Category Archives: Army Tales

Man With The Golden Lens.

Its me again the man with the Golden Lens, once I carried a Bow and Arrow round the woods in Cheadle with my war paint on after seeing the Lone Ranger on his White 🐎. The trees were my shelter from the Bullets. My tree that was easy to climb, little skinny legs covered in Scratches no pain as a child.

I look down as the enemy passes underneath me, I reach for an arrow draw back my Bow and one is hit, they see me and bullets hit me all over as I call out you got me and fall.

The childhood adventure will be played with my children and their children a simple no cost game, a fantasy that hurts no-one.

The Woods change to Pirbright Surrey two small children are the enemy they have Bows and Arrows just like me, I hide from them as they look for me with Month our Golden Labrador. They little eyes looking in excitement for their dad, Monty nows my tricks in intelligent Water Dog once called for pulling in fishing nets in for the fisherman in Labrador Canada. Original name Saint John’s Water Dog.

There you are Dad, I laugh and climb down, hide again Dad ok count to 10. Long legs running I hide in the green fern bushes, many more games will be played, countless hours of laughing games family bonding that will stay with them for there children to play.

I show them how to make a simple lean to from branches using ivy as rope for fixing. Sap from the bark of the tree as a Fire 🔥 lighter. Build a fire pit dug out with sticks rocks around the base to hold the heat as they warm up from the heat of the flames.

We have Beans cooked on a open wood fire, we laugh, the child in me is sat next to me again, well done Ron teach them well it will stay with them for life.

Precious childhood of innocent family fun does not last long and before you know it, its to late its gone. Stick races hide and seek, make a spear, who can show it furthest. Throwing Arrows, making numerous objects from the young Willow Bush, a bracelet or a birds nest.

Show them the Bull Rush like Cigars rising from the lake or pond, show them how to rub it together firming a Down to put inside a bag and make a pillow to sleep on, taught to me by SAS in Bevaria.

Bird songs and the Blackbird, Robin, Blue Tit the Birds that give so much enjoyment costing nothing, introduce them to the the wonderful world on their doorstep.

The Spear and Bow turned to a Riffle later in life, BSA 1.77 was my weapon, I was now James Bond, or Clint Eastwood leaning out of my window taking pot shots at my mates as they left the house scattering across the streets taking cover.

I could hit anything with this lovely rifle.

To my military days where I would carry many weapons that could kill. From the SLR which I nicknamed the Elephant Gun as it Broke your shoulder if you did not hold it properly, but was effective up to 1000 metres using the 7.62 bullet.

The Sub Machine Gun was very interesting and you had to strip in down in the dark and assemble it again. It held 30 rounds of 9mm same as the Browning Pistol.

The 9mm Browning Pistol held 13 rounds as was my go to weapon when in civi’s in Northern Ireland, tucked down the front of your jeans.

Machine guns were fun but a bitch to carry, the GPMG was so heavy when you carried it it had a belt of 200 7.62 rounds a mixture of live and tracer rounds. It weighed a ton and you had to run with it.

Then there was the LMG with a magazine of 30 7.62 rounds a bit easier to carry.

I used a few other guns.

I think my camera panning skills come from years of using the rifle, giving me skills and reactions to capture birds in flight.

Funny or Not.

The life expectancy if you fell into the sea off Port Stanley was 2 minutes. The Helicopter lands a lad gets off the metal frame and he is back on land again. He wears a Pack on his back his big Arctic coat adds more weight to his body. The first port of call is a little Green door he just fits through. He makes his way to the counter, rough scratches and bearing hand prints of times gone by.

Elephant beer Blackie 🍺 yes its like Rocket Fuel just what the doctor ordered. Are you taking your pack off your back. No I’m comfy like this, down in one someone shouts. Another 🍺 🍻 🍺 🍻 🍺. The boat leaves soon Blackie. Give me one more 🍺.

Wear is that bloody Jetti, over here you pisshead. OK you alright climbing down the ladder, no problem mate. One runner down then 2. Blackout splash God thats Cold, Man overboard I hear, get him out he will die of hyperthermia. A huge Metal Hook grabbs me by my pack and I’m pulled aboard. Hospital for you Blackie.

