The Vikings moved to Catterick from Celle and were initially split between Alma Barracks and Bourlon Barracks. The troops in Bourlon Barracks were assured that it was destined for demolition when they moved out, and it wouldn’t matter what was done to the fabric of the building. Sadly and unusually the powers to be, changed their mind and a great deal of hasty repair work had to place. Eventually the battalion moved to Somme Lines en masse and some semblance of Battalion life normality was resumed.
Catterick will always be remembered as a Garrison Town, which was a little short on social life. With the exception of the Harewood Club, it was a necessity to travel if you wished to socialise. That could involve a trip to the Coburn Lodge or the Sportsman’s Arms in Tunstell or for the slightly more reckless there was a good selection of pubs in Richmond (Excellent drink on Market Day!). The really adventurous could attack Northallerton and/or Darlington, and some of the braver Vikings even brought prisoners back to camp! This was an exciting operation when you were still under the influence and in love, the risk added to the excitement. However, when you had sobered up, and you saw her in the cold light of day, it became a different matter. Ladies who were prepared to extricate themselves from the Barracks under their own steam were always in popular demand.
Yorkshire was an ideal location for an East Anglian Battalion (sic) and Friday evening meant a mass exodus down the A1 for the majority of the homesick, lovesick or just plain hungry. The cookhouse in Bourlon Barracks had a fire, which was farewell to ‘chips’ for a period of time. In the 60’s it was before the day’s of Kebab Wagons etc and if you was hungry after a night out, then breaking in to the cookhouse was one of the options.
I remember a particular drill parade being conducted in Bourlon Barracks when WO1 RSM BB Day was in the appointment. Unfortunately, the band would not be available for the drill parade and somebody in their wisdom decided to make a recording of suitable band music which could then be played out of one of the upstairs windows of the accommodation block. In principle, pure genius. However in practical terms, not quite so!
There was a lack of co-ordination between the RSM’s ‘Quick March’ and the military music coming in on cue, this resulted in many of us stepping off with a left, right, left, left, left ect To cut a long story short the RSM lost his temper and we were marched out of camp and headed off into the country. I recall we covered some considerable distance before returning to the actual square. The recording, if I remember rightly was the military version of the Cliff Richards number ‘Congratulations’, and I always suffer a little shudder, even to this day when I hear it on the radio!