Ralph Stobart Robson, signalman, life in the British Royal Navy World War Two, sinking of Prince of Wales and the Repulse, Singapore
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  1. Chatham to Gourock
  2. The Messman Discovered
  3. Life on Board
  4. Crossing the Line
  5. The Sinkings
  6. H.M.S. Sultan
  7. The Signal Office
  8. Left to Our Own Resources
  9. Colombo
  10. Drafted to Mombassa
  11. Eine Kleine Nachtmusik
  12. Sharks, Lobsters and Going Dutch
  13. Askari Skirmishes and Tea Making
  14. Tramp Steamer
  15. Molo
  16. Deer Hunting
  17. Ralph the Italian and off to Bombay
  18. Arrival in Bombay
  19. Vultures and Buffalos
  20. Poona
  21. Swimming Motorcycles and Monsoon Storms
  22. The Royal Corps of Signals
  23. 'Trixie' Vaughan Lewis and Drowning Men
  24. On Leave in the Himalayas

    Ralph as a telegram boy before the war

22. The Royal Corps of Signals

For some time after this the monsoons made life a misery. Then one morning shortly after this we were told we were going to a place called Ahmednagar. The section was to be under the control of the Royal Corps of Signals who would handle all our stuff.

It was discovered that there was one 30-cwt truck, one army and one civilian. The army turned out to be in charge of its own affairs. Even the cooks were white. The food there was marvellous. The messes even had bowls of fruits and nuts on the dining room tables. It was possible to call on them at night when on the way to the cinema and get a piece of fruit.

The Royal Norfolks and Royal Scots Fusiliers occupied the barracks at this time. The weather was still unsettled and the rain was not infrequent. We were then introduced to our Royal Corps of Signals. They did not have a particularly good reputation amongst the other British troops. It was soon confirmed that this reputation was fairly accurate.

The Royal Corps of "Shits" lived up to their name. The 30-cwt truck was used to transport us all. The "Shits" travelled in two 15-cwt trucks. When we stopped moving it was discovered that we had to sleep under the truck. Furthermore, we were expected to live on iron rations. When the two POs objected they were told that the Corps of "Shits" accepted no responsibility for us and it was only chance that they had the rations.

The officer who was in overall charge of the "Shits" was rarely seen and kept out of the way. Eventually we resigned ourselves to sleeping under the truck. Normally when we had to do this we could tolerate it but when it rained it was hell. We were provided with Indian Army capes but they could not keep out the rain. We put up with it but our POs said they were going to make an official complaint.

The section travelled further east 'til we arrived at the designated place. It was wild and deserted with rolling hills covered with scrub. Next morning we went to our designated "beach" and set up our gear. It was obvious that the Indian Army was to be in full charge and we had a very small role, if any.

That evening we set off back and went down a small gully. I'd noticed that morning a small army cookhouse set up in the bottom of the gully. Mentioning to the P.O. what I proposed to do he nodded. I went up to the Officer, saluted smartly and then told him my tale. He then asked what regiment I was in and if we were with anyone else. When I said the Royal Navy and Royal Corps of Signals a curious expression covered his face. "OK, join the line".

When we were all lined up with our messtraps, the officer was called and, picking out Meaby by his hat, took him and the Yeoman to one side. After a little conversation he saluted and walked away. We all joined the queue and had a good dinner that we ate on the ground. The Officer told our POs before we left that we could come back in the morning for breakfast. He was a gent! We went back to the lorry in high jinks.

When we got back we made no pretence of what we had been doing, so next morning the signallers went with us (a little behind) and joined the queue. When we were all comfortably seated the Officer suddenly appeared with a Regimental Sergeant Major. "Sergeant Major, put all these men on a charge". Deathly silence from everyone standing there. "They are to be charged with obtaining rations to which they are not entitled". Cheers and whoopees all round, to the obvious amazement of the Sergeant Major. There was handshaking all round. We went back to our tasks with happy hearts.

We were subsequently despatched to another place about 50 miles away as "surplus to requirements". A sad accident then happened which fortunately had no serious consequences. A truck came in to seek us with a tommy who was to act as our driver. After we had acted as landing party we walked back up point and waited. That night we pitched camp where we stopped.

About midnight we were awakened by a terrible screech. After some scuffling around P.O. Meaby was found kneeling on the ground holding his ear. It transpired that he had been stung by a scorpion. He was in terrible agony.

The Tels fiddled around with our big transmitter and eventually got in touch with army station. About an hour later an army truck drove up with a sick berth attendant on board. Actually he was an army bloke. While he was attending to Meaby he bollocked us for not spraying the ground around with petrol. He whisked Meaby away to an army encampment. It turned out to be Ahmednager.

The following day we returned to Bandra. Meaby returned to us a day or two later. He was fully recovered but ever afterwards he displayed a remarkable hatred of scorpions, killing them at every opportunity.

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