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            Tuesday, October 16, 2007

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HUGE Gaffed Lobster, 1960's
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A HUGE lobster caught and gaffed while swimming out to the Reef, 1970's. I’ll forever remember this lobster as each morning I’d swim the 1/2 mile to the gap in the reef, free dive 40’ (ear drums bursting) to gaff my favourite breakfast, fresh Avocado stuffed with Lobster and salads- naturally topped off with Marie’s hot sauce

You know you have been to San Pedro if you remember...
Army House (Coral Lodge)
Hurricane Hattie and the room removed from what is now once again a beautiful church
The Cooks from Texas..
Peter and Peggy Handcock
The Kruueger’s (El Pescador’)
Sergeant Smith ‘Smithy’ San Pedrano’s only and unarmed Constable
The Canadian’s pub Mr. Alan Foreman, R.I.P.
Ena Varela Guerrero
Maria’s hot sauce...

My GB Army Teeshirt.. it is now in a glass case too ensure Longevity (if i laundered it would fall to pieces) These tee-shirts are now very rare and in much demand in GB Army circles. Should you wish any ‘deciphering’ please ask away.. e.g. many outside Army circles do not know a ‘stim’ is a soda or ‘Stimulate.’ ‘Son of C’ being the Belize Renowned C -Company of the 3rd. Battalion of the Queen’s Regiment.

I was the ‘resident’ Great Britain Soldier.. we had no golf cart’s, one telephone by Sergeant Smith’s ‘jail’ (the only unarmed policeman) everyone knew everybody and my job was to call in Harrier jump jets and Puma helicopters to terrify the San Pedrano’s & cause the kids to jump with joy.. even got the kids helicopter rides around Ambergris Caye & distributed Great Britain Army rations.. where the oatmeal blocks were in high demand as were the tins of Chocolate. That year was 1977.

I swam to the reef’s ‘Cut’ and back everyday for my breakfast omelette to supplement my Military rations. Four of us enjoyed this one for lunch after I would swim the 1/2 mile to the reef, dove 35 feet to gaff this beauty- then swim 1/2 mile back to main pier near Victoria Hotel

My Daily Breakfast in an omellette, San Pedro Island

I am the NCO/Island Survival Instructor program (Read Guatamala insurgency)

As a young gringo whilst serving San Pedro, I’d foot patrol to Xcalak. The Mexican Military I eventually fooled where they monitored the landing dock as I occasionally borrowed a motorized skiff rather than walk.

I’d be sweating (just a little) when pulling up to the heavily armed Mexican Army as beneath the poncho on the floor of the boat I had a Sterling Sub Machine Gun and two sawn off shotguns.. another reason the harriers would give me close ground support... all is not always as it appears, lol

Here is where RSM Bill Marshall screamed at me I had gone native, lol Now do I look like I am not a well fashioned fighting british soldier of the queen ?

I was ‘This close’ to being shot as a spy, as I had drawn maps of Tanks and Armored personnel carriers and Soldiers Quarters- which were targeted by the RAF Harriers were I Captured.

I had completed my will and authorized my electronic locator to bomb me.

The San Pedrano’s were TOTALLY unaware but I have now been released from the "official Secrets act!"

Although near the end of my life Marty, I do tell the people of Belize we loved you all so much- we would give our lives.

Also, as a Section Commander in the mainland Sabun Jungle - my patrols ambushed many insurgents, rather than shoot them.. we took their weapons, gave them a good kick in the Butt and sent them home. They were lucky!

The 2i/c Major Andrew Cowing (right) often visited San Pedro. He was my direct boss and enjoyed our GB Army Military operations in Northern Ambergris Caye. We became close friends later in life when he was supporting the Sultan-of-Oman and myself was operating next door in Saudi Arabia. Major Cowing was later killed in Action (KIA)

Occasionally, my patrol found the skeletons of long lost British Soldiers long eaten away by Army Ants. We buried them on the spot but carried their weapons back to base after a six week patrol. I was stationed on Ambergris Caye 1977 (exactly opposite the Church damaged in Hattie. small population.. but also as during that time patrolling on foot North during military excursions.. I never ever saw human traffic..

I’m sure you are aware that even though Belize is now Independant, the British Army, Royal Air Force (RAF) and the Royal Navy- shall ensure supporting the BDF.

I crossed the cut with weapons and equipment.. (en route to Xcalak) I’d await low tide to avoid a thorough soaking) However- when Lt. Colonel Andrew Cowing- my Regimental Commanding officer visited for a ‘Gander’ GB Squaddie talk for reconnaissance a Good Samaritan.. a San Pedrano loaned me a skiff with outboard motor and to my delight (not being a sailor) I successfully navigated the WESTERN Ambergris North (taking a break on Deer Caye en Route) Turning EAST through this tiny channel.. hiding the skiff in the bush and led my Commander North to further Recce Xcalak. Loved my time alone on foot patrols to Xcalak which is when the harriers were tasked to give me Combat Air Patrol (CAP) to warn off unwanted attention.. thus the reason I’d always be seen with radio equipment... this survival alone were some of the best experiences of my life.. I’m happy to be able to share them to the very place such soldiering was enacted.

