WHY I WAS PUT IN A GUARDROOM CELL (NOT ONCE BUT TWICE).

By Ken Williams.Engines.



The first time I was put in a cell was the day my father died. An A/A from 1 Wing had come to the 2 Wing NAAFI where I was playing darts and, after suggesting that he and I went outside, passed on the news that my father had passed away. He took me to the Guardroom; the plan was to contact the Orderly Officer and decide the best way to organise my return home. The O/O didn't rush himself and we were left standing around. The duty 'snoop' could see that I was in shock and also very upset so he decided that I could sit in a cell to have some privacy. When the O/O arrived he said that, basically, there was nothing he could do and told me to talk to the Officers or NCOs in my Block the following morning, as there was no way of getting to my home that night. I did get away the next day but the staff took a lot of convincing that I needed to go home ASAP.

The second 'imprisonment' was while I was at El Adem. One of the SNCOs organised a visit to meet the beekeeper, Miss Olive Brittan, who looked after the King's colony of bees. She was well known for hosting service people stationed in Libya. Her large house was in Cyrenaica, set in a grassed area with trees surrounding the house.

Naturally we had supplied ourselves with all the necessities; rations from the mess and plenty of liquid refreshment. MT supplied us with a lorry and two drivers and we must have had camp beds and tents as we were sleeping under the stars.

We left soon after our night shift ended at 9 am and had to be back for dayshift which was two days on.

Our first stop, apart from calls of nature, was at a Roman City which was in a bad state but it was very interesting and educational to study the layout and method of building from the distant past.

The journey went well until the first breakdown, which was a flat tyre. We finally arrived and having set up camp we started on the beer we had brought with us. We had a great time camping out and it was a great place to wander about and enjoy the shade under the trees and grass to lie on.

All things come to an end so we had to pack it all away again and set off on our return to El Adem. Things went well for a while until the driver pulled over and announced that there was a problem and it was something he could not fix; the transfer gearbox - I think it was something to do with the four wheel drive - had come loose and some of the bolts were gone.

We were once again in need of assistance but there was no way of contacting MT - no mobiles then - and time was running out. The driver knew there was a local police post, with a phone, on our road but didn't know how far away it was. The Sgt said he would head for this police post and get the message through; I volunteered to go with him. To speed things up we decided to run a certain distance and then walk for a while; I'm told it's a Scout thing. I don't remember how long it took but it seemed to be a very long way. The only problem was that the field telephone at the post was out of action and we were then in a difficult position with time passing by and several of the next day's shift stuck miles from El Adem. I can't remember what time it was but it was dark - it got dark at six every evening.

The suggestion from the Sgt was that one of us had to try and thumb a lift to Tobruk! I could see what his next move was going to be - "I'm a Sgt, you're going!"

The first car we stopped was totally full of locals all dressed in their local kit but luckily the next vehicle was a lorry going to Tobruk and he was happy to give me a lift. It was decided to leave my wallet behind in case I got robbed and my leader went on his merry way to find the rest of the troops and let them know what the plan was.

It was a pleasant drive, not much conversation but we got there and the driver dropped me off right outside the Guardroom. Of course when I marched in and explained the problem the first thing said was "Can I see your 1250?" which was then several miles back down the road. Luckily the staff accepted my story and made the necessary phone calls. Bread for El Adem was baked in Tobruk and delivered first thing in the morning, so they arranged for the transport carryin it to pick me up. And what did I do? I slept in a cell between two mattresses.

We all got to work on time but I think I was the only one who had had any breakfast!