We regret to publish the announcement by the Howell Family that Tom Howell (Major) died on Friday 27th May 2016. Kindly follow the DCLI Memoriale blog page. The funeral has been confirmed for Mon 13th June, 2.00 pm at St Michaels Church in his home village of Farnsfield near Newark in Nottinghamshire UK.
(Editor 25th July 2010) Recent discussions with Tom Howell in the UK and Marshall (Nobby) Clark in Wagga Wagga, NSW Australia have promoted the notion that we attempt an “E” Company blog page to open up encouragement from Old Mates with service, to engage in banter and bull. Tom has already published his Memoirs with formidable Belize content and Nobby has provided a few photographs that are now published to Picasa Albums (Military) – see page link above.
An annual Re-Union of Old Mates was held in Bridgewater on 1st September, postponed from the normal May date this year due to Merv Chandler’s recovery from hip surgery. Merv is the Re-Union Convenor and is contactable by posted messages to this Page. All viewers are invited to log in Comments on this page whenever you feel some fond memories tickling your fancy.
“E” Company members who are so interested, can nominate a local ‘chapter’ in whichever city/town location in the UK so nominated in order to minimise travel and maximise regular Meetings, modelled on the Bridgewater Lunch on Sept 1st. All that is needed is a Nominee for contact – via this blog – and we can get the show on the road. Note that ALL email addresses (placed in Comments) are held confidential from public view.
Editor contact email: email@example.com
CLICK TO OPEN A YOU TUBE VIDEO OF BELIZE CITY
A SHORT MILITARY/CIVILIAN MEMOIR FROM MERV CHANDLER
THE BELIZE BOYS.
BY MERV CHANDLER.
1953 – 1955
I was born in Taunton, left school and joined British Rail in August 1950 as a cleaner boy in the Loco Dept. In May 1951 I moved to Bristol to be a fireman working at St Phillips Marsh Shed and in August of that year I moved back to Taunton on the turntable. This was for turning engines so that they were facing the correct direction.
I was called up for National Service on 15th Oct 1953 and reported to The Keep in Taunton, home of the Somerset Light Infantry, where I met Brian Tudor and we’ve been pals ever since. We joined the DCLI at Plymouth, as it wanted volunteers for Belize, and as my sister was that side of the Atlantic – she was a GI bride married in 1945 and left to live in Tulsa Oklahoma in May 1946 – a week before my 11th birthday. I had not seen her since then I thought it was a good idea.
On the 19th Feb we entrained from Plymouth to Liverpool, from where we sailed on the Empire Clyde for Belize, putting off troops in Bermuda on the 28th and arrived at Jamaica on March 4th. It took all day to unload the boat and we left on the 6th arriving at Belize on the 8th. We had a 10 mile trip to the camp. Brian Tudor and I were working as stewards in the Serjeant’s Mess.
On my birthday being duty barman that night, the sergeants plied me with many different drinks – mostly spirits – and when asked to show my birthday cards I remember tossing them in the air before passing out. I finished up in my bunk in our billet behind the Bar, during which activity I must have banged my head and passed out – again. Being alone during the night, as Brian was out on a night march, and being in some drunken state and needing to ablute, I wandered back into the Mess. Unfortunately, I failed to navigate accurately and collided with a table filled with glasses, which disaster awakened some of the serjeants, who tossed me back to my bunk and my vomit covered blankets. You can imagine the spectacle in the morning!
By late May 1954 we’d had enough of the Sjnts Mess, as all our mates were off duty every night, so we asked to go back into the platoon, which didn’t go down very well with Serjeant Solomon, as he was in charge. We went back in to 15 platoon here we met up with (Scudder) Rex Wall, Tommy Woodland, Chippy Haysham, Ron Granfield, John Bennett, (ex SLI men who trained with me and Brian Tudor), also Brian Rose (RIP) and a few more blokes whose names I can’t remember now. I stayed in this platoon until December 5th when I moved in to the MT Section hut and became the OC’s (Major Tanner) jeep driver. I met up with Graham Morgan, Dennis Gibbons, Jim Hodgeson, Humphries, Lofty Ripton (REME), Harry Roper I met later, plus a few more whose names I can’t remember now.
Graham has been a mate ever since. He met and married a girl called Grace who lived in Belize in Sept 55 and we’ve always kept in contact ever since. Most of the MT boys went to their wedding reception in the evening down town. He got two weeks in nick because he never got permission to marry Grace.
I left Belize by air back to Jamaica by plane, and on the 5th October 1955, we left Kingston for Heathrow arriving next day. Graham was on the same plane as he was due for demob the same day as me. We arrived in London next day. Graham went back to Yorkshire and I went back to The Keep at Taunton waiting for demob and going back on the railway as a fireman.
Graham’s wife came to England about a month later and I went up to Heathrow to meet her and Graham, then we went to Kings Cross station and I saw them leave for Yorkshire together.
None of us met for a long time, but would write and phone over the years. Then in 2003 I got in touch with as many of the boys as I could and asked what they thought of getting together in 2004 to mark the 50 years that we had known each other in the army and some agreed to meet up for a weekend. I arranged a 4 day trip to start on the 7th May on the Isle of Wight. Graham and Grace came down from Yorkshire and stayed with us for a week. We then met Dennis Gibbons at Taunton and travelled to Teignmouth for our trip to IOW calling in at Bristol and meeting Brian and Jeannette Tudor before continuing.
We arrived at the holiday camp in time for our evening meal where we had ordered a cake marking our 50 years of friendship decorated with the DCLI badge on top. Jeanette’s birthday was the following day, where I surprised her also, with a lovely cake. We all enjoyed a wonderful four days together. One evening at dinner the girls wanted spotted dick for desert and I told them to order a “Soldier’s Nightmare” but they were laughing so much they couldn’t so we had to order for them. After enjoying such a great time, everyone agreed to a meeting once a year in May in Bridgewater at The Great Escape Pub. 2009 was the only exception, although this year we postponed the event until September. Hopefully we shall all meet in May 2011.