12 March - Camp Eagle Somewhere Else
G Sqn JNBCR was attached to 16 Air Assault for NBC support, vehicle decon (wash down) and personal (suit change). Our 'billets' were outside a crowded bermed camp; so while we were 'unprotected' by the berm wall and the sentries, we were not expected to run patrols. Rations, often watery range stew or MREs, had to be collected by each individual daily from the mess tent. You could sit and eat there but the tents were ovens, with the great great smell of the MRE chemical heaters.
The ablutions and G Sqn's HQ were also inside the berm, so it was a frequent trudge through soft sand around the berm to the entrance and back again. Just after a shower one night I was caught in a sudden sandstorm; visibility went rapidly down to three or four feet and the only navigation clues were the slope of the edge of the berm and an occasional faint glow from the camps spotlights. In a long storm, and without those clues, it could have been dangerous instead of just scary.
We carried on the work of preparing them to be our full time mobile homes. For me this meant spending more time cobbling together the various bits of radio kit to prepare for intensive use, installing and learning the secure comms kit, and trying to find ways to store all this radio gear, grab-kit for three people, stocks of water, and still leave room for me and to operate.
Twice on last-minute 'forays' I left things carelessly strewn about. For a while it looked as if my boss was going to have to do without body armour...
We luckily had a trailer too, and used this to store side bivvies, cooking gear, rations and spares for us and the section, radio masts and our bergens. In typical British Army incompetence, the release lever of the trailer handbrake stops the rear door of the Land Rover from opening properly. Generally you can still squeeze in and out, but not wearing webbing, and I had no intention of being trapped in the back of a burning Land Rover. I sawed off the release lever. So sue me.
Taff, JNBCRs Sigs SNCO, borrowed it one night and 'after encountering a tank with no lights' (or possibly just driving over enthusiastically in someone else's car) managed to trash my bungied and strapped interior layout. Which was a good thing - it showed that if we'd come under contact, say, then I would have been buried in a pile of kit. I strapped in everything with more care...
He also claimed during a sigs lesson that gravity pulls down radio waves. Well, technically yes, but I'll need a bigger planet...
Tempers are shorter but still good; no down time at all, GPMG training, basic sigs, etc. We're sleeping in side-bivvies. Last night we (Conn Brooke and me) woke to hear some scrabbling about; "Is that you?" "No" "Oh..." grab for torches to reveal lots of little gerbil-like things scoffing our biscuits! Lots of shouting and standing on chairs. Of course we all insisted the next day that it was the other two who were such girls...
1800 Zulu. That's a lot of zulus.
Our body armour plates were taken away today... Ammo has arrived which is a relief. We're beginning to think that our token 5 rounds were about to be taken away and our boots swapped for food.
Landie setup now pretty much done. Comchecks tomorrow. Letter from mum, great stuff. Little iPod was a storming good buy, lots of good tunes from a long time ago.
Getting nervous now; as the sigs contact between the TA unit (we're regs now...) and the real regs, I feel I represent 'us' over the air. And I'm out of practice, with a stack of kit, and all kinds of possible voice procedures that might be needed that I don't know (SOCs anyone?).
We're settling into a routine when pulling into a 'hide'; I'm on radio stag, Conn is out touring the others, and Brooke does all the hard work, digging in and setting up the cam net etc. To cam up we roll the camnet down from the roof and peg it out; to cam down we stop panicking. No, we roll it up onto the roof.
Getting used to carting stuff about; rifle and rezzie on at all times and hardly notice them now, until the rifle gets caught in the camnets and the rezzie bumbag gets caught in doorways and table edges.
The food is pretty dire, MREs for lunch (at 9am zulu!), the mess tent is crowded, hot and stinks of MRE heater chemicals, so we normally take it back and eat at the wagons.
We were frequently briefed on the current situation, and the quality was good. G Sqn Ops Officer presented the situation well with an excellent sense of humour, and the OC did a good job trying to make sure we all understood that and our expected roles and responsibilities. We knew we would have to move just before the border was breached, in order to cross a Main Supply Route (MSR) which would become nose-tail supplies.
Getting bored with the routine. It's not as if we're not busy, it's just the same stuff every day and it takes ages. Even getting up takes an hour, and that's at max speed; sleeping bag and beds away, side bivvis away, wash self (water out of side bins, into bowl, water back into side bins), clean rifle, mags, check radios, replen, jiggle load. It does mean we're pretty much ready all the time. And we look tidy and organised - very rare for me and against my normal nature! Adam is keeping tabs on it though, and apparently the reg SNCOs are impressed enough they're tightening up the admin of their own guys.
Sand storm came in at 6pmish (zulu, we're working on GMT which doesn't take long to get used to) so we tucked ourselves away in our vehicles to read and rite (letters to A Coy, Mum & Dad, and Chez), but no rithmatic.
Within a few hours we were formed up and across the Main Supply Route, ready to go.
Brooke hasn't noticed I've swapped his bottle...
Wide open view...
Martin smokes a radio. Again...
Gollum is the one for bouncing around roofs.
A smaller helicopter - or is it just further away?
Jay on Stag
Another bit of camp eagle. Several sandstorms.
PinzGauer with trailer. I want one...
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