Anther fine mess you got me into. 🍺

Counselling?

its a normal day in 1997 the place is Guilford Surrey i am a Warrant Officer in the army responsible for the Fire Safety of 1000 Recruits girls and boys men and women. To test the recruits i decide to have a fire practice to record and log the reaction of the camp. Everyone in camp must muster on the parade square within 5 minutes. After parading on the square a nominal roll is taken of all people present.

There is a female missing from the roll call so i dispatch people to look for her. I realise that the girl is from the barrack room near my office so i go straight to her room and as i walk in she is still in bed i shake her and try waking her up, she is young just like my daughter, she doesn’t respond so i get hold of her as i shout for help and lay her on the floor and i start give her mouth to mouth plus chest compression’s. I feel that she is still warm to the touch. I shout again as i continue chest compressions, Someone arrives after 3 minutes so they phone for an ambulance.

I gave CPR for for 20 mins look into the girls eyes praying she would breath and speak to me. My efforts were all in vain and the medics arrived and tried to revive her with no joy. They thanked me for my efforts but she was pronounced dead while i watched.

After doing what i did and finding hard to take in that a young girl of 24 had died or was dead while i tried my best to bring her back to life. The army never consulted me after, no report or anything. The family came down to the camp but was never asked for to explain what had happened.

Would it have any effect on my already troubled mind, i don’t know. It wouldn’t be the first or last human body i would attempt to bring back to life.

To The Hero’s

Not long to do here
My time is nearly done
But the memories of the men who died here live on
They died to give the islander's their Liberty

The fought so the island would be free
They fought a great Victory

The sorrow i feel
Who is it for
The Brave hero that died there
The family at home
Who will see them no no more

The way i feel, i cannot Hide
The sorrow i feel
Who is it for

The True Hero's that gave their lives
In the Battle for the Falklands War.

Military Humour

I kept a diary of my service in the army not anything special just things I found funny. So I thought I would share with you some sayings or just what my mate said on a normal day.

2 Soldiers on a road in the middle of nowhere.

Are your feet hurting mate.

Who’s mine.

2 men in the barrack room.

Can I borrow your Iron mate.

What For.

2 Lads at a military funeral.

The Curtain Closes on the Coffin.

One lad says come on we need to go round the back and collect him.

Waiting for the start of a Half Marathon. My mate turned up.

Are you feeling ok.

Yes had Six Pints and a 12 inch Pizza last night for my supper.

Another Half Marathon.

Done enough training for this mate.

Yes went out last night with Fatty Curly and got Shitfaced.

Crying?

Do you cry? And if so, why did the tears roll down your face into your mouth? Were they sweet tears?

Whether tears of happiness or tears of sadness, the tear helps us to relieve pain and show our feelings. Sometimes we cry for no reason at all.

“Why are you crying?” someone said to me. I couldn’t give them an answer.

I could fill a ten gallon drum with the amount of tears I have shed from two small parts of my body. Tears from my first injection as a baby to tears in 2019 when my hip joint was popping out of its socket. Tears tell a story.

I clean the lens on my camera to give me optical performance, and I also clean the Sensor as it attracts dust particles. My eyes are susceptible to dust and so we blink, and by blinking the eye liquid is circulated around the ball socket to clean it. Again, this is why I relate the Eye to my camera lens in my Blog or stories.

Crying is seen by many people as a sign of weakness, but it isn’t at all.

Take the hardest physical course in the British Army.

It’s Friday. The weekend rest approaches. You have been pushed to the limit on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday Thursday – five physical tests a day. Your back is covered in medical tape to stop more skin being ripped of through rubbing. Your toes and ankles are taped up to stop blisters. You drink a pint of water with a heaped spoon of salt every night when you finish.

It’s 1400hrs on Friday. Your 50lb pack lifts onto your back. The SLR rifle has had the grip removed, so instead of holding a nice wooden handle you hold a long bolt with a nut on the end.

The 10 mile TAB forced march begins. You start by running at full speed to get the heart racing, the instructor screaming at you next to your eardrum.

The first hill comes. It’s steep and long. You get to the top, down to the bottom, and back up again. 10 times.

