar playing and singing which included many of the old favourites.
Chris (who was Chris Veness in his National Service days) brought back many memories when he reformed his skiffle group of his Cyprus days with six of us taking part with wash board, tea chest, etc. singing many of the old favourites of 1958 skiffle.
There was a good turn out of us ‘old boys’, wives, partners and locals. A great time was had by all in the comfortable surroundings of the community centre.
Our next Suffolk Regiment ‘Old Boys’ Army Reunion (Cyprus c.1957-1959) will be a Christmas meal at the Rushbrooke Arms, Sicklesmere, Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk, IP30 0BU, on Sunday 6 December 2015, from 12.00 midday onwards. Hopefully this will be a repeat of successful meeting we had there last year. I’m sure it will be.
A BIG thank you to Derek Chilvers who organised it all.
Patrick Arbon (ex-Corporal 23429074) C Company – Suffolk Regiment
A visit to Duxford Imperial War Museum
I met Derek Firman at my local club and he remembered Chris from years ago and from my meeting with him he phoned and asked me if I had been to Duxford Imperial War Museum which was somewhere I had often thought I would like to visit. Because he was not keen on driving distances on his own he asked me to accompany him on a visit which I accepted and had a wonderful time looking at aircraft and military vehicles of all sorts and the weapons that went with them.
They had a large display cabinet in one hangar and in the cabinet was a display of infantry weapons used in conflict over the years and I sat down on a bench looking at a bren gun and closed my eyes and went back to Cyprus in my thoughts and finished with tears in my eyes thinking of all the miles and different places I had carried my bren gun.
I am showing photos of me standing beside two vehicles the same as which we had helping us with our patrols in Cyprus and one was known to me as a bren gun carrier and “Frosty” and myself went on patrol sitting on the engine covers of it. On one occasion we had a terrific storm with heavy rain, thunder and lightning and all we had was our ponchos/groundsheets for protection but our weapons had to be in the open in case they were needed and hanging on to metal in that storm with lightning was quite an experience – memories!
The rest of the day at Duxford was very good and the weather was very nice for walking around the displays on the airfield and we had a wander through the Concorde they had on show in one extra large hanger, Concorde is very long and very narrow, and then it was back to the car and back home through terrible traffic but a different sort of day to my norm.
We are always pleased to hear about the camaraderie which still exists with the lads who did their national service all those years ago and it is wonderful that some of them still get together from time to time to enjoy their present life and also exchange reminiscences about their time together as young men. The lads who were at Kykko Camp in Cyprus in the late 1950’s share their news with us frequently and we are pleased to publish their wonderful reunions.
The time will eventually come when there will not be any ex-national servicemen to recount their memories so we feel it is important to record as much as we can.