Private Roy Harding of 1st Battalion, the Queen's Royal Regiment, and the Royal Fusiliers, remembers being knocked into shape as a national serviceman after World War II.
Roy Harding
Private Roy Harding
Our Sergeant was Sergeant Wildgoose. He had just come from the Royal Marines so you could guess what punishment he was going to put us through. I can remember one of the lads, the majority of the lads were from Bermondsey in the intake I was with, they were Teddy boys but once Sergeant Wildgoose got hold of them there was no Teddy boys. I can remember one of the lads went home one weekend and he bought back one of these wind up record players and he bought a record back with Frankie Laine singing “My Heart Goes Where the Wild Goose Goes”. Monday morning we were up on the top floor in Peterborough Block of Stoughton Barracks and they had sash cord windows so he lifted up the window and he could see Sergeant Wildgoose coming up from the sergeants' mess and put this record player on the window sill and played this “My Heart Goes Where the Wild Goose Goes”. He went berserk. He went mad, he said "I’ll teach you lot". He said "Your feet won’t touch the ground" which it didn’t. That day we went through it. He was a hard sergeant but you respected him. I remember we used to do field training out on Whitmoor Common and there was a stream. It was only about, what, 3 feet or 4 feet wide, and he was trying to teach us to cross a river with our rifles above our heads and I thought I'll walk through it and I thought myself I don’t want to get my boots wet for nobody. So when it was my turn to cross over I took a run and I jumped it and all of a sudden I heard "Harding, come here". So, "Yes, sergeant". "If it was a big river you would not jump it would you?" "No, sergeant". "Well, you see that tree up there?", it was about 100 yards up. He said "I want you to get in that stream and walk all the way up there in the middle of the stream". I got soaked. That taught me a lesson and then after 6 to 8 weeks training Captain Durrant who was the adjutant he had a group of us and he said "Come on lads, who is going to sign on? You can have an extra 10 shillings a week and you can have a 48 hour pass home" and I thought a 48 hour pass, anything to get out of this place. So I signed on for three years with the battalion, the colours, and four on reserve.