The Rose and The Laurel - 1968

A year of progress and a year of success!
It is difficult to set down all that has happened since we last went to press.  Much of our work will appear in more official publications and for obvious reasons there it must rest.  We can, however, look back with some satisfaction on our first year as a Group.

Perhaps the most significant development since we formed is the slow, but by now fully apparent, development of a unit spirit.  The transfer of responsibilities from formations to the Group has gone smoothly and, at the time of going to press we have heard that our equipment table has received provisional approval.  Indeed, we may receive most of our kit before we have to start handing it in again.  Be that as it may, we are now beginning to collect the technical means to improve our professional product and we can look forward to the prospect of another successful year, this time with the tools to do the job.

The control of a unit which stretches over 1,600 miles requires a great amount of visiting, and the peregrinations of Colonel Goss have to be seen to be believed.  In both capacities, as GSO1 and as CO, he covers a vast mileage in visiting the Companies and their detachments as well as formation staffs.  Without this personal touch, however, the far flung outposts of the Group would lack cohesion.  The effect of these visits upon group HQ is electric – volumes of tour notes for typing and action; but the value to all concerned is now plain to see.  Apart from visits within the Group, the Colonel has also visited the Defence Attaché, Bangkok, and the Australian Intelligence Centre when it was at Middle head.

We had a large turnover of personnel during the year.  No less than fifteen officers feature either in the arrivals or departures column, and this, from an established strength of thirteen, is quite remarkable.  These will mostly be reflected in the sub unit notes below, but at the risk of duplication we feel bound to report some notable events here.

Capt P H Lewis-Jones has come from 99 Brigade to replace Capt S G Small as Adjutant. 2Lt R A Eccles arrived in January of this year, ostensibly to complete a short attachment.  After travelling quite extensively from Group HQ to all Companies and G (Security) he has now come to roost as temporary 2 i/c of the Company in Singapore.  He has also found a home for his talents in the Rowcroft Theatre.

Lt M D Furzer arrived early in the year but has now retired.  By the time this appears in print he will be married.  We wish him, and his bride, every good fortune for the future.

This has been a very busy year for the whole Group.  On the CI side a bulky programme of security surveys has been put in train and, despite many calls on manpower, it is progressing well.  The Intelligence Support sections have played their usual part in formation exercises, one of which, exercise “LATH”, absorbed more Corps manpower than any other previous exercise.  At present the Divisional HQ and the Commando Intelligence Support Section are preparing for the final formation exercise of the year.  Each of these exercises demands extra manpower from the Companies and it speaks well for our NCOs that despite these commitments the work is done – and done well.

During the year the Group has had to react to “Confrontation” in Hong Kong, which placed further demands upon our slender manning resources.  Reinforcements were sent from Singapore and Malaya, pending official establishment action, and, of course, new blood came out from Ashford.  Clearly this was a period of pressure for all concerned and it is gratifying to see how eagerly some younger and NCOs tackled unusual problems which they faced for the first time.

In Mauritius, too, the Group was called upon for manpower.  Sgt Conway, Cpl Bird and Cpl Downing were despatched to work with the KSLI and did well.  Sgt Conway liked the life so much that he has gone back to Mauritius for leave!

We will leave to the Companies the opportunity to be more specific on the work load.

Corps day 1968, was spent in our separate Company areas, though group Headquarters combined with the Company in Singapore.  The Singapore festivities on 19th July started with a games morning followed by a curry lunch at the Company Sergeants’ Mess.  I the evening a dinner dance was held at the Coq d’Or restaurant and our attendance of 108 was very near maximum.  The meal was good, the company excellent, the dancing divine – in general, a very happy gathering.  When dinner had ended, the loyal toast was offered and with it a toast to the Republic of Singapore and, of course, the toast to the Corps and its members, past and present.  We were delighted to have three former members of the Corps with us for the evening, Messrs ChelvinCoupland and Wilson.

