The Last Remembrance

Chris decided long ago that he could no longer endure the Ceremony of Remembrance parades and services.  It was too much for him.  He knew that he would break down and weep copious tears, sobbing at all of the memories that he could not set aside.  He could never forget!

Instead, each year, he went on his normal morning walk and found a quiet spot, apart from all human presence, and there he would remember his friends, and his enemies.  Not all had died young, not all had died in battle.  Some had not died, at least not straight away.

He remembered two young men.  They had all just returned to camp after manoeuvres and were told they could not go home until all the vehicles had been cleaned and put away.  One young man was newly married with a two week old baby.  He persuaded his friend to take him home in his car.  It wouldn’t take long, and they could be back before anybody noticed they were missing.  The car was sporty, high powered, and had a roll bar fitted.  The young driver entered a bend far too fast, lost control, and rolled the car.  It hit a tree.  The roll bar saved the life of the driver but decapitated the young father.

He remembered two young Corporals, erecting an aerial mast on top of a vehicle in Germany, right underneath a very high voltage cable.  One walked away with very serious burns, the other had horrendous burns and lost a leg and large portions of muscle mass.  Chris had the job of taking inventory of the burned vehicle and its contents and then visiting the worst injured once he left hospital to tell him that he no longer had a job but there was good news, his promotion to Sergeant had come through!

He remembered a young man who shot himself in the chest but survived, only to shoot himself in the head once he was back at work.

He remembered running for his life, literally, when it seemed that everyone wanted him dead, when all around him were falling, screaming, dying.  He would not forget!

He stood as usual, at 11am, at attention, alone.  He remembered.  How could he do anything else?

After two minutes of silence, of remembering, of trying to forget, he saluted, fell, and joined his comrades!

All at sea – Flying through the air, with, and without, the aid of a helicopter.

Originally published on 27/10/2017, this is part of a series that I promised may take a while to complete. I was right!

This is part of a recollection of “Some things I’ve done that you probably haven’t.

Number 2, Transferred between Royal Naval ships at sea by Jackstay, and 3, Transferred between Royal Naval ships at sea by helicopter can be recounted together because normally, when you go on a journey, you want to end up back where you started!

When I was posted to Gibraltar we (The Army) often entertained Royal Naval personnel when they had shore leave. We invited them to functions in the various messes (Officers Mess/Warrant Officers and Sergeants Mess/Other ranks Mess, and we invited them to dine with us, often arranging a special dinner.

 In return, they reciprocated, and we were often invited on board ship.

 I came to know several of the Petty Officers of HMS Charybdis quite well, during 1976. I was invited to spend time at sea with the ship, in an exchange with a member of the ship’s crew, where we swapped jobs for a few days.

hms charybdis Life on board a Royal Naval vessel is unlike anything you may imagine. Space is at a premium and everything has to be stowed away to maximise space, and to ensure there are no hazards created by loose gear.

 Before departing from any port, the ship must be fully provisioned with fuel, stores, ammunition, food, and a myriad of items you wouldn’t even begin to think of. This is to ensure that, should the vessel be called upon to sail into conflict, or to aid others, it can proceed immediately, without having to stock up first. There is a good deal of manual labour involved in this, and the whole ships company (of 260 in this case) is put to work, less a few essential personnel. It is hard work, and I experienced it!

 Imagine having to stock a freezer so you can retrieve food, to feed 260 hungry people for 2 months, when you can only reach things right at the front. Just where do you put all those potato sacks, carrots, toilet rolls, extra large cans, butter, fat, oil, flour, spices. The list is huge, as is the quantity. You cannot run out.

 I shall not go into disposal of waste, recycling, or what can, under international law, be discharged into the sea. I mention it only because sometimes it flies off the ship!

 Whilst at sea it is sometimes necessary to load, or offload personnel, or materiel.

 This may be for changes in personnel, removal of severely ill, or deceased, replenishment of food, fuel, supplies, and the removal of waste for disposal, or recycling.

 The Royal Navy is supported at sea by Royal Fleet Auxiliary (RFA) vessels.

The RFA is staffed by civilians, and they have a variety of ships that can supply fuel and stores, effect repairs at sea, and even supply hospital facilities. They have a helicopter on board, and also cranes mounted on either side.

 Most modern warships have a helicopter on board, or a helipad that can receive a visiting helicopter so stores can be transferred from one vessel to another by underslung load. However, there is a restriction on how much weight can be carried that way, and it is an expensive method of resupply.

