BETFOR ASSOCIATION

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British Element Trieste Force 1945 - 1954
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National Service

Bill Shortland was a very frequent contributor to the Betfor Journal; he was also a keen member of the Intelligence Corps Old Comrades Association and a regular visitor to the Corp's open day events. He was astounded to find that the depot's museum had no mention of the part played by national servicemen in the history of the Corps.

He made it his mission to remedy the matter and compiled a number of items which could comprise the display; the (regular) officers responsible were a good deal less than enthusiastic but finally agreed that it could go ahead. Bill was delighted with the result and felt that it redressed a serious omission. On his last visit, however, he found that it had vanished.

Bill was right in that the Intelligence Corps, in the period between the end of the war and the end of National Service, could not have survived since at least 90% of its members were National Servicemen.

Re: National Service

It would be silly to pretend that the relationships between two groups, regulars and national service men was always a smooth one. Some of the regulars had been through hard and sometimes dangerous time and it would be easy to see bumptiousness and arrogance in the attitudes of some inexperienced newcomers.

I can only speak of my own thoughts; there were career soldiers who, in some cases, differed from those who had been called up and had stayed on. One such careerist was a fairly senior officer who was widely regarded as a clown. Fortunately he was quite a nice chap; it was difficult, however, to explain complexities to him. There were at least two occasions when he brought confusion and some ridicule on the unit; a report had been come in from a usually reliable source, that a paramilitary group of the MSI (pro-fascist party) were to hold field exercises on the Carso the following week-end. Clown (P) decided that he would direct operations from small plane. He also invited the (American) CIC to join a combined operation against the group. VGPF were to make the arrests. I remember enjoying a ride in a springy Yankee car which was a change from our usual bumpy jeeps but nothing happened and we all simply went home. The general opinion was that the scale of our operation had warned them off.

On another occasion, he decided to interrogate a Jug deserter and showed, with obvious pride, the uncomfortable chair for his victim and the service revolver which lay on P's side of the desk and which would intimidate the chap. Most deserters were sent, on arrival, to the glasshouse at san Giusto for a couple of weeks and, because they were usually only too keen not to be sent back there, would be extremely helpful.