At the tender age of 17 and as the proud owner of a 125 cc 2 Stroke BSA Bantam motor bike, I thought it would be fun to ride on a bigger and more powerful bike. But as I lacked the financial means to do anything about this dream of mine, I cast around to see if I could come up with a workable solution.
Happily for me, a friend suggested I had a look at the local Territorial Army Regiment (sort of like the National Guard, but much older and certainly much more traditional) as my friend thought they used dispatch riders, who obviously rode on motor bikes of a rather larger type than the miniscule bike I rode.
So I tracked them down, and went along on the evening that they all got together to do military type things at their depot in Reigate, and before I knew it, I was signed on as a Gunner (artillery talk for a Private) in the Surrey Yeomanry, Queen Mary’s Field Regiment, Royal Artillery as what was called a Don R, or Dispatch Rider.
I rather assume that this meant that I would be dashing hither and thither all over the battle field, carrying enormously important dispatches from HQ to the Field Artillery battery to which I belonged. In fact it turned out that whilst occasionally I did indeed carry dispatches about ration strength and similar housekeeping stuff, for the greater part I was used to pick up bedrolls and similar that the rather silly officers in my battery had forgotten to bung into their jeeps when leaving the camp in the morning.
I was far and away the youngest person there, as most of the rest were old warriors from the Second World War (this was about 1959) who were only members of the T.A (Territorial Army) as a sort of social club for old men, and who had very little interest in being military – which suited me fine, as I was (and am) a convinced pacifist, and if there had been any other way to get hold of a large motor bike I wouldnt have been anywhere near this mob.
I know, hypocritical of me, but I really did want to ride a real motor bike. Continue reading “My Time In The Royal Artillery”