War Stories - Recruits 1

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Recruits 1

One of saddest things that happens to you is that you go quite happily and thoroughly unprepared for your recruit training. Here you are introduced by the NCOs, those bastions (I think I've spelt that wrong) of diplomacy and political correctness, to the Army and its way of doing things. For some people arriving recruit training may well be the worst thing that they have ever done in their lives - people have had complete mental and physical collapses during some of these courses, whilst it has been the making of long and fruitful careers for others.

For some reason I could never get my drill right, I always seemed to get my timing wrong and my drill with weapons was a mess. Fortunately (but not for me) for every problem the Army has a solution and the NCOs decided that in my case the best way to clear up my drill problem was to make me leave the comparative safety of my mates whilst they were being drilled and make me run around the parade square with my rifle held above my head. Funnily enough, after running with my arms locked out holding a 12lb rifle over my head till I was completely knackered for a few days certainly made me pay a bit more attention to what I was doing during drill.

Sometimes though, people got so carried away concentrating on what they were doing they didn't bother listening for any further commands. On my recruits course was a guy whom I shall call Alan Baker. Most of us turned up with short hair, Alan though had hair that covered his collar and he was told to get it cut, being mean (and not particularly bright) he asked me if I'd do it for him which I did. The next morning we had our usual inspection and on removing his beret I actually witnessed our NCO rendered speechless for all of a millisecond on what he saw. After this slight pause Alan came under such verbal abuse a lesser man would have curled up and died. Needless to say Alan had some less than kind words about my prowess as a barber when we met a little later. That afternoon we were being drilled and I think the business with his hair had gone to his head (excuse the pun). Alan was the lead man in the left-hand column when we were given the order "Right Wheel". Everyone else managed to execute the order except for Alan who continued to march in a straight line. Everyone definitely heard what came next, "Baker, Right Wheel" must have been heard over most of the Garrison. "Baker, you f****** moron, Halt" must have been heard by everyone in the Garrison. "Baker, I'll f****** speak to you f****** later you f****** c***" was probably heard over half of London. By this time we were all stood around looking at Alan who by now had left the parade ground, had crossed the surrounding grass and was a dwindling figure in the distance. Every time the subject came up Alan was at pains to point out that he heard no orders at all after "By the Right, Quick March".

A lot of our 'free' time was spent cleaning our barracks. Every morning our kit was inspected, our blankets had to be folded together very neatly in what was called a bed block. To make these blocks even squarer most of us inserted pieces of cardboard. Some people went so far as to never disturb these blocks once made and decided to sleep in only the sheets. Some mornings, even though there was nothing that could possibly be wrong with our kit one of the NCOs would pick on someone and saying "there's a wee in your bed" throw all he had out of the window going "Wheeeeeeee" as it hit the ground. We even polished the insides of the dustbins, which was just as well as some people spent quite a while in them. One morning we were on parade when a NCO came up to us in turn and put his face about two inches away from ours and stared until we either looked away or horror of horrors pulled a face (I don't think that anyone ever managed to out-stare him). We were then separated into two groups, those who had merely looked away and those who had pulled a face or had grinned at him. The first group went off and did something relatively constructive whilst the second group had to go and get a dustbin each, drag it to the entrance of our barracks then stand in it. If any NCO passed they were to come to attention and explain that they were human garbage and fit only to be used as an alternative to flowers to brighten up our barracks.

Every day someone from our room was chosen to be room orderly, this entailed making sure that everyone was on parades or classes on time and generally keep us in order until our instructors arrived. Eventually it got to be my turn. Part of my duties were to get everyone from our barracks over to the gymnasium so that our course photo could be taken. I was to ensure that everyone got there on time and as there weren't enough benches and chairs already there I was to make sure that we bought extra ones. So one bright morning everyone was assembled outside, some with chairs but most without. I've got to admit I hadn't really given much thought about what I was supposed to do but if I realised the chaos was that was going to be caused that morning I would have stayed in bed and risked being put on a charge. Things started well enough, I bought the squad up to attention, opened up the ranks as they should be, then with as much authority as I could command at the time, gave the order " Squad, Squad pick up chairs". For some reason as soon as I said this there was a series of loud guffaws behind and above me. Ignoring this, gave the order to quick march, as soon as we'd taken a few paces I realised I had made a bit of a boob. Have you ever seen troops trying to march with chairs? It looks a right old mess, but by this time there was no stopping me. As the garrison was fairly large the gymnasium was about half a mile away and so I'd memorised a list of commands to give, right wheel at the NAAFI, left down by the mess, left at the chapel etc. When we'd started off the laughter had been from our NCOs who very rarely let us out in public on our own, and I knew they were following at a discreet distance keeping an eye on us. Seeing the shambles the squad was rapidly becoming I became very nervous and forgot the list of directions. Things ended when I told the squad to right wheel as we passed the laundry and I marched them down a cul de sac. What had started out as a 10 minute walk over to the gymnasium had already taken twenty minutes. As we were already late, I did what I should have done in the first place, let the lads with the chairs make their own way and double marched the others. As we passed the NCOs who were milling around the laundry one of them simply said something very nasty to me. Oh well, another lesson learned.

War Stories | War Pics 1 | War Pics 2 | Recruits 1 | Recruits 2 | Dumps | Exercise 1 | Exercise 2 | Exercise 3 | Exercise 4 | Vehicles | NBC | Danger UXB | Dangerous | By Air and by Sea

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