Travelling down the Rhine on a duck

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.

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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.

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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!

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A bent lady, eclipsed by wet ducks?

There was a young lady from Gwent

who found that she came as she went.

She didn’t know why,

that as she passed by,

her back was incredibly bent.

 

She went to the doctors to ask.

“Lost cause” he said, “Go buy a cask.

Drink plenty of sherry

until you are merry,

sit back in the sun and just bask.”

 

She died and was buried at noon.

Some said it was awfully soon.

Some others thought “Why,

when I look at the sky,

can I see both the sun and the moon?”

 

Of course, it is perfectly plain

that we often see ducks in the rain,

and the lady from Gwent,

who came as she went,

was horribly bent and insane!

Harmony

If you have never stopped by Kelly’s blog you are missing out on some beautiful glimpses of a life well lived and thoroughly enjoyed. Why not share in a bit of the joy?

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I spend a lot of my spare time just watching the animals here. Most of the time, it is just for pure entertainment.Here is a goat playing King of the Castle…

She did that for a good hour, jumping on the back of any ewe that was lying down and challenging any lamb that came up to her.Or how about the ducks…

…that bravely linger by the dogs, stretching out their necks, hoping to sneak a piece of dog food. They use their beaks to nuzzle through the wool of resting ewes to find bits of grain in the winter; in the summer, they gingerly pick  flies off of their legs. The one in the picture was just poked in the eye.

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Or those precious first moments, like this curious lamb that snuck up onto a sleeping Simmie. Note the little goat that was about to lay down with her.

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