As my followers know, I have just closed out my Memories or my auto-biography with memory chapter fifty but I still have the urge, (and the time), to continue writing. I am going to write about people or characters I have known or have been associated with who struck me as being different or out of the ordinary. I don’t mean weird but I do mean that they made an impression on me enough to want to share their characteristics or their story with others. They will be male and female and will come from all walks of life and from various times in my life and they will appear in my ramblings at random as my memory conjures them up. Bear with me as it is only an experiment. We will soon see if it has any merit. Here goes with Character Number One.
He was the Corps Sergeant Major for the Royal Ordnance Corps stationed in the Rock of Gibraltar in 1947. He was James Knockle and he had been in action with the Corps through D-Day on June 6th 1944 right through to crossing the Rhein and the German surrender on May 8th 1945. He had served for a short time in India and when our paths crossed, he had been on the Rock for about a year, easily enough for him to be, in his words, Rock-Happy. I had just been commissioned as a Second Lieutenant at a very impressive passing–out-parade at Aldershot and my first posting was to Gibraltar. My commanding officer was a major and we had two captains and me. Being the newest and the lowest on the totem pole, I was in charge of everything no-one else wanted. This meant that I was training officer, athletics officer, discipline officer as well as being in charge of the company pay-roll. Sgt-Major Knockle, who was a seasoned 40 year old soldier found himself reporting to a “school-boy soldier” as I eventually found draftees such as me were called. This called for a serious private conversation between us and I quickly learned that the non-commissioned officers, the NCO s ran the army for the officers and as long as I understood this, the better would be our relationship. Knockle was a strict disciplinarian and followed the protocol, always saluting me as he came into my office and being subservient in front of the troop but in the seclusion of my office we became good personal friends. I learned more about the army from him than I had learned in six months at Officer Training School. He and I organized the pay parade so that our entire 100 man company could get paid in ten minutes rather than the previous half hour or more. This gave the men more free time and was very popular. When my tour came close to ending, James Knockle was extremely kind in saying that I was a good officer and encouraged me to sign on for more duty because the army needed men like me. As I was anxious to get back to college I declined but I felt very proud when I, as an officer, was invited to the NCO’s Mess for a surprise farewell party for me. I got the impression it was a very rare thing to do and I was humbled but honored by this man and his fellow NCOs.