E Company 1DCLI Belize 1955 - 1956

Belize Boys Notice 2015


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: djkl157@gmail.com



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.

Merv Chandler


33 Responses to “E” COMPANY 1DCLI

  1. MAY 2017

    The lads from ‘E’ Company held their annual get together at Bridgewater. John Billett kindly forwarded this photo.

    • John Billett says:

      People in Photo :- Merv & Pam Chandler, Graham & Grace Morgan, Roland & Ursula Davis, John & Peggy Billett, Dennis Gibbons, Austin (Joey) Chamberlain, and Tom Woodland. We all had a good lunch mixed with lots of reminiscing of times gone by in the DCLI and everyone enjoyed the Day.


    The Howell Family advise that Tom passed away on Friday 27th May 2016. Funeral arrangements to be announced.

  3. Brian Rowe says:

    I cannot remember a Paul Grange. My name is Brian Rowe (23075936). Intake 23 and I served in Belize 1955-1956. Part of the time in Serjeants Mess with Harry Gogarty (Wolverhampton) RIP. I replaced Wally Bridgeman. When Harry was demobbed he was replaced by a Durham lad who played the piano without music but I forget his name, certainly not Grange.

  4. BELIZE BOYS 2015

    Check out the Notice posted at the page header to gather the Belize Boys together again. Post a Reply to this Comment if you wish to be added to the list – and Merv will make arrangements.


    This ‘fresh’ Comment will hopefully offer up a continuance to the somewhat muddled flow of previous topical conversations. So far (now) I am in contact with both Howell Grange Jnr & Stephanie (Grange) regarding the long lost father Paul (Grand Pa to Howell Grange Jnr) – have I got that right??? Offsite in private emails I’m informed by (Major) Tom Howell who was a Sjnt in Belize until the Regiment was posted back to the UK in March 1957 that (Cpl) Elmer – Best Man in the Wedding Photo – was formerly with other Regiments who were in Belize before 1DCLI arrived in February 1954. The connection between Elmer & Grange might offer up a clue as to the military service of Grange. Is it possible that he gained seniority before posting into 1DCLI? – This might develop the history more. 2 British Army Regiments are referred in Elmer’s service – Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, and the Worcesters and Royal Welch Fusiliers, before 1DCLI. Phew!!

    ED: (Footnote) Note also (as observed by Tom Howell) that the bridegroom pictured (Grange) is not wearing a sash that would have been normal with Dress Whites had he been a Sjnt. A sharper (scanned) Wedding Photo has been requested, so that 60 year old memories can be provided with every chance to assist. Back to the drawing board. Double Phew!!

  6. Mervyn Chandler says:

    I was in Belize from ’54 – till Oct 55 and have never come across this this person. I have got in touch with all of the Bridgewater gang and nobody has heard of him, sorry we can’t help. Merv Chandler

    • PAUL GRANGE (SJNT) BELIZE 1955-1957

      Hereto a reply via a beginning ‘thread’ to the Comment above logged in by Merv Chandler. This in reply to grandson Howell Grange who has initiated an inquiry about his Grand Dad via a misplaced Comment at the foot of this page. I record the exchanges here to show how to develop a thread on a particular topic – where it will take us is unknown at this time.

      Evidently Paul Grange became a Sjnt at some time, although I doubt that was the case in 1955 for a coupla reasons. Firstly by October 1955 most of the National Servicemen who embarked on the HMT Empire Clyde in Feb 1955 were demobbed. As Merv has mentioned above, none of his Belize Boys have any recall, so presumably Paul was a rookie soldier after 1955 and served for some time later. Anyone serving in Belize after that time (1955 – 1957) are generally outside of the memory recall of subscribers (in the past) to this site. Secondly as Regular soldier in 1957 – and a Sjnt – his seniority would have placed him in the Regiment well before the Caribbean posting, e.g. in Sennelager Germany with the 6th Armoured Division. So Howell, you have to drill a little deeper, maybe even contacting the Rifles Museum at Bodmin. There is another page on this weblog site – The Major Tom Howell Memoirs – which contains dialogue (and a Picasa Album) about Belize after 1955. There might even be a pictorial record of Paul Grange there as Tom spent the entire BWI posting in Belize. As a Regular soldier, Paul would have returned to the UK and later when the Regiment was posted to Germany again. After that the span of this weblog site disappears. Candidly it is some disappointment to me that since 2006 when it all began, there is little comment from anyone who served after 1957, except Cpl Fraser Pakes who served only in Bermuda in the Caribbean (read his Memoirs too).

      As Editor of this site I am informed for Memoriale placements and clearly at some stage (2005 or later) someone (unknown) has requested the Notice.

