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  1. #26
    Member Ningi's Avatar
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    Cool What were we doing

    Quote Originally Posted by mikenot View Post
    OK, forgive my ignorance, but what were british troops doing in Thailand in the early 60's ?
    Well building an airfield was the first job, towards the end in 1968 ,the RE,s built roads and bridges too, helped Pattaya and Phuket get their first bars and took the first isaan ladies to the coast, of course weekends we tried to teach the US army and Airforce to stop Fxxxxxg up Thailand , we had great success teaching them in Singapore mind you lots of lumps on the back of the head helped to convince them!!was the same with the AustraliansMonday mornings they all had scratches on their faces because Sundays they Tried to eat with Knife and Fork!!

  2. #27
    Thailand Expat thehighlander959's Avatar
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    A superb thread!
    I spent a few years in the military, and this brings a lot of memories back. I was an Air Despatcher in the RCT (old RASC) in the Army. I joined up in December 1970 and knew someone who had spent some of his service time in Thailand. I flew into Changi in Singapore a few times, we did some air drops into the jungle in Malaya for the Jungle Warfare School.
    I bet you had a ball Ningi and there aren,t to many people about who could tell this story.
    "Don,t f*ck with the baldies*

  3. #28
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    Hi Ningi, you tell a good yarn and have great memories to share.

    I have only been around Korat, SihKiu and near PhiMai for a couple of years, you can still see hints of the older Thailand in the farming villages. There seem to be all types, just as in England or Australia where I spent my previous 65 years.

    Waiting for the next episode ... thanks for an interesting history told with a great sense of humour.

  4. #29
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    Great thread, Ningi. Thanks.

  5. #30
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    Priceless, this is real local history,hope it gets audio taped sometime.

  6. #31
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    No additions for a long time though...please add more....

  7. #32
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    Keep adding to the story....I am an Isaan part-timer, been married for the past 36 years to a lass from the villages South of Sawang Daen Din. I spent two years in the mess of the SE Asia Games and got to love the place. We visit back with family every two years and spend a month or two each crack. These stories bring back many good memories. I still haffta laugh at being one of the very first farangs with body-hair that the locals had seen up close and personal. Old women would come up and tweak the chest-hair off and giggle. They'd rub their hands up and down the hair on the arms and legs and laugh their heads off, all the while yelling, "Ling yai, ling yai". Keep those stories coming.....lao khao and warm coke....ah, the memories.

  8. #33
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    Thumbs up

    What a great tale! What great story telling style, too.

    [And hello, all, my first post here at Teakdoor. Nice to be here, although I haven't yet moved to LOS. That's coming this year!]

  9. #34
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    II am curled up in amusement! Every word Ningi says is absolutely true!

  10. #35
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    I have just come across this thread really good. Ningi how come no more stories and pics ? Im ex squaddy came out (army not gay) 1987. Hope to see up date soon.
    BD

  11. #36
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    I wrote my first cook book called 15 ways to Wok your dog!!!

    Can I use that in my book mate.

    In fact all of it.

    Yuu not been on for a while?

  12. #37
    ................... sunsetter's Avatar
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    ^ looking for material mate?

  13. #38
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    Hope you come back Ningi as up to now has been great. Thanks.

  14. #39
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    Quote Originally Posted by mikenot View Post
    OK, forgive my ignorance, but what were british troops doing in Thailand in the early 60's ?
    The early sixties? Might be the attachment to the "International Peace Keeping Force" {international. reading: yanks, poms, and aussies} that were detached during the first uprisings of the first Laos Civil War, that spilled into Northern Thailand in early 1962. As the Americans had already made long-term arrangements with the Thai government to place and construct a number of military reservations to combat their numerous invented boogiemen in the region. It was all quite convenient, as 1962 was a landmark year for the Kennedy protection team acquiring agreements with Laos, as well.

  15. #40
    Newbie Restless Rider's Avatar
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    the first post

    Hi, I've just found this site via Flickr. Great stories from Ningi. and all of them true!!! I was a member of one of the British Royal Engineers Squadrons (59 Sqn.) that carried out a lot of the donkey work on BOTH of the air fields we built there under the SEATO umbrella. Tell them why we had to build TWO Ningi. I was there from 1964 till 1967 and was never the same again. I would love to know what the local villagers of Kok Talat really thought of the hairy drunken squaddies who invaded their quiet peaceful hamlet and built a 1500 foot runway on their prize rice fields. They were always too polite and courteous to tell us in those days but now that 45 years have passed I would love to hear their version of events. So if any of you locals who worked on the aitfield of in the camp are reading this please tell us your tales.
    Clem.

