Tuesday, November 20, 2007

#5 Sequel

Cutting a long story short we ended up walking almost half the 18 miles and getting a ride on the back of an old flatbed style coal lorry (truck) the rest of the way. Well you can imagine the look on the sergeants face when we rolled in, wearing the Queens uniform and totally covered in coal dust! The rest of that episode is too, too sad.

You have to realize that we guys were just very young army ‘Nig Nogs’ ~ that is raw recruits. ~ So upon finding out that the last bus had already left, there was a momentary fit of panic set in. Learning army discipline will do strange things like that to you in the beginning. The discipline is designed to have every man act as one upon command, the premise being that one day that same discipline may save your life. So it was that we set off for camp the minute we realized we could end up in trouble. ~ (Late & marked AWOL) Grrrrr perish the thought!

It’s not much fun when you are hoofing hell bent for leather down a country road in uniform, certainly working up a sweat in a hurry. There are no lights in the country & no stars for the sky was overcast. So you just follow the road hoping for the best, that something will come along so we can hitch a ride. It was just our good luck that this lorry came down the road and pulled over. “Running late are you lads, need a lift?” the driver shouted out. Quickly we gathered around the cab hoping we would fit in there, but no luck.

Take it or leave it, we had to climb on the back and hang on to the rail that ran behind the cab. Straight away we were covered in coal dust, it was all over our hands. Then looking down with a groan, saw it was all over our uniforms from climbing aboard. Not much we can do about that now I guess. I for one was just hoping that as the truck went down the highway the wind would take most of it off, but not much luck for it just kicked up more coal dust.
We went along and keeping an eye on the time, breathed a sigh of relief as it looked like we would make it in time after all.

When one goes out in their off duty time you have to sign out at the guardhouse as you leave camp. So when we arrived back, there was no way we could sneak in for we had to sign in again on our return. Being as it’s that late in the evening too, more reason we would be seen by the sergeant and we were.

In the British Army the well known (music hall) saying was “laddie,” so when those who wield power want you, that’s when you hear that well known phrase ringing from the heavens! ~
Tonight was no exception when the sergeant laid eyes on us, “miserable manky miscreants” his words, “Where the hell have you been & what the fr***en hell happened you miserable little men.” ~ More of his soft fatherly renderings.

He then proceeded to verbally berate you downwards till you shrink down to about two inches in height, I am sure that at that point he would have loved to raise his boot and stomp on us like some small irritating bugs.

The end result to all of the verbal rampage is, we got put on report and the following day got sentenced to 7 days confined to barracks. That also means working cookhouse duties, usually spud bashing (peeling taters) ~ ever figure out just how many potatoes a camp full of soldiers can eat? You don’t really want to know my friend.

So that was the memorable end to an even more memorable 18th birthday, one I certainly can‘t forget.

There are many stories in the life of a soldier, this has been one of them.



Janice Thomson said...

Oh that's perfect Eric - 7 days peeling spuds. Love it!
What a wonderful old photograph - must seem like eons ago now.
Considering all the devastation war wrought it is good you have some fun memories too. I hope you can share more of them with us.

newnorth said...

love the photos! ...and why did he punish you?...you made it on time!

great story. I'll think of it next time I'm peeling some 'taters

Eric Valentine said...

Thanks Janice. I do have a number of old photo's through the years.

Yes there are times when one can look wistfully back and dream. War can be quite devastating, especially if it hits family & close to home.

I did a number of blogs under my autobiographical series starting with 'through the eyes of a child'... that was about the war years.. :)

Eric Valentine said...

Hi NN the punishment was because we "disgraced the Queens uniform" with the coal dust.. that was a no no.. Chalk it up to experience is what they say. :)

Have fun with the taters, especially if they turn into frenchfries! LOL

drips of paint said...

I wonder what would be punishment if you kids do not make it back on time ... it could have been the 3 of you got peeled instead of potatoes...

You in the photo looks so much like you, Eric .... and interesting that do you notice there are no firearms in photos .... pretty cool

thanks for the story & bringing out the photos:)

zirelda said...

Great photos Eric. And I'm really glad to know the rest of the story. 7 days for disgracing the Queen's uniform.... oh my, and a lot lot lot of potatoes.

Leon said...

Thanks for sharing such wonderful [:-)] memories Eric. And those pictures of that handsome young lad. . . Ah, what can I say; they're priceless!

Eric Valentine said...

You are welcome to the photo's Tim, wish I could have posted more for you.

No firearms is right my friend.... There are strict rules about such things in the Brit army.... at least there was..

Unlike over here in North America, where everyone looks like a bunch of die-hards & Dirty Harry's. LOL

Eric Valentine said...

Thank you Mz Z.. Glad you all like the pics.

The rest of the story was to be expected really.. after all we did roll in looking like the 'Eastside Kids" :)

Eric Valentine said...

Thank you Leon, glad you like my memories, I have a folder full of pics .. maybe for another day. :)

drips of paint said...

Yeah come to think of it the UK police carry no guns either .....

want to come and say thanks for vote and also the Michaelangelo is awesome...thanks eric

do the Canadian have thanks giving ? ... anyway happy thanks giving day.

shades of twilight said...

wow, Eric...
u look so cute in the picture..!
thank u so much for sharing the story...
btw, i saw the meme...thanks.. will work on it very soon.. now its exam time for me.. thats why..!

swenglishexpat said...

Eric, what a wonderful post! What a story, and pictures. I am still coughing from the imaginary coal dust. We have a little more in common than you think. I am in BFG (British Forces Germany, for those who don't know)as a civilian. Mrs S, and I to some extent, work for the SCE (Service Children's Education). We teach the sons and daughters of NATO staff at JHQ (you know what it means), mostly officers' kids. We do not see many guns because they are basically office workers! Remember, always keep the Queen's uniform clean and tidy! BTW I have done the roar and passed it on! Tschüss, as they say around her in Germany.

Eric Valentine said...

Hi Tim, you are very welcome with the vote and glad you enjoyed the Michaelangelo.

Canadians have Thanksgiving before the States, our was a couple of weeks ago. Have a good weekend my friend. :)

Eric Valentine said...

Glad you like the pictures Shades & thanks for the compliment. :)

Glad you got the meme. :)

Eric Valentine said...

Nice to see you Swen, boy your comment came as a big surprise.

Reading what you wrote tugged a few memories for me, for I never realised that about you. I thought I may email you at some point? You seem like a voice from the past my friend. :)

Singing Stream said...

Eric, I was rivited reading your story...KP huh? ;^D

Eric Valentine said...

Hi SS, in Brit-land they called it CB, (Jankers). :)