“Dodging the column” !
Posted by Big John on February 19, 2013
I’ts been some time since I bored the pants off you with my reminiscences of a time back in the 1950′s when I was a national service conscript in the Royal Air Force, so just to entice you to keep reading, here is a picture of me (2nd from right) …
… being inspected by Air Vice-Marshal A. Foord-Kelcey CBE. AFC. after some idiot officer picked me to be a member of the guard of honour for the visiting ‘brass’. I can’t quite remember how this selection came about as a I spent much of my two years conscription thinking up ways to avoid doing anything in the least bit ’military’!
Now it should be remembered that altough ‘other ranks’ in the RAF are designated as ‘airmen’, at that time, our first eight weeks of service life were spent training as soldiers and much of that training was carried out by NCO’s of the RAF Regiment who are soldiers, and who were always referred to as the ’Rock Apes’ !
I’m afraid that I never made much of a ‘soldier’ during my ‘square-bashing’ (boot camp) days, but I just about managed to scrape though my eight weeks by ‘keeping a low profile’, as I had been warned never to volunteer for anything and try to ensure that no NCO instructor got to know your name, for if he did, it would be the first one shouted out when something unpleasant was about to happen.
Only once did I fall foul of a ‘Rock Ape’ sergeant, when on the rifle range on a very cold and wet morning, when I was ordered, by this moron of a weapons instructor, to throw myself onto my rubber groundsheet and commence firing at a distant target with a heavy bolt action rifle which had probably last ‘seen action’ in World War II.
Wallop ! .. I hit the ground, rifle at the ready ! .. but my ‘John Wayne’ moment was completely ruined when the magazine dropped out of my gun and my steel helmet fell off and rolled down the muddy slope and into the open area of ground between the shooters and their targets. I crawled forward to retrieve it, quite forgetting that two dozen novice riflemen where blazing away above my head.
I won’t go on, as I’m sure that you can imagine the ‘bollocking’ I got from that sergeant, before he ordered some corporal to .. “Take this man’s name !”.. which the corporal did, except that the name he scribbled in his notebook …
… wasn’t mine !