Monday, April 18, 2005


Old soldiers never die - they only smell that way

Another war story from the aged infantryman sitting by the fire in his twilight years – Swing the lamp son. Well back in the days when men were men and sheep on Dartmoor were worried, The old Wessex Brigade was formed of several Regiments including mine The Duke of Edinburgh’s Royal Regiment (Berkshire and Wiltshire)(49th and 62nd,66th and 99th of foot) . One of our claims to fame was a small red triangular patch which we wore sewn on our berets, behind the cap badge. This was known as the “Brandywine” patch. Its origins were in the American War of Independence and apparently what happened was that the light companies – (best soldiers usually with better kit) were taken from the standard infantry regiments and formed into a special unit which carried out an unprecedented night attack on the American forces at Brandywine Creek. This at the time was considered extremely bad form, unsporting and beyond the pale !
I mean at 4pm everything stopped for tea, and resumed after breakfast the next morning – that was the way wars were fought. Anyway the special force won the battle – one of the few they did – and the story goes that the soldiers dipped their “hackles”(the white plume of feathers that infantry wore in their hats,) into the blood of the fallen turning them red. The Americans were pretty upset about this non sporting tactic and vowed revenge.The reply was “If you want to know who did it – look for the soldiers with the red hackles in their hats”. No one ever said what happened after that but the upshot was the descendents of the 49th and 66th always wore the Brandywine patch. Mid 20th century (1970 to be exact) two infantry corporals, posted to British Honduras, decide to hitch hike back to UK, up through Mexico and into the States. Unofficially we wore our uniforms as it made getting lifts a cinch (first time into California we join a large gathering of Hitch Hikers “Take a seat man – we been here three days” – we are in our rip stop junglies, berets and A frame Pack – large union flag on outside of Pack – Car screetchs to a halt – “Hey guys – you English” “Yes”, “Hop in” – total time waiting 2 mins !!!) Any way we roll through the states – just going up the West coast then across the middle and up and down the East coast.
We see a Sign for Brandywine – and Washington’s Headquarters – Large museum and lo and behold the site of the battle of Brandywine Creek We speak to lots of people – historians and local press etc and it turns out we are the first from our regiment to return to the battlefield since the battle – Just for a moment there – but the Americans, being a great hearted and in the main simple people thought it was a great laugh and there we were – set up for the week ! – I could tell you some war stories about that but decency prevails
Put out that light

Sunday, April 17, 2005


The Lottery of Life

Well I thought here I am – Yesterday was my 59th birthday – what have I done in life to ensure my immortality – Nothing – I read a quote somewhere that “Most men lead lives of quiet desperation” and I felt just like that. I thought I’d read a few of my favourite blogs today. So I logged on and went to Notes From A Strange Blue Ghost: Julia Darling. Clicked on the link and was transported. Courage is described as grace under pressure. How much pressure had this lady lived and died under. I immediately knew how minor my fit of depression was and really how lucky I have been in life. Apart from the odd broken bone (last time smashing my offside knee falling over in Tesco’s car park !!) I have had few major health problems and sailed through life firstly in the Infantry then as a Policeman with less than 60 days off sick in 22 ½ years ! I be-moan my luck when I don’t win the lottery when, in fact the lottery of life has been kind to me in many ways – so stop moaning and get on with it.
It has cheered my up considerable to read this brave lady’s blog

