The Soldier who took my memories.
The Soldier was a lad or man only men then no women in our Corps. They trained hard with you through good times and bad. Black white I never was raciest I treated all my men the same. Yes I had my favourite lads the ones that just showed me the respect I had earned. After getting my one White stripe to attach to my arm things changed from as they say Being one of the Lads, to he is an NCO s Non Commission Officer.
It certainly changed the way I led my daily life in the barracks or in the field, on the streets. I had joined the Army in 1978 when the discipline and Respect were at a high. I soon learned it was going to be hard being surrounded by men older wiser more years behind them cruel sadistic streak behind them.
Yes this is what I singed the dotted line for in Manchester not given any idea what it would be like. I had many tricks set ups played on me and some could have ruined my career but I came through it but it never went away.
I didn’t join with any ambitions it was a case of no civilian life at all for me. But what was clear then was if you stood out from the rest of the men you got noticed, not intentionally but just done because I knew it was right. So my 22 year journey began.
I would learn the meaning of trust, honour leadership, the bond between two men, only to be broken by death, or unforseen circumstances. Men would look to me for advice listen to my life as I grew up
The word Standard was drilled into me by a man for 16 weeks everyday and would stay with me when the Barrack Red and White would raise and drop for the last time in 2000.
I can truly say that I never let my Standards lower for the whole period of my career and hope it was an example to others and learned from it. I sometimes think that’s what is missing in society today.
Anyway me career would take me to many places, hundreds of men lads would I meet serve with fight with. Talk and joke with, play sports with. Go home on leave with. Spend hours in a trench in January minus 3 stood ankle deep in freezing water. Only to change your socks and find a layer of skin had come off.
Some respected me some were jealous what of I don’t know, or was it that I was just doing my job. When you got promoted your pay went up so you could have nice things. Before I joined the Army you did well if you had a motorcycle never mind a car.
So as a NCO I got my first Car and that is the same as I am now, looking at my next car my next Camera. When you work hard in life and you had nothing as a child or teen. It must make you so appreciative to the material things you have. So I bought my first car a little Maroon Mini that cost me £5 to fill the tank up.
Soon I was looked down on by the older NCO and men who had not progressed through their career, just used the wages to piss it into the NAFFI ablutions. I was the envy of the company even asked by senior Officers how do you afford a Car.
I never disclosed my secret as I believed in if you want something you have to earn it. So be I don’t go out to the pub everynight I would sit and watch my little TV press my Kit with Starch, my shirts were the best in the company I tailored them myself altering sleeves and the waist with needle and cotton so I looked the best.
It came natural to me and I was noticed not just through being smart but for my overall ability to stand out from the boys, other men. It took around 8 years to gain the rank of Full Corporal in did it in 4 and what I didn’t know was that when you stood out as I did. You were labelled as a Flyer and your name was forwarded to the men at the top who as they say, mapped your Career out for you.
So as you imagine with my promotion to Corporal came with more pay so I could get a nice Camera and another Car. No women as they took your money and changed many soldiers outlook and career. Yes I had my share of girls who didn’t but they used me for a lift in my car.
My Boss said can you give a lad a lift to the station to go on leave. Yes £1 for Blackie. That turned into my own Taxi business on the side daily runs to the village train station or Bookies. When everyone else was in the pub I was doing my little taxi runs
I would run 8 Mile in the morning and 5 mile in the evening the fastest man in the company then of 900 men. Was I different no I was a simple lad from the Bakery in Stockport. Did I join to get what I had, no it just happened. Did I learn that if I got 3 Outstanding Reports it would mean Promotion and money Yes I did
So move forward to my encounter with the Penguins in a colony in Port Howard the Falkland Islands. I came across it after walking for about an hour, no map and i was a bit silly as i ended up in a Mine Field, so i just doubled back the way i came. The Red signs with a Scull and Crossbones on were a scare to say the least. I stopped for a cigarette and as i sat there i could feel eyes looking at me so i turned round and sat just behind me on a small rock face was a Red Backed Hawk. I found out later they are known for attacking humans. This told to me by a local man who looked like Kirk Douglas out of the film The Vikings, one eye missing from a falcon attack.
So i continued my journey and came to a Penguin colony just in the middle of a filed near to the coast. I approached slowly but i didn’t need to as the Penguins had not set eyes on a human so i sat with them like some wildlife documentary. The young penguins came over to me for a nosy. What an experience one i will not forget.
Now to the point of my story, i arrived back in the UK and after getting my film developed show them to the lads in the company. The images were stunning and would make a magazine with a story of the my trip. There was a lad who was with me in training called Tony Copeland a Black skin lad who never liked me for some reason maybe because i had made it to corporal and he was still a private soldier, i don’t know why but he made life hard for me at every opportunity.
I knew better and never let him get to me as i had my way of dealing with people like that having a great memory i would remember later down the line and when the person that had tried to set me up had forgot about it i would Strike. Never mess Blackie about.
So this was the lads chance to do another deed one that would be hard to prove who did it. My room was broken into when i was away for a night and my Camera and all my negatives and pictures were taken never to be seen again.
The only 2 images i have are of a Little Rock Hopper Penguin and some young just over the top of a sand dune