Military Memories

What makes us do the things we do, to leave behind your friends who you spent everyday of the week with, adventures and trouble, fun and laughter. The life your beginning at 15 is a hard one it’s like the roundabout with 20 exit signs not knowing which one to take, where it takes you and what if anything will be at the end

So I made that decision my own at such a young age, how was I to know where it would take me, would it end up in failure or triumph. Did you make a big life changing decision or was it mum and dad that made it for you. We all have our stories to tell but can you remember how yours did if it did happened to you.

In previous posts my stories had anger I had to release sadness and bitterness towards my Dad but I now feel more at ease with myself and would like to write about the nice things and funny moments I had from my departure from civilian life.

I see certain faces and images so much like the images I capture in Photography today. Life through the lens is so true in my case. I see the barrack room, wood floors fire hazzard with 4 inches of floor wax.

Lads on the parade square moving in different directions laughing as they marched off to the guard room. The lad with the white pale completion that couldn’t keep his mouth shut so they placed black Nasty over his mouth on the firing range. How could someone like me finding everything so funny not to laugh.

I won’t refer to the men with a name, I will call them lad, and I came across many some the same rank and others higher than myself. It was a shock to be told you were not to have any familiarity with the Instructor’s whilst in training, but this happened to me early in my career.

Put yourself in my place, your in the barrack room sitting on your thick grey wool bed, when a Corporal walks in, you all jump up to attention and stand perfectly still. Then a Geordie voice data”Blackburn come with me”.

What would you be thinking, is it trouble, why me, what have I done. You know it’s forbidden to be anyway friendly with a Member Of Staff. The long corridor with past recruits all look at me shaking their heads saying Don’t Do It Mate.

We stop and he asks me what are you doing Saturday, strange because you had two things that you do, sit in your bed space measuring 6×6 or go to the NAAFI for a Pork Pie and a Pint of Milk. Was this a Test to see how vulnerable I was, to test my honesty, or just a genuine person who saw a lad he new who a was a good person he took a shine to.

It turned out that I had to say nothing to no-one and keep my mouth shut. I sat on my bed and lay awake at night thinking every senario there was. Sat came and I was told to wait in an area where there were no Guards. As I stood my anxiety went through the roof. Then a van pulls up and it’s the Corporal in civilian clothing driving. Hop in young Blackburn he says.

No words are spoken it has to be a test I think to myself, what is a lad in training doing in a van in week 2 of training on a Saturday. We stop and he say are you coming in, I walk into a house the lady says hello I say hello back, children run up to me, I feel a sense of happiness rush through my body. It must be a dream, the Corporal my instructor was called Bob.

He asks me if I want a cup of tea, not used to the kindness and find it very uneasy to be in that situation, anyway i started to relax a little and had a brew and we dot onto the reason why he had asked me to help him. He had moved house recently and had some furniture still to bring from the old house and i was his helper for the day. I felt special to be pick out of 34 lads from all different backgrounds.

We moved the furniture and he dropped me off thanking me for my assistance. Ove over the next 14 weeks he always had a look on his face that said to me that i was doing ok and made me the Recruit of the week where you had to manage the platoon in there daily routine, if you were late or made the smallest error you got sacked and another lad took over. Don’t know if i was good but i did the recruit of the week for 10 out of the 16 weeks.

Writing about the man called Bob reminds me of a lad in the Army i met one day in 1984, a lad that i took a liking to without thinking, he sits with me now 40 years later, in a way its exactly the same as the instructor did with me, he trusted me and new i was hardworking genuine lad. The years past and we met again he was a Captain the a Major and all the time when he saw me we spoke like we were good friends, and at one point stood up for me when a officer tried writing a report about me which was not true. He advised me and gave me confidence to redress my Annual report.

I did follow his advice and went before a army board which was really scary as i was on my own against 4 Corrupt officers who had their verdict decided before i started, i was treated like a an animal, abuse and i was not allowed my say in it, so i sat there and was told you are to move from this Regiment with your family in 14 days and you are posted to Aldershot.

If you didn’t serve in the Army you won’t know what it meant when Aldershot was mentioned as it had a stigma about it as it was the Home of the Parachute Regiment and if you didn’t wear the famous Maroon Beret you were looked on as Low Life and not a soldier in anyway shape or form.

When they told me i was being posted to Aldershot it was a shock and i had to tell my family who were settled at home in school and at work.

Listening to Bob the Major i helped as a Corporal in training led to me doing the Parachute Training Course which i passed in 1991 and was awarded famous Red Beret and shortly after was promoted and sent to Cyprus for 3 years.

Funny how life turns out.

Have you ever met someone in your life who you took a liking to and ended up staying in touch, spending time with and trusting as a special friend.

Sadly Bob is not with us anymore and i lost contact with him back in 2008 but i will always remember him as someone special and have a place in my heart.

Chas or Nathan is the lad i took under my wing all those years ago, i stand by now as i buddy, mate, brother who i would do anything for.

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