The forgotten outpost. Those of you who served there will well remember having to work 18+ hours a day with one day off in four if I remember? Having to patrol the married quarters every night from 1800 to 0800 then having to go on patrol for the next 24hrs, 4 hrs on 6 off. Something like that.
Many I understand took a drug of some sort to stay awake, les will know. The endless days filling sandbags and having to sleep on a camp bed. The evening a rocket propelled grenade was fired through the front entrance of the radio station where Johnny Granger had just been sitting. The RSM having a negligence discharge, Paddy ? who spent a day on the top of the OC’s tent refusing to come down. He made a small coffin with a 7.62 highly polished in it with a note saying: ‘This one you can see but the next one you won’t.’ He placed it on the desk of the OC if you all remember was Piggy Rixon. Is this the reason we were not at first issued with live ammunition when we went up country?
The sad death of one of our own, two men sitting opposite one another one was cleaning his SMG. It went off and shot dead the other soldier. A mystery if ever there was one.
Falling in as a platoon in full riot gear, length of barbwire, a bugler, scribe, two soldiers with a banner which read, ‘This is an unlawful assembly, disperse or we will open fire.’ We were deployed in what was known as a block. Luckily the rioting stopped. That night a curfew was in place and having to patrol through the empty town with all the people on the flat roofs looking down on us.
Having to take over the outer guard protection of the prison. Every morning queuing up at the main gate which we had to man were all the wives and mothers were lined up bringing in food for the prisoners. We had to search every parcel a most dreadful and distasteful task. We were soldiers not prison warders.
I along with Jack Phillips and Terry Spicer were night escorts for the Aden Brigade Commander. Brigadier Hargraves I believe was his name, a short arse like me. He would sit in the passenger’s seat with his 9mm on his lap. We had just left joint security headquarters and a call came over the net. His radio net was nothing like ours. It was controlled by the RAF. The conversation went something like this:
‘Hello Brigadier, we have just come under enemy fire.’ The Brig answered, ‘What are you doing about it?’ The reply was: ‘We are returning fire with Venom.’ All spoke with a very posh Oxford accent. We drove the Brig home where he would be safe.
One early morning we had to collect him at 0400hrs and take him to the Prison. Terry Spicer and I had to escort him in the prison. We were led into a room and on adjusting our eyes one could see it was an execution chamber. In the centre was a noose and beside it stood two SNCO’s MP’s. The next thing we heard was this screaming and shouting and in came two more SNCO’s MP’s who were carrying, dragging this Arab. They then bound his legs and stood him under the noose. One of the other guards then placed a hood over his head place the noose around his head they stepped back and there was a loud bang and the body disappeared. The bang was the trap door opening below. The screaming and shouting of sheer terror of the man going to his death has never left me.
Not one word was spoken as we drove the Brig back to his home which overlooked the lido. Before he went indoors he spoke to Terry and I saying, ‘It was something he had not expected and sorry we had to witness such an event.’
Whilst on that small Island in the Red Sea I received news, 72 hrs late that my wife Gillian had given birth to a baby girl. I got pissed along with the Pl Comd Lt Laugh, etc. I got hold of an SMG and fired a full magazine of 9mm out to sea. It would be another two months before I saw her.
On that journey home stopping in Bahraini for a couple of hours, the roll was called and Talman was missing. Cpl Kirk found him asleep in the toilets. With another stop in Turkey where I managed to wipe me bottom arriving in Malta at around 0300hrs. That short break in the WC cost me £5.
Do it all again? That’s another question.
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