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Hall Porter who was first at East Tilbury 45 years ago. - 1948
There must be few if any other workers at East Tilbury who can say that they were serving in the Army at the time of the South African War. But Community House hall porter, James Spiers, who as reported in last week’s Bata Record, has just been awarded the Imperial Service Medal after 34 years’ service with the Post Office, is proud of the fact that he began his career by joining the Army in 1901. He was only fourteen at the time, but giving his age as seventeen and a half, he enlisted in the Oxfordshire Light Infantry (Militia) and was transferred to the regular Army in 1903.

His pay in those days was fourpence per day, with deductions for any loss of ?? or for misbehaviors, but Mr Spiers admits that he served under a generous and kind captain at that time, who used to pay his troop one penny for every bullseye, and James Spiers was a crack marksman in those days.

It was while in the Army, in the early days of King Edward VII’s reign, that he was stationed in this area, at Coalhouse Fort and at Fort Grain, between Sheerness and Gravesend and he remembers well the little villages of Linford and East Tilbury, surrounded by marshland.

He and his comrades used to go for long walks and one of their objectives used to be the old “George” at Linford, not the modern place that it is now, but a quaint little country pub.

In 1905 he sailed for India, serving on the North West Frontier and in Burma, both in the mounted infantry, long since disbanded, and in charge of the regimental dairy in Burma.

Soon after his return from India at the end of 1911, he was put on the reserve, and at the beginning of 1913, joined the Post Office in Normanton, Yorkshire.

Mr Spiers, still only a young man of twenty-six in those days, was recalled to the colours at the beginning of 1914-18 war but before he went out to France he married a Normanton girl.

Out in France, he was three times wounded, and in 19916 he was promoted Corporal in the field, in charge of a platoon of Lewis gunners. In spite of being shell shocked, he continued front line service until the armistice.

He returned to the Post Office, and served as a higher grade postman at Normanton, London and Stanford-le-Hope. Throughout his 34 years of service with the postal authorities, he has been very happy - and looking back he would not have changed his career for another one. All the same, he is glad he has retired, as the postman’s daily round of collection and delivery was getting too tiring at his age, and he is more content with a less active job.

Mr Spiers is a grandfather and his happiest moments at present are when he plays with his four year old grand-daughter, who loves to be told stories.

JAMES SPIERS
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