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Tuesday, November 22, 2005

We Attack At Dawn

The exercise was coming to a close. We'd watched the dastardly enemy do all sorts of unspeakable things (and can I tell you none of them will ever make a living on the stage), we'd tracked them to their hideout and now we were going to attack.

For some perverse reason, maybe just tradition, we were going to attack at dawn. This is something that almost always only happens on exercise these days. In 'real wars' it's become fashionable to make it an all night affair.

What followed was, and still is, one of the most surreal experiences of my life.

It was a cold Scottish morning and the fog was down. The enemy had retreated to an old coastal fortification. We'd assembled in the night and had our orders. The platoons had moved out and as dawn was about to break we were ready to move in. My platoon had been given a couple of concrete bunkers to clear of enemy.

At the given moment we moved forward out of cover. One of the platoons was giving covering fire. I had the radio and was trying to keep up with the boss. As we emerged through the fog and the enemy opened fire the strangest noise began.

One of the Scottish lads who was playing the enemy had brought his bagpipes with him. And so as we assaulted the enemy positions we had good Scottish bagpipe music to accompany us.

With the mist and the music and the smoke and the gunfire it was almost like a scene from Apocalypse Now - only Scottish.


Blogger a pair of brown eyes said...

Absolutely beautiful, wish i'd been there. I used to live on the shores of Loch Fyne, in Strachur, and not far from there the territorial army boys would come to practice on the lands of one of the gentleman.
Now my neighbour played the pipes and was fond of practicing late at night and early in the morning. I was all of 17 and 18 years old. At 35 it's still one of my favorite memories, i adore the pipes and i've always adored men in uniform..; )

11:12 pm  
Anonymous Pat said...

Were you at all tempted to down your weapons and dance a Highland reel?

11:37 pm  
Blogger MuppetLord said...

How very zen.

12:43 am  
Anonymous Kath said...

Very nicely told, got some extremely vivid images! I actually really love listening to bagpipes.

4:46 am  
Anonymous Growing Up said...

That would have been a good sight to see. Did it make it real. In the old days did they not have the band playing when they went to war.

1:04 pm  
Blogger Milton john said...

The bagpipe as an instrument of war...

1:38 pm  
Blogger trish said...

Hey soldier! Its been ages! Ive gotta catch up on yer archives!

2:13 pm  
Blogger greavsie said...

I'm picturing Blackadder appearing out of the trenches.

Dunno why.

2:21 pm  
Blogger Universal Soldier said...

brown eyes & kath - good pipes good - bad pipes awful.

pat - you've obviously never seen me dancing.

muppetlord - quite.

growing up - yup the pipers would pipe the Scottish troops into battle.

milton john - if they were they'd be banned under the Geneva Convention.

greavsie - as long as you're not picturing me as Baldrick.

5:04 pm  
Blogger Haggiswurst said...

Nothing quite like the stirring tunes of the pipes!


9:21 pm  

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