On the day of my army medical I was fairly confident that I would fail the examination and be unable to join the army – I was convinced that the lump that I had had in my groin for the last fourteen years would ensure that I failed, meaning that I would be able to continue my football career, a pretty good result I thought.
The National Service Medical was a quite daunting prospect for young twenty one year old men and although I took it in my stride, some of my fellow ‘conscripts’ found the experience a little bit more difficult to say the least. The chaps were dropping like flies, fainting and falling in their numbers, I remember thinking is this real what’s happening. Maybe it was nerves or more likely something to fail the medical I was astounded.
When it was my turn to meet up with the Doctor, he first of all asked me my name and address, he then made some polite enquiries about my general fitness. Once he’d done that, he asked me to drop my trousers and underpants. No imagination was required I was laying everything bare for all to see. His next move was to cup my privates in his hand, squeezing them slightly and asking me to cough as he did so. If everything was ok I would get an A1 and a pass or anything else which was a fail.
Unexpectedly I was A1, confused I drew his attention to this lump I had in my nether regions, he confirmed there was something wrong and that it was nothing to worry about and that I had a hernia but please don’t worry as it would get repaired during my National Service duty. Although joining the army was now a reality, I must admit that a huge weight had been lifted from my mind. Everything was going to be ok and at last my operation was in hand. I had spent the last fourteen years worrying if I was going to be all right, keeping and hiding this ‘secret’ from all and sundry. If only I’d have been more open about this lump in my groin as a boy growing up life would have been so much easier and acceptable.
I had my operation in the “Chormaxer Hospital” in Aden I think it was a Military Hospital. I remember that I had a lots of metal clips in my wound, unfortunately my operation turned sceptic and I required and needed a lot of antibiotics and nursing before being allowed out of hospital. I was given four months light-duties to convalesce and was released from the Army with the draft that were signed up for National Service before me. Exactly twelve weeks early. It was a bit before my scheduled demob date, but it wasn’t because of the operation, but it was the fact that I was going to be the last National Service man left in Aden. The powers that be had taken the decision to release 23807558 Private White early.
I did twelve weeks at Berwick training, six months in Redford Barracks Edinburgh, six months in Berlin BAOR, six months in Aden and I marched along Princess Street, Edinburgh twice with fixed bayonets, which meant that we the Battalion were given the freedom of the City of Edinburgh. I played for the British Army against Aberdeen at Pittodrie, Jim Baxter being the Captain of the Army team. I also played for the BOAR football team in Berlin and coached the Kenyan National Service Football Team in Mombasa whilst recovering from my operation. All in all everything went well and the lads that were my mates during National Service have continued to be my friends today.