 The alternative method of transfer is by Jackstay, a method of using ropes and pulleys to carry personnel and materiel between vessels.
jackstay trfs

The light jackstay, employing human power, is used for transferring personnel, provisions, and light stores with a maximum load of about 250kg. The hauling end of the jackstay is manned by up to 25 hands. The other end is secured by a grommet strop to slip in the receiving ship. A traveller block is hauled back and forth along the jackstay wire by an in–haul rope in the receiving ship and an out–haul rope in the delivering ship manned by up to six crew in each ship. Working distance limits are normally between 24–61 meters with a normal working distance of about 34 meters.

 The heavy Jackstay, uses steel ropes for transfer of heavier loads, or to support feed pipes during transfer of fuel or water. Normally a powered winch is used.

 The ropes are passed from one ship to the other by first firing a thin twine by rifle and pulling this across, with increasing thickness of twine, then cord, then rope.

 Ships are unstable platforms when stopped in most seas and it is extremely dangerous to bring two ships directly alongside one another. All transfers are therefore done with the ships steaming side by side, in to the wind, at a distance determined by the state of the seas. It is a hazardous operation and constant adjustment is needed to ensure identical speed, and to ensure the distance between vessels does nor vary. The procedure needs to be practiced often to ensure the crew knows exactly what to do when the need arises. It is the ultimate in team work!

 This is how I came to “volunteer” for my first, and only, experience of transfer at sea by Jackstay, and return by helicopter. I was one of a dozen.

 Having watched others being hauled across from Charybdis to another visiting Frigate, it was soon my turn. Apart from a little dampness from sea spray I arrived safely on the other ship and was hurried along to the stern to jump into the helicopter for the return trip. This was only my second flight in a helicopter. The whole procedure took less than 30 minutes, but was very exhilarating!

 Flights by small helicopter are normally from, and to, a stable surface, and the take off pattern is normally a vertical lift into the air, transferring into forward flight whilst gaining height. Larger helicopters use a running takeoff and landing whenever possible.

 Taking off from, and landing on, a ship at sea, entails a helipad moving at quite a speed, often with buffeting wind, and large chunks of solid metal very close by. It is a very specialised skill!

 On take off, the aircraft has to rise off the pad and move to the left, or right, immediately moving away from the vessel.

 Landing is the more difficult skill. The helicopter must approach the vessel from the rear and then fly, at the speed of the ship, slightly to the left or right of the helipad. It then has to move slowly across so that it is hovering above the pad, but is, in fact, still flying forwards at the speed of the vessel. It must then drop down on to the moving deck, immediately ceasing forward flight.

 Naval pilots, I salute you!

 To the crews of both vessels, Thank you for not getting me wet!charybdis.jpg

 

HMS Charybdis was affectionately  called “The Cherry B.” Hence the cherry tree on the ship’s plaque.

 

 

 

Light Jackstay information courtesy of: MacFarlane, John M. (2013) Jackstay Transfer (Replenishment) at Sea. Nauticapedia.ca 2013. http://nauticapedia.ca/Articles/Jackstay_Transfer.php

Travelling down the Rhine on a duck

Originally published on 25/10/2017, this is part of a series that I promised may take a while to complete. I was right!

In the Summer of 1962, at the age of 14, I travelled to Germany, with the Combined Cadet Force from my school, for a Summer Camp.

It was quite an adventure to get there. We travelled by military steam train, with the carriages being loaded onto the ferry for the channel crossing. It must have been very nearly the last such journey.

We eventually arrived at 2 Division Signal Regiment, in Bünde, West Germany, a Regiment I was later to be posted to as a regular soldier.

2 div.png

The Crossed Keys of 2 Division

 

 

There were still National Servicemen who had been conscripted into the forces for 2 years. These were the last of a dying breed as the last National Servicemen left the armed forces in May 1963.

I well remember that the soldiers took great delight in plying us with beer, probably at our own expense. That Summer, far from home, was the first time that I became extremely drunk, and extremely unwell.

We obviously overdid the cigarettes too. When I returned home I suffered, for a few days, with what was diagnosed as nicotine poisoning!

During our 10 days there we went out on exercise with the Regiment and did all sorts of, what was to us young boys, very exciting things. We helped camouflage vehicles, laid large capacity cables, helped put up radio masts, slept in abandoned barns and spent a day with the German Army.

It was during this “exchange day” that I encountered the DUKW (duck) that was to transport us down the river. (For the technically minded, more information here)

Ten very excited teenagers squeezed into the restricted space at the back and were driven down a ramp, into the water, where we progressed at a very sedate pace for 20 minutes or so, driving back up another ramp to dry land.

dukw

To be honest it was a bit disappointing, certainly not as exciting as the next half hour when we were transported at some considerable speed back up river, sirens wailing, in a fast patrol craft.

We then experienced a German Army lunch, for many, the first ever taste of “foreign” food. Tepid cabbage soup, cold würst, sauerkraut, black bread, and a strange pudding of yogurt. A new experience that was not repeated until it became more commonplace in the UK.

