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Friday, March 31, 2006

An Answer For 'The Beep'

The Beep recently asked whether I thought there should be a public enquiry over the Deepcut deaths. This is the sort of issue that I usually run a mile from as far as this blog goes but hey ho why not.

Personally I can't really see what a public enquiry would achieve. There have already been three enquiries which have pretty much concluded that:

  • the deaths were suicide.
  • there were serious problems with some of the instructors at Deepcut and the manner in which they were treating some recruits.
The deaths were tragic and I can totally understand the parents wanting to find some form of closure. I don't think another public enquiry would give them what they want.

The thing that winds me up about the whole affair has been (and still is) the media coverage of the issue. This tends to imply that:
  • the deaths were in some way linked. Highly unlikely as they were spread out over a 7 year period.
  • there was a conspiracy by the army. Highly unlikely - the army is far too disorganised to successfully organise a conspiracy. Although the army didn't deal well with some of the deaths at the time.
Perhaps the greatest misrepresentation by the media is that the abuses of power that took place by some of the instructors are still commonplace today.

In fact nothing is further from the truth. These days the relationship between instrutor and recruit is highly controlled and monitored. Recruits have multiple avenues to report anything they regard as bullying or excessive. Even minor infringements or excesses by instructors result in the individual thrown out of the training establishment and returned to their unit. In fact many serving soldiers are reluctant to serve in a training establishment as they feel that the recruits hold too much power.

I know none of this will bring back the four soldiers who died but perhaps it is time to put this behind us and move on.

UPDATE: The findings of the latest review are here if anyone is interested in reading a bit more than the media care to publish.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Off Again

After the exercise in Canada and the small matter of proposing to Mrs Soldier I'd returned to Germany. We'd then spent a few months not doing very much. A little bit of looking after vehicles, or pretending to at any rate. But then it was time for the off again.

The end of the Cold War had left the British army with something of a problem. The absence of a ravening horde of Soviet soldiers on their borders had led some of the Germans to having a change of heart.

No longer did they want scores of British squaddies trooping across their farm land, knocking down their hedges, nicking eggs from their chickens and generally making a nuisance of themselves.

I can't think why.

This had left the army with a bit of a problem over where to practice being at war.

So they did the sensible thing and went and borrowed a bit of real estate from one of our former opponents.

When the British army first turned up at the Drawsko Pomorksi training area the local authorities said that we could pretty much do as we liked but would we be so kind as to not test fire chemical weapons too close to any of the towns.

Makes you wonder.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

How Do You Do It?

Rather than stay away from home I'm commuting an hour either way to where I'm working this week.

I'm used to a casual 15 minutes stroll to work.

How do people do this everyday?

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Busy Busy Busy

Busy packing for a few days away, so I don't really have time to blog. So I'll leave it up to you the readers*.

I'd be interested in knowing:

a) What you thought about the British army before you got to this blog?
b) Has this blog changed what you think about us?

* - Blatant fishing for comments I know but there is an ulterior motive. And go on - even if you're usually just a lurker please let me know.

Friday, March 24, 2006

The Games People Play II (Or How To Have Fun With Young Officers)

Have a look at the picture.

Spot anything unusual?

Something not quite right?

Unless you've served in the military then the answer is quite possibly no.

The answer if you are a newly commissioned officer is "???????????"

Games To Play With Young Officers Number II - salute with the wrong arm and watch for the confusion to spread across their face.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

The Games People Play

When I returned from Germany I was bit a down. After all I'd just left the woman I'd sort of proposed to.

But it was ok.

We had a new game.

The Officers Mess was at the opposite end of camp to the working accomodation. Being lazy buggers most of them cycled the few hundred metres to work. Most of them also carried large quantities of important looking paper work under one arm.

Which presented them with a little bit of a problem when someone saluted them.

Unless they were any good at cycling one handed.

Which most of them weren't.

The winner was the was person who when saluting managed to make the officer:

  • crash into a lamp post
  • nearly fall/fall off his bike.
  • do something else particularly stupid.

My what fun we had.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

A Rather Important Question.

Picture the scene.

A slightly wounded soldier going on leave to meet the woman he'd fallen in love with.

He sweeps her off to a romantic destination.

He picks his moment and goes down on bended knee, taking the ring from his pocket.

"Will you........."

Ok so that's how I wish it had happened. Now rewind to the end of the second sentence.

They spend a lovely ten days together.

The night before they are due to go their separate ways they have a few drinks.

Lying in bed that night chatting they both agree that it's a bit crap being apart so much.

"Maybe we'd best do something about it then love."

Probably not my greatest moment.......

Monday, March 20, 2006

Who Left That There?

I wasn't in the best of moods going back out on exercise. After flying back from Canada I'd had just about enough time to unpack my bergan, wash my uniform (after four weeks with the same pair of kecks on it kind of needs it) and repack my bergan and then it was back into the thick of it again.

Compared with the exercise I'd just finished a week spent trogging around a small training area in Germany was small fry and my mind wasn't really on it.

Which might account for what happened.

It was late.

It was as black as a witches tit.

I was tired.

