A 94-YEAR-OLD former solider has recalled his time at a Borders military camp after it received national recognition last month.

Stobs Camp, near Hawick, was designated as a scheduled monument by Historic Environment Scotland in April.

And reading the article in the Border Telegraph brought back memories for Selkirk man Walter Bateman, who was one of the last soldiers to undergo training there.

Walter was born in 1928 and attended Philiphaugh and Knowepark schools before leaving aged 14 to become an apprentice painter with Towns in Selkirk.

In 1947 he was called up for national service with the Kings Own Scottish Borderers (KOSBs) and quickly rose to the rank of corporal before being accepted for the Pipe Band as a drummer/bugler which meant he was reduced to the rank of private.

Then, as he prepared to return to civilian life in the Borders, he was summoned to see the commanding officer who made him an offer he could not refuse.

Walter said: “I was about to be demobbed but the major called me into his office and said, 'Bateman, how would you like an overseas holiday at the Government’s expense?'

“The regiment was due to go to Hong Kong to protect the territories from the advance of the Chinese Red Army and after discussing it with my family I signed up for another year.

“We were sent to Stobs for three weeks intensive training and stayed in corrugated iron huts. It was March and absolutely freezing. There was no heating and I can still recall having to wash and shave in freezing cold water.

“We were sent on night manoeuvres and to make it more authentic we were bombarded with thunder flashes and had to sleep in soaking wet sleeping bags.

“One night our Drum Major ordered us to attack our HQ but when we did as instructed we were confronted by a furious Sergeant Major who demanded to know what we were doing. It turned out Drummy had misread the instructions which said we were ‘attached’ to HQ, which meant we had to guard it. He didn’t see the funny side of it.

“But despite the conditions, I loved it and made some great pals. We seemed to spend all of our time laughing.

“After that we sailed from Liverpool to Hong Kong and one day an officer asked where I came from. When I told him Selkirk he said, 'Rugby', and I played for the battalion which was great fun.

“The Red Army advanced to within a couple of miles from where we were stationed. In fact we could see them from our position.

“But thankfully they did not attack and I returned to Scotland where I was demobbed shortly before the start of the Korean War.

“I’m not sure if we were the last to be trained at Stobs but I remember shortly after I got back that I heard they had started to dismantle the huts.

“I’ve never been back since then but I can still vividly remember my three weeks there.”

Walter is a 'weel kent' face in the Borders and up until last year worked as a tour guide at Bowhill House.

Stobs Camp is of national importance as it is home to the last surviving example of a WWI prisoner-of-war hut in its original location in the UK.