Memoirs of Douglas Morris
Posted Back Home - All service quarters were occupied so we found ourselves a nice flat in the nearby village of Upton Scudamore where we were well looked after. However, beforehand, after a comfortable and relaxed passage home and a period of leave, I had to attend a short course at Barton Stacey where we were taught how selection was achieved and how to run it. It was intensely interesting work and I was soon a well-established member of the team with good new friends.
It was now said to Joanie “the time has come when you deserve and must have a home of your own!” So it was we went to a house agent in Warminster who gave us among others the name of a cottage “Old Orchard” in East Knoyle which of East Knoyle so it was after studying the map one fine day we motored over the Downs on a voyage of discovery to seek out Old Orchard.
We made the happiest of discoveries! The owner was Col. “Macky” More a retired Gunner officer who had been in the bag with me and had suffered and survived being a PoW of the Japs on the railway. We fell into each other’s arm! He had married for the second time and had a nice young family of two; his wife Vicky, a good deal younger than he, was charming and with a view to being able to send the children to a day school in Bath, they wanted to move there.
We were shown all around Old Orchard and with the house and garden and site to our entire liking we decided at once that it was just what we wanted for our home. The now important thing was to find Roderick and Vicky a home in Bath!
Over the weeks ahead we were able to offer them lifts to see various Bath properties and eventually we found one they liked. Finally the day of our take-over was settled for 3rd June 1953, a day so well remembered as our good Queen’s Coronation Day.
Looking at the way house prices have rocketed over the years, it is well to remember the price we paid for Old Orchard was 3,600. My pay in those days was not much over 2,000 a year but by selling a life insurance policy and some shares we were able to make it on our own without getting involved with a mortgage. We were given a good and kindly welcome by the whole village in particular our immediate neighbours, The Hon. David Tennant then living in Holloway House, and Sir Guy and Lady Fison living in Knoyle Place and the Rector and his wife, Basil Palmer and Ann.
Our life at Westbury was gentlemanly; the intake for the course each week arrived on Monday afternoon so testing started on Tuesday and ended on Friday afternoon with their departure on the Saturday. I was to serve happily for two years with a good staff commanded by Major General Fielding, a Gunner, two Brigadiers, both ex Guards officers, and a number of fellow Lt Cols and Majors. My commander was kind enough to give me a very good report each year and I was recommended for command again. However, quite fortuitously and with no seeking by me, when the time came I was posted to serve at the School of Infantry at Warminster.
It was to be the happiest and most successful time. Many good friends came on the staff over this period: Col. Frankie Boshell and Pam, Col. Hugh le Messurier, who with his wife Rosemary were to become lifelong friends and, to finish his days in the Army, good Brigadier Johnny Frost and his wife Jeanie was to take command of the Support Weapons Wing at Netheravon.
During this time Joanie, bless her, was establishing herself both in the village and with her own family and friends. With a home of her own and becoming involved in many aspects of the life of the village she was able to entertain to her satisfaction and become happily involved. Wearing uniform still, my job naturally demanded most of my attention. In 1957 General Cosmo asked for my tour to be extended for a year to be with him until he retired. It was very gratifying.
Came 1958 and it was decided with the reduction in the size of infantry that the Royal Berkshires and the Wiltshire Regiment were to be amalgamated to form The Duke of Edinburgh’s Royal Regiment with the Duke as Colonel in Chief.
It was a happy and successful amalgamation held at Windsor.
It was clear, with each battalion with a full establishment of officers, there were too many of us and so it was that on 1st March 1958 my name appeared in the London Gazette as retired. My liability to recall for service as a member of the Regular Army Reserve was to continue until June 1962 when my name appeared in the London Gazette for the last time.