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Heroes Past & Present



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“From there I went off to the Far East to take part in the Malayan Crisis. After we granted Malaya independence, President Sakano of Indonesia wanted to take over part of Northern Borneo but we were there to prevent that. Malaysia asked for our assistance. There was mostly Australian, New Zealand, British and Gurkhas who were there and for nearly 2 years we fought a nasty little campaign in Borneo to stop Indonesia taking it over. We were armed at all time – even on camp because we were all targets.”

He returned to London and Catterick where he trained to be a weapons instructor. He was then offered fast promotion which meant going to Northern Ireland in 1971.

“As the Sgt Major I used to travel around with the Commanding Officer wearing a shoulder holster with small arms. We were very much involved in the fighting and as a unit we lost 5 men even though we were only meant to be in a support role. I had to arrange the funerals for those which wasn’t a pleasant job. “

“My family was with me in Northern Ireland. I had to carry a pistol with 20 rounds in my house in case we were attacked. This never happened but our shopping centre was bombed a few times for trading with the Brits. My son had to get an armed escort to school but my daughter was too young for all that. We had a good social life in the Sergeant’s mess but we didn’t go out into the town socialising. A couple of my friends did that and paid for it with their lives. They were lured by girls, invited back to their flats and shot dead – 4 of them. They were all Sergeants too.”

“I had a car and you had to make sure you searched the car diligently every morning. You could never relax in Northern Ireland. I was pleased to leave, very pleased to leave. Belfast wasn’t a nice place at the time, it was constantly being bombed. No matter who you were or where you, whether you were military or civilian, you were involved and you were a target. It was one of the nastiest places I’ve been to.”

We did 2 years in Northern Ireland. I then went back to Minden, Germany as a Regimental Sgt Major.

Derek Leggott

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Interviews with heroes

Malayan Personal Tales

Please read the story of Norman W Doctor and his tale of National Service 1956-58.

Norman W Doctor

Norman Doctor - Malaya.pdf

Transcript needed

John Hodgkiss

Below are a collection of photographs from Norman, These show daily life when he was in service. You could use some of these for the art projects in the new book.

Michael Blackman