In the last week at Morecambe we received our Second-Lieutenant's pips and wore these covered by our shoulder ribbons until our names appeared in the Royal Gazette. I was listed as commissioned on the 9 April 1943 after a ceremonial passing out parade. The night before a boyhood friend from Peebles, a Pilot-Officer in the RAF, came to spend an all too short twenty-fours hours celebrating! I never saw him again as he was killed in action on 23 January 1945; this was most grevious news, as we had been close friends from our 'toddler days'. He was only 22. <>

Reflecting back on those early years when we first came together as civilian-soldiers, I remember we had great difficulty in not calling our local sergeants Jake, Geordie and Jock; we had grown up with them and their families. I also remember how upset I was when leaving the 8RS and taking leave of so many good friends; in our time of shared uncertainty we had developed a kinship which endured in the post-War years. It was the same at OCTU; a close, brotherly friendship has endured for over 60 years. We had hoped to serve together, opting to be commissioned into the same regiment; however, I became a Royal Scot whilst my friend became a KOSB but the vagaries of the army initially posted me to the KOSB and he to serve with the Black Watch! Nevertheless, by the end of the War, we ended up as 'highlanders' and wore the kilt; I a Lowland Scot and he a Yorkshire man!
I reported to the adjutant of the 9th Battalion King's Own Scottish Borderers at Worstead Park Camp, near North Walsham, some miles west of Norwich in Norfolk. It was a holding battalion for training and posting reinforcements to the lowland regiments of the RS, KOSB and the RS Fusiliers. I was posted to 'A' Company and given command of one its training platoons. The most memorable aspect of my seven months with 9th KOSB was having responsibilty for a platoon of young men who previously served with the disbanded Royal Scots Young Soldiers Battalion. These lads were a lively lot but we got on well together after the usual period of sizing each other up. In due course they were posted to the Far East and soon after the notice of their posting, the Officers' Mess Sergeant came one evening to say three men were hoping to have a word with me. They were from my training platoon, and told me they had just come from a meeting of the platoon and it was their wish that I should be approached to see if I could go overseas with them as their officer. I was deeply touched. Regretfully, I had to tell them no matter our joint wishes, it would be most unlikely we would be able to keep together as a platoon but be sent as individuals or as groups to reinforce other units. Later my feelings of pride were thrust aside by overwhelming humility that the lads want me to be with them as they embarked to meet the unknown.


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