Every so often, I read a story that drags me right back for far too many years.
This is the one that just did it for me:-
As an an Army-born brat, my initial reaction was that junior officers will be junior officers. I would not want them to be anything else, given the excellent job that they will do for my country in their future years of service. They would not, in my opinion, be able to do that vital job for the rest of us unless they were heid-banger inclined in the first place. I could, of course, be biased.
Then, I spotted that they were launching their flares at each other from kayaks in the swimming pool of the barracks at Bovington Camp. Having, obviously, slightly mind-boggled about that scenario, I went straight back for more than 50 years.
In 1959, Dad was Officer Commanding Royal Engineers (Southern Command), based at Wilton. His duties seemed to mean that there was never enough time for us boys to hang together.
One Friday, he asked me if I would like to go to the Tank Museum at Bovington. I was an avid reader of ‘The Eagle’. Why would I not want to get close up and personal with tanks, having pored over exploded views thereof so many times?
Off we went and I had a magic day. Crawling in and out of WW1 tanks, both male and female. Bouncing around in various armoured vehicles. Absolutely no idea if Dad stuck around for all of my frenzy. For all I know, he might have nipped off to the Mess for a quick snifter while I lost myself in the joy.
Whatever! Eventually, he called time and we went back to the car for the drive home. Dad was in mufti
Exiting the gates, he turned left towards Wiltshire and home. 500 yards down the road were two obvious servicemen, also in mufti, who were hitchhiking.
You need to know that Bovington was also a base for Junior Leaders.
Dad assumed they were on a weekend pass and picked them up. They settled in the back and, after about 5 miles, divulged that they were on a 24 hour initiative test and were supposed to get as far from the camp as they could, under their own steam and without using any money or any form of powered transport.
Dad stopped the car and reached across me to the glove shelf of our Hillman Minx (MGE 976) to pick up his RE colonel’s cap. I will probably never again see people snapping to attention whilst seated. It still resonates.
He offered them the option of handing them in straight away or a second chance of driving them back to the gates to start again without comment. They chose the latter.
I’m fairly certain that my Dad was a nice guy.