I had some leave when we got back from Malaya in 1964. My family and I had travelled via Singapore, Bombay, and Istanbul, where we had short stop-overs before flying into Gatwick, London. We stayed with Pat and Dorothy Munroe in Fulham for a couple of weeks so we could visit friends and see some London sights with the children before we got our travel warrants to Germany. Then we travelled by train to Harwich, ferry to the Hook of Holland, train again to Hannover and on to Celle from where a vehicle took us to Bergen for the rest of my twelve weeks’ leave with my in-laws, whom we hadn’t seen for many years. We stayed in my mother-in-law’s large house and got back into the German way of life. The children learned to speak German while spending time with their grandmother, aunts, uncles and cousins. I took up opportunities to help my brother-in-law, making business trips with him to Hannover and Hamburg or visiting old German and army friends at Hohne camp and doing fitness training with them.
My next posting in Germany was to be in Wulfenbuttel. Word got around that I was back in the country and officials from the Germania- Wulfenbuttel Football Club and the local Wulfenbuttel Football Club came to Bergen to see me, wanting me to play for them. They offered me money, accommodation, furniture and a vehicle. All of this was new to me. I wanted to accept their offers, as at that time no married quarters were available for me and my family. I didn’t want to be separated from them, so I signed up for Germania Wulfenbuttel. I had to wait eight weeks before I could play any of their matches as my players’ pass was still with the Deutsche Fussball Bund (The German equivalent of the FA) so it could be processed and permission given to me to play in the German Football League. At that time only two foreign players could play in any German Football team and I was going to be the first one for Germania-Wulfenbuttel. Then I got news that I had been assigned a brand new married quarter in Shlessigestrasse, in walking distance of the army camp.
Wulfenbuttel was near the Harz Mountains on the East-German border not far from Berlin. It was a lovely place to be stationed. We were the only regiment there. After we moved into our spacious new house, Carmen, 7, and Kirstin, 6 were settled into the local primary school. News that I was a sportsman soon reached the ears of the local sports clubs who came looking for me at home and in camp. Now my player’s pass from the DFB had arrived and I could play for Germania-Wulfenbuttel football team. I also agreed to compete for Wulfenbuttel Leit-Atletik Club and also to play basketball if called upon to do so by the Wulfenbuttel Basketball Club. They were the top basketball team in the country at that time. I didn’t join the hockey club but played a few friendly matches for them. I had lots of successes with the football and the athletics and was awarded a cup for best athlete by the athletics club as seen in the picture above.
I was senior percussionist for the Band by now, rehearsing and playing music during working hours and practising all I could in my spare time. Senior band members gave me extra help in the evenings to improve my music, so I couldn’t take anything else on. It was whispered in my ear that I should try and drop some of the things I was involved in. This I did as I really wanted to improve my music skills and play a serious part in the band. I had set my heart on passing my next music exams soon and I knew it would be difficult for me as, unlike the other band members I had no grounding in playing an instrument from childhood.
My three years in Wulfenbuttel flew by. Our band was doing a recruiting tour in England while the World Cup was on in 1966, so while I was there, I watched all of the matches that were televised, including the final (the last time that England won it). Prince Philip visited our regiment for two days at the end of 1966 and I played my part in the full programme we put on for him.
In 1967 we also had a visit to us in Wulfenbuttel by the Prime Minister of Northern Ireland whose son, Cornet Patrick O’Neil, was an officer with our regiment. Patrick was a brilliant musician who spent any spare time he had hanging around in the band block with us, playing music. He was the driving force behind “The Chitchats”, our regimental rock group. Bryan “Taffy” Helps, a sergeant and a senior member in the band was spending a lot of time with me teaching me how to play my instruments. He wanted to keep me improving by practising and reading the formal music that our Band had to play. I respected Taffy who was very devout. I was also spending a lot of time doing activities with the children of the regiment and local schools.
In 1968, it was time for us to move back to the Headquarters of The Royal Armoured Corps at Bovington Camp in Dorset with the regiment. It was sad leaving my football friends at Germania-Wulfenbuttel Club who gave us a great send-off party. They had treated me like royalty during my time with them and had been the best Football Club I had ever played for.
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