The Feature Page
23149652 L/Cpl
Peter Hughes

National Service
Lancashire Fusiliers
1955 to 1958
National Service …….the unusual way ?

Acquiring a computer at 74 years of age and seeing the Lancashire Fusiliers web site full of anecdotes and photographs I realised that I had photographs taken in Germany and Cyprus that might be of some interest to former members of the XXth

At 21 years of age , having been deferred National Service through studying as a professional decorator at Bury Art College (now the new Fusiliers Museum ) for the proposed five years . I received my call up paper in June 1955.

I was requested to present myself at the Regimental Depot,
XXth The Lancashire Fusiliers, Bury Lancs

The fact that I was born and bred at Whitefield only 4 miles away was a big advantage

Along with other lads from Manchester and Liverpool who were mainly 18 years of age made me feel an old man at 21 years of age.

The fun and games ; receiving uniform and a regimental number (which you never forget !). chased from pillar to post ; and a barrack room full of new mates and "innoculation"

The usual square bashing with Sgt Les Lamb assisted by Junior NCOs Rifle drill boxing etc etc
RSM Frank Alley Gallipoli 1958

The pleasure of meeting RSM Frank Alley (Oh yes …. Lovely)

Peter and Dorothy Jones outside Wellington Barracks Bury they married in August 1957

Being newly engaged to be married and home cooking I was away from there every opportunity

Along with six other lads all of same height picked out by the RSM we acted as bearers of two "Military" Civilian funerals for former Fusiliers at Bury and Bolton. We rehearsed with a steel locker filled with bricks!!!

We did a lot of drill for Minden day parade in front of family and friends. We saw a fair bit of Holcombe Brook Rifle Range

Passing out parade, embarkation leave and entrain Harwich crossing North Sea to hook of Holland, a journey made by thousands of servicemen and women over the years on board the troopship " Vienna " . By train to Dortmund to Iserlohn in Westphalia BAOR

Our new home was the "Flackhazen" a former German Artillery barracks home to 1st Bn the Lancashire Fusiliers I was posted to a rifle coy 2 whole days. I met a former art student and neighbour. Bill Rawsthorne who advised me to apply to HQ coy as one of the Regimental Quartermaster "Pioneers " They consisted of joiners, plumbers painters and decorators The building trade of the battalion, 8 or 9 of us
Kitners Pioneers

Back Peter Hughes, Peter Quinn,
Jimmy ?,Bill Rawsthorne,
Gorden Stott Eric Bose, Elwyn Wright, Lenny ?.

We were responsible to the Regimental Quartermaster Lt. QM Stanley Price - Formerly Regimental Sergeant Major. He was better Known as" Kitna" but not to his face. I kid you not ! Hard men feared but also respected him The stories about him are legion.
We were left alone to get on with maintenance. in my case painting anything that moved or didn't, Plus sign writing . We had our own workshop and yes , it was a cushy number!
After a few months I had a diversion " Kitna's " live in batman "Yorkie " went on extended leave to the UK.
I was selected to deputise for him (with great apprehension !!) Kitna's home was a private house in Hagenstrasse in Iserlohn. His charming wife and little girl were very kind. My duties were very simple 'keeping his uniform and kit already immaculate in order. simple!
Lovely meals and accommodation, I was treated very well; I naturally kept out of his way!
I did have a fright though, the home was heated by coke fired boiler in the cellar and being stoker was part of my duties. I had no previous experience of this and one morning having stoked up I left the Draught damper out ! the heat was terrific ,the boiler glowed and I thought it was going to dance around the cellar! I still sweat at what could have happened!!
Then it was back to painting duties

Pay night saw most of us walking into Iserlohn to the "Church of Jocks" for a good meal .Then walk across the road to the army Cinema (AKC) and possibly a beer in "Johns Bar". Oh yes we knew how to live!
After a few months I hankered after being able to drive vehicles so I transferred to the MT section still HQ coy , to go on a driving cadre but as is the way of the army I was put on Spraying and Lettering the vehicles first.
On the odd occasion a Civilian car might get Blown over !! A provost NCO came to see me he said ! it was strange a civvy car coming into the Barracks colour blue was booked out red "very strange" he just happened to have an old Merc Nuff said.
Eventually Cpl Geordie Briggs and I started driving lessons. Then Capt Ken Lee MT section OC asked us to take over P.O.L office and Stores . Geordie dished out the fuel etc and I did the office accounts with the giddy rank of L/Cpl acting unpaid unwanted. Again another cushy number.

When the Suez crisis blew up the battalion was brought back to the UK on 24 hour standby which was extended again and again!