  16. #41
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    Welcome to the board mate, I'm sure your stories would be appreciated by everyone here too.

  17. #42
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    Welcome RR ,,,, I am sure you could make a similar post as it seems there was so much more to run in this one,, if you do mate a load of your old pics would earn you wheelbarrow fulls of greens

  18. #43
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    Picture of the camp.

    I do have a few old B/W photos from 1965 but I have to post 5 posts before I can load them up. (that is if I can work out this URL thingy. ). If anyone is interested in more about Ban Kok Talat ( now called Kok Sahm Lahm); There are a few ex-Sappers websites dedicated to it, but none so funny as Ningis efforts. Try a search for "opcrownchat" or "op post crown Thailand". many pictures there. Also try 59 Sqd RE.
    I have some photos on Fkickr. Search on Kok Talat, my username is same as here. Tagged as Opcrownera. and campsite.
    k.clem

  19. #44
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    Were 59 part of the commando squadron back then? Im guessing they were. Well, from one ex sappper to the other, welcome to the board.

    Once an Engineer, always an engineer.





    36 engineers and proud.

    I aint superstitious, but I know when somethings wrong
    I`ve been dragging my heels with a bitch called hope
    Let the undercurrent drag me along.

  20. #45
    Member Aussie Tigger's Avatar
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    Fantastic read Ningi,I knew a Brit who also came to Thailand when Pattaya was as you described.
    As with the other posters look I forward to more from your memory bank.
    History as you have described interests us all.Cheers

  21. #46
    Newbie Restless Rider's Avatar
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    59 Sqn

    59 Sqn was just a "ordinary" Field Sqn when we were in Thailand.We started to train with the Commandos when we finally returned to Singapore on 1966.
    One of our first big jungle exercises was as Engineer support for the Gurkha training Regiment. They had Royal Marine senior NCOs and we had to try to keep up with them on a forced march across some God forsaken island off the coast of Malaya!! We were carrying our G1098 stores on our backs. I was lumbered with the Homalite chain saw at the start but as most of us dropped out one by one I managed to swap my load for something lighter until I ended up with the stone jar containing the Sqns issue of Naval Rum ration.(we were still on HMS Fearless ration strength.) The stopper must have worked loose because quite a bit of it evaporated by the time the remaining handful of us reached the finish point. I only had "days to do" at that time and was relieved that when our own NCOs caught up with us they didn't make too much fuss about the missing content but took the jar off out of sight and tried to to fix the loose stopper. No luck, there was even less left when they returned it to me. (Ningi could have told it better)
    ATB K.c.
    Last edited by Restless Rider; 24-12-2011 at 05:29 PM.

  22. #47
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    Interesting thread. There are a lot of photographs of ' Operation Crown ' at this site for those interested :

    Photos - Operation Crown 1963 - 1968

    For example :




    Hope Brett doesn't mind the liberty I've taken posting this. Wouldn't want to offend an old soldier.

  23. #48
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    Quote Originally Posted by Restless Rider
    The stopper must have worked loose because quite a bit of it evaporated by the time the remaining handful of us reached the finish point.
    Oh ,,,,,,,, that old chestnut

  24. #49
    Newbie Restless Rider's Avatar
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    Tails from camp Doom

    My Mate Smudge
    A compilation of anecdotes related to me by various unreliable sources in various states of inebriation, mixed with my own erratic memories with a bit of straight fiction inserted to tie it all together. Not to be taken seriously. Written with utmost respect to all those you might think you recognise (even the Guardsmen) and written with the intentions of reflecting the spirit and feel of OPERATION CROWN. (All names have been changed to protect the guilty.)
    Restless Rider.

    Sapper Smudge Smith was a lean, laconic layabout and the mortal enemy of legendary Squadron Sergeant Mayor “Wacker” Waites. The mere sight of the lanky Yorkshire man was enough to send the SSM into a gibbering frenzy and put him in a bad mood for hours. He hated Smudge with a savage intensity that he reserved for all untidy, disorganised “horrible little men,” and bawled at him whenever their paths crossed; even from across the far side of the dust bowl that was the airfield construction site.

    But Smudge cocked a deaf ‘un. His own good humour and easygoing ways earned him many friends amongst the hard-bitten crew who toiled away under the relentless sun, building that ill-conceived airfield in an almost forgotten corner of Northeast Thailand way back in the early to mid sixties.

    Smudge’s number one fan was his long-suffering girlfriend Noy, she was secretly glad that he didn’t waste too much energy mixing concrete and digging culverts along with the other Sappers of 59 Field Squadron Royal Engineers, but saved most of his vigour for her.