      Tom Howell and I collaborated on his Memoirs some years ago and in fact we met for a beer in Mooloolaba, Queensland about 4 years ago. Since those days I believe that Tom’s health has declined and we are not in contact – apart from some exchanges regarding the Belize Boys Lunch in Bridgewater each May. I regret that the trail terminates there unless you can investigate Tom’s willingness to inform you further.

      PS: In contradiction to my concluding comment above, I Googled ‘paul grange 1DCLI’ and found a link back to this site and a Comment posted in 2010 by Swanny Swanson. It provides more detail about Paul Grange. Just click the ‘E Coy’ photo to open this hidden from view comment about “Cushy” Grange. Presumably therefore, it would have been Swanny Swanson (RIP) who was a close mate of mine and a regular informant about the deaths of 1DCLI Vets, until his passing some years ago.

      PPS: There is another possibility of course in that Paul Grange – being a Regular – could have been transferred in from another Light Infantry Regiment, as many were at that time; in which case the focus changes on his background if in fact he was older than our lot and had longer service elsewhere. Noticeably however there are few – if any – comments from Old Mates outside of the 1953 – 1957 time window.


        The key to most military ancestry research is the Service Number which will delineate beyond much doubt the era in which a soldier in the British Army enlisted. F’rinstance my own number was 22935157 issued on November 5th 1953 (no jokes about Guy Fawkes either thank you). My Intake at Bodmin was numbered 16 and we trained for 10 weeks until posting to Crownhill Barracks Plymouth in January 1954 prior to embarkation on HMT Empire Clyde – as stated above. Those later Intakes received numbers starting 230***** etc. Earlier requests for similar military history are responded to by encouraging the Inquirer to search the attic and garage for personal papers, primarily for Pay Books which would contain DOB, all postings, pay details, promotions, rank etc. Usually an Infantry soldier undertaking National Service only reached the rank of Corporal – maybe even substantive – but seldom Serjeant unless signing up as a Regular for a minimum of 3 years (in those days).

        I note that Swanny in his hidden Comment 4 years ago about Paul Grange, mentioned the Royal British Legion in Penzance and I know for a fact that Swanny was a local lad and known to most RBL Members. An inquiry there might uncover other Old Mates who still remember Paul ‘Cushy’ Grange.

        ED: Take note please how this thread is evolving in sequential order.

        • UPDATE

          Tom Howell has kindly emailed me with pertinent info about this topic of conversation. I trust that Tom will not object if I transpose the relevant points.

          (Quote) I was in Belize for most of the BWI tour. I never knew a Paul Grange but did know a Paul Grainger. It’s a long time ago but I am fairly clear on things. Paul Grainger was a barman in the Sjt’s Mess, but never to my knowledge a Serjeant himself. I was a member of the Mess from June ‘55 till the very end in Feb/Mar ‘57. (Endquote)

          NB: Note that each additional “Reply” crimps the column width to an eventual illegible style – at which point a fresh start is advisable.

          • John Billett says:

            Hello everyone, I have been interested in this story line, is there a chance of asking this young man if he has a photo of his grandfather Paul just to see if he can be recognised. I’ve wracked my brain to see if I recognise anything about the name, I’ve tried to think back to my time in Germany but it’s all gone sketchy, there is a grey area that says he may have been around me at some time.

            ED: Thanks for joining in the conversation JB. There’s a hidden encouragement subtlety ongoing here in that an Inquirer needs to offer up at least some basic info for Old Mates to work on. I hope that at some time we’ll have something of more substance, ‘cos now there’s a few observations from Old Mates emerging (some posthumously).


            The Wedding of Paul Grange and Dorothy Longsworth.Paul Grange Wedding Best Man unknown. Presumably Belize circa 1956-1957. Very poor quality photo heavily doctored. Maybe the grainy photos will jog a few memories.


              On the sub page “Major Tom Howell’s Memoirs” Tom refers to his (Tom Howell) promotion to Sjnt after returning to BWI after a course in the UK in May 1955 and there is a group “E” Coy photo entitled “1955-1956”, where the Officers and Senior NCOs are seated in the 3rd row. The IDs do not include Sjnt Paul Grange, so the conclusion is that Paul was not a Sjnt at that time – or probably at all during the BWI posting that finished in March 1957 – ‘cos Tom Howell would have remembered. Ergo, it would appear that (as stated earlier) Paul Grange was either posted into 1DCLI as a Senior NCO from another LI Regiment – after March 1957, or earned his stripes within 1DCLI at some later stage. Clearly on another level, there are still some Heamoor RBL Members floating around Penzance who (presumably) rubbed shoulders with Paul Grange before his death in 2005 – ‘cos Swanny mentions him fondly as a close mate. Swanny as we all know was ‘everybody’s’ mate – so maybe an answer can be found with the BWI survivors at Heamoor!!

              NB: Note that the column width has shrunk to (about) the desired width for additional legible comment. I suggest that a “Reply” to my Comment NOT happen and a subscriber start a fresh entry.