On 20th July the officers of the Corps held a cocktail party at the Senior Officers’Mess, Tanglin, to which a large number of guests was invited.  The Colonel’s lady and Mrs Davies mixed a champagne cocktail which was devastatingly successful. 

During Corps week the Officers and senior ranks challenged the junior ranks to a “friendly” game of football on Meiktila pitch.  It was a colourful if wet occasion, in which both teams gave of their best.  Capt Small collided with a goal-post which moved out of its socket, though not before drawing blood from its assailant, Cpl Peaks was seen to tackle the CO on several occasions though the CO’s limp the following day was said to be coincidental. Two local rules which caused the referee, Cpl Mole, some consternation, were the requirement to consume two cans of tiger at half-time and the placing of a can of Tiger on the crossbar.  Any player who dislodged the can with a direct hit would win a crate Tiger.  The can was still there at the end of the game. The game ended with a win for the officers and senior ranks, score 4-2 (with 3 “own goals”).

The climax though, was provided by Major Walker, who, having kept his pipes dry despite the rain, played stirring music which delighted the teams, the spectators and particularly the children.

Reports of Corps day in other Companies will be included with the Company notes.

We have had a very successful season on the sports field and, apart from unit teams, a good percentage of unit personnel have been taking part as individuals.  Tae Kwan Do (Korean judo) has claimed two new devotees, Cpl Peck and Cpl Hills.  Badminton players in Johore Bahru have S/Sgt Mobbs as their instructor.  On Corps day the lawn of the Company Mess bristled with croquet sticks, badminton racquets and clock golf clubs.  It was gratifying to see the number of people who made use of the games facilities provided by the Company.

Sgt Stanton, the HQ Chief Clerk, has raised two table tennis teams, both of which are currently doing well in the Singapore League and Sgt Stanton is now rated amongst the best Army players on the island.

Rugby footballers have just started their season and are practicing with the doctors, dentists and police, with whom the Corps is to be amalgamated for the season.  Already, however, the game has claimed a casualty.  Capt Lewis-Jones, who had three injuries last season, has broken a finger in his first game.

In 1968, football for the Intelligence Corps in Singapore became a regular fixture.  Not content with intermittent friendly games the Corps joined the Singapore district League and a place in Division 4 was secured.  Limited manpower does not necessarily mean limited ability and with the early hesitantly-played matches over, the eleven settled down as a team and played some fine constructive football.  The “Int Corps” was led by Sgt Palmer, assisted by Sgt Conway on his return from Mauritius.  These two, together with Cpl Peaks and L/Cpl Fitzsimons held their regular places in the Army XI, also taking part in the July tour of Malacca.


In competitions the Corps met with strong opposition, losing to Brigade HAQ and the BVD; but a magnificent effort meant victory by 4-2 against the Signal Regiment.  In the Singapore six-a-side tournament we were narrowly beaten on corners by BAD.  However, victories in the wooden spoon competition against the BOD HQ FARELF and the Singapore Guard Regiment assured us a place in the finals.  A Signal Squadron won this keenly contested game.  The team fully deserved their runners-up shields presented to them by Col W S 
Irwin, RAMC.
As far as the league programme is concerned, the Int Corps finished sixth out of twelve with the following analysis:-
                                 P           W        D           L          F       A            Pts
    Int Corps              22          9         1            12        64      74           19

The usual misnomers which accompany our presence as a Corps in any theatre arose throughout the season.  Lt Eccles, our football officer, was known to local referees as manager of the “Intelligent Corpse” as well as the “Int Centre”.  (Unknown to most, HQ Int Centre has moved yet again, this time complete with skeletons.

All the players are to be congratulated on the good results achieved by the “Corpse’s” first regular football team in the Far East.  We hope to improve upon our record next season.

