'Royal Navy wages, and those of the armed forces in general, were not very good pre 1965. We went to Singapore with the meagre proceeds of an old banger that we had to sell before we left. From the time we were lucky to have enough money left on a Monday to put 4 gallons of petrol in the car, which cost £1, we went to a point where we could save a bit and enjoy a comfortable lifestyle.
A married accompanied draft to a far eastern country was a dream come true. Apart from the thrill of living for 3 years in a fascinating country, it meant that I could be with my family continuously for that period. It also gave me a financial boost as I received 'overseas allowance' and several other local benefits.
None of us enjoyed the many inoculations, vaccinations etc but I suppose they were necessary. Once we were in Malaysia, we still had to have booster injections and we had to take salt tablets and anti-malaria tablets (Paludrine) regularly.
Sure enough, Sharma’s name came out. As a joke, I said, ‘It was bound to be you, Sharma, as I put your name on all of the bits of paper!’ He grabbed the lot and dashed off to the office block. It transpired that he had gone to see his Divisional Officer to complain. Of course, when they unfolded the pieces of paper, each of our names were on them. Nevertheless, he wriggled out of going. The official excuse was that he could not eat the food on board and couldn’t even eat food cooked in their pots and pans as his religion would not permit it.
‘Thanks, Chief!’ he said and immediately got stuck in. After he’d cleared his plate, I said to him that I thought that he wasn’t allowed to eat the same food or food that had been prepared in other people’s pots and pans.
‘That’s right, Chief.’ he said. ‘I’ll have to do a penance.’
‘What might that be?’ I asked.
‘I’ll have to wash three times a day for a week.’ he said.
I couldn’t think of an answer to that. Nevertheless, I’ve always wondered how many times a day he washed normally.
went in was dominated by a shrine to his ancestors. It looked very oriental with joss sticks burning. The floors were stone and many of his family slept in the same room. Their beds were simple canvas directly on to the floor. Nice and cool but pretty hard!
He came to visit us after we came back to the UK. He was standing by a ship being built in France and managed to get across. We wrote to each other for several years but eventually lost touch. I'd love to find out what happened to him. Poon was a nickname - he got called Albert Poon after a well-known Chinese racing driver. His real name sounded very Chinese but in subsequent moves, we lost his address.'