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I work for a university. At 9am I was rudely awakened by a phone call from the PSAO of A Coy, the unit I was transferring to. He wanted my address to give to the Westminster Dragoons, the unit I was transferring from, so they could send me my mobilisation papers. It was 16th January 2003; I was to mobilise at the Duke of Yorks HQ on 29th. Two and a half weeks.

Two and a half weeks is not long to hand over a job - particularly as we were demonstrating some of our AstroGrid software a week later. I had kit to sort out as I was still semi-transferred and handed some in to my old unit, and there was plenty I wanted to buy. I obviously wanted time to visit my family. But I was lucky - some of the WDs brought their weddings forward. Some others had babies on the way.

For the next two weeks I was pretty hyperactive! We were off to war - something the TA has not done on this scale since the Suez; later mobilisations of infantry units made it the biggest mobilisation since World War II. To me, it was completely unexpected

My work was very understanding; for me there was quite a conflict of loyalties between my mates in the TA (and to a certain extent my initial signup to the possibility of mobilisation, although the circumstances were not what I had signed up for) and a project that was just getting off the ground. But it also seemed at the time as a once-in-a-lifetime, if that is not a stupid phrase, opportunity.

I gather that the army knew about the pending callup several weeks before. Their view was that they didn't want to 'ruin Christmas' - but for me this is a decision that shouldn't have been made by them. In the commercial world particularly (and even for academic projects) the more notice the better, and personally the more time I had to prepare the better.

All the military suppliers were out of desert gear - including boots. I shopped for green stuff.

(WD Booklet Article). Next: Chilwell [an error occurred while processing this directive]