Monday, April 11, 2005


Been on me Hols

I’ve been on me hols down to the New Forest. Looking at ponies and taking sheep ticks off the dogs – Happy days !
There seem to be be an awful lot more ponies than there used to be. We were caravanning near Lyndhurst – biggest traffic jam in the area – but a really great exotic sports car garage (Ferraris,etc.) I read somewhere about people sneaking on to the forest and letting unwanted ponies go – Don’t know if its true but there were a hell of a lot more than I remembered seeing when We last holidayed in the area ? In particular was a herd of Shetland sized evil little brutes rampaging round the open area just before Brockenhurst – “Don’t feed the Ponies” the notices say – These little buggers were mugging tourists before they got a chance to read the notices !
“Don’t they look sweet Hiram” Crash bang – to continue the American theme – like a Nose Tackle hitting the opposing Quarter Back – and off with your picnic basket !
Did a lot of touristy things ourselves this time. Got me chance to spend a day in the Motor Museum at Beaulieu.
My three favourite cars in a row – 246 Dino, GT40 and a gob smacking AC Cobra – She who must be obeyed was embarrassed to have drag me away kicking and screaming after just sitting and dreaming – Ah well
When we win the lottery !!! – Went down to See HMS Victory and Mary Rose et al. Victory had much more light and seemed to have more space than I remembered – They have opened all the gun ports and made Perspex windows round the guns so it seemed much less cramped and scary than it did to a small boy on a school party
45 years ago ! One of life’s great experiences seeing where Nelson died, like visiting first world war battle sites or even the Lion Mound at Waterloo – makes the hairs on the back of the neck rise. Days when Britain was Great and Pax Britannica was the thing – Or as she who must be obeyed just pointed out – “That Bloody pony has just put his head in trough the car window and taken your sandwich- again !!!” Tea break over – back on your heads!
Mornin All

Saturday, April 02, 2005


Another load of Polaccs

I got to thinking about POLACCs again when reading back through my previous posts and, as luck would have it one of my ex-colleagues, came in to the Control Room to say cheerio – he was retiring to Spain. As a bit of an aside he sold up his house in Abingdon last year for a phenomenal sum and rented whilst he has bought a penthouse flat on a well known seaside Golf complex in Spain. He can see the Golf course on one side and the sea on the other – and in between he could see at least 60 different places to eat and drink – Bastard – I hate it when it does that! He sent me a post card – sold his car and bought an electric golf buggy and having a lovely time. Anyway – he was famous on the force for being either the top or second top police car destroyer – in his 30 years he managed to write off 23 or maybe 24 police cars (the other contender is still serving and is a definite 23 ) We are not sure if the car he wrote off on his driving course (refresher) counts ! His last one was a classic.
“All units, observations for a stolen vehicle, a red Vauxhall Corsa, ABC123D, last Seen Marcham Road towards town centre”
Now friend Fred was going out of town on Ock St – which leads to Marcham road.
“ME101”, I’m on Ock St towards the mini roundabouts with Marcham Road, this time when was last sighting?”
“Last sighting 1 minute ago Tesco’s towards town”
“ME101, Roger – can see a red Corsa coming towards the mini roundabouts”
At this point Fred is in traffic which is beginning to slow down for the aforesaid roundabouts. The occupants of the Corsa go straight across the mini roundabouts and up Ock St towards town at full ramming speed. Now this is where it all goes horribly wrong. As they pass Fred, he tries to do three things at once – look round, speak into the mike and control the car which is rolling steadily at 30 mph towards the roundabouts.
“ME101, car sighted two male occs (LOUD AND HORRIBLE CRUNCH)Oh F****K” Silence
It would appear that Fred had forgotten number three and his panda car had sailed at 30 mph straight into the back of a car which had stopped into the queue for the roundabout – Newton takes over and pushes the second car into the third etc – by the time three cars had crunched the energy had been expended !!
As usual the expectant hush on the radio
“ME101 – lost sight of the suspect veh which was making towards town centre down Ock Streed at high speed”
“Roger ME101, anything else to report ??”
Sniggers over the radio.
“Ah yes, I’ve had a slight POLACC” - Slight !!! four cars written off plus whiplash and all the attendant investigation which closed the main street out of Abingdon for about 4 hours while the Accident investigation branch tried in vain to lighten his life a bit – No chance, 3 points on his licence, a fine and walking for the last year of his service !! – The Corsa was caught on the one way system by a traffic unit who had snuck in quietly on the back road from Oxford and cut him off in the Vineyard – just to add insult to Fred’s injury !
Evenin All

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