Memories of Chris Hayles

Chris & Caroline

"September 1964 was a lovely sunny day when I climbed down from the train at Krefeld Haupftbahnhof, new arrived from 257 Sig Sqn at Dortmund where I had just completed my trade training as a Com Cen Op. It was a few days before pay day and I was skint, didn't know where to go, just had the address '16 Sig Regt Krefeld', looked around the station for the old RTO but none present. So went out side to the main forecourt and asked a local the way. I was politely informed to catch a No2 tram up to the Eistadion where it turned round and then ask there. This I duly did lugging that great big rough army suitcase behind me and a kitbag over my shoulder! At the Eistadion I was completely bewildered, where was the camp? Nobody around to ask so I started walking, in the wrong direction of course! Then notice a large foreboding grey building on the left with YMCA on it! After getting directions I made my way up to the camp, it was really hot by then, and after lugging my baggage around all day I was cream crackered! There in front of me was the gate, (the gateposts hadn't been painted then) so in I went, only to be met with a tall coloured chap with his No1 hat cut Gestapo fashion, a red sash over his shoulder and RP on his arm. "Where the f*****g hell you going you scruffy individual" were the first words I ever heard in Bradbury Barracks and I shall always remember them. SSgt Luke had spotted another victim!! I was shown to Block 1 which housed 1Sqn at the time and introduced to a WOll (SSM) Yent a tall thin chap who was just as daunting as Bob Luke at the gate. The next day I was taken down the "Hole" and shown around and introduced to our old friend the CREED teleprinter. This wasn't as bad as I expected and had a great time down there. I can always remember a time when a serious car crash happened and some of the WRAC girls were injured, one of these was Christine Bayliss About a year later I was detached to 226 US Artillery back in Dortmund for six months and then returned to Krefeld and temporarily detached to the QM (Gen) stores under WOll Dave "Chippy" Wood and SSgt Palman, and a WRAC Lcpl Oliver (cannot remember the first name)where I survived for another year in charge of the MFO section.I was put on a Pest and Rodent Control course at Minden and had great times shutting down the NAAFI and Sgts Mess. Poor old WOll (SSM) Bill 'Piggy' Higgs never knew what hit him, he was the only SSM that grabbed people off of morning parade to clean his room for him!! During the evenings I worked in the AKC Elizabeth Cinema as a projectionist with Malcolm Margerison who came from the Clacton or Colchester area and another lad whose name escapes me. We had a WRAC girl called Dirty Doris learning the ropes as well (no offence Doris if you are reading this). I can vividly remember one day when all the sirens went off, somebody had broken into the Ammo compound at the back of the camp! Grenades had been stolen, so in came the Redcaps and SIB and we had a complete locker search, surprised how many dirty books they confiscated!!! It turned out that a group of Bader Meinhof supporters had jumped over the fence on motorbikes and raided the compound. If anyone remembers the Slavs we had working as guards, all they could ever say was "Alles OK" when they phoned the guardroom and you could smell the alcohol down the phone line!!! A bit later some kind person broke into the armoury and all hell broke loose again! Those escape and evasion exercises! God we hated them! We got locked in the cellars of Bk2 and made to strip naked, had freezing cold hoses played on us then "allowed" to escape after being told to get over the Dutch Border to Venlo and anything counted, we WERE prisoners of war! One kind chap put sand in a Jenny that was feeding the coms up to Venlo! Myself and another chap got over the camp fence and legged it up the road to Hulst where by now it was pitch dark so we walked and walked and it poured down. Almost on our last legs we decided to chance it and hitch hike, remembering the German Polizei, the MP's and all other military units were looking out for escaped prisoners, (some kind soul told us not to trust the "resistance" as they took you straight back to Bradbury Barracks). Suddenly we saw a pair of headlights and flagged it down, not noticing the British number plates, there were a group of long haired layabouts lolling around in the back and when we told them what we were doing they said "climb in and hide under the seats" and they took us over the border into Holland. The van was full of musical instruments and we found out that they were a pop group in the top ten at the time Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick and Tich!! Another escape and evasion event happened in the Schwartzwald alongside the Danube, that was fantastic, we even got taken around by Helicopter, trouble was we had been captured, tied up and laid face down in a net stretcher so that all we could see was the ground!!! The pilots took great delight in taking these "prisoners" up a few thousand feet then cutting the engines so we spiralled down. Must have been gallons of vomit all over the Black Forest by the time that exercise had finished. One helicopter pilot also took delight in zooming under motorway bridges as well! Don't think he ever did get reported. Anyhow good times and bad times were spent at Krefeld, freezing nights on 'stag' on the island at the main gate. Good times were when one certain Lineman 'borrowed' a fire engine he had 'found' lying around and drove it back to camp with lights flashing and sirens going, we weren't sure whether to open the gate or not till he fell out of the cab!! We pushed it out and phone the police to tell them that someone had parked it in our gateway!! One particular night I was on duty at the barrier and we had a chap in a black Mercedes arrive asking if we had a Sgt Clive Mason (the Orderly Room Sergeant), the Guard Commander Cpl Dave(?) Copeland got suspicious and called the Orderly Officer who was the Pay Master a Capt Edwards, who was absolutely sloshed! He called the German Polizei who said as this chap was on British Territory they could not do anything. Another guard and myself had to search the car, and we found a two way radio, a locked briefcase and papers with the names of different NCO's and Officers in 16 Sigs, 28 Sigs and other units. The driver had identified himself as a Capt Fontainbleau from SHAPE (nobody clicked at the time that SHAPE was in Fontainbleu!!) and he only had a number. Anyhow the Orderly Officer released him as a crank! An hour after he had departed Int Corps, RMP and SIB all turned up with blues and twos blaring out, it turned out that our good Capt Edwards had let a spy go that they had been after for three years!!! Who says that 16 Signal Regiment never had its hey days? In Sept of 1968 I left Krefeld to retrain as a Lineman and then on to 261 Sig Sqn (Airfeld Tp) at Akrotiri, the best posting I ever had. And eventually left the army in May 1973 on a request from my wife at the time. If anyone remembers me then please contact me at chris@chayles.freeserve.co.uk "

Chris Bartlett (1964-67)
Mike Brett (1962-67)
Jim Brooks (1964-66)
Teri Crow (1966-69)
John Dixon (1964-67)
Pete Drage (1964-67)
Alan Lafferty (1965-70)
Alex Leitch (1966-69)
Jean Parker (1964) 
Roger Sparks (1964)
Chris Hayles(1964-68)