Group Headquarters at Alexandra Park is still a hive of activity, a hive in which the bees are all workers!  The RSM WO1 Dunn has a highly flexible appointment, dealing with “Q”, Training. Regimental matters, fire and transport.  Despite the diversity of tasks, however, he gets through it all with no loss of equanimity.  Staff Hughes, the training NCO, has now instructed on almost every subject covered by our syllabus and yet still finds time to go for long evening runs.  These paid great dividends in the annual PE tests, despite a harrowing pace set by Capt Lewis-Jones. (We are certain that it was more than six miles.)

The training office lost Cpl Ellis to G Security earlier this year.  He was replaced by L/Cpl Fitzsimons who divides his time between Army football and the office.  Recently L/Cpl Byrne has come in to ease the pressure.  This office is, of course, a cornerstone of the Group Headquarters because we have 40 planned training weeks in the current financial year.

Sgt Stanton, RAOC, still presides over the orderly room assisted by Cpl Farr and three charming ladies, Mrs Allison, Mrs Moore and, recently, Mrs Treloar who replaces Mrs Miller.  The ladies have a very difficult time, keeping the files moving and the typewriters permanently in action, but they do it very well and we offer them our sincere thanks.

Bdr Grevitt, the CO’s driver and Dvr Khoo, our minibus driver, are both constantly on the road.  In an effort to relieve the pressure we asked for another vehicle, but, as was expected, we were refused and so they still travel on.

By the time these notes appear in print Capt Small will be studying for the Staff College in his beloved Scotland, Maj Collyer will be 2 i/c and Maj Cole-Mackintosh will have returned, thankfully, to fish in the less troubled waters of the Hampshire Avon.

Group Headquarters has had a large quota of visitors during the year.  The Army Commander visited us on 16th February, 1968.  The former Chief of Staff visited us on 23rd November, 1967, just after we went to press last year.  The new Chief of Staff will be here on 17th September.  In February this year we were pleased to have Col Robson with us and we are now looking forward to meeting Brig Mackenzie in November.
Up the road at Tanglin, Majs Davies and Stevens sit at the centre of their web, weaving staff policy.  Maj Davies has shown remarkable prowess at golf, of which he is a recent devotee, winning the Warren Club Medal and moving from novice to handicap 14 in less than a year.  He hopes for a posting as CI officer at St Andrews next.  Maj Stevens has started to teach some NCOs in Singapore, Chinese, a step which will be of value to the Group as well as to the individuals.  At the time of going to press the class is progressing well, though Maj Stevens is looking more and more…

WO2 Young, S/Sgt Guthrie and L/Cpl Philpott provide the Corps backing for G Security, whilst Sgt Walsh, RAOC (a star of our soccer team) keeps the office in order.


Far Eastern views of the side hat or cap, forage.

It is a fact, unearthed by our Regimental Sergeant Major and therefore of significance, that in the Army as a whole the average hat sizes range from 6 ¾  to 7, whereas in the Intelligence Corps they are 7 to 7 ¼ .  This valuable Ordnance statistic must prove something surely ………….

From our little enclave in the tropical paradise of Singapore we send greetings to less fortunate souls denied the pleasures of service amidst this multi-racial, multi-lingual, rugged society - I refer, of course, not to Singaporeans but to the personnel of Int & Sy Gp (FARELF) and G (Sy) HQ FARELF!

The past year has witnessed many a change of face in the Company.  Capt G L D Jenkins departed en route to Chester (the nearest he is allowed to his homeland!) and Maj K Rutter took over the reins of OC until Maj R M B Walker, MC (“Red Rory”), arrived in January, 1968, complete with bag-pipes.  In July the Singapore Government passed the Noise Abatement Laws and Maj Rutter departed for Edinburgh muttering something about “Appreciation may come with more experience and understanding!”

2Lt R A Eccles took over the duties of 2 i/c in July and has done a sterling job as Sports Officer both on the field of play and in the office.  His deft passing of the fast ball (particularly to the CSM) must be seen to be believed.

