On the 3rd December 1962, the battalion embarked at Southampton in the ageing troopship, HMS Oxfordshire, for service in Malta. This was an historic occasion as it was the last unit to leave the United Kingdom in a Troopship for service overseas. The journey lasted a week, included in it a stop at Gibraltar to replenish the ship's beer stocks. They berthed at Valetta Harbour on the 10th December and quickly established itself in its new home of St Patrick's Barracks, near St Georges Bay.
Soldiers enjoy a 'Drink' on the waterfront
Initially the Battalion found itself the only major British Unit on the Island until the arrival of the 1st Battalion the
Royal Sussex Regiment.
The battalion spent three years in Malta. The weather was pleasant, but there was a lack of good training areas. So, the opportunity to exercise in Libya, for Exercise DRUM BEAT over August and September 1963 meant that full use was made of the facilities there. They were established at Tarhuna deep in the desert some eighty miles from
Tripoli, the camp, although shaded by eucalyptus and olive plantations, was not attractive, consisting for the most part of derelict, bird infested buildings resembling aircraft hangers. Three weeks of arduous but stimulating training followed, and it was a very hard, fit, confident unit which arrived back in Malta. During the tour of Malta the Battalion became very familiar with the Libyan Desert.
The tour did not remain quiet. In January 1964 the Battalion was alerted to be ready to move to Cyprus as part of Operation QUILT, to
calm the long running troubles between the Greek and Turkish Cypriots. The Battalion flew to Cyprus on 9th February, taking up positions around Nicosia airport and moving later to the Old City and manning the Green Line. This posting ended in April. Subsequently, each of the three Rifle Companies went back to Cyprus in turn to serve with the 1st Battalion The Gloucestershire Regiment.
Back in Malta the remainder of the Battalion spent the rest of the summer on the parade square rehearsing its role as Guard of Honor in the Independence Day Parade on 21st September 1964.
All members of the Battalion became familiar with 'THE GUT' and it was at this location that a number of 'Unofficial' battle honours were gained.
|A MALTA SOLDIER REMEMBERS :-
" We had many a happy hour down the Gut, getting to know the locals, and in some cases drinking ourselves senseless. I remember when the American Fleet came in , the 7th I think and one of the American Marines asked what the Red patch was behind the cap badge, the answer given was something like 'We got it awarded for giving your lot a good hiding many years ago etc etc', This didn't go down to well and it is fair to say the Battle of Brandywine Creek finished in The Gut in Malta, we won that as well"
The Battalion learned that its next posting was to be as a Mechanized Infantry Battalion in Minden West Germany and by the 3rd November 1965 the advance party of the incoming Battalion had arrived, and the Battalion was busy packing in preparation for its move. Ten days later it paraded before the G.O.C. Malta and Libya who thanked it for all its hard work and efficiency during its tour on the island, and that same afternoon the Cross country team beat the local Alpine team in a final fixture, a win which crowned their undefeated record during their three years on the island. On the following Sunday there was a well attended Garrison drumhead service and a few days later the Battalion began to emplane for the United Kingdom.