Reminiscence by Lt Colonel SA Bunyan TD DL
In those years shortly after the war, the TA was made up initially of volunteers who enlisted when the Regiments were reformed. They were (for the most part) enthusiasts who had served during the war; they were relatively few in number. They were supplemented by Z reservists and later by national service reservists who had to serve with the TA. In 1947, national service was introduced initially for 18 months and included a ‘Z commitment’, which was seen to be ineffective. This last was extended in 1948 to two years with a requirement to serve for three and a half years in the reserve. National service affected most males of 18 years and was unpopular. (I only discovered while writing this 50 years later that there was a loophole for the astute, where you could buy yourself out for £20; this was surely the best-kept secret of our generation).
Although unpopular, it did mean that young men had their normal lives disrupted but did widen their horizons. The ex-national serviceman was required to attend TA training and do a week’s camp for three and a half years. In addition, former soldiers known as ‘Z reservists’ were liable to recall either for a camp or service.
One such camp was held with 357 Regt in 1953 and Major Robin White, a farmer from Dalkeith, was put in command of the reservists. He then enlisted and commanded Q battery. The camp was also attended by Major David Bowe, from Skateraw. He was mobilised with the Dunbar contingent in 1939 and had been the BK [sic] (Battery Captain) at Dunkirk. He died in 1953, shortly after the Z camp.
I joined 357 (Lowland) Light Regiment TA from Edinburgh University Training Corps shortly after it became a light regiment. The older members were not reconciled to this role. It had been a heavy regiment during the war and then a briefly a medium regiment armed with 4.5 guns, and they felt the 4.2 mortars were an awful come down.
I rather liked the 4.2 mortars with their nearly vertical trajectory and a range of 4100 yards. Initially I trained at Prestonpans with two other officers from Edinburgh who were young advocates The soldiers at Prestonpans treated us with reserve. I stayed with the battery for rather a long time and won their friendship. Many of the soldiers were coal miners and valued the opportunity to go out at weekends on training and firing exercises. I remember on more than one occasion being told how much they enjoyed the fresh air on Otterburn/ Redesdale ranges. The officers appreciated it less.
Alastair Bowe, David’s son, joined as an Officer cadet in 1959 and stayed in Q Battery until he joined the regular army in 1966.