Friday, January 2, 2009

1st July - 10th November 1974

Castle Dillon
N. Ireland

1st July
Travel from Arbroath, to Glasgow Docks, under Captain Colin Peebles command.
Board civilian ferry early evening, wait for the other ferries to be filled with Marines.
Ferries sailed out in convoy.

2nd July
Arrived at Belfast Docks, once the whole Commando gathered, we formed a very large Convoy, leaving no gaps for others to join.
Only when the Convoy did a 'U' turn over a bridge, onto Broomlie Road, could the one & half mile convoy, really be appreciated. The Convoy was flanked by Military Police and the RUC.
Shortly after arriving at Castle Dillon, we heard that 3 Field Squadron had been involved in searching a derelict house, when a bomb exploded - killing one, seriously wounding another.

The Reception in Camp was 'cool', moral had been lowered and tempers were short.
Our troop is billited in Static Caravans - 17 to a caravan, parked alongside the main accommodation block.
The lads will tend to stop on the Work site throughout the week, so only three beds will be permanently used - Troop Fitter, Troop Plant Fitter and Troop Cook.

3rd July
The troop is "ear marked" for various tasks: Bomb Fence building, Reinforcing Police Stations, Schools and Hospitals, plus permanent Road Blocks, where cars have to weave through.

Troop working from 04.00hrs through to 16.00hrs, depending on the type of work.

Troop Fitter and Plant Fitter in workshops - 07.30hrs through to 18.00hrs, though Troop Fitter will revert to night work, depending on troop vehicle repairs.

End of July

The troop has been involved in work specifically around the North and South Borders.

Our troop will work in conditions, that 3 Field Squadron will avoid, such as "Snipers Alley", our troop has a great deal of faith in our Gaurdians - 45 Cdo RM, who cannot be seen, yet, are watching us and around us very carefully.

It seems daft and very cruel, to put Specialist troops in with normal troops, 3 Field Squadron tend to pick fights with our troop and in true Commando spirit, we fight back with 'no holds barred', short & sharp treatment is handed out by our lads.

Two new Caravans have arrived, as the Main Block, has become cramped.

Behind the camp is a Lake, too cold for swimming, ideal for boating; the far side of the Lake actually reaches the Border, where shots are fired from.

During July, the Tower of London and Heathrow Airport were bombed by the IRA.

5th August
Troop working in Newton-Hamilton, putting up a 16 foot high bomb fence round the school.

6th August
Troop Fitter on regular Escort duties with 3 Field Squadron, driving Saracens, Ferrets or Landrovers. Everything coming into or out of the area, has to be escorted by Landrovers, Ferrets or Saracens, sprouting heavy machine guns and lots of SLR's.
If it is a large Convoy, it will be further covered by Helicopter gun-ships, flying overhead.
7th August
Troop carrying out Bridge demolitions on the border.

This involves blowing up the bridge, putting in Barriers on both sides (to deter re-building and finally, cratering the roadway leading up to the bridge.
The same is done to roads, where known 'Gun running' routes are, the roads are cratered, leaving large pot-holes, we call it "Stopping the Rat-runs".

14th August - Crossmaglen
Troop helping to fortify the "out-post", which is constantly mortared day & night, everyone lives below ground.

"Blue" Fenwick, Harry Green & Team, moving huts.

Concrete is mixed at Castle Dillon, put into large self-dumping buckets and flown suspended under a Puma Helicopter to Crossmaglen.

Troop helping to Patrol the Village, by foot and by vehicle.

25th August
Day off - Troop went to Port Rush by Coach, a booze-up trip.
Left to Right
Woolvern, Brian "Killer" Carter, John "Tree Surgeon" Moore-Bick, Hamish Hamilton, Bob "Bionic" Williams, Joe Noble, Paddy Bingham, Pete Davey, Kerbs Coulthard, John "Rasps" Monks, Bill Young, Ray "two sheds" Palmer.

1st September
Very heavy rain, workshop flooded out with up to 8 inches of water.

4th October
3 Field Squadron, replaced by 9 Indep Para Sqn -Thankfully.
Our troop is far happier now, we know these lads.

16th October - Long Kesh
04.00hrs - Troop put on Stand-by for quelling Riots in Long Kesh Prison, parts of the prison is on fire.
Troop shipping in supplies for Long Kesh, to replace that lost in the fire.

22nd October - Forkhill
Bridge demolitions - 2 x Bridges.

These bridges are semi-destroyed, to stop them being used; when the "troubles" are over, the bridges can be easily repaired.
Troop carried out Patrols around the Border area, one section was ambushed, but thankfully, no-one injured.

29th October
Armour plating being removed from Troop vehicles.

2nd November
Troop shopping trip to Lisburn.

3rd November
Loading Armour and G1098 Stores onto vehicles.

5th November
14.30hrs - Loading vehicles onto RFA Sir Belvidere.
19.15hrs - Watching Irish coast slipping past.

6th November
04.30hrs - Docked in Rosyth.
15.00hrs - Arrive in Arbroath.

Royal Marines were based in: Bessbrook, Belfast, Newry, Crossmaglen and Forkhill.

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