Postscript

In fact the river in question may not have been the Rhine. Memory being what it is, it could have been the Mösel, or even the Wëser. I have travelled on all of these, but, at the time, it seemed to be a very wide, and busy, river.

Part of the series Some things I’ve done that you probably haven’t!

Some things I’ve done that you probably haven’t.

This is a reblog of a series I started in October 2017. I thought I should resurrect it in order to attempt to get it completed. Perhaps it could take the place of my Lundi limerick series.

Peter's pondering

I had this random thought that I have done a few things in my life that the average person will never experience.  I thought I would write a post entitled:

“Ten things I’ve done that you probably haven’t.” It developed a little like this:

TenElevenTwelveThirteenFourteenFifteenSixteenSeventeenEighteen Nineteen Twenty things I’ve done that you probably haven’t

I arranged them in reverse alphabetical order, just for the sake of it! Then I thought of an added one, or four. So, here we have:

Some things I’ve done that you probably haven’t

  1. Travelled down the Rhine on a Duck
  2. Transferred between Royal Naval ships at sea by Jackstay
  3. Transferred between Royal Naval ships at sea by helicopter
  4. Spent time in a prison cell
  5. Sat in a Harrier Jump Jet
  6. Rowed in a coxed 4 at sea
  7. Regularly travelled to work by helicopter
  8. Qualified as a helicopter…

View original post 174 more words

A Beautiful Day

Today, as most days are, was a beautiful day.  It doesn’t have to be sunny, or warm, or special, it was just beautiful.

I was alive when I woke up, that’s always a good start.

I ate breakfast, hung out some washing, fed the cat, washed the dishes, had a (please pardon the expression;  it is crude, but adequately describes nearly every morning, and dates from army days) shit, shave, shower, and shampoo.  I went for a walk. Talked to the trees, to spiders, to dogs and cats, and to a couple of humans.

I returned home, had a coffee, and started to read the blogs that I follow.  Now, I follow far fewer blogs than (supposedly) follow me. I do, however, attempt to read every single post of every single person that I follow.  I like every one of these, but choose fewer to comment on. It is very time consuming, but I enjoy it, and that, surely, is what life is all about!

On one of my regular reads,  Ann Koplow’s The Year(s) of Living Non-Judgmentally, Ann’s post was entitled It’s a Beautiful Day. It was, as all of her posts are, very positive.  I shall leave you to explore her blog, if you so wish, but that is not my main purpose here.

Ann included a most exquisite piece of music by Tohpati (featuring Moonlight Project), and she commented that ‘It’s a beautiful day to share “It’s a Beautiful Day”, also that It’s a beautiful day when I find out about an Indonesian jazz guitarist and songwriter whose “most significant influence came from Pat Metheny.’

Do you know what, she was absolutely right. (and if you listen to the very end you will also discover that the musicians had a beautiful day too)

I aint no hippy!

Over on Weekly Prompts the site shared by GC, themainaisle.com and SueW,  nansfarm.net the Weekend Challenge is Flower Power!

I’ve never partaken in these challenges, but when I saw the post today it triggered an immediate poem that, under normal circumstances, would have ended up as one of my Rapid Rhymes. Since I’m here, the poem is writ, and I saw this earlier today: (which I’ll leave to Sue to explain!!!)

I thought that I would offer you:

I aint no hippy

I missed the swinging sixties

with jeans and beads and hair

They say if you remember them

it proves you were not there

Well I was wearing uniform

no jeans or hair allowed

Each day was fully occupied

we couldn’t join the crowd

At least I got past 27

there’s many folk did not

Succumbed to sex and rock and roll

and drugs including pot

Still, p’raps I made up later

or p’raps I was a saint

Afraid I am not telling

A hippie I sure aint!

Rapid rhyme #26

 

I’m feeling a little light-headed

My beautiful tresses have gone

I managed a barber’s appointment

Since March there have simply been none

 

 

When younger I served in the army

so never had long hair or curls

At the time it wasn’t important

the uniform attracted the girls

 

but later I wished I’d been able

to mirror the hippies and groups

to see what life was in the sixties

instead of being part of the troops!

Song Lyric Sunday – July 5th 2020 – Make America Great Again

song-lyric-sunday

Jim Adams’ Song Lyric Sunday gives everyone the chance to share familiar, and sometimes not so familiar, songs.

To find out how to participate, and also listen to all the great entries, click here.

This week I’m featuring Frank Turner, an English punk and folk singer-songwriter from Hampshire. Incidentally, he was born in Bahrain where I served two tours in 1967/68 and 1971. Wow, that was a good while ago!