    She was as fiery as he was languid and she often berated him for his drinking and aimlessness. He took it all in good part but was set in his ways and not even her fiercest frown or her most sullen scowl could change him for long.

    Her rounded face and curly hair set her apart from the other bargirls who had migrated to the small village next to the British Army campsite to seek their modest fortunes.

    Her features bore witness to the fact her ancestors belonged to the fierce Mon race of people who inhabited the Korat Plateau long before the arrival of the Thais from Southern China and who were only assimilated into the Siamese Kingdom after a lengthy period of conflict.

    Smudge had learnt all this from the old Abbott in the local temple where he spent much of his spare time trying to grasp the Thai language and subconsciously absorbing the essence of the Thai character.

    But as the pace of work on the airfield picked up and the designated completion date loomed ever closer, so the periods of Smudge’s field punishment and detention grew longer and more frequent until he started to go AWOL whenever the opportunity arose.

    At first the local police picked him up as soon as the alert went out, it was easy to spot a gangling Yorkshire man in that area long before tourists had even heard of Issan as the Thais called this impoverished part of their country.

    But Smudge was nobody’s fool and got craftier with each breakout. On one occasion he was picked up working quite happily in the PX on the huge American airbase at Ubol and brought “Home” minus his boots and sentenced to a lengthy period “inside”. But no sooner had he been released than he was off again.

    This time he made it stick. Try as they might nobody could track him down, although on one occasion a strange voice with a strong Yorkshire accent came up on the official radio net casting doubt on Wacker’s parentage and the CRE’s sexual orientation. But nothing was ever proved. (Or disproved).

    Noy looked sad, and then looked for another “Number one boyfriend”. It wasn’t hard to find one but even if her shrewd choice was more reliable and generous than the absent Smudge she sorely missed his company and his unique brand of loving.

    Meanwhile the mile and a half long air field was nearing completion. The last layer of tar macadam was finally laid and the remaining perimeter fence posts dug in. Soon the white lines and other markings would be applied and the whole white elephant handed over to the Thais or the Americans or whoever else wanted it. But first there was the important matter of the opening ceremony to sort out.

    We knew it would be a high profile event, at least in South East Asia, for the whole project was under the umbrella of SEATO (South East Asia Treaty Organisation) and must have cost many millions of pounds even in those days.
    The details of the operation were by and large kept secret from the British tax-payers and very few people in the UK realised that for most of the Vietnam War a few hundred of their soldiers were camped out only about 25 miles from the Laotian border with only one magic bullet readily available between them. (Sign here and here and Etc).

    When it was announced that the Thai Prime Minister himself would do the honours on the big day and that TV crews from Australia, New Zealand and Japan would also be in attendance then things began to get out of hand and Monty Python became involved.

    It was quickly realised that an Honour Guard would be necessary and that the Sappers who had done the donkey work did not necessarily have the right qualification or kit for that particular job. (Although I’m sure we could have managed it ok. Just don’t pick me).

    The Army soon found the right unit lurking in the general Far Eastern Land Forces area and a detachment of slightly bemused Scots Guards duly appeared complete with white number one tropical uniforms and clutching their best boots polished to a ridiculous degree.

    Of course there was a certain amount of raucous banter from the Gentlemen of the Royal Engineers whose own uniform had been reduced to the threadbare minimum by two and a half years of hard graft and the attentions of the village laundry facilities. (If a large flat rock on the edge of a muddy village pond deserves such a grand title). But after the inevitable period of “Getting to know you” and a few black eyes all round an uneasy truce was declared and the newly arrived “wooden tops” were introduced to the delights of rural village night life, as per Ban Kok Talat.

    The bargirls were delighted to be given the last chance to make a few bob (or Baht) as the completion of the project (called Operation Crown) would mean an end to their employment opportunities in the area and they would have to return to the towns where the Americans had their air bases or work the local trade. The “Mama Sans” who ran the bars were also keen to off-load any surplus stock they had left and the local toughs looked forward to rolling any stray newcomer who staggered back to camp on his own.

    So a good time was had by all on the night before the opening day and it was a bleary-eyed honour guard that lined up under the brazen sky next morning to welcome the VIP’s aircraft.

    The 200 or so Sappers, REME bods and other units lined up behind, they had made a sterling effort with their turnout, almost all the tar and diesel stains and been removed from their “Olive Greens” and they had even found enough hats to go around.

    They stood unflinching under the blazing sun and never turned a hair. After all, they had been working under it for around two and a half years for up to 10 hours a day 6 days a week, they were burnt almost black with not one ounce of body fat between then.

    The lack of flab was only partly due to the hard labour, the main reason was the terrible food served up by the poor old cooks. Fresh veg was hard to come by and the only meat came from tins or old age water buffalos.

