Sketch by Jack Chalker

Training

Training

Dick spent six months in recruit training at Fulwood Barracks, Preston and he vividly remembered those first months in the army.

The beds were the iron fold up types (no springs) with three small coir type biscuit mattresses; with five blankets (no sheets) and a bolster in lieu of pillows. Pay was 2/- a day. On Thursday on pay parade we smartly saluted for the grand amount of 5/- which, after compulsory purchases of uniform cleaning materials etc., left the recruit with about 2/6 to spend. We washed and shaved in cold water.

On venturing out of barracks a recruit had to parade before the Guard Commander and woe betide if his uniform was blemished. On my first outing (after re-cleaning of uniform) I walked down Deepdale Road feeling a real marionette. Walking out dress (no civvies permitted) comprised of peaked cap, tunic fitted with wire fasteners on the collar, an awful lot of brass buttons, blancoed white belt, highly polished boots, trousers with box crease just below the knees and puttees rolled on in the Loyal’s way. Recruits also marched with a little swagger stick. The food in barracks was such that after a weekend at home it was four days before re-attempting the army cuisine. 1

Dick finished his basic training in Preston and then remained initially based at Fulwood Barracks. In the summer of 1938 Dick was on embarkation leave, which he spent with the family. John remembers that he and Pat, both on holiday from school, spent some considerable time playing football with Dick in the park. For both of them this was an opportunity to get to know their older brother who had been living and working away from home for the previous eight years. On rainy afternoons, when they were trapped indoors, Dick, tiring of the noisy antics of his two boisterous brothers, invented “the silence game”. The rules were very simple, stay silent for the agreed period of time and you got rewarded with the princely sum of a halfpenny.2  No doubt Dick considered his coppers well spent.

 

Appendix

1  Letter from Dick Swarbrick

2 Phone call from John Swarbrick 5/11/97

 

Next Chapter

Singapore

 

 

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