Norman R Silvester (23688099)

Branch roles: Grenadier Branch Member

Regimental number: 23688099

Service dates: 1959-1961


Having been deferred whilst serving an apprenticeship, I finally got on a train with three other lads at Lincoln on the morning of 8 January 1959 to commence my 3 years of regular service in the Regiment.

I nearly didn’t make it, as the previous evening whilst out with my parents we had to be towed and pushed up a very steep and twisty hill in a snowstorm. My father took me to the station – luckily the snow ploughs had done their job – so off to Caterham not really knowing what to expect.

On arrival at the Depot, things moved up several gears! Well, at least for the first few minutes as we almost ran after the ‘runner’ dragging our suitcases. Then things settled a bit as we had to wait almost two weeks before a squad was formed.

Our instructor was L/Sgt Claber , with Dave Packham the trained soldier. Superintendent Sgt was Sgt. G Haynes, Pt instructor, L/Sgt Woodman and CSM D McMahon.

I haven’t got much of a memory for detail, but can tell the usual stories of the Squad doing extra drill in the Drill Sheds until the left arm, left leg lads had been sorted out. The RSM was ‘Jolly’ Rodger.

After our training was complete we passed out as the last Grenadier Squad through the Depot with the .303 rifle.

Time passed all too quickly and the Battalion moved to Candahar Barracks in Tidworth, which was to be my base for the remainder of my service. Here we immediately converted to the SLR.

In March 1960 the battalion went to Cyrenaica on exercise ‘Starlight’ for 3 weeks. Along with the rest of the MT Platoon I had to ferry men and goods from a desert airstrip at Temimi to base camp in the choking dust and heat. Among the officers in the 1st Battalion. At the time were Viscount Anson (Patrick Lichfield the photographer) and Algy Cluff.

The Headquarter Company Commander was Major ‘Rags’ Courage and the MT Officer was 2nd Lieutenant Dan Drouet, ex RSM.

In my final year the Battalion was deployed to the British Cameroons for 4 months. This included a 15 day voyage on the troop ship ‘Devonshire’, with a call at Las Palmas on the outward leg and Lagos on the return.

I was demobbed after 3 years with the Colours in December 1961 and returned to Lincolnshire to continue my career as a printer.