    The white clad Guardsmen were less well able to withstand the blistering heat and as the excess of the previous night took its toll they began to fall like nine pins.
    As each one clattered to the ground a low cheer went up from the case-hardened Sappers in the rear. Wacker tried his best to quell the mutiny but spirits were high. Smudge would have loved it, but he had been missing for months now and would have to be left behind when the camp was finally dismantled and the rear guard had departed.

    At last the Prime Minister, who had a part time job as Field Marshall, arrived on- board his official plane and the remainder of the Honour Guard, gave the general salute.

    It’ not known if the relatively short time he spent inspecting the guard of honour was due to his sympathy for their discomfort or if he was scared of being crushed by a falling Scotsman, but he soon moved on to the massed ranks of worker bees and spent a long time chatting to us in his perfect Oxford accent.

    He even found time to chat with the assembled locals who were lined up behind the Sappers, but he didn’t spend too much time with them as Essan at that time was considered to be a hotbed of communist rebels and the Field Marshall definitely leaned to the right.

    It is estimated that 90% of all Thais are Buddhists. Their religion has real meaning for them and is an important part of their everyday life and no mayor event passes without the saffron robed monks being involved in one way or the other.

    Indeed, the actual time and date for the opening ceremony was set by the Patriarch of the “Sanga” as the brotherhood of Buddhist monks are called. So it was no surprise to us when a dignified line of elderly monks filed off the plane and seated themselves on the raised dais in one of the fancy marquees that had arrived earlier. They settled down and cleared their collective throats and began their hypnotic chanting of Holy verses in the ancient Pali and Sanskrit language in which the Buddhist scripture is written.

    The monks from the local villages had turned up too; there was even a contingent of the rarely seen Forest Monks in their distinctive brown robes. As their name suggests they live in the deep forests and on remote hill tops and practice meditation and herbal medicine, or so they tell us.

    This particular group had caught Wacker’s attention, the more he stared at them the more agitated he became. He even nudged the CO who gave him a dirty look and told him to keep still. But Wacker was like a man possessed and started edging away from the group of VIPs towards the cluster of brown-clad Holy Men.

    On second inspection one of their numbers did look a bit odd; he was much taller than the others although he had adopted a pronounced stoop to try to disguise the fact. He was wearing a large pair of sun glasses and carrying a generously sized orange parasol in a manner that hid most of his face. He too seemed agitated and wormed his way to the rear of the group who closed ranks around him in kind of protective rugby scrum.

    A short stand-off followed with neither side giving ground. But then the tall “Monk” lost his nerve and made a run for it with Wacker in close pursuit.
    The locals were horrified to see one of their holy men legging it along the air field with a red-faced Senior Warrant Officer giving noisy chase and they let out a howl of protest.

    The “Monk” had the longer legs and was the fitter of the two, but he was severely handicapped by his traditional attire which is by no means designed for track events and he was obliged to stoop down in mid stride and hoist the hem of his robes above his knees.

    Alas he hoisted too high and his secret was out. Noy was the first to recognise him and she let out a squeal of delight, “Smudge” she cried. But no sooner had the first syllable been uttered then at least 6 other young maidens made the connection and joined in.

    Maybe the minds of the late-comers worked slower that Noys’ or maybe their eyesight wasn’t so good or perhaps they had a larger data base to search.

    Anyway the floorshow was over and Smudge was captured at last.
    The story could end there but this was real life and the saga continued. Our long legged hero eventually left Her Majesties Service after some time in the military nick in the U.K. where he almost had the last laugh. It seems he managed to win a fair bit of money on the football pools while still inside and on his release was met at the glasshouse gates by a posh car and a Littlewoods rep bearing a fat cheque.

    But Smudge will never change and his money was soon spent. He was last seen hanging around Liverpool Street Station cadging “A tanner for a cup of tea” from anyone in uniform or carrying a green Army issue suitcase.

    As for the airfield, it didn’t even last as long as Smudge’s money. Within a week of the opening ceremony it was being ripped up and the poor old Sappers had to stay on for another few years building another one in the same place.
    Noy and her sisters enjoyed another few years cementing Anglo Thai relations and the CO got his OBE at last.
    But that, as they say, is another story.

    KC. (Poetic Licence in the post)
    P.S I wrote this to while away a dreary night shift long after the event and it was intended only for the amusement of my fellow workers, civilians all. If any of you experts out there know the correct version of any of the events alluded to, please share with us all.
    P.P.S. I have cleared this with the real life SSMs daughter. Wacker Waites isn’t his real name, but close. She encouraged me to post it.

  25. #50
    ................... sunsetter's Avatar
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    keep it coming

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