This, and subsequent “The Army” entries, came about through my Niece requesting some information on my Army days. She was doing some sort of project that required a “behind the scenes” view of military life, so I started to jot things down.
I got a little carried away!
I suppose that this became the precursor to my blog, so I have Penny to thank for that!
I am offering these jottings exactly as originally presented, the only changes being the introduction of badges, where appropriate, and occasional comments, shown in blue.
This entry splutters to a halt, because I had started to include more than my Niece required. So, to give myself hints for extending this into more substantial record, I added a few reminders to myself. I will put more meat onto the bullet points (honestly!).
For more like this click on the Tag “My Life”.
I always moved as an individual and so, (if I wished), was able to reinvent myself every 2 or 3 years. Of course, I met people I’d served with before and some I served with several times. A few remained friends, and you kept a lookout for where they were and what they were doing, but there were always new faces, new places, and new tasks to master.
As a single soldier you didn’t see much outside of the barracks. For one thing we were not paid very well. Sometimes it was not very safe to wander around. In later years, with a little bit of rank, and thus more money, we were able to venture out into the big wide world.
My Best man and I, when we were single, and Corporals, used to go to the Mess on a Saturday night, stay until the bar closed, walk downtown (Herford, Germany), tour various bars until the last one closed, then go to the railway station and catch the first train to wherever it was going. We then spent Sunday morning sightseeing before returning to camp. We ended up in Köln (Cologne) quite often. What a fantastic Cathedral!
Tours to Bahrain, Herford -Germany, back to Bahrain, Catterick, Blandford Forum, Catterick, Gibraltar, Bünde – Germany, Benbecula – Outer Hebrides, Wildenrath and Osnabrück – Germany, Cyprus, Herford – Germany, Dover, Omah – N. Ireland followed and passed sometimes very quickly, sometimes very slowly.
Along the way I pinched my best civilian friend’s girlfriend and married her.
I travelled back from Gibraltar to get married. Dead easy for me, as I was abroad I couldn’t arrange anything except the honeymoon!
I arranged to borrow a friend’s flat for 2 weeks and on the strength of that Erica flew back with me. Another flat for 2 weeks. Not a friend, but the chef from the Sergeants Mess who had heard me saying we had nowhere to go!
Then nothing, but we managed to get a place in a hostel that the army had taken on. Optimistically called the Mediterranean Hotel, it was perched on the shore at the end of the runway. We had a room that, when we arrived, had one single bed, a 4 foot high table with 3 legs, no curtains, a bathroom with dubious facilities and everyone else there were privates in the infantry battalion.
Because I was a Sergeant no one spoke to me or to Erica. The language and night time activities were entertaining – not!
As soon as we could, we moved in to a civilian flat. We had to pay key money to an “agent” whose office was an alleyway half way down Main Street. The flat cost £14 per week and money was very tight.
IT IS AT THIS STAGE THAT I HAVE TO STOP MYSELF FROM WRITING MY AUTOBIOGRAPHY AND DO A BIT OF A PRECIS OF WHAT YOU ACTUALLY NEED!
Bullet points to continue the story……
- We managed to produce a rather scrummy little baby girl
- Attitudes to exercises, separation
- Living apart, living together
- Rejoining real life
- Attitude to injury, death
- Have you ever shot anyone?
- Taking our world with us
- Them and us
- Houses and flats
- The class element played a part in general Army life and it could be awkward in some situations. Young Officers often thought a great deal of themselves but were, for the most part, absolutely useless! It was the job of every Senior NCO to support and educate them and to help them progress and become useful leaders. I always found it immensely satisfying to happen across a good officer later whom I had had a part in training. The mutual respect it generated could not be bought.
- Truly alone – getting my own back – Monarchs
- I wouldn’t have missed it for the world!
To follow – “The precis of Army life” and “A wife’s view”