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Tuesday, February 28, 2006

They Call It A Laaaaser

Believe it or not the British Army play Laser Quest.

Well it's sort of like Laser Quest. It's not played in a disused factory unit. The guns aren't particularly cool and there's no bar to retire to afterwards.

But apart from that it's pretty much the same.

In BATUS you get to spend hours fitting loads of jiggery-pokery equipment to your vehicles and yourselves and then you get to play at being at war.

If you get shot you begin to beep like mad.

Then you open a sealed card and find out if you have been killed or if you are just badly wounded.

If you are dead you take your kit off and lie on the ground and the beeping stops.

If only it worked like that in real life.

Monday, February 27, 2006

Three Wise Men

It's very late on a cold clear night. There's not a cloud in the sky.

The Company are formed up ready to begin a night attack. There are 17 Warrior vehicle commanders listening intently to the radio net.

They are awaiting for the axis of the advance to be sent over the radio. Some form of reference point or compass bearing will be sent which all vehicles will move on, or parallel to.

Eventually the Company 2iC piped up on the net.

"All callsigns - axis. Reference the prominent star.............."

Officers - don't you just love them.

Sunday, February 26, 2006


There's a certain technique to clearing a trench system of the enemy. BATUS was one of the few places that had a trench system safe enough for us to practice doing this with live ammunition.

I suspect this means that it wouldn't actually be regarded as safe to do it for real.

I was the fourth in line as we edged our way down the trench. We got to a corner. The No.1 pulled the pin on his grenade and lobbed it round the corner.

The explosion when it came was not the stuff of Hollywood. A dull thud and a bit of smoke was all we were treated to.

The Safety staff were stood up at ground level watching our progress.

"Speed. Speed. You've got to be faster than that.............."

The No.2 leant round the corner and emptied a full magazine on automatic into the trench. Then he dropped to the floor and the rest of us ran over him to the next corner.

The next corner bent to the right. The No.3 pulled the pin on his grenade.

Hands up here who's any good at the throwing with their left hand?

No I didn't think so.

The No.3 wasn't either.

The grenade ended up outside the trench.

The safety staff ended up inside the trench.

Very quickly.

My how we laughed.

For those who want to know the proper way of doing it there's a few pointers here - you know just in case you ever find yourself needing to chuck a hand grenade.

Thursday, February 23, 2006


BATUS is a big place.

I have no idea how many square miles or kilometres it is but it just feels big.

The rolling grassy prairie seems to go on for ever with nothing to stop it.

I wouldn't exactly say I was scared by how big it was. I don't know it's hard to describe.

The first night we went out onto the training area we weren't really on exercise. We weren't pretending to be at war - we were just sleeping out.

There wasn't a cloud in the sky and there was none of the light pollution that we suffer from in this country.

The sky was, to put it mildly - f**king massive.

In one of the Hitchiker;s Guide To The Galaxy books Douglas Adams wrote about an infinity machine designed to crush any man's ego by making him realise how totally insignificant he was in the grand scheme of things.

That night I knew what he was talking about.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006


Tonight I was going to start writing about the exercise I did a few years back in Canada. So I thought I'd have a little peek at the area on Google Earth to remind myself what the prairie was like.

And I found the image above.

The diameter of the circle is over 10 miles.

How do you make a near perfect circle that big?

Have I been on exercise at an alien landing site?

Or more probably - were we driving around in circles for 4 weeks?

If anyone has any ideas please let me know.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006


Bored. Very bored.

After the initial excitement of moving to a foreign country and learning a new role the year had begun to drag in a major way. Life had sunk into a dreary routine.

Days were spent at the vehicle park replacing bolts that had nothing wrong with them, checking oil levels that couldn't have changed since the last time they'd been checked and generally trying to avoid getting stiched up for anything extra.

Nights were spent doing very little and we lived for the weekend when the two activities on offer were drinking and sleeping.

So I broke Murphy's Laws For The Army #13 and volunteered for something. One of the other companies was going to Canada for a major exercise and needed some extra bodies.

Well what could go wrong? It had to be better than drinking yourself comatose in a crappy squaddie nightclub. Didn't it?

Monday, February 20, 2006

You Can't Get Quicker Than A.........

The time
: the mid 1990s.
The place: a tank park somewhere in Germany.
The activity: trackbashing.

The Warrior IFV is a tracked vehicle - for the undiscerning vehicle spotter it's like a little tank. The tracks have rubber pads. These either protect the track from the road or vice versa - depending on your perspective.

The rubber pads fall off.


In fact the cynical amongst us might argue that they are designed to fall off so that underemployed squaddies don't get bored.

Once a sufficient number of track pads have fallen off someone will decide that the track needs fixing. The procedure goes something like this:

  1. Assemble a group of approximately 10 soldiers. If you want to cheat then one of them should know what they are doing. However, it's far more fun, if there are a couple of people who 'think they know how to do it' or 'saw someone do it last week'.
  2. Unscrew bolt holding one of the track pins together.
  3. Forget to check if there anyone standing the other side of the vehicle.
  4. Hit track pin with sledgehammer until it shoots out the other side.
  5. Escort wounded soldier to Medical Centre (see point 3).
  6. Using combination of brute force, luck, a lot of revving engines and a large amount of foul language remove track from Warrior.
  7. Spend 2-3 hours chipping rock hard mud from track pads.
  8. Remove broken track pads.
  9. Get new supply of track pads.
  10. Find out new supply of track pads have been supplied without bolts.
  11. Invent several new swear words and spend remainder of day trying to get Warrior back into one piece.

