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Odd Jobs
October 21, 2020

Joined: May 12, 2014
Posts: 1189
Odd Jobs

October 21, 2020

We all served long periods in the army. We all experienced some difficult times, some strange times and some odd times. Well I certainly did. So my question is: what was the oddest job or posting you ever had? Did you ever wonder how on earth you ended up doing something, some job, some posting, wonder who the hell volunteered you for that?  Ever wonder if you were out of your depth, felt a bit insecure for a while, had to blag your way for a bit, thought to yourself this could all go to rat poo, thought it might be career limiting?
I will share my experience  at the end.

October 21, 2020

Joined: May 5, 2014
Posts: 1128
Odd Jobs

October 21, 2020

The only time I can say I felt out of my depth was as SQMS during the Centenary when I was i/c erecting these bloody massive marquees. I hadn't a clue where to start ( they never gave you an instruction book !) and my only experience had been to " pull that rope" or "bang in that peg" etc. Using squaddy initiative I looked for the oldest , longest serving storeman who I knew MUST have done it before, & hey presto, putting him in charge of our "gang" I took notes (for the future !) whilst obeying his instructions to "pull that rope" & "bang in that peg" and said marquees were erected good enough to be fit for a Queen ( who did visit them !). John (JKW)

October 22, 2020

Joined: May 8, 2014
Posts: 1648
Odd Jobs

October 22, 2020

Here’s one that today with technology as it is but when we did it in 1967 was strange to say the least . The Regiment was at the Dale and being the only regular unit in the north we had to supply men for a trial on future equipment,namely Swingfire fire controls. Off to Aldershot for a month working in Farnborough in trailers,trying out “thumb controls” on video screens ,8 hours a day in the dark playing with various controls and accessing accuracy etc . We tried controls for left/ right handed but the   easiest one which actually went into service was a universal hand control ,being easy to use and with in the end an accuracy of nearly 100% . Now thinking back did the computer games people get info on these types of trials the military did back in the 60’s to help develop their computer games .

October 22, 2020

Joined: May 12, 2014
Posts: 1189
Odd Jobs

October 22, 2020

At almost 73 with nothing left in the world to prove to anyone, devoid of my onetime massive ego and my erstwhile need for being at the centre of everything I recollect a few moments in my military career when I felt lost, uncertain, insecure in what I was doing or had been tasked to do. A few examples. 1. After 9 years of being Unit Accountant and Families SSGT, being posted  to the newly independent Zimbabwe as an acting WO2 ( part of the British Military Training and Advisory Team) in an infantry role was daunting. Travelling 50 kms into the bush each day to join up with my Bn and being the occasional target of dissident rifle fire was uncomfortable but the expectation of me to be an infantry tactics, drill, small arms expert etc etc to 1000 plus erstwhile ‘freedom fighters’ in the middle of nowhere, with no-one to seek advice from was scary! My boss, an RHA major, thought I had been selected because of my previous experience and skills! Between the 2 of us we managed to get through it but it was 7 months filled with many scary moments and the total need to pretend it was all ‘ just part of the job’. 2. On my return to regimental duty from Zimbabwe I was assigned to the post of C Sqn SQMS. I had never previously served in a tank squadron. I knew nothing about ‘SQMSing’ nothing! Of my then 13 years service only 3 of those years had been spent in a sabre squadron and that was as a XRH/3DG Saladin driver! It took mountains of blagging to hide my initial insecurities until I felt competent doing that job. My first exercise as SQMS was an eye opener!   3. In 1989 Colonel Mel decided I was THE ideal candidate for the post of SO2 G3 PInfo at HQ 1BR Corps. Despite some trepidation the idea of early promotion to Major sated my ego and I took the job. I wasn't to know the post was a mainstream Major’s post requiring service writing skills beyond anything I had hitherto encountered. On my first day I was told I was expected to attend COS ( a Brigadier) ‘prayers’ every Monday morning with a prepared briefing on all media matters and the local German ‘scene’. The first 6 months of that posting were nerve wracking, the final 3 years of it were the best years of my entire career. There were other occasions during my military career when I felt momentarily out of my depth but my strength was in always knowing who to turn to for advice and never being too stubborn to learn from others or being frightened to admit I didn’t know the answer to something. When I look back on it all I guess I was just lucky and one thing is certain.......we all need a bit of luck from time to time.    