We were returning from an ambush and moving through a wood.

Kicking my feet along the ground I felt a log in front of me.

I stepped over it.

Unfortunately someone had left a 5 foot hole the other side and as we arrived at the bottom of the hole my face became intimately acquainted with my rifle.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Murphy's Laws For The Army - Number Fourteen

To steal information from a person is called plagiarism.

To steal it from the enemy is called intelligence gathering.

Off for a few days - real, now, as we speak, not in the memoir sort of R 'n' R with Mrs Soldier. Granny and Grandad are stagging on the Little Troopers - God help them.

Monday, March 13, 2006

"Shovel Recce Going Out"

There are very few trees on the BATUS training area.

In fact there are so few trees that even solitary trees are marked on maps.

With their names.

The trees have highly original names like 'Lone Tree'.

The lack of trees raises a problem. When you are in a totally barren environment with nothing but 17 Warrior vehicles and about a hundred blokes for company where do you go to do your business?

The answer is that you go quite a long way.

And you publicly announce it with the cry of "Shovel Recce Going Out."

I just pity the local dogs.

Sunday, March 12, 2006


Mightily depressed by the rugby.

Still, apparently the French are not so proficient on the real field of battle.

Don't believe me - then type "French Military Victories" into Google and hit the "I'm Feeling Lucky" button.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Lazing On A Sunny Afternoon

The 'war' was on hold for a day, a feature that I think should be included in real wars.

We'd spent the morning fixing our Warrior. They are excellent vehicles but they do like a little TLC.

But now fluids that needed topping up were topped up, things that needed greasing were greased, items that needed checking were checked and we were all done.

The weather was fantastic and after the disappointment over the R n R things were looking up again.

And then the chefs turned up.

With a barbeque.

And beer......

Friday, March 10, 2006


One of the little Troopers has decided that staying up allnight being sick is a fantastic idea.

Which brings this back to mind.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Destroying Morale For Dummies

One of the main reasons for volunteering to go to Canada with a different company had been the prospect of a weeks R 'n' R at the end of it all.

I'd come up with several ideas about what I could do with time. I was quite keen to see the Rockies and maybe do some climbing. Or I could get up to Calgary and have a look around. I'd even thought about jumping on a flight to visit relatives in Toronto.

That was until half way through the exercise when I got the following good news:

"Pte ****** we've just had word from your own company. They are going on exercise in Germany for a week and want to take all their blokes with them. But don't worry - you'll get 36 hours R 'n' R before your flight."

Thanks for that.

Monday, March 06, 2006

200 Not Out

According to Blogger this is the 200th thing I've written. Well obviously not the 200th thing I've written - I probably passed that landmark in my first year at primary school. But it is the 200th thing I've written on here.

I thought I'd mark the occasion with some notices to those who read this:

  1. To the person who came to the site looking for "female bomb suits" - you scared me.
  2. To those who regularly comment - thank you - it's nice to get some interaction.
  3. To the two people who recently read the blog from start to finish - I hope you enjoyed it. Please feel free to de-lurk - if you want to that is.
  4. To the people who link to this blog but never comment - again thank you.
  5. To Mrs Soldier - thank you for your perserverance, I know at times blogging has taken up far too much of my time. I love you very much.
And just to let you all know what's in store for the next 200:

1. Promotion - as US reaches the giddy heights of Lance Corporal.
2. A NATOTours six month holiday to Bosnia.
3. Another NATOTours six month holiday - but this time to Kosovo.
4. A NATOTours holiday to Bosnia - does anyone see a theme beginning to run through this.

Oh and I managed to fit in getting married and having a little trooper too. Well OK it was Mrs Soldier who had the little trooper but you know what I mean.

Saturday, March 04, 2006


We'd been living on ration packs for about two weeks. Now the British Army ration packs are quite good, maybe not quite as cosmopolitan as the American MRE's but very edible nonetheless.

Well as long as you like Baked Beans that is.

But no matter how good boil in the bag food you get it's still not quite the same as fresh. There's just something missing. I don't quite know what it is but there's something that's just not quite there.

And then they arrived.

2 eggs per man and a few slices of fresh bread.

I, for one, didn't think a boiled egg sandwich would ever rate in my top ten of culinary experiences.

Thursday, March 02, 2006


Who is the most popular bloke in the army?

There are a few candidates in my book.

The bloke who drops you're mail off in the middle of nowhere is quite cool.

The Company Quarter Master who always makes sure that there's cold cans of pop and plenty of choccies when he turns up on a replenishment run is a strong candidate.

Then there's the bloke who doesn't mind crashing the fags even when he's down to his last few and you know you won't be getting anymore for a while.

But in my book the most popular bloke in the army is the man who can turn up in the miles from anywhere on the Canadian prairie, put his tent up and half an hour later have piping hot showers running.

After two weeks in the same lots of clothes and having reached the stage where sat in the back of a Warrior you can even smell yourself, a hot shower is like nothing on earth.

There's only one major drawback. The mosquitos love clean meat and you'll suffer for a day or two until you stink again.

But oh is it worth it. Top of the British Blogs