That's how I got pass the enemy' (Mexico swore to take Ambergris Caye, should Guatamala take Belize. True story. I was helped from my canoe by the armed Mexican army as they thought I was merely a gringo kid. Underneath the poncho- bottom of canoe, I had a Sterling SMG and 2 Shotguns... funny, eh ? My 'function' was to monitor Military increased presence. No one living knows this story, (Bn. 2i/c passed away who sent me) GREAT times - rvrn the RSM (Bill Marshall) went nuts "Boston, you've gone native, I'll get that 'air off you. He never did (lol) I ended up in Saudi Arabia for the Americans - thus here I am!

You must have thought you had died and gone to heaven when they gave you that job!

I WAS dying (caught hep C in Sabun jungle on patrol) and when casavacked via VC-10 to Brize Norton, engine fell off (literally) and I was offered the 'cushy posting' doesn't get any better, I'm a jammy sod ?

The gentleman to your right from my point of view is the late Mr. Marciano Salazar. He was the one with probaly the only Land Rover on the island in those days.

The late Mr. Peter Hancock had a background in Communications.. oh the rows we had regarding using the Ionosphere for bouncing Morse code high frequency (HF) around the planet. Trekking North to Xcalak on my biweekly foot patrols- I’d always stop off for a cuppa tea courtesy of Ms. Peggy and an exciting ‘exchange’ with Mr. Peter.. he once banned me. It’s little known.. I thought I’d retire after leaving the Army. I was invited by the Kruger’s (El Pescador) to manage their hotel. After 4-6 months I knew I would not cope with such a deceleration from a rather eventful Soldiering life.. so I ran off to Saudi Arabia for 2 years.

I like that “the coconut wireless” as my other job on the island was Wireless Operator (a reason I never had to line up for the only phone and why I have sometimes referred the RAF Puma helicopters using my radio mast as a target with their retractable undercarriage- we sure had fun.. like the harrier pilot landing to visit his girlfriend hound.

Oh.. and the RAF giant C130- Hercules (troop carrier configuration) buzzing me on the Fido’s jetty as a gesture of thanks - for hosting them a week whilst one of their four rolls Royce engine’s had to be replaced via RAF prize Norton, (they issued me a red smoke canister to aim at me) and flew at me 30 feet over my head early in the morning when everyone on the island.. Berlitz included, RIP- was still suffering from the previous nocturnal events ... that was a staged photo op for me as these fine guys asked what favour they could grant and I answered “I love plane’s and I don’t have a photo of your aircraft type.. they resolved THAT issue...

Judy Mernitz: I remember when the Travel Club called Voyager first started coming to Belize. They were the first big jets to fly in. The British soldiers had gun emplacements at the airport and would sight them for target practice. A bit unnerving to say the least!

John William Boston: Judy we also used radar guided ground-to-air missile systems ... that might have been more unnerving- had you known

Nick Pollard: In the late 70s I was spearfishing on a drop off outside English Caye and sighted a huge lobster. I waited until I had a clear shot near its cave. I caught it and it fought to escape - had to hold my spear with both hands. Eventually I got it to English Caye and everyone came to admire it. It weighed in at 13 lbs! It had a big tail that was very heavy which increased the weight drastically. The following week Father Dikeman at SJC Lab embalmed it for me. I had it on display in Brodies show window. Eventually it started falling apart...wish I had taken better care of it.

Joseito Sosa: Many years ago in the 70 a young girl from Placencia went with us to Hunting Caye . On our way she suddenly saw a mobster and to My surprise she immediately jumped over board and when she came up had a huge lobster and I mean huge I know it must have been about 15 to 20 lbs it was surely a creature sadly no one had a camera at the time to have taken a camera. I know she was one of the Eileys family beautiful girl. She was so incredible the anchor even got caught up down below and she went overboard again and loosen it. All I could remember that she was a very athletic person very good in playing soft ball and other sports.

Francis Paul Ripp: In the early 80’s Miss Peggy's house was the only house from Tres Cocos to The Belizean, only a footpath existed.

John William Boston: It was always a prime destination for me, patrolling to Xcalak. Lots of tea from Miss. Peggy.. many energetic conversations with Peter.. always relating to Technology. La Casa was full of treasures and keepsakes. By the time I completed missions in Xcalac (2-3 days) I knew Peter would be recovered from our previous heated discussions (whilst I was traveling North). I would have no further rations remaining- thus the reason I returned to Army House- Coral Lodge.. (and I had already backpacked up 2 x 24 ration packs heading North). The previous discussions would be avoided and we’d discuss less pointed issues.. to be sure we departed in goodwill. My 24 hour ration packs were very popular around San Pedro and the remote areas of Ambergris Caye. I had them delivered (via Royal Air Force Puma Helicopter) as many as I ordered (which were MANY). I rarely ate them as I’d live of the land.. after all, I WAS the Island Survival Instructor to GB Troops.. prior to it apparently becoming a R&R getaway only.

