I'm Ron Hambly. I was called up for national service in 1951. I was told to report to the Guards’ depot at Caterham in Surrey. Being Welsh and from Cardiff I was put in the Welsh Guards. There I completed my training and was finally posted to Berlin as a guardsman. Prior [to] coming back to the UK for the coronation, I was promoted to Sergeant and after the coronation I was posted to Egypt, and we sailed on the Empire Ken in October 1953, arriving in the [Suez] Canal zone eight to ten days later. We had sailed from Southampton and I was on the advance party. My job on board was the ship baggage sergeant and my job was to make sure that all the kit bags and kit that were brought in from the battalions were stored below decks. First stop sailing from Southampton was Malta, and then on to Alexandria, and finally arriving in Suez. We embarked off the vessel and were taken to our camp in El Balla by train. Water was very scarce and the brin carriers we were using were very thirsty so we had to obtain water from wherever we could find it. I had three good mates, all sergeants: Chocky White, Dennis Thorne and Taffy Jones. We bought sunglasses one day and decided to try a bit of sunbathing under the Egyptian sun. Water was also very scarce for washing and shaving. One had to obtain the biggest empty can of beans one could find, knock holes in the bottom, make a kind of post, hang it on the top, fill it with water, and that's how we had our shower. On Christmas 1953, I collected as many beer bottles and fruit as I could from the Sergeants’ Mess (1). I made my way back to the billet after attending church service to find that the billet was empty. All the lads were down the NAAFI (2) having a drink. So I tried to find as many dirty socks as I could possibly get hold of and hanged them on the ends of their beds, filling them with a packet of cigarettes, orange and a bottle of beer. This was my Christmas present to them. When the lads came back I was in my bunk; I was asleep, well away. They picked up my bed, carried it out of the bunk, which was a tent, and carried the bed with me in it right to the barracks square, and that's where I was left. I woke up underneath the Egyptian stars! (1) A mess is the place where military personnel socialise, eat and (in some cases) live. (Wikipedia)(2) Navy, Army and Air Force Institutes.