Recollections from John Jackett
Memories can be triggered by the most unusual things, this idea of who else within PCS was born in 1939, has been in the back of my mind for several weeks. Marj and her sister Mary (69 + 71) were invited to the Village primary school last week by their Great-Niece Shannon, collecting all sorts of War-time bits of paper, they set off, only to find the real subject was Christmas of long-ago.
My eldest uncle was Sgt Herbert Lewis HAYES MM. R.A., he lied about his age in 1914 and was KIA at the age of just 22, I have his service book, war grave photo and also notification of his death and pension awarded to my Grandmother. More particularly among his several letters was the last one sent home from the trenches – without those treasured letters, Marj set off with the rest of his papers, Mary had unearthed ration cards etc etc.
Shannons` classmates will all attend Secondary school next year, so they are in the age range 10 – 11, samples of questions :
Did you have outside Christmas lights?
If you only had 1 toy, what else did your parents spend their money on?
Can we still see the German plane that crashed at Reen Cross?
How far away is Reen Cross?
Don`t children walk anywhere these days, don`t they look out of the car windows? Reen Crossroads is just outside the village and a short cut in the summer to avoid the Tourists, queuing to get into Perranporth with its 3 miles of golden sandy beach!!
My earliest memories refer to the end of the War Years, I can recall seeing a houseboat that had been beached after some bomb damage, a mis-timed attack on Falmouth Docks – just a few miles down the Fal. Upstream towards Truro many landing craft / flat barges were beached alongside the riverbank, as I passed by on my way to primary school.
The snowstorm of 1947, our terrier – just like all other dogs of that era had a kennel outside, in his case in the small fruit orchard near the chicken run and I can remember scraping the snow away from the top. Our village had two milkmen – ours` was late, not able to carry two milk churns across the fields on his shoulder yoke, his horse and cart coming around by road arrived after dinner, from being the 1st house in the village we were now the last.
Collecting clothing coupons together from family members for my school blazer and grey trousers etc etc when I passed the 11 plus in 1949 – you have to be at least 70 to remember those!
Granfer Hayes lent me the money, about £17.00, to buy a drop handlebar bicycle, I used it to do a paper round and also to pick Eastertime daffodils – how the seasons have changed, they are ready now in February. In 1956 to cycle from Malpas to Truro – my first job as a temporary postman and then in 1957 all the way to the sub-postoffice in Perranporth – about 12 miles each way. He had also paid for, by cashing in his many small value Savings Certificates, several coach trip visits by Royal Blue and then Greenline at the other end in the late 1940s, back to his Kentish roots and I am still very much in touch with all my cousins over there.
Towards the end of 1958 the anticipated Call-up for National Service brown envelope duly arrived, inviting me for a medical and so on, even enclosing a warrant for me to travel by rail – great excitement within the family – a train journey at last!
At the Recruitment Office in Redruth, I was informed that the NS weekly wage was £1. 2s. 6d. if I signed for 3 or 6 years that went up to £3. 5s. 0d. The law stated that any employer had to re-appoint after the NS period of service, Mr Lean subpostmaster of Perranporth, who was actually paying me £3. 5s. 0d, duly informed me that he was going to employ another person or shut his PO / shop!! So at the end of March 1959 and as a six-year regular, I caught the train to Farnborough.
In this modern world of PC and Data protection, I would not consider giving any grievance to all those Posties who were also born in 1939, nonetheless I do know who we all are, some I have drawn recent attention to and very sadly, some I greatly miss. All who served in PCS Offices will be aware of the “pecking-order lists” produced annually, if Ernie Tomlin had just been promoted to Warrant Officer Class 1 – and my annual reports have been at least “Good” my next posting should be on promotion as well. Ernie was just 1 month senior to me as a WO 2 – those in the know will be aware of my fountain of knowledge!
In 1973, of the 12 serving Warrant Officers Class 1, only one was born in 1939 a very dear friend of both of us, Stuart Macfarlane. He was a Cpl in the early 1960s at Directorate when I was in HQ AER; WO 2 in Hannover a few years later, when we had to separate “Fluffy” from Maj Graham Hillier for Orders, usually curled up under my chair in the Orderly room for those 10 minutes or so, much to the amusement through the steel door of Pete Holman and all the Sorting Office staff. He married Moira in Hong Kong in 1976, Stu now WO 1, was granted a MQ in Osborne Barracks just a step away from us, Moira flew out and stayed with us until their marriage. We met yet again in Dusseldorf a couple of years later, Stu being in the Accounts Branch, an early morning BFT stopped dramatically and produced a major warning of the heart problems that were to pursue his life. We stayed with them in Glasgow, many years ago when he was an RO in the Army pensions office, Moira is now a retired school teacher and we hear from her every Christmas.
1930 to 1939 births covered those listed – I served with 10 out of the 12 of them, what memories.
12 of the 47 listed Warrant Officer Class 2 were born in my year, their birth years ranged from 1926 to 1944. First Class Education was a real pain to many SNCOs for promotion! I only served with 6 of my age, knew them all by association – we were – and still are in military terms, that sort of service family!
Only 4 of the 46 Staff Sergeants were 39ers, I served with them all and we are still very much in touch. Born between 1926 – 1945 covered all their age range, 1958 through to 1973 by appointment/seniority, again Education was a major stumbling block to those at the top of that very familiar list.
Two and a half pages of Sergeants are listed, 122 in total of which 13 were born in 1939, their ages range between 1923 and 1947, so the youngest had achieved the rank of Sgt at 25 ½ years old – enlistment dates are not shown, so I have no indication of how long he had served to achieve his rank.
3 ½ pages of full Corporals are the last group to be listed – the very familiar group at the top of the tree would not be allowed there these days, of the top seven Corporals by seniority, the youngest was FORTY .
Number one – born 1927, promoted to Cpl in 1959 and still a Cpl in 1973, number 4 is the eldest born in 1923. Only 2 of them would be 70 this year, several born in 1951 appear towards the end of the listings, full Corporals at the age of just 22, high-flyers?
Thirty Posties serving in 1973 would have been, are, or very soon will be, SEVENTY years young this year – including me of course.
Enjoy your memories.