October 22, 2020

Joined: May 5, 2014
Posts: 1128
Odd Jobs

October 22, 2020

I remember on my "sneaky beaky" course for COT being taught breaking & entering ( the Army terminology was "gaining access"). We were taught to get into buildings, often occupied, to allow us to set up observation points, get the info / proof required, and exit without anyone being the wiser. We practiced in real life scenarios prior to NI embarkation by getting into buildings in & around Salisbury ; we did "walk-by" recces during daylight & then "gained access" during darkness. Despite it not being Belfast it was still squeaky bum time on occasions in Salisbury - the saving grace was being issued with a card to be shown to the police if caught which basically informed them to phone a particular number & transport was arranged to extract us without any charge ! Anyway, having later done the job with COT in Belfast during our tour there, on return it took 12 months to get the whole thing out of my system - I was constantly "casing" houses in Sennelager for entry / exit points purely out of habit, often when walking my dog around the MQ estate, the adrenalin still pumping ! It's a good job I still didn't have that "Get out of jail" card or I might have been tempted to keep my hand in ! John (JKW)

October 23, 2020

Joined: May 5, 2014
Posts: 1128
Odd Jobs

October 23, 2020

David, You mentioned occasions of feeling "lost, uncertain" etc, or in my case, out of my depth- here's a couple of mine ; joining "P" Company in Aldershot for para training, arriving (as instructed) in full uniform. Trouble was I was J/RSM, resplendent in adult WO1 badges & Sam Browne, the ONLY boy soldier amongst a host of  hairy arsed Para Regt & infantry adult soldiers. I managed OK, ( the boxing helped) and actually got on well with everyone once they accepted I wasn't about to pull rank !! Another occasion was the course for Close Observation Troop at Netheravon, the only cavalryman amongst battle hardened Royal Marine Commando's and very experienced infantry S/NCO's. During our 1st meal in the field ( we did both rural & urban OP's) I pulled out my white plastic plate, full KFS  and plastic mug, whilst my fellow students used their camouflage PAINTED mess tins & a spoon, drinking from a hessian wrapped water bottle - I didn't mention I had considered bringing a Thermos flask,  lol ! I explained that we did things differently in the cavalry, not daring to tell 'em how the Officers Mess tent still had a silver laden table in their 160 pounder tent in the field & waiter service ! John (JKW)

October 24, 2020

Joined: May 14, 2014
Posts: 91
Odd Jobs

October 24, 2020

David. Going slightly off the subject.....was it you that tried to tell me that I had been "Posted to Kirkcudbright" when I was RQMS in Tidworth ? and were you assistant Adjutant at that time ?...... Mick.

October 24, 2020

Joined: May 12, 2014
Posts: 1189
Odd Jobs

October 24, 2020

I WAS  A/Adjt in Tidworth Mick but TC was in post there for the first 6 months. I can’t recall telling you of a posting to Kirkudbright. Must have been a joke? I wasn’t above winding people up from time to time but I certainly can’t remember saying that to you. Surprisingly in my 3 year tenure as A/Adjt  I can recall each of the 3 occasions I posted someone somewhere and there was a fuss. Each time that person WENT on that posting! The simple fact is Manning and Records hold the entire RAC postings requirements which are ‘dished out’ on a rotational, fair share,  basis. When a Regiment is told to fill a post they are obliged to do so, Some trade offs were possible but rarely for the less popular postings. 2 of the 3 people I mention had managed to rack up 15 years service each without going ERE and were desperate to get back to or stay in Germany. Can’t please all pf the people all of the time!  

October 24, 2020

Joined: May 5, 2014
Posts: 1128
Odd Jobs

October 24, 2020

That was MORE than "slightly off the subject" guys, so now let's get back on thread & hearing about Odd Jobs as per the heading, lol ! There must be loads of tales out there of odd jobs / uncertain moments during our careers, so tell us on here for all to enjoy. John (JKW)

October 25, 2020

Joined: May 8, 2014
Posts: 1648
Odd Jobs

October 25, 2020

John how about putting a headstone on the grave of 3 of your regiments old soldiers killed on the 1960’s at 14500 feet on a mountain in Kenya. To exact Mount Kenya,a young officer  and 2 OR’s . What happened was an old Corporal living in Kenya had seen an article on the unmarked graves on the mountain which included lads from the Regiment and he’d had a headstone made . As I’d been an outward bound instructor I was nominated to get it sorted ( as you do) train volunteers and also get a mountain trained medic from Hohne garrison. This we accomplished,then we had the RAF who flew to Nairobi regular allow our group flights etc ,done . So in January 1982 we flew via Brize Norton to Kenya being accommodated with 22 Regt SAS in Nairobi. We did have a problem with the RAF as they didn’t transport our MFO boxes of our equipment for 2 weeks ,so instead of sitting around we did a trip to Serengeti for a couple days ,feckin brilliant seeing all those wild animals etc. We got back to Nairobi and found we had to wait another 2 weeks for the RAF ,mmmm Ted Kelsall our old soldier said that Mombasa was great place to see,off we went by train and bus and spent 10 days on Diani beach for 50 Kenyan shillings a day with the SAS camp on the beach ,( hard work) . While there HMS Sheffield was in the harbour and we were invited to have a BQ on board ( a couple of months later She was sunk near the Falklands ) we had a great time . Then back to Nairobi got our kit and then to the mountain and the Royal Engineers who were building schools/hospitals out there in NanNouki near the mountain.Heres one you wouldn’t expect was how to mix cement at altitude mmmm you have to use hot water with the sand .Nigel Murray our leuitenant had got us Sherpas bringing all the kit we needed for the climb,we got to 11000 feet and had to acclimatise for a week . I came back with the Sherpas to get more food etc and take rubbish off the mountain 2 more times ,that journey was 10 miles each way 4/5 hours climbing.Cutting this long story,the guys found the grave and we put the headstone up after cleaning up the grave ,it was unbelievable that there was so many people killed on that mountain over the years ,our guys had been killed by a large rock fall at 16000 feet ,2 of the party survived getting back home . A job that was planned for 6 weeks took in the end 10 weeks ,but it was worth it informing the families of the dead soldiers that we had not forgotten them . Lt Christopher Cornish,Cpl Norman Kirkham,Tpr  Bunn buried at 14900 ft Darwin Glacier ,Mt Kenya ,2 nd Feb 1965 .