S/Sgt Pace took over the rather large all-embracing cloak of Admin NCO from S/Sgt Barnes in August and, much to the delight of the OC, immediately passed 50 per cent of his job to REME Admin Unit who, rather surprisingly, accepted the burden without a murmur.

Rousell joined the Company in January and promptly disappeared for 3 ½ months on a Thai language course.  He rejoined the Company just in time for a duty trip to Thailand where, rumour has it, he was a huge success with the local populace – not so much because of his ability to speak the language but because of his bald pate.  Obviously a land where Robin Hood would play second fiddle to Friar Tuck!
Following his inauguration of a “chess ladder”, and finding the opposition rather weak, the OC turned his undoubted talents to a reappraisal the Company ORBAT.  A few deft moves, a quick change of direction of a few prime pieces, and a new-look Company has emerged.  The basic, and all important change, is that all detachments now have a Security Intelligence role to play.  This has done much to boost the morale of the less fortunate members of the unit whose horizons had been bounded solely by MS Matters. 

For the more rotund members, the new look regrettably did not end with the Orbat.  The very early morning slumber of Wessex Estate, Dover Road and Rowcroft Lines has been disturbed by the Company pounding the roads, tracks and the only hill in the vicinity, but finally completing their speed-march in what can only be described for some as “a little distress”.  However, the performance seemed to satisfy – and surprise – the OC, whose encouraging remarks goaded members to the finishing post!

Other events during the year included the birth of a daughter in January to Sgt and Mrs Palmer; the birth of a daughter in May to Cpl and Mrs Guest (we would like to express our appreciation of the assistance given to Mrs Guest by the Int Centre and ICA during her sojourn in UK); the marriage of L/Cpl Nigel Foster to Miss “Robbie” Coveney in April; the award of the LS & GC Medal with gratuity to WO2 Robertson, S/Sgt Mobbs and Sgt Yacob.

Commando Brigade Intelligence Support Section


The year under review started with the Brigade test exercise in Malaya, under the pseudonym of “CELTO”.  For this we were reinforced by L/Cpls 
Faulks and Foster, two Gurkha Corporals from 2/10 GR as interpreters and three Malays.   The photograph shows all concerned inside the PW cage.

Our main operational commitment during the latter half of 1967 and early 1968 was the Aden withdrawal, with 42 Commando covering the final evacuation of British troops; 42 were relieved by 40 and Foster and Faulks went along as part the augmented Int Section.  They have the dubious honour of having spent more time embarked on board the Commando carrier than any other section member, past or present – nine weeks in all!

The main feature of 1968 has been the further development of a Joint Force Headquarters at brigade level.  Here the Brigade staff is duplicated from the Brigadier downwards, with the RAF officers and ranks.  Four exercises have been carried out under this system, which is excellent, particularly from the air point of view.  It means that ground troops have instant call on their own aircraft in the same way as they have always been able to call for direct support artillery.  In addition, the now numerous air resources of a Brigade are centrally co-ordinated and most economically and efficiently employed.  Altogether a system which is bound to spread, and one which has wider application than the small-scale independent operations which have been envisaged for its use in the Far East.
In January, 1968, Cpl Mackney returned to UK after nearly three years in the Theatre.  In addition to his heavy kit, he took with him a wife, and we wish them well in England.  Cpl Mackney was replaced by Cpl Stenner, ex-Aden via the Depot, who completed his commando course in late 1967.

Commando trained ranks in Singapore are now as follows:

Permanently serving with the Brigade: Captain Venn, S/Sgt Knibbs, Cpl Stenner.
Serving in the Int Coy:  Sgt Askew, L/Cpl Faulks, L/Cpl Foster, L/Cpl Lutterell.

All members of the permanent section have completed a colloquial language course during the year, Captain 
Venn and S/Sgt Knibbs in Thai and Cpl Stenner in Malay.