Frank can be quite political in his performances and this song is no exception. I hope you enjoy at least one of the choices I’m offering. The song is “Make America Great Again“, released in May 2018.  It  has been described as a “riposte to the invective of Trump” and sees Turner offer some tips on how the President could improve the US: by “making racists ashamed again” and making “compassion in fashion again”.

The first is the Official video of the release

Next is a performance at Paper Tiger, San Antonio, Tx

and in Mexico City

and, finally an explanation of his thinking behind the writing of the song, complete with a political statement.

Make America Great Again

Well I know I’m just an ignorant Englishman
But I’d like to make America great again
So if you’ll forgive my accent and the cheek of it
Here’s some suggestions from the special relationship

Let’s make America great again
By making racists ashamed again
Let’s make compassion in fashion again
Let’s make America great again

Well I’ve been fortunate to go ’round the continent
From California through the midwest and Providence
And I’ve mostly only encountered common sense
Hospitality and warmth from Americans
But I wish it was a bit less significant
The program and the name of the President
Because it seems to me the truth is self-evident
You fought our king to be independent

Make America great again
By making racists ashamed again
Let’s make compassion in fashion again
Let’s make America great again

Ellis Island take me in
Everyone can start again
In the shining city on the hill
Where nobody can be illegal

Let’s make America great again
By making racists ashamed again
Let’s make compassion in fashion again
Let’s make America great again

Let’s be a friend to our oldest friends
And call them out when they’re faltering
Remind them of their best selves and then
We’ll make America great again

Source: LyricFind

Songwriters: Frank Turner

Make America Great Again lyrics © BMG Rights Management

Lundi limerick #92

Knickers in Norwich are said

to be orange, or yellow, or red

No wives ever roam

when the soldiers come home

you will find they are waiting in bed

 

Over recent weeks I have given a brief description of where the town is, what it’s famous for, and other trivia associated with the place. This week you’re not getting that. Tough! You’ll have to look up wikipedia on this link! 

Instead, a brief explanation of the verse above:

During the Second World War servicemen were allowed to send Forces Mail home free of charge but they were restricted in what they could write. They could not say where they were (most did not know anyway!), what they were doing, and they were mostly only allowed to send a pre formatted and part pre printed military postal form. This meant they had to be brief in what they wrote.

This led to a much used shorthand to impart what they wanted to say.  Many will know of the acronym SWALK which meant “sealed with a loving kiss”. Other acronyms can be found here. 

NORWICH was (K)nickers off ready when I come home!

 

 

 

Song Lyric Sunday – May 31 2020 – Mint from the 60’s

song-lyric-sundayJim Adams’ Song Lyric Sunday gives us the chance to share familiar, and sometimes not so familiar, songs. I’m pretty sure that this one will be unfamiliar to the majority, including me!

If you fancy sharing one of your favourite songs you can find out how to participate, and also listen to all the great entries, here.

With Jim’s prompt this week I just could not get away from Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme so I had to start trying to think laterally.  I came up with a song title from the psychedelic era, Incense and Peppermints, recorded in 1967. OK, it’s not Mint, but it is a type of mint.

I’m not going to try to analyse the song, or the group, or the era. It is what it is. You either get it, or you don’t. You may like it, even though you don’t get it! This was happening in the USA in 1967 while on the other side of the world, in Vietnam, 11,363 American soldiers were being killed in that one year!

I’m pretty sure that the group,  Strawberry Alarm Clock, were very self conscious dressed up for this performance, but, would you believe it, the group  carried on and on, with a couple of breaks, and is still performing today!

There are two videos, the first is a TV recording from 1967.

and the second carries a flashing lights warning for epilepsy sufferers or anyone suffering from migraines. It has lots of psychedelic flashing colours.

 

 

I hope you enjoy:

Incense and Peppermint

Good sense, innocence, cripplin’ mankind
Dead kings, many things I can’t define
Occasions, persuasions clutter your mind
Incense and peppermints, the color of time

Who cares what games we choose?
Little to win but nothin’ to lose

Incense and peppermints, meaningless nouns
Turn on, tune in, turn your eyes around

Look at yourself, look at yourself, yeah, yeah
Look at yourself, look at yourself, yeah, yeah, yeah!

To divide this cockeyed world in two
Throw your pride to one side, it’s the least you can do
Beatniks and politics, nothing is new
A yardstick for lunatics, one point of view

Who cares what games we choose?
Little to win but nothin’ to lose

Good sense, innocence, cripplin’ mankind
Dead kings, many things I can’t define
Occasions, persuasions clutter your mind
Incense and peppermints, the color of time

Who cares what games we choose?
Little to win but nothin’ to lose

Incense and peppermints
Incense and peppermints

Sha la la, sha la la, sha la la, sha la la, sha la la

Source: LyricFind

Songwriters: John Carter / Timothy P. Gilbert

Incense And Peppermints lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group