Locked Topic Mike in Vacoas area (Read 14,395 times)
Mike
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Mike in Vacoas area
22nd Nov, 2008 at 4:46pm
 
Happy to have found this interesting website. I am ex-RAF Telegraphist, retired and living in the Vacoas area, Mauritius. Am interested in the history of HMS Mauritius and I have been going around the site which is now operated by the SMF (Special Mobile Force). I have taken a series of photos of what the camp looks like today and they are now up on the website. It would be interesting if members could identify buildings. Looking at some of the original photos on the website I can already see that some things have changed. Indeed Vacoas has changed too, i.e. the market place has moved now and the old market hall is empty unused. I plan to take some photos around the Vacoas high street to post on the website. I have been living here for almost 2 years now and having a great time discovering the area. Many local folks are giving me information on the old days of "HMS". One thing that is mentioned is the cleanliness of the camp area in those days. Sadly things are a bit run down today probably due to lack of funds/budgets. I look forward to reading your memories on the website. Wink
  

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Creole1948
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Re: Mike in Vacoas area
Reply #1 - 23rd Nov, 2008 at 2:31pm
 
Hi Mike,

I used to live in Vacoas, and before that in Phoenix and Quatre Bornes.

The Regent Hotel used to be in the area now occupied by the Way supermarket and was well used by HMS Mauritius folk in the sixties and seventies. It was one of the few places around Vacoas where you let your hair down without attracting too much attention.

The SMF garrison was occupied by the KAR (Kings African Rifles) in the fifties and was taken over when the SMF was formed (mostly from the Police). What is now the Theatre used to be known as the Garrison Hall and was well used for sport (badminton in my time) and theatrical productions. I met my wife there at a Trafalgar Day ball in 1964 (The RN renamed it "Traff" Hall during their stay) during my first tour at HMS. Prior to that the Admiralty used it a lot (Admiralty civilians were there in their dozens during the building of HMS)

The buildings down the right hand side of the road (opposite the new SMF Gym) were the KAR OR Barracks, where the ORs lived with their families. It really was a piece of East Africa in those days, with little mixing with the local populace. At the end, where the road turns right, in front of the Admin building (used as our Youth Club when I was in my teens (and Cliff Richard had No.1 hits with the likes of Please don't Tease,  Living Doll etc....) the rows of wooden terraced housed were the WO's and SNCOs Married Quarters (all of whom were British, ofter ex-Indian Army). Behind them and surrounded by cabbage fields was the Garrison School, which catered for all Army brats and was where I took my Eleven Plus exam. The sports fields were pretty much as they are today, although I remember a great day when the stands were built on the North Western side. The assault course along the edge of the road between the MQs and the "Mauritius Military Gymkhana Club" was our adopted "playground" after school.

More to follow.........................
  

Rob Manton&&Tombeau 1964 - 1965&&& again 1973 - 1974
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Creole1948
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Re: Mike in Vacoas area
Reply #2 - 23rd Nov, 2008 at 2:50pm
 
Part 2...........

The road between the Hospital and the fork was used daily by the KAR Band and provided unforgettable background music six hours a day for all who lived in the area. The MT lines were opposite the hospital, off the road down the side of the OR quarters. Apparently Idi Amin was a corporal in those days and it seems it was he who stuck a large bayonet through the spokes of my bike when I failed to stop at the checkpoint at the railway, where it crossed the Army road from the market. I still have the scars to prove it!

I can't hope to tell you all you want to know about the SMF, although I was living in Mauritius from 1948 to '61 and then did two tours at HMS. A good mate of mine, who's Dad was a senior officer in the SMF, and now lives in Salisbury may be able to fill in the bits I have forgotten. I'll give him your e-mail address if you like.

Our family was posted to Mauritius in 1947, Dad was an Electrical Engineer with the CEB during the day and a Lieutenant with the Mauritius Naval Volunteer Force (MNVF) whenever he had time off. In those days they were the only forces representatives on the island and used to organise ship's visits and such events as the Queen's coronation, royal visits and of course the Queen's Birthday Parade, at Line Barracks in Port Louis. He eventually became C.O of the MNVF, which was closed down around Independance in March 1968. They had lost their only "ship", an ex RN MFV (MFV189) during cyclone Carol in 1960 (bits of it still decorate Blob Latimer's Pub in his home in Curepipe).

I left Mauritius in 1961 to join the RN, got posted back as an REM in 64-65, flew back in Jan 68 to marry Annick (nee Durocher, from Beau Bassin) and then served again as a CPO in 1973-74, during which tour I got a local "lurgy" and was invalided out early in 1975. We go back every year, usually in May and always to Tamarin, where we expect to retire in a couple of years.

More to follow............
  

Rob Manton&&Tombeau 1964 - 1965&&& again 1973 - 1974
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Creole1948
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Re: Mike in Vacoas area
Reply #3 - 23rd Nov, 2008 at 2:55pm
 
Part the threeth.......

Annick has family all over the island and meets new cousins during every visit.

OK, enough of us, we've probably got plenty we could talk about, but we'll save it for future e-mails, or perhaps we could meet up in May and take a drive round the Vacoas area.

I'll also let you have photos by the hundreds if you want them.

Cheers for now,

Rob Manton
  

Rob Manton&&Tombeau 1964 - 1965&&& again 1973 - 1974
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Mike
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Re: Mike in Vacoas area
Reply #4 - 23rd Nov, 2008 at 3:45pm
 
Rob,
many thanks for that historical military background of the area, much appreciated. Really fascinating read, I had heard stories about the KAR days here. Many folks remember the KAR soldiers marching around - the local population was not keen on them and kept well away. I have also found the rifle range near Colline Candos, there is plan to discontinue its use and move to another range in a more remote area. Your life experience of Mauritius is fascinating, I bet you have some tales.
I am living in Bonne Terre in a quiet residential area, the neighbours are government workers and a retired CID officer who was at one time the bodyguard for a previous PM here. Basically enjoying retirement and going around visiting the island, there is a lot of history here for such a small place. Perhaps we will meet up on your next trip for a chat and beer.
Great hearing from you.
Mike
  
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Creole1948
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Re: Mike in Vacoas area
Reply #5 - 23rd Nov, 2008 at 4:57pm
 
Re the KAR,

The locals were quite scared of the East African troops and called them "zooloos", which, if not geographically correct was a good reflection of their fighting spirit. "Ban la ti bien mechant, nou pas content zot ditous"

The really scary one was in fact their RSM in the late 50's, one RSM McPherson of the Black Watch. He was a real character, who took great delight in terrorising the youngsters who insisted on disobeying his rules. We eventually got even with him during a Burns Night supper at the garrison Hall, where he had parked his car under the back verandah (where the snack shop is now). We let all his tyres down. He knew very well who'd done it, but as most of our dads were senior to him he never was able to sort us out.
  

Rob Manton&&Tombeau 1964 - 1965&&& again 1973 - 1974
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Mike
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Re: Mike in Vacoas area
Reply #6 - 24th Nov, 2008 at 6:40am
 
Hi Rob,
Yes, I heard that story from my wife too, she mentioned when very young that the KAR troops were designated the name "zooloos". I love your creole quote and memories.
Cheers
Mike Grin
  
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Mike in Vacoas area
Reply #7 - 20th Jan, 2009 at 3:04pm
 
This Topic was moved here from Share some info about yourself [move by] Admin.
  

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