The main preoccupation at the moment is with a major all arms, inter-service exercise in Australia in September/October, 1968.  For this the entire amphibious force embarks for the Shoalwater Bay area, north of Brisbane, for the biggest Joint Force HQ operation so far.  It should prove most interesting and instructive and a possible visit to the Australian Intelligence School in Adelaide should round off the proceedings very satisfactorily.

Since the last time we appeared in print, there have been several changes in unit personnel, but fortunately we have not yet suffered from any effects of the projected rundown in the Far East.  On the credit side, we have gained Maj O’Neill, Capt Antcliff, Lt Dixon, WO2 Adams, 
Guthrie (for three weeks), NewarkJubb and Coombs, Sgts Thomas and Cassidy, Cpls RaysonBarrieBushell, and our golf professional, Cpl Pugh.  Fresh from the Centre we have welcomed L/Cpls Peeke, FleuryCathcartCrokerCopelandCollett and Langham.
On the debit side we have lost Lt Edwards, S/Sgts Dickinson and Wood, Sgt Lewer, Cpls Jackson and Flemming  to UK, Sgts ChownWoodhouse and Turnbull, Cpls JordanJones and Dicker to BAOR, Sgt Jenkins, Cpls McGuire and Jackson, L/Cpls Hawksley and Toppin (Dtmn RE) to “civvy street”, Sgt Clarks, Cpl Grant and L/Cpl Gregory to 10 Company, S/Sgt Guthrie to Group HQ, and Lt Champion to a language course in Hong Kong.  We have also lost men at various times for emergency tours in Mauritius.

Corps day this year took the form of a dance in the 17 Division/Malaya District Provost Company RMP Sgts’ Mess and unit personnel from as far afield as Kluang and Penang attended.  Unfortunately distance precluded a 100 per cent attendance.  The evening was a great success, and this was due in part to our cook, Sgt Reid, who dropped in for five minutes about 1 a.m. to see how things were going and almost got thrown out for suggesting a “shing shong” to the survivors at 6 a.m.

On the celebration side we have one wedding – Sgt Brogden to Rosemary Edge, ex-Intelligence Centre – and two births; unfortunately for recruiting in 1986, these were both daughters, but our congratulations go to the proud parents – WO2 and Mrs Adams, and Sgt and Mrs Thornton.

On 25th August, 90 per cent of the Company moved to the Cameron Highlands for 10 days jungle survival/map reading training; it was rumoured that the OC wore out two compasses searching for lost golf balls as part of his map reading training, but we have been assured that there is no truth in these allegations.  Unfortunately for career-conscious NCOs , we did not manage to lose anyone, no matter how hard they tried, so there are no new vacancies on the Seniority Roll.  Female companionship was sadly lacking, but S/Sgt Newark did find a two-foot long rat in his bed in the jungle!  After the first day, Sgt Campbell refused to carry Sgt Cassidy any further.  However, apart from a few minor scrapes and bruises, no mishaps occurred and they all returned for a rest on 1st September.

Our congratulations go to Lt Dixon who was a member of the runner-up team in the Commonwealth brigade Minor Units Shooting competition and to Cpl Edwards, a member of the runner-up team in the Falling Plate competition.  This we feel augers well for our chances in the Davidson and Shortt Trophies.

In the sporting field, we have had successes – Cpl Pugh came third in the FARELF Golf Championships and was selected for the Army golf and basketball teams.  We have also provided representatives in the Commonwealth Services Cricket XI and the Negri Sembilan State cricket for the Negri Sembilan Pirates.

Despite a number of minor crises, with riots and civil disturbances, we all continue to keep busy.  Our sympathy must go to Lou Adamson, who was the only British casualty in the Penang riots.  Some of the unit will be lucky enough to visit Australia later in the year on exercise.
During the next year, we envisage many changes as a result of the rundown, but until plans have been finalised, no one can tell how much we will be affected.  We only hope that we (less the officers who lose 9d per day) can stay a little longer to enjoy the benefits of our back LOA and un-rationed duty-free beer.