              PS: Further to the final remark above, I have now moderated the ‘Reply’ system to terminate at 6 comments deep – including the original – so no further ‘Replies’ are permitted to this last entry of mine. I suggest that a fresh comment, using the Comment facility be used from henceforward. (This is the empty frame at the very bottom of this page entitled ‘Leave a Reply’).

            • Stephanie Anderson (Grange) says:

              Elmer is his surname. His wife is also Belizean. Leonore Elmer. Daughters Patricia, Dolores

              ED: Tom Howell has kindly added information regarding Stephanie’s comment above, which I am transposing into the thread. The relevant portion thus (Quote) Stephanie (Grange) refers to ’Elmer’ who I take to be Cpl Elmer, who also married a Belizean. He first went to Belize with the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, and stayed on with the Worcesters and Royal Welch Fusiliers before transferring into the DCLI. The last I knew of him he was working as a barman in Kingston Jamaica (Endquote).

              PS: (ED) The attempt here is to maintain a cohesive flow of relevant information and keep within the limitations of blog protocol. Subscribers who jump from Comment to Comment (might) confuse issues – so kindly terminate this thread and begin again.


    The earlier logged Comment from Howell Grange (listed under ‘Recent Comments’ rhs widget column) has been erroneously threaded to an ancient Comment by inattention to blogging procedure and in so doing has finished up at the very bottom of this page – where it is unlikely to be seen. As Editor I have no control over these matters, – but would advise (as I have done on many occasions before) subscribers to pay attention if they wish comments read – and possibly replied to.


    2 latest Comments dated 5th March 2014 by Merv & JB (Sloop) have lost their sequential placing in date order which is newest comments shown at header. I have tested the process and quite clearly this ‘un from me is OK, so what you 2 blokes are doing is no mystery, you are in fact replying to older dated Comments and all threaded replies perpetuate the error. Get yer act together Cheps! Readers wishing to read the 2 referred comments need to scroll to bottom page.

  9. Mervyn Chandler says:

    Re- Union Bridgewater for 2014.

    We hope to have a get together this year in May. Couldn’t have one last year as I had a heart attack in Feb, but OK now. Merv Chandler

    • G’Day Merv

      Good to know that you’re back on deck and raring to go. Please provide all details – time, date & place for your “E” Coy Re-Union and I’ll post up a notice at the page header.

      • Mervyn Chandler says:

        Hi Derek, will keep you informed as to the time and date, ’twill be in early May. At the moment 7 of the boys are interested in getting together, Brian Tudor and myself will be going up next month to check things out so will let you know. Pity about last year but that’s life Ha Ha. Merv Chandler.

  10. G’Day E Coy Cheps

    Hereto a few pix taken by JB at your Bridgewater lunch this week. How Regimental you all look. Keep Well.

    E COY LUNCH MAY 2012

    PS: JB reports difficulty loading this link, you might need to upgrade your version of Picasa. Also try clicking on my name above (now bolded) – I’ve linked it to the Picasa URL also.


    Thinking of all you Cheps at Bridgewater tomorrow. I hope that the turnout is as good as it can get, but do hope that a few ‘new’ faces will appear. Behave yerselves and drive home safely.

  12. Sloop JB says:


    I read your Memoir with great interest, especially the part where you said you joined Priory Senior school, where we had a brief encounter, then on leaving school you got a job on the railway. I also applied for a job on the railway but there were no vacancies at that time so I ended up being a painter and decorator. Do you remember George Crossman, he worked on railway? We both went to Exeter for our medical and we both joined DCLI May 1953 -1955, we went to Germany then ended up in Jamaica.

    I still see Dennis (Tammy) Morrel in town from time to time, he worked for the building firm I did my painting for. You’ll see George’s name in the DCLI Memoriale page, he died of cancer. You mentioned the name Tudor, seems to ring a bell but I can’t place it. It was sad for Austin Chamberlain losing his wife, they were childhood sweethearts, Babs was a very good friend of my sister Mary.

    It was some while ago that we saw each other at the Regimental Dinner at Newquay, you and your wife were sitting with Babs and Austin.

  13. Tom Howell says:

    Well done!! You are obviously feeling more comfortable with your computer and really broken the ice as it were. I look forward to seeing many more reminiscences from you (and others) preferably with photos. Congratulations again.

    ED. Thanks for your help.


    Merv has kindly forwarded his Memoir via Tom Howell for publication, and we have done so at the above Page Header – scroll down the main page. Some editorial licence has been applied to abbreviate some portions, please forgive me Merv, I didn’t want to produce too much text. If you have some photos to illustrate the body text, that will help to hold a reader’s attention.

    Well Done!

