Ken Ridley: Soldier no. 22581834

Memories of the Crawley Veterans

By Gina Da Cunha

Photo: Illustrative image for the 'Ken Ridley: Soldier no. 22581834' page

Photo from WRVS Heritage Plus Archive

Photo: Illustrative image for the 'Ken Ridley: Soldier no. 22581834' page

Photo from WRVS Heritage Plus Archive

Ken Ridley

Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers (REME)


National Service: 1951 to 1953


This was my army number never to be forgotten, although the Sergeant Major only wanted to know the 'last three' when you had caused him trouble.

It was 1951 and compulsory conscription was coming to an end. I would have been 'called up' earlier but as an apprentice with W. Edwards and Co., the vacuum pump and scientific engineering firm, it was possible to defer conscription until the apprenticeship and associated educational studies had been completed.

Basic training

The term of service was two years and started with a six week period of basic training at Honiton. It was possible during this period to transfer to an officer cadet training unit for 12 weeks which turned out to be an interesting period.

The course ended and we went for three days to be examined and assessed during various aptitude tasks, including written essays and psychological tests to enable ' leaders' to stand out.

Two of our group made the grade and went to Sandhurst.
I was transferred to Arborfield into REME (Royal Electric and Mechanical Engineers) for a technical training course in transmitters and radio repair. Whist at both training camps we were able to get home some week-ends by hitch-hiking lifts where drivers were always sympathetic to service personnel in uniform.

Off to Hanover

Eventually it was posting day when we would be transferred to one of three destinations, Egypt, Germany or Korea. I was posted to Hanover in Germany where we, in individual 'Z' wagons with all necessary technical equipment would be visiting  different areas, mainly infantry regiments, to service their communication gear.

First of all we had to learn to drive. This initially consisted of driving a 15 cwt truck round and round the parade ground. Graduating to the three ton truck was a different matter; remembering to keep to the right and pulling the rod linked lever to indicate a left-hand turn.

And there's more to come!

This page was added by Gina Da Cunha on 27/03/2008.

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