, , , , , , , , , , 14/20 Kings Hussars, Hong Kong, Stonecutter’s MCTC in 1972
Written by Jeffrey Levene
1972, my mate and I witnessed the Queen Elizabeth burn and capsize in Hong Kong’s Victoria Harbour.
We had a ringside seat whilst serving a 28 day stretch in Stonecutter’s nick (the forces holiday camp for errant servicemen), courtesy of Ted Morris our SSM who took a dim view of our rustling up a bit of ’unofficial’ late-night-supper in the cookhouse. We watched her burn through the night...could see huge flames and steel plates falling off as the rivets melted under the intense heat.
The following day as we were being doubled around the island (in full kit whilst wearing our gas masks), all the anchored ships in the harbour sounded their horns in respect - very moving. The screw putting us through our paces (Staff Lenni...of ’Lenni’s hill’ fame) must have been a bit emotional as he pulled us up and had us mark time (at the double of course) whilst he took in the moment! Lenni’s hill was a set of steps that led from sea level up to where the nick was located. The steps varied in height and there was approximately fifty of them. We had to double up them but rarely made it to the top without being called back down several times to start all over again...absolute torture but got us super-fit!
The ’insane’ Stonecutter’s regime was a real eye opener.*~* Who was it dreamed up those absurd ideas such as issuing you with one Blue Gillette razor blade per week which not only had to do your daily shave, but also had to be used to shave the legs of our wooden bedside stool???
Then scrape the paint off our Shoe polish lid and our boots DMS shoelace-eyelets so we could Brasso them - happy days eh! And what about the local barber who came in every week to give us a trim...he used to wear a surgical mask. Was that for reasons of hygiene, or in case we recognised him when we got out!
One of the most absurd things I clocked was the fire-picket axe which down the years had its wooden handle scraped so much (presumably, with the same old razor blade) that the middle of it was no thicker than a matchstick...looked really smart but totally useless.
Another interesting job was emptying (by hand with the aid of a metal dustpan and bucket) the nick’s cesspit...not for the faint-hearted or anyone with an easily upset stomach!!!
One of my most endearing memories was the three days restricted diet I was placed on, as punishment for having a bit of a scrap with a sailor who was also serving a stint. The diet consisted of a bowl of watery gruel for breakfast, a bowl of strained soup for lunch followed by five slices of bread and marge for tea. We...the sailor and I, were still both expected to do a full day of pure physically punishing-labour on under a thousand calories!!! My mate...at great personal risk smuggled me a chicken leg one day and an apple the day after. I consumed both with relish...bones, pips and stalk respectively! It was years later it dawned on me that he was wearing shorts on both occasions when he smuggled them out of the canteen - ugh!
Would like to hear from any former inmates/staff who served in Stonecutters or Honkers.@_@