Enlisted 14/8/63 in 15 (Scottish) Parachute Regiment ‘D’ coy got through ‘P’ coy between , Aug/Nov 63 then went on my parachute course in November 63 ,due to bad weather and RAF xmas leave returned in 14 March 64 to 26 March and got my ‘wings’. I am sure all those who went through ‘P’ company, got their maroon beret and parachute wings felt like I did. Ready for Anything! Some of us deployed to Aden (attached to 3 Para) to protect 9 Sqn Parachute Engineers who were working on Dhala Road . First time in ‘contact’, certainly sobers you up. My photograph shows nice new SLR but a bit scratched after deployment!
Had some good exercises, biggest one jumping at Arnhem. Some of us lucky and jumped from Dakotas(in D Day markings). Rumor was filming was taking place for a movie. Have to say when we hit ground and moving off DZ some us , including me said we felt ‘hairs on back of neck prickle‘. Were we being watched by those who landed at Arnhem on Operation Market Garden? Locals made us very welcome afterwards, good company good beer. Quite a few of us were missing wings, Parachute Regiment shoulder tabs and Pegasus tabs, locals removing them whilst we drank!! I liked the BD, maroon belt the shoulder flashes with Parachute Regiment, Pegasus and Wings. I felt it just needed an update, never liked the new number 2 dress, but that’s me.
There is always somethings stick in your memory. I was first in stick on an Argosy, after I jumped number 5 behind me passed me got down before anyone else (Roman Candled). It made one really check your 'chute. Luckily he survived, he landed in only muddy patch on the DZ which cushioned his fall. He never jumped again though. Also one Para guy used to let his container go, nearly every time too soon. Once he let his go on the rope (opposite stick) it went through my rigging lines and I came down holding onto his container, shouting obscenities at him and what I would do to him if I survived. I did survive and I did express my annoyance when we hit the ground. I won’t say how though! Jumped from Dakota, Hastings, Beverly, Argosy and Hercules . Even jumped from the Wessex helicopter.
Along with other 15 Para guys (on disbandment of 15 Para) I rebadged to SAS (going through selection at Hereford, including the’ Fann dance’) and continued till 1969, wasn’t keen on jungle though. Then joined Military Police and ended up in 16 Parachute Brigade, but then posted on Emergency Deployment for 9 months to Belfast. During 71/72 it was a hairy time.1972/74 wasn't much easier! Daily contacts and car bombs. Does wear you down, but as all in same boat not so bad. ‘Ready for Anything’ always in my mind! Managed to get a nickname of ‘Mr Bounce’(wrong place, wrong time, several times!) Worked many times with local Paras who got us out of ‘contacts’ very well. Always felt secure when protected by the Paras. Glad when our Land rovers, canvas topped, were replaced with 'Makralon' protection, that helped a lot. At least they helped in ambushes. Remained in NI till Jan 74.
Posted to Cyprus, sun, sea, sand,. .cushy time.. No chance!!.. Promoted to sergeant, Seconded to UNMP (coup first then the 1974 Turkish/Greek war) and UN in the middle! Our HQ was in Nicosia near airport so caught in crossfire, aircraft bombing and cannon fire (phantom jets with Gatling guns) made a mess of vehicles, buildings and people. Challenging time being in the middle!.
We then carried out evacuation of service wives, families, tourists residents including ex pats from Famagusta to Dhekelia Base (convoy came under Turkish aircraft fire-casualties) Then after a partial truce did the same in Kyrenia then set up a refugees centre. Being in war zone very dodgy but we managed, though lost some vehicles due to tank fire/aircraft fire. lost most of my early Para docs, photos which were in an MFO box waiting to be shipped out with other units stuff. A Turkish pilot overshot his target partially hitting a British storage area. Managed to get in some free fall when semi peace returned before going back to UK.
1975 returned to 16 Para until MOD decided to disband it. Posted to BAOR on Close Protection and Counter Terrorist work ,until leaving service 1979. There is no doubt in my mind that the training and experience gained in 15 Para and Special Forces prepared me for places such as Northern Ireland and Cyprus(during Turkish/Greek war) it helped me assess situations, move quickly in the right direction! I have to admit though whilst in the war zone between Turkish Forces and Greek Forces it was hairy and I had never been under tank fire /aircraft fire/artillery fire. Makes you move quickly!
If anybody from 15(Scottish) ‘D’coy Parachute Regiment 1963- has any photographs that they could spare a copy please let me know.
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