The Jump

As the dawn breaks, I turn my head to the side focusing on the tree like a lens just having the cap removed.

It is still, no movement from the leaves.

The time is five am. I pass the Dakota sitting motionless, frost covering the wings.

The door that thousands of men leapt from. Some would die on impact, others would die doing their duty, others would spend time in a camp where only they know what the meaning of a hard life truly means.

216 Para Signal Sqn.

Not “We can’t go shopping anymore because of a virus”, but still have TV, mobiles, tablets, movies, and meals when you want them, sleep when you want, lovely and warm, turn the heating on, have a bath in warm soapy water, sit and sun in the garden, cuddle up to your loved one. Look into your child’s eyes every morning, love and cuddle them. Pick up your mobile and speak to anyone, anywhere about how hard your life is. Not 20 choices of what you can do today, not getting upset because your favourite soap isn’t up to date .

No breakfast, maybe some liquid made from old rotting veg (called a hot drink), from a cup or mug not washed for months.

You don’t sleep because of grown men having nightmares in the same room as you, grown men crying, lying cold on a wooden board in just the clothes they were captured in.

No light to turn on, can’t see what time it is. German Shepard barking at every sound. Gunshots ring out as another escape attempt fails, and your buddy lies dead due to the desperation of thinking of his little house in the countryside beside the stream.

THEY had a hard life.

Will I still be alive tonight? Tomorrow? Next week? Month? Year?

I will pass the time looking through a 12 foot electrified barbed wire fence, with the enemy high above, gun pointing at your head as you think of HOME.

There’s time a quick cigarette and we board the army bus.

Similar to our transport to RAF Brize Norton

My Worries That Day

Would I survive the jump? Would my Parachute open? Would my Reserve Parachute Open? Would one of my mates steal my air space (when another person passes beneath you and causes your Parachute to collapse making you drop like a stone)? On one jump this did happen to me.

I was clear of all the things that could go wrong.

From nowhere a Parachute appeared under me. I actually touched it with my boots. Luckily we both took emergency actions to save the day.

140 knots, 800 feet.

Not like the little plastic soldiers an inch high with a cotton parachute and string I used to throw out of my bedroom window as a boy.

Looking down, you had less than a minute to exit the C140 Hercules Aircraft before you hit the ground at 20 miles an hour (if you were lucky). You could add another five mile an hour if you got your wind direction wrong.

You couldn’t steer the British Military Parachute – you had two options; come in for a forward landing, or the worst (and most worrying) a back landing. Where you come in backwards at 20 mile an hour, heels hit the ground, followed by your back and head. To give you an idea, jump off a standard UK house from the roof backwards.

The engine roars and my head is filled with thoughts. My song starts to ring out in my head.

“The Lunatic is on the grass.

The Lunatic is in my head.

You lock the door and throw away the key, there’s someone in my head but its not me.

And if the cloud bursts thunder in your ear, you shout but no one seems to hear.

And if the band you’re in starts playing different tunes, I’ll see you on the Dark Side Of The Moon.”

Thank God For That.

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