October 25, 2020

Joined: May 5, 2014
Posts: 1128
Odd Jobs

October 25, 2020

Great story that Bob. How about this - on the 7th US Army Course, I was in a trench (foxhole they called 'em)in the early hours facing a "VietCong" onslaught. Pitch black, across the hillside, this voice came out of the dark " We believe you have a Limey in there with you, Cpl Webster's his name - do you know he wears very brief underpants ? That's surely the sign of a homosexual so we advise anyone in the foxhole with him to move away now" !!!  Now we'd been taught about psychological warfare tactics but this was unexpected - what made it worse was seeing those alongside me shifting sideways, exactly what the "enemy" wanted of course, the movement giving our position away. Mind you, my red faced blushing must have been like a Belisha  beacon & seen for miles 'cos I was that embarrassed ! John (JKW)

October 25, 2020

Joined: May 8, 2014
Posts: 1648
Odd Jobs

October 25, 2020

Bad Tolz John mmmmmm driven past it a few times but show my underpants xx

October 26, 2020

Joined: May 5, 2014
Posts: 1128
Odd Jobs

October 26, 2020

Did you know Bob, the Kaserne where we were based at Bad Tolz was, during WW2, a Nazi barracks, and you could go anywhere within the place underground, to any part of the barracks completely under cover from the weather, but also of course from enemy detection. It was there I learned to eat Porterhouse steaks FOR BREAKFAST (!?) at 0515hrs, and truly found the meaning of bullsh*t, they were masters at it ! I slept on the floor for 6 weeks because my bed had 47 large safety pins under the mattress to hold the blankets skin tight & it took an hour every week to make it like that ( we had to strip it to change the sheets), and my "show" boots laid out each morning had to be "glued" along the welts with Strabaline (remember that stuff ?) because British ammo boots when put alongside each other always left a tiny gap for the Top Sgt to slide a piece of paper through which meant a demerit mark and show parade at night - Strabaline helped me avoid that ! John (JKW)

October 26, 2020

Joined: May 12, 2014
Posts: 1189
Odd Jobs

October 26, 2020

I am not sure I would have coped with that level of BS John. THE worst 6 weeks of my army career were those I spent at Pirbright undertaking the ALL Arms Drill Instructors’ Course. Although we had single rooms the BS was comparable to the worst of JLR and RACTR combined.....in my opinion. 6 weeks of room inspections, best boots on show, another 2 pairs for daily wear on the square. It was a true test of resolve and determination for me not to walk away from the Guards inspired utter BS and ridiculous humiliation doled out on that course. On my first solo TP I was called forward from the squad to begin, I marched out to face the squad, halted and began the ‘taking you a stage further in your foot-drill’ intro when the RSM, whose office bordered the square, opened his window and bellowed, ‘get that fu*king man off my square now’. Seems my cavalry halt didn’t hit the mark! The instructors, all youngish guards Sgts, took great delight in sending errant WOs and S/Sgts to the guardroom for mistakes. I was sent there once for a bit of fluff on my beret. It was all a game of course but unfortunately for him  the Provost Sgt forgot that when I turned  up there and tried, I stress tried, to lock me in a cell. The practice was stopped during my course after that! We had go learn by rote 6 teaching practices word and movement perfect. We were tested on 3 but we never knew which of the 6 TPs we would be tested on. My last test TP was sword drill....undertaken with bayonets! Long story short, I passed with the customary Cavalry ‘C’ despite having singularly failed to master ‘stick drill’. I can laugh about it now but it was no fun at the time.  

October 27, 2020

Joined: May 5, 2014
Posts: 1128
Odd Jobs

October 27, 2020

There was much more on the US Course David ! We had to line the WC with toilet paper so our cr*p didn't touch the sides, butt cans were nailed to trees on the training area to put our fag ash in ( note, fag ASH, as well as butts of course), we were issued with a 4" wooden flat wooden block that measured every angle of kit from the edge of tables, and the locker was measured with the block at the top, middle & bottom from the wall - if you had a warped metal locker it was an automatic demerit mark ! The corridors were VERY highly daily polished black asphalt, known as "autobahns", NOT to be walked upon, the narrow separated edges at the sides were for that purpose only ! I could go on, but I think you'll get my drift.......! John(JKW)


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