Henry Walls remembers one of his closest brushes with death in 1956, serving with the Royal Scots in the ordnance corps in Hong Kong. One soldier stood at the end of a line making notes based on what bomb experts were saying. Suddenly there was an explosion and two soldiers were blown up.
“I served in East Africa … Bahrain, Kuwait in the ’60s … Hong Kong, Brunei and Singapore,” Walls said. “I’ve done 22 years.”
Henry Walls, born in 1936, was 20 years old when he joined the Royal Scottish Regiment. He is the only soldier from his 36-member group who survived his foreign service with all his limbs intact.
Walls left the army 37 years ago (in 1979), but he continues to share his knowledge about the past and remember those who lost their lives. Walls, 79, said the days of his national service influenced him. He was drafted into the army, but later he enlisted because he liked the life. Even though Walls didn’t see combat he was always prepared.
“Once you got off the aircraft (on one of those foreign postings),” he said, “you got your ammunition … your weapon and you’re told to load it … I was with a small detachment and I was doing the supplies … You just hoped that your good luck will stick with you.”
The army life taught Walls many things, he said, mostly that it instilled discipline in him.
“When you’re in the forces, you get disciplined and it’s something you never lose,” he said. “If you see someone that needs a better hand you give them a hand.”
Today, Henry Walls spends his days selling poppies at the GO Station and delivering them to schools in Scarborough. For those soldiers in the service today, Walls has words of encouragement.
“Bon chance. Good luck,” he said.