Catterick Military Hospital had its own brand of discipline. Ward rounds were like any other military inspection so much so you had to lie to attention. The majority of patients had orthopaedic injuries so there was a lively atmosphere in the ward. As a young man of 18 I rather enjoyed all the fuss from the nurses and made the most of it, rather than worry about my curtailed army career.
The nurses and sisters all wore their own version of military uniform, the sisters having bright red short cloaks which bore their officer rank and any medals awarded during their service career. The general routine was no different from a civil hospital but I think the food was better and, to help build up our strength, we regularly received a bottle of stout to drink.
It was while I was here that the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II took place on 2 June 1953. In order to give injured servicemen the opportunity to attend, a number of us were allowed leave to watch the procession. Luckily for me, my name was pulled out of the hat. We were driven by ambulance to the North London Barracks medical centre where we met up with about 30 other injured soldiers. Some of the top brass came to see us before we boarded a special bus to take us to a point on the route near Hyde Park.
The weather was appalling on the day and we waited for hours for the royal procession. My clearest memory, however, was not of the Queen but a trip many of us had to make to the nearby public toilet in the park. This motley crew of walking wounded limped across the sodden grass to do the necessary but, as we returned to the bus, I noticed that clearly displayed on the front was a large placard which read, "EX KOREAN WAR VETERANS". The fact that I had broken my leg during National Service in Scotland, and that the injury was a repeat of an old fracture caused by a bicycle accident when I was 12......well, I kept that to myself.