You see men lying on the floor crying in pain as you run past them. Men being given smelling salts when they collapse, men sitting on the back of the Land Rover Jeep, a fail if you go on it three times in three weeks and get sent back to unit in disgrace.

So after nine miles, body about to give up, a small tear dribbles down my cheek.

I am afraid of anyone seeing it.

I am a man. I want to wear the coveted Red Beret.

The tear is because of pain and it’s released because of pain, not because I am sad, or upset; sheer agony that my beaten body feels, and it just happens – no control or planning.

So if anyone tells you a man shouldn’t cry, tell them to speak to me. Or even better watch the Channel 4 Documentary on YouTube called P Company.

I’M A MAN AND I WILL CRY.

Elliman’s Rub

There once was a bottle, a bottle brown in colour, no label, with a white plastic top.

It came out on cold winter days, when my PT hurts were very small with gaps up the side. Red, green, yellow with legs hanging down like legs from a nest.

Legs that got me a nickname Knots On Cotton. Legs that would run four Marathons, play football, win medals doing the 400 metres in 50 seconds in 1985.

Cross Country in Germany in minus 6 degrees, the Brown Bottle would appear, get passed around from man to man, slippery and covered in clear pungent smelling liquid.

Off we would go like a glowing ember running into the distance, faster than you ever ran before because of the heat eating into your white, pale British body.

The changing room windows open, releasing odours that travel to the maintenance man cutting the grass for the next game of football. Sitting on his Mountfield lawn mower, he gets close to the small building where he can hear men chatting about how good they are, all the time the smell of Elliman’s Rub being sucked in as he breathes the fumes in. The mower speeds up as he gets high on it, the blade dropping and cutting shorter than a Bowling green.

The game is on – meet you there at 2. Make sure you tell someone to bring the Elliman’s.

Stripping off, the men talk; I put my blue football shorts on all faded, worn by not just me, frayed edges with nice gaps for the air to blow up. What position will I play today I wonder? I can play anywhere as I am a good footballer, one that could play on either wing. A player who was taught by my Dad to use both feet.

A player who would win the final day’s football match between two school teams. 80 mins gone, the score 1.1, he ran, just standing back from the centre spot. The brown leather football weighing as much as a bag of spuds would come sailing through the air, the small skinny lad leaping headfirst, connecting with ball and heading past the goalkeeper to win the match. Nine players run to him, hugging, and spreading the Elliman’s all over him.

Number Seven was his shirt, and the number would mean so much to him as he grew older. Blue was his favourite colour, and would also play a big part later in his life.

You’re on the wing Blackie OK? No problem – pass the Elliman’s.

Excitement building up to the game, he tips the rub into his hands, most of it missing and running down his skinny legs. He massages it into his thighs up high, just short of the Crystal Balls.

Someone shouts “Did you see that film last night with Demi Moore in?”. She appears in his head, beautiful, hair cut short, a face he dreams of waking up to.

Slowly his hands move inside his blue shorts, rubbing the C B…s. She fades from his mind as an intense heat flows into the groin area.

The door flies open. Wives and children watch as a tall 6ft man with a thick moustache runs like Johnny Weissmuller in a black and white Tarzan movie speeded up five times, like Benny Hill weaving back and forth, heat eating into his todger.

A scream of laughter echoes around the pitch. “Why is he running so fast?” a little boy asks.

It’s the Good Old Elliman’s Rub.

This is how it came

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.

Never let your Children Down

It was 1978 and my dad’s call rang out after me, “You will be kicked out and home in no time”.

Was I cut out to be a Soldier, a Leader?

Did the words of a man who never showed me love or affection make me more determined to make the grade and prove him wrong?

I would go to the telephone box and dial in the number. A man would answer.

“Hi Dad – I have something to tell you. I have been promoted”.

“Well done, but you don’t have to tell me”.

I found it very strange that my Dad would not acknowledge my achievements.

It was as though I was letting him know that he was wrong for shouting those words as I left the house on my own to make my way to the railway station to join the Army.