  15. “E” Company Re-Union: Bridgewater 1st Sept 2010

    The 6th annual gathering of “E” Company stalwarts met at “The Great Escape” pub in Bridgewater. One of ‘em so keen that he turned up earlier than the planned event was scheduled and left before the group arrived.

    Normally the Re-Union is held in May, but Merv’s hip operation put the event back somewhat. Keep your eyes glued to this blog page for any future announcements for other groups in other locations.

    Merv and Pam Chandler were there; additionally Brian and Jeanette Tudor, Roland and Ursula Davies with Auntie from Germany. Tommy Woodland and ex-bugler Joey Chamberlain were able to make it on their own. We report sadly that Babs Chamberlain passed away earlier in 2010. Rex (Scudder) Wall appeared and left before all others turned up. He’ll be early next May!

    No photos of the Event – so far – maybe a concealed camera will turn up some candid shots for our Picasa Albums.

    Diarise an enty for next May – “E” Coy Cheps.

  16. Editor in Brisbane says:


    Marshall ‘Nobby’ Clark of Wagga Wagga, New South Wales, Australia has kindly forwarded his “E” Company Belize, 1954 – 1955 Memoirs for publication. Marshall’s eloquence deserves a separate page on our 1DCLI military blogs. See above in the hotlinked Titles. More photos are on the way.

    Thank You Marshall.

  17. Editor in Brisbane says:


    G’Day Cheps! For ‘threading’ purposes – i.e. the continuance of topical comments about a given subject on “E” Coy – ’tis best to follow that thread here, rather than click open the Header Photo (which opens up another page). Not a big deal, but it helps others who are not so well versed in blogging and will encourage memory recall from readers, when they see all comments at page spread view.

  18. Editor in Brisbane says:


    G’day Bill, if you ever read this comment. I have today resurrected an older email from you (2006) and re-written to you today in the hope that your email address is still current. You kindly responded to my very 1st web site publication and supplied some Bodmin Training pix (shown above left) that are on the older website.

    You’ll note – if you have arrived here that an “E” Coy Blog proposal is under way and Tom Howell, Merv Chandler and Marshall (Nobby) Clark (in Australia) are all putting shoulders to the wheel to launch a wider interest from “E” Coy Mates from all over the UK.

    Your participation is invited, along with other DCLI Mates who might be Internet connected and motivated to share anecdotes, stories and tales of Belize etc. Note also that we produced an Empire Clyde Association 1954 Mug to commemorate the trip in February 1954. URL available if interested.

    Tempus Fugit!

  19. Tom Howell says:

    Got your email. Have not been able to contact Merv but will do so shortly. Also had another contact from Marshall (Nobby). I like what you have done with the site and I hope it pulls in a lot of support. Well done!

    ED: Thanks Tom, we’ll see what happens when more pix are added. Cheers!

  20. (Editor 7th September 2010) (Lunch Notice removed).The “E” Company Lunch Report is in the pipeline, which will produce we trust, further expressions of interest from our Caribbean Mates who served in Belize. Early advices from Tom are that no photographs were taken, so we’ll need to apply our imagination. May I however record that we shall appreciate any and all contributions from “E” Coy members in adding to this piece of 1DCLI history.

    • Mervyn Chandler says:

      The BELIZE BOYS will be meeting up on the 15TH OF MAY 2014 in the GREAT ESCAPE PUB in Bridgwater Somerset for lunch. Eight of us should be there with luck. “E” COY. MT SEC. MERV CHANDLER, GRAHAM MORGAN, DENNIS GIBBINS/BUGLER, JOEY CHAMBERLAIN/15 PLT, TOM WOODLAND. BRIAN TUDOR. ALSO ROLAND DAVIS AND JOHN BILLET (SLOOP) PLT UNKNOWN. Anyone wanting to go please get in touch with MERV CHANDLER

      • John Billett says:

        Hello everyone, I was B/PLT attached to The Officers Mess, Kingston Jamaica.

      • Howell Grange says:

        My name is Howell Grange Jr. looking for information about my grandfather Paul Grange. he married my grandmother Dorothy Longsworth he was a part of the DCLI in Belize any info will help.

        ED: I’ve just emailed you with related comments about the vague contents of your initial direct email to me – out of the blue. Now that I read your post here, I’m a little more informed. However, I re-iterate my remarks. It will help other readers if you provide his age for instance and any other military details – such as rank, service number, postings, residence in the UK after demob etc. The Regiment was posted to the West Indies on 19th February 1954, sailing on HMT Empire Clyde and maybe Paul Grange was onboard. There is a group of Old “E” Coy Mates who meet annually in Bridgewater each May. Perhaps one of ’em will remember.

        PS: I note that this comment has been erroneously positioned as a “Reply” to an outdated thread, a fact that I’ve made reference to at other times. Subscribers need to pay attention to blogging protocols and ensure that IF a Comment is deemed important enough to post, then ensure that it gains the most prominent position.

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