Post Script For Murdo or How I Almost Became a Legionnaire

Thursday, 8 December 2011

Murdo McEwan has asked me to enlighten the readership of this blog as to the outcome of the tale of woe regarding my encounter with a Royal Military Police dog that I wrote about in my previous post.

Did my two pals escape?

Did I contract rabies?

Do I now howl at the moon on a monthly basis?

Here's the answer:

I ended up spending that night in a cell in the local RMP post where I was made to stand to attention until morning. I was later transferred to the regimental gaol which was run by a sadistic Provost Sergeant called Jacko.

My two buddies made it back to the regimental lines and safety and in a truly supportive act of concern for my welfare got their heads down.

The next day an estimation was made regarding the cost of making good our night's activities; to repaint the squadron blocks and repair the four-tonner the bill came in at DM 60,000.00, which when converted to Stering in 1988 was about £20,000.00.

I shit you not.

Although I claimed otherwise the Regimental Sergeant Major disbelieved that all that work was my own and at a regimental parade at 10:00 hours threatened that every man in the regiment would share a portion of that bill unless the culprits came forward or were grassed on.

Of course we were British soldiers and had each other's back. Grass? Never.

By 10:20 hours the Regimental Sergeant Major was given the names of my two cohorts.

The three of us were to face a Court Martial where it was guessed that we would either:

1. Be required to pay the £20,000.00 from our salary (about £500 a month back then) which would entail staying in the army forever.

2. Be sent to the Military Corrective Training Centre in Colchester to serve a hefty stretch.

The three of us decided that neither option was too attractive so a plan was hatched to do a moonlight flit, get a train to France, and join the French Foreign Legion.

Two days before the French Foreign Legion were to be offered the benefit of our soldiering skills and artistic talents we were told that due to our previously exemplary records the Colonel of the regiment had acquired supplementary powers from the Brigadier and could hear the case within the regimental lines.

The plan to exchange our berets for Kepi Blanc were put on hold and a week or two later we stood outside the Colonel's office in our No. 2 dress uniforms minus belt and beret.

I remember the following words to this day:

'Accused and escort! By the front, QUICK MARCH! HEFT,HIGHT,HEFT,HIGHT,HEFT,HIGHT...'

Now, military justice is an odd fellow. Before you know what your sentence is to be you're asked whether or not you accept it. I never met anyone who failed to accept their sentence but I'm guessing it's the equivalent of being given the option of having a criminal case heard in a higher court.

There was no question of us three not accepting our sentence as our Colonel had done us a huge favour in gaining supplementary powers, so when he said:

'Trooper Waterman, do you accept the sentence I'm about to award you?'

I crossed my fingers and shouted: 'YES, SIR!' (We had to shout in such scenarios. I don't know why.)

'In that case I'm fining you five hundred pounds and you will serve 28 days. Sergeant Major, march this soldier out and to the guardroom.'

My two pals were awarded the same sentence and we all decided to ditch the plan to learn French.

For a while after I attracted the nickname 'Rolf Harris' and, when my monthly wage slip showed a minus figure on the bottom line, spent thirty or so days watching BFBS while the usual nightly sound of merriment drifted into my window from the squadron bar.

Thankfully, I learned my lesson and would never repeat another act that would drop me in hot water.

PS.....That last line is obviously meant to be ironic.



Anonymous said...

So no touchy-feely counselling or therapy or compassionate alternative to take account of your 'disadvantageous and disjointed background in life'.......


Dale Jamieson said...

love it. takes me back. a 28 day stretch was a bit harsh though, eh? I remember once having to paint alternate kerb stones black and white within Regimental boundaries for a week. At least I had my mates to keep my chin up - by constantly ripping the piss out of me!

Anonymous said...

How do you think, who this year won the Champions League Cup?