The ‘San Pedro Dogs’ 1977

My British Army post / assignment to San Pedro Village, Ambergris Caye- was quite unexpected

You see I was commanding a section (call sign 32 Charlie) deep jungle patrolling the mainland’s borders for military insurgents from Belize’s neighbour to the West.

I became seriously ill when my water was still contaminated after surviving a mill bank water strainer and chlorine tablets

Thankfully I completed my mission first.. it was during the operational debrief that I became very unwell and indeed had poisoning

I was casavac’d (Casualty Evacuation) by Puma helicopter from my base in the Sabin Jungle (Kenneth) To airport camp for transfer Via Royal Air Force VC-10 to Mill-bank Military hospital in Blighty (London)

Well… that’s where everything went wrong (or in my case right).

We were over the Caribbean climbing at 28,000’ when with a lurch that almost shook me from my mounted Stretcher - one of the four Rolls Royce engines departed from the airframe

of course not a big deal.. in fact the follow up was far more interesting

When we landed on the remaining three engines at airport camp in Belize we were met with fanfare.

The Ambulance recovered me from the VC-10 back to QARANC Army Hospital

Whilst interred herein, I was approached by my Commanding Officer Lt. Colonel Dodson, MBE who had the idea I didn’t want to leave Belize.. he had that right, I’d not stopped whining about having to leave beautiful Belize for the Winters of Europe

He informed me that if I wished a special assignment he had just the ticket, this particular Officer felt ‘he owed me one’ !

He didn’t.. I was merely doing my duty.. but I digress.

The ‘special assignment’ was the inaugural dispatch to San Pedro Village- Ambergris Caye.

The duties were varied but included a daily swim to the reef and back under Doctors Orders

In short thrift.. I was honoured with a title I still retain- that being’San Pedrano’

Many adventures to the North Xcalak and over the reef to the wild blue yonder.

So, the San Pedro Dogs…

What became apparent to me during my tour of duty to Belize on Ambergris Caye was the value of a dogs life (this was 1977)

There were many feral canine and there had been a plan to destroy these animals through poisoning.

I sought the San Pedro press, the Mayor and the only Constable Sergeant ‘Smitty’ Smith to avail me of their titled position(s) to ‘Cease and Desist’ this practice whilst I breathed on Ambergris Caye.

I was successful and rounded up one then two then three Feral dogs, thereby named 1,2 and 3

John William Boston, Fido's over both shoulders, 1977. The church was just cement walls was just beginning to build up back then. The location is at the Barrier Reef Hotel, San Pedro, Ambergris Caye, standing on the verandah of the hotel. The concrete building under construction is the Catholic Church. Right behind is Fido's Courtyard, where the movie theatre was located. The two-storey building is Fido's hotel followed by the Seabreeze Hotel (the three-storey building).

Corporal Bob Peterson. A regular guest to Coral Lodge / Army house... I bet few remember my favourite (I adopted many when the Belize Government had ordered them destroyed..) I recall they simply had numbers - this guy was No. 1. Photo by John William Boston

Royal Air Force(Anglo French Puma Helicopters) bringing the lads to San Pedro, Ambergris Caye for Island Survival training and R&R on Mondays and Fridays 1977. Photo by John William Boston

Alan Usher: Cost per one hour flying time is £4,000.00. Islander operating cost 400US$/hr. But can only lift 2000lbs. Puma is 7,000lbs. Sioux operating cost way low and simple machine but really only for light tasks. Good visibility through the bubble.

Leslie Rudon: Alan Usher Was far cheaper for them to charter an islander every Friday to take food supplies to Rideau camp, than to use the puma which was probably being use for other purposes.

Kenneth B. Cox: In 1975 up at New River lagoon, we used a Sioux. Piston engine chopper. Totally different pilots license for one of those. Flown by a Flt. Sgt. I arrived in Aug 75 after 2 years att RMP at Aldergrove NI It was supposed to be a 6 months holiday posting. 3-4 weeks after arriving, the neighbours were acting up, so they brought in the Harriers and Pumas, built the garrison up to 2,000 troops. Luckily I spent the 6 months at Holdfast. Nice taxi ride, just me n my toolbox. I thought I was in a MASH 4077 movie.

James Mc Bryde: I did a year with the AAC Flt, 75/76 as the RAOC FAACO (Stores) 14 pilots only on was badged AAC. The MSRD REME second line was a six month tour. The AAC Flt bods did 3 months, the Siouxs were rotated when the Flts changed over. In 1975 when the Pumas arrived the T shirts changed to " We've got the smallest choppers in Belize" I was not allowed to wear T shirts, my wife's family would have lynched me.

Pablo Sherman: Island survival training supplies: 1 bottle of rum, 1 hammock

Here’s the Credtura, Captain Berliez’s 27’ boat loaned to me, the Resident San Pedro Soldier. I’m sailing an officer from my Queens Regiment, looks like inside the Reef.

First and last photographs by John William Boston
(Still missing San Pedro. Been back 7 times since Military Service at Army House 'Coral Lodge' (Opposite the Church)              
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