British Element Trieste Force 1945 - 1954
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The Landrover, when it eventually arrived, initially took us back the way we had just come but then turned right into Via Milano, crossed Via Josue Carducci and into Via del Coroneo. We briefly stopped to let the sergeant (was his name Burton ? why cannot I remember it ?) off he telling us that the driver knew where to drop us. A little farther up we reached our destination at no.2l. The porter opened the lift for us and on the 3rd and top floor, we were met by the Duty sergean, Sgt. Paul Twomey. He greeted us saying that our arrival had not been expected until the following day. We were conducted to the Corporals' Mess on the floor below.
And so were we admitted to Trieste Security Office.
There was some bad news. A number of the corporals were away in Grado on passes but had left their beds fully laid out for inspection on Saturday morning. This was not an inviting prospect but my memory suggests that this in fact did not persist for long.
More persistent was that the required shade of blanco was khaki green. Mindful that I would eventually return to buff at Maresfield, the large and small packs, pouches, etc. turned green on only those parts which showed when displayed on top of a cupboard. Fortunately, they were able to remain parti-coloured for the rest of their existence and never received any additional coats of blanco. The belt and anklets web had to change completely, and to accept an occasional fresh application. These transformations were effected on Sunday.
On the previous evening, I was allocated a bed in a room occupied by three corporals, 'Sam' Gage and David Morris, both Old Etonians, and Gerald 'Jack' Cockroft from 625 Four Lane Ends, Bradford.
Feeling weary after the travelling, I made ready for bed and was just about to enter it when 'Jack' Cockroft rushed into the room, declaring "The Yugoslavs have invaded and we have to evacuate immediately". So I arose, redressed and only when I again was fully clothed did he reveal that it was a hoax. I do not think that he said "E uno scherzo!". I would not have understood it if he had.
On Sunday evening, the Mess was filled by the return of the sun-seekers from the beach at Grado. At Trieste, the coast is rocky and there was no sandy beach at Barcola or Grignano.
We entered the Office itself, on the floor above, on Monday morning and were assigned to the filing room, Card lndex, supervised by Sgt. Mike Rogers. At that time, the OC was Major H.M.de B.Romilly, known as "Puggy". There had been a very recent change in 2i/c, Capt.RM.Richards replacing Capt. Dickson who, although no longer with TSO, had not yet left Trieste. This was regarded by the Corporals' Mess as a change for the better. No-one, apparently, had a good word for Capt. Dickson. The other officers were Capt.A.L.A.Mifsud and Capt. Gimblett (no initials because I do not remember, but am almost certain it was not "H"; at this period, 'H' opened the btting for Somerset). The latter officer was not in Via
del Coroneo but had his office in Via San Nicolo, with Sgt David J. Caswell, of Biggleswade who had signed on for three years. With regard to other ranks, the establishment for TSO was l7 sergeants and 27 corporals.
Capt. Richards informed me that I need not worry about the 'probationary period'. This was useful information as it enabled me to continue to forget about it.
As the name suggests, TSO was an office and kept office hours but adjusted by the need of a long midday break in summer to avoid the uncomfortable build up of heat after 12 noon. So the start was earlier and the finish later. We worked only the mornings of Saturday and Wednesday. There was a short minor duty on Wednesday afternoons.
The military government had political advisers, British and American. The British Polad was one of the recipients of some of our reports so I visited that office at least daily. The Orient Express which, I believe, went in those days only as far as Belgrade, called at Trieste on Wednesday afternoon carrying, amongst others, the Queen's Messenger. An
official of the British Polad met him at the station and exchanged bags. On one occasion in the past, when the official was waiting for the train's arrival, a shot was fired. It is not certain that the person had any particular target in mind but the shot had gone somewhat in the direction of the official. It was decided that in future the official should have a bodyguard, to be provided by TSO. So, every Wednesday afternoon, one of TSO's NCOs, in civilian clothes weighed down by a fully loaded small but heavy Browning automatic would accompany the man from the British Polad to meet the Queen's Messenger on the Orient Express. Apart from being offered a dram of whisky on one occasion, nothing ever happened'