Early days after recruit training

I would make four more calls over the next 22 years, every time I got promoted. Making my point that my Dad was wrong. A bit like a movie scene, it plays in my head.

Proud to Stand Alone.

Let’s push forward to 1997 – the year a Single Crown was stitched on to the bottom of my right arm. Warrant Officer Class 2. Title SIR. The Royal Warrant from the Queen.

To the phone box again I would walk, picking up the phone.

“Hi Dad. I would like to invite you down to my first Passing Out Parade. I will be leading 90 Recruits led by the Band of the Grenadier Guards on to the Parade Ground.

I will be at the front of the Parade, and will lead the parade on to the square where the Secretary for Defence and 500 Spectators will be sitting and watching.

I will stand proud and announce the Recruits as they get their Awards presented”.

Other than the Parachute Award Ceremony on the Drop Zone where I was Presented my British Military Parachute Wings, this would be a proud moment that my Dad could be be part of.

“Will you come Dad?”

“No Son. We have just got a Puppy. Sorry”.

Your Loss Father.

Before The Parade 1997

When my time comes, I will look back and say “I Never Let My Children Down”.

Military Humour 1983 Bicester

From civilian life just seeing a few pals that I had a laugh with, to a Company of lads men and boys, all from different parts of the UK.

See you laddie, do you Ken, or right Mara?

The first night I was sitting on my 10 foot square bed after arriving on a afternoon and tuned my little 12 inch TV in with a metal coat hanger. The room consisted of four men who I had never seen before.

As I watched TV some music started and I gazed over to see a young lad with his arms folded around himself as though he was dancing with his girlfriend or wife.

He looked over and smiled, “Come and dance”.

I really didn’t know what to do, so I lay back on my bed trying to work out where I had come to.

About a week later I was watching Dallas, comfy on my bed, and relaxing with a bag of Golden Wonder crisps. The lad called Brian walked over without saying anything and started turning my four channels over one by one seeing what was on. He then put his hand in my crisps, took one out, and walked back over to his bed and lay down.

Breakfast In The Cookhouse

Starving, I made my way for breakfast. I was careful not to cut across the grassed area as that was an offence and could land you a £50 fine or four weekend duties which prevented you from going home to your family.

If you arrived a little late, the selection of bacon, sausage, fried bread, fried toms and (if you wanted it) a fried egg had all sat there for an hour.

If you were a fly boy, you attempted to take two slices of bacon or two sausage and got away with it. If I tried it, I always got caught – never mastered the art.

The Kebab

The story goes that in the 80s in the army not many lads had a car, so as I had one I became the taxi guy to take lads that lived near me home.

We set off from Oxford county and made our way up North to Manchester.

About halfway I would look over at the lads and they would all be asleep. For a laugh I would shout “Watch That Cat” and turn the steering wheel of the car quickly to the right, then the left. All the heads would sway from side to side and it would wake them up. “What was it Blackie?”. “Not sure but I had to swerve.”,

This happened on a regular basis, so when my mate borrowed his sister’s car it was my turn to sleep in the back of the car. The only thing was that the first time I was my mate’s passenger we were coming back from the weekly Disco, very drunk and having stopped for a Kebab.

We were approaching the barrier to the barracks when my mate thought he would pull my trick as we had fallen asleep. He quickly turned the steering wheel and the next thing I remember was looking at my mates, all sitting upside down.

One lad shouted, “lets stay calm and we will get out no problems”, but me being drunk shouted “yes that’s OK for you, but there is petrol pissing out all over me”.

At that point we all screamed “Lets get out”. Kicking the doors open, they all left except for me who was trapped by something.

I collapsed, and as the ambulance arrived they pulled me from the wreckage. The paramedic lay me back on the stretcher but there was no pillow. “Here” my mate said, lifted my head up and put the still hot Donor Kebab under my head. The medic said “That is OK, he will be comfy on that”.

How the accident and outcome gets exaggerated. From the lad on the barrier, to the Guardroom, to the officer on duty that night. We all died in the accident. The Abulance took us all to hospital where we stayed overnight, but the message was never passed on to the duty officer so he informed everyone we all died in the car crash.

We all walked through the camp next day. We got some very startled looks fro soldiers and officers.