Saturday, February 18, 2006


It may take a while for the average soldier to readjust to real life after a bit of time on exercise in sunniest Wales. Here is some advice for the partners of soldiers.

1. Your soldier will not be used to sleeping under a warm dry duvet. Soaking the bed with ice cold water just before he retires for bed will make him feel at home.

2. Do not be suprised if he looks strangely at food served on a plate. Try serving dinner in a silver foil bag. For really authentic presentation ensure that 90% of the food is still cold while the remaining 10% is far too hot.

3. Undercooked baked beans with something pretending to be bacon is considered essential for breakfast.

4. After a couple of days try suggesting to your partner that getting into bed fully dressed with muddy boots on isn't actually necessary.

5. Do not be surprised if you are woken up at regular intervals through the night to be told that 'It's your turn on stag'.

6. If he picks up a spade and announces loudly "Shovel Recce Going Out" you may wish to warn the neighbours. When your partner returns suggest that sitting on a toilet is actually far more comfortable.

7. Your partner may well insist on wearing the same clothes for weeks on end. This is normal but should pass after a short while.

8. If you cannot find your partner shortly before sunset and sunrise try looking at the bottom of the garden. He is probably 'Standing To' incase of a dawn attack.

9. After a few days you may wish to address the issue of hygiene. Suggest that a bath or shower might be preferable to using one baby wipe to wash your face and another for a 'Sac to Back' wash.

Friday, February 17, 2006


Haggiswurst tagged me and while I don't usually do memes I only got home today and can't really be arsed thinking about a proper post so here goes:

Four Jobs I've Had:

1. Paperboy.
2. Apple Picker.
3. Chip Shop Counter staff.
4. Trained killer.

Four Movies I Can Watch Over And Over:

1. A Bridge Too Far.
2. The Lord of the Rings Trilogy.
3. Apocalypse Now.
4. The Matrix films.

Ok I kind of cheated there and that's really 8 films - go ahead and sue me.

Four TV Shows I Love To Watch:

Not really a massive TV fan but here goes:

1. Little Britain.
2. Green Wing (whoo hoo new series starting soon).
3. Ray Mears Bushcraft.
4. Foodie programmes.

Four Places I've Been On Holiday:

1. Toronto.
2. Pakistan.
3. France.
4. Lake District.

Four Favourite Dishes:

1. Moule Marinieres.
2. Tom Yam Soup.
3. Roast Beef with all the trimmings.
4. Cheesy Chips with curry sauce.

Four Websites I Visit Daily:

This is really tricky because I visit lots and lots of websites on a daily basis.

1. Google Reader - to catch up on all your lovely blogs.
2. BBC.
3. GMail.
4. Sitemeter - because I'm a vain bugger.

Four Places I'd Rather Be:

Since I've just got home after a few weeks away I'm actually really happy to be where I am. But here are four places I'd quite like to be:

1. The Alps.
2. Africa - anywhere with a bit of savannah.
3. Guyana - mainly because of the way this lady writes about it.
4. Anywhere I've never been - I love going to new places.

I'm not going to tag anyone but have a go if you're hard enough!

Wednesday, February 15, 2006


Whoohoo *hic*. Normal service should resume at the weekend. Thanks for
all the comments.

Friday, February 10, 2006


Temperature: -7. Hip Flask: nearly empty. Inflatable sheep: AWOL. Roll on endex.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

These boots were made for walking

in the last 36 hours i've walked nearly 30 miles with my house on my
back. Weathers good. Feet are fine. Hip flask still looking ok. Morale
is good!

Monday, February 06, 2006



Saturday, February 04, 2006

Operation Cygnet

Home for 24 hours on an Operation Cygnet (i.e I'm on a small swan). It's nice to be warm again - you have no idea how good a proper bed feels after sleeping in a hole in the ground for a bit.

While I was away FrazzledSister asked if there was a way of sending care packages to random British soldiers in Iraq. It's true that there isn't an organisation specifically set up to send packages to soldiers although general welfare support out in theatre is good.

If anyone does want to send a package there are a couple of ways that it could be done although they need a bit of background work. Firstly you could try to contact the rear-parties of units which are deployed in Iraq. All units leave a small group of people behind to look after families and the camp, etc.

7 Armoured Brigade currently provide most of the British manpower serving in Iraq. Every garrison has a HIVE information centre and they may be able to put you in contact with the rear parties of units serving in Iraq. Their email addresses are:

Alternatively you could contact the unit's Regimental headquarters in this country who may be able to help. Here are a couple of their email addresses but you should be able to find more with a bit of Googling:

Scots Dragoon Guards:
Royal Regiment of Fusiliers:

A final possibility would be to send a parcel to a soldier who is recovering from his/her wounds in this country. All soldiers are now initially treated at the Royal Centre for Defence Medicine at Selly Oak Hospital in Birmingham. The address is:

Selly Oak Hospital, Raddlebarn Road, Selly Oak, Birmingham B29 6JD; Telephone: 0121 627 1627

I don't know if they would accept random parcels so it would be worth contacting them first.

Hope that helped!

Off to have some proper food before I return to the fray. Back soon.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006


Weather: Cold
Sheep: Frisky
Morale: Still smiling

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