The Half Mile Trench.

One day in 1982 the Corporal was walking along when the Engineer walks up to him. We need a Trench making from the camp to a water catchment area, but it is Half a mile through very rough undulating ground down hill.

Would you and your men be able to do it by next week. No problem Blackie says leave it with me. Show me roughly where you want it. They walk the ground to the area where the water pump will be situated and discuss tools needed for the job.

Monday they start to dig the Trench 4 foot deep by 2 foot wide, the going is tough and they make slow progress towards the out of sight water pump area.

Day 2 is better they get into rhythm and make headway towards the future water supply that will run to the camp. Wednesday comes and its normal for the Engineer to come and check on how the progress is doing, but he fails to show.

So the Corporal thinks right I will get this done and get a day off for the lads for working so hard. We push on and the end is in site. Thursday afternoon comes to a close and they reach the end of the Trench. A quick look over the work and a few areas that need cleaning up and its done.

Friday morning the Corporal finds the Engineer and gives him the good news that the work is done. OK we can go and inspect it together. They walk along and chat, the Corporal so happy he has beat the deadline and hoping for a day off for his lads.

They arrive at the Trench and the Engineer looks down and goes very quiet then bursts out laughing uncontrollably. The Corporal is very confused then he starts to worry. The Engineer asks him a question, did I not tell you that the water pipe has to have protection from it getting burst when we fill the Trench in, anything hard or sharp could puncture it.

We did discuss that the protection for the bottom of the Trench is a 8 foot straight metal track with holes in for drainage that sits on the bottom of the Trench. The Corporal replies No you never mentioned that.

Rough sketch of what I remember


We made the Trench where me and the Engineer walk, so as we walk round certain objects that he pointed out we went round them. So we made the Trench going round the said object, so the Trench had Curves in it.

There was no mention of A 8 Foot Straight Steel Marston Track being layer on the bottom.

So who was in the wrong, me for not asking, or the Engineer for not describing the job correctly. Well I can answer that he was 4 Ranks above me and I was just Corporal Soldier.

The Marston Track is very rarely used now but I found an image of some. They were horrible to work with in bitter freezing cold weather, and very sharp and dangerous in a world of now Health and Safety.

Straight Track to Protect Water Pipe.

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