We were based at Queen Elizabeth Barracks reg , depot of the KOYLIS at Stensall York in a very dilapidated wooden hutted barracks last used for demob lads after WW2 . Not having a POL of our own Geordie and I were surplus to requirements
I was transferred to battalion Intelligence office (my ex serviceman brothers never stopped laughing !) . In due course the battalion was destined for Cyprus M.E.L.F I was on a small advance party to Southampton to embark on board troopship "Austuria" a 23 thousand ton Vessel.

It had its own ships RSM who gave me the job of ships librarian 2 decks down open 2 hours morning and 2 hours afternoon… I had dropped on my feet again!!

A 10 day trip calling at Gibraltar and Malta, it was on its last trip to Hong Kong before going to the breakers yard. The boat decks were used in the Titanic film "A Night to Remember" starring Kenneth More. Some of us had a run ashore at Malta before landfall at Limmasol

Our new camp was up in the hills - all new tents half a dozen corrugated huts. It had been a vineyard 3 weeks before and when it rained it was a sea of mud, we were issued with wellies!! We were way out in the country, a small village nearby called Polemi.
Polemi Camp

There were 4 of us in the I.O. with Sgt Derek Crick; we were joined by 2 British Greek Interpreters. Within days the battalion post CPL returned to rifle Co duties, once again I had another job!

But no regrets as it meant leaving camp everyday with 2 land rovers plus drivers and armed escorts of 4. we would drive to Ktima and Paphos to collect a wind sock and drive to await a light aircraft from Nicosia. The aircraft was a 2 seater monoplane Auster type carrying mail and S.D.S. sacks. There were very important. It was info' for Battalion HQ that couldn't go over the radio network. This meant travelling a considerable distance by road through small towns and villages every day at the same time. This was a very risky business so my departure time varied by a few hours every day.

Arriving at Ktims Police HQ everyday to collect the windsock mail and possibly parcels from the UK.

Once a week we would drive along the coast road to Dekalia M.E.L.F, the main military base in Cyprus for supplies.

On rare occasions we could go for a swim at Coral Bay, a beautiful spot. It had since had hotels and classy homes for ex-pat Brits built there. Meanwhile the rifle Coy's did sweeps of the Troodos Mountains chasing Col Grivas and his terrorists out of the caves and village hideouts. On rare occasions we would escort UK concert parties from one camp to ours to put on a show. Comedian Jimmy Wheeler, Stan Stennett - singer Ronnie Hilton and best of all female singers and dancers and an occasional film.

Two Showgirls with Peter from the Concert Party Cyprus

We had arrived in February 1957, time passed very quickly, it was May 1957 I was due to demob in June…

I packed my kit, had a last beer with the lads and travelled to Wayne's keep, Nicosia ready for a flight to UK via Malta… I had documentation for 12 other fusiliers going to the UK for release. That wasn't straightforward either! Arrived at Luca airport Malta, for a quick wash and brush-up. I was called to the reception to be taken off the flight for a compassionate case to the UK. So the fusiliers were 1 hour ahead of me. I had followed on Dakota DC3 aircraft 1 hour later carrying 24 Royal Naval wives returning to the UK to have their babies… 24 big plump mommas-to-be!

Landing at Blackbushe Royal Naval Airstation, we had refuelled at Nice airport France. I even got chance to walk along the promenade whilst they refuelled!!!

When I caught up with my fusiliers in the UK they were surrounded by "Redcaps", they had been creating hell!!!

We all travelled up to Manchester on the Irish mail train arriving in the early hours of the morning. I instructed them to report the Depot the following day. I never saw them again.

I handed my kit in at the Depot, then Castle Armouries Bury for reserve documentation and that was it!

I have visited the Regimental museum for "Minden Day" and "Gallipoli" celebrations and had 1 or 2 beers in the old comrades club over the years.

I more than appreciate that my time with the XXth was not the usual service life, it was certainly different, never boring that's for sure.

I learned a lot about myself and my fellowmen and travelled to places earlier than I would have done prior to joining the XXth. Years later I holidayed in Malta, Cyprus and visited former camps and airstrips that I had known. The main tented camp at Polemi has reverted back to a vineyard. I was made most welcome by the locals.

Omnia Audax

Peter Hughes



Iserlohn 55

Iserlohn 56

Iserlohn 56 Church Parade


Turkish Police EOKA Prisoners Cyprus 57

Lt Bowman and Sgt John Ball


Rocky Hudson

George Sybrs Sgt Bob Willis
Peter Hughes

Cyprus 55 George Briggs Club Lunt and Peter Hughes
Kitners Pioneers

Back Peter Hughes, Peter Quinn,
Jimmy ?,Bill Rawsthorne,
Gorden Stott Eric Bose, Elwyn Wright, Lenny ?.

Keith Wall and Buckley