Alan Hunter (1940-48) – The Junior Training Corps

In Merchants’ Tales, summer 2015 edition, there is discussion on the Officers’ Training Corps (O.T.C.) and the Combined Cadet Force (C.C.F.)  However, between the two was the Junior Training Corps (J.T.C.)  From here I call on memories and all relies on the accuracy, or otherwise, of these memories.

The J.T.C. was formed in the early days of W.W.II, replacing the O.T.C.  At the same time the 1914-type uniforms, including puttees, were superseded by battledress.  Captain (‘Reggie’) Hargreaves was in charge, though he retired on the return, from war service, of Major Ken Bowman and ‘Twig’ Gribble.  Jeanie Pattinson, Lt. Col. Gribble’s daughter, shared memories of her father in the summer 2015 edition.

It is my recollection that joining the Corps was not compulsory but the majority of pupils did so.  Parades, the last part of Tuesday and Friday afternoons, ran on to 4.30pm: school normal finishing time was 4.10pm.

Mr Winhall was in stores and issued uniforms.  We supplied our own boots.  Mr Cooney ran the indoor rifle-range somewhere in Crosby.  The •303 rifles had •22 bores.  Firing with standard •303 rifles took place at Altcar Rifle Range.  ‘Tug’ Wilson seemed to be in charge.  I believe he was on the school ground staff, as was Mr Kito (‘Amos’) who was also involved with J.T.C.

Regular Army personnel examined us in Certificate A, parts I and II.  I obtained the rank of Lance-Corporal and had ideas of an army career.  I was advised against it; good advice for someone with short sight and well below average in sport.

When I first joined the J.T.C. we had Field Days: Annual Camps were only held after the war.  The one I attended was at O.C.T.U. Eaton Hall, Cheshire.  We were instructed by newly commissioned officers.  In our hut I was Lance-Corporal to Sergeant (Gillie) Fisher).  Our group included Alan Meadows.  We met up a few years later when we worked at Coles Nurseries, Town Green, near Ormskirk.  Alan had served in Kenya during the Mau Mau troubles.

In addition to the annual camp, one year we were offered week-courses with various units.  I chose to join the Royal Engineers (R.E.) at Merebrook Camp near Malvern.  Hearing the R.E. March recently, I found myself joining in: “We’re marching back to Merebrook Camp, to Merebrook Camp, to Merebrook Camp, where they don’t know tea from tissue paper, tissue paper, marmalade or jam ….”  Cadets came from units all over; one from South Wales was stopped by the Military Police.  He hadn’t Cadet Corps flashes up.  In those days we wore uniform to and from camp and on parade days.  At Merebrook we were involved with such things as Bailey Bridges, explosives of various kinds, making temporary and permanent roads and airstrips.

Another Course was at Longmoor Military Railway, which, to my regret, I wasn’t able to attend.  C.C.F. started in 1948, about the time I left MTBS to work in commercial horticulture.  I assumed I would be called up in due course, for National Service.  However, at that time, two years in agriculture/horticulture was counted as the equivalent.  I did twenty years!