Bob Morrison's picture

Whatever became of Fowler ?

In my time at Port Camp from 63 to 64 there was a West Indian Sapper named Fowler. who was the cheeriest and friendliest person I think I have ever met. He called out and waved to everybody, whatever their rank and he smiled hugely and continuously. I think he was a squadron ‘runner’, but I may be maligning him here. Nobody ever dare take his ‘leggie’ (bicycle) as he had ‘FOWLERS ROLLS’ painted on the crossbar. Anyone else remember him ?.

Bob Morrison's picture

The Journey

I joined the Royal Engineers in January 1960 . The medical examination I remember vividly. I was ‘requested’ to report to a recruiting centre somewhere in Glasgow. It turned out to be an unheated T.A. drill hall, just the place to strip off to your birthday suit. On entry I saw, at the other side of the hall, 2 large trestle tables. One table displayed a card bearing the word ‘Volunteers’, the other a card ‘Conscripts’. There was a long line of several dozen glum looking individuals at the latter table but no-one at the former.


We flew from Heathrow Airport (much smaller than it is now), in early December, 1956. We stopped in Shannon and then took 14 hours to fly to Goose Bay Labrador. Unfortunately, the weather in Goose Bay was atrocious and the plane skidded off the runway. We had to wait overnight, spending our time in some old Nissan huts, which were very cold. After that we went through Philadelphia and Chicago and finally to San Francisco, landing at Moffet Airbase. San Francisco was all dressed up for Christmas, so we had a very exciting time. We went to a bar at the top of the Mark Hopkins Hotel.

Central Pacific 1963/64.

Today, Radio Kapoi Honolulu reported severe storms in the area of Christmas Island, a spotter plane has flown over the Island and reports that it is mostly submerged, there is no sign of life, and no radio communication. But! In Twynham Two something stirs, it’s Taff Williams, and wonder of wonders he’s lobbing the fags! We are all lying on our pits waiting for the rain to stop, there’s Les Mawson, Tom Bartley, Ernie Hodgetts, John Barker, Dennis Clifford, and yours truly Terry Morse, we are 20 Field Sqdn RE Petroleum Fitters (ish). Those I’ve forgotten can get in touch and tell me so.

Dave's picture

Christmas Island Recollections

My Recollections of Christmas Island. February 1957.

Although my unit was 61 Fd Sqn, 38 Corps Engr Regt stationed at Osnabruck in Germany, I was in Chatham on a higher Trades Training course when the news of the entire Corps posting to Christmas Island emerged. I was quietly excited about the posting but filled with trepidation when I found out they were going to sail on the "flat bottomed tub" called "Dunera". I did not particularly enjoy the regular one-night trips from Harwich to the Hook of Holland so it was difficult to imagine how I would cope on the high seas for six weeks.

Christmas Island Re-visited

I served in the Royal Air Force police for 22 years and during that time completed many overseas tours of duty. The one that I most remember was the twelve months from November 1959 to November 1960 that I spent on Christmas Island in the South Pacific. In early 2002 I was reading an article in the Sunday Times travel section in which comment was made about Japanese fishermen spending time at a hotel on the Island and indulging their skills with rod and line.

Christmas Island Remembered

On the 16th November 1959 I departed the UK en route for No 11 RAF Police District. Christmas Island. B.F.P.O. 170. I was a 25 year old RAF policeman with the substantive rank of Corporal. My outbound journey was via America, on a civilian aircraft, travelling with six other RAF personnel from a mixed bag of trade groups. We had overnight stops in New York, San Francisco and Honolulu. This was my first visit to the USA and it gave me a very good and long lasting impression of America and its people. Everyone was most friendly.

The Fourth of July, 1946

There is nothing like a satisfying conclusion, and the fact that I was headed home on this day of celebration of liberty made me feel all the happier. But then I saw something that somehow has been symbolic of my whole stay on Christmas, and it really is my Christmas message to all my friends and family. It is that if we just go about doing our normal duties and trying to meet our responsibilities without fanfare, we will find that much good can come from it.

The Last Alcoholic Major

Captain Roeber had spent over a year on Christmas Island by May of 1946, flights from Oahu had been reestablished, morale was good, and both he and MIDPAC felt that he needed to be relieved. So we were informed that a major who had served in a Federal Post Office all during the war, was to be sent in as his replacement. He arrived as per schedule, the captain filled him in on his duties and left for Oahu on the same plane. I reported to my new commanding officer, and very shortly was told that my uniform was not smartly pressed, and was not regulation and that I was to sharpen up.

The Dogs

I have mentioned the dogs above, and they were the cause of two of my strongest recollections. I have also mentioned the fact our enlisted men were composed of both stateside and Hawaiian GIs - to the best of my recollection about evenly divided, and all were competent at their particular tasks, and required more recognition than supervision. However, there was one scarce commodity on the island (other than women) that both groups vied for, and that was the company of one of those small, scrubby male dogs.