We're just west of the crossroads between Dallas and Tampar roads. To our west are the Paras, opposite are the N Irish (and an Abrams for some time I seem to remember). Relatively quiet and relaxed. The CO is 'keen on getting the job done rather than shouting about it', but his No 2 isn't at all keen on the TA. The CO has been across a few times; the company Brooke works for was doing some work for him. Got into a bit of a discussion about immigration & BNP, some standard arguments but some interesting ones too.
Full nights sleep which is nice. 11.30 had a Gas Gas Gas, probably due to a strange smell.... On stag with young Williams last night when a big explosion went up to our left of the gaurd post, just past the N Irish. Even in the dark could see a huge plume of dust thrown up. Everyone ended up their vehicles with rezies on, except me wrestling with the post's phone in the dark - I couldn't even release the handset from itsbase - and Williams insisting that it had been thrown off a passing British four tonner that had stopped well before the spot as soon as the explosion went off. Nobody bombed us, nobody started screaming, no other explosions happened and nobody shot us. The N Irish didn't move. So we gradually stuck our heads out. Eventually the message came around that it was a controlled explosion by the engineers, who don't bother telling anyone as there's so much to do. Or probably because it's fun to watch the reactions of nearby units... Later when Ed took over the post, Tony seemed to think it was an UxO a few yards to our left that had gone off.
In a fit of jealousy over my thick curly hair, Brooke 'accidently' shaves it all off while 'trimming'. It still hasn't grown back...
More briefings as the move into Iraq pauses (or 'stalls' if you're the BBC) a few miles away. Heads-up briefings keep us informed of what the armies are considering as they rearrange their forces now that they're in. Recce patrols into and out of the bigger cities to gauge reactions, but no-one's attempting to force occupation in them - too dangerous! 16AA seem to be keen to do some jumping though and a plan to shorten the attack, involving dropping some paras into an air field over the line and using it to ferry in the rest of 16AA (including us with main HQ). It reminds me of something I've seen on TV... something about garden markets and bridges that are too far away...
Rumour has it the rest of Y Sql are back at DSG [I'm not sure now if this was true]; we're chuffed to bits that the CO here is confident enough with us to have us stay. There's one decon section under Adam, and 'my' wagon - the mini-HQ.
The threat of RPG and sniper ambushes on the road mean we drive with the door open, seatbelts off, and the commander is often half out with one buttock out the door. I've got the smoke out, the GPMG on my lap and the ammo boxes are loose and to hand. I've levered up the door bottom so it clears the trailer handbrake better.
On the way here I was rather crammed in what was my boudoir. Grabsacks, sleeping bags and 3 days water take up a fair amount of space; these stay on the wagon rather than the trailer for Justin (Case). Gollum got let out for a few minutes exercise a day to help with camming up (or down), had food and drink passed in and bottles of water passed out. My legs are stiff and I can feel the toll of weeks of inactivity on my weedy body. So I took a moment to No More Nails a crew box to just inside the door, which means I can sit outside on the trailer or just half out the door. Conn is now pissing into bottles too - it's so much easier than dressing up to go to the loo.
Tightly packed! One small arty round... Oh no that's Kevin
Deeper than a shellscrape - a pit for poo
For the loo we've now got a green plastic 'throne', though the hole is a bit small and the whole box not comfortably wide enough for hand-dug ditches in this sand.
Shell scrapes have other uses too
Gollum thinks about firing his housekeeper
More time to sit around and reflect. Just think of the trust involved in so many people with loaded weapons...
All coffeed out now so making and drinking tea. It's not very exciting. Trying to read Feynman's notes but heads not really in the right mode for it. Looks like Bridge Too Small plan will be buried due to the weather (which is often windy) and instead we may go and 'posture' at Basra (what a strange term). According to BBC a picture of a decapitated child is doing the rounds on the media.
Rumour has it there is beer about but I don't really feel like it... It's more fun reminiscing about it...
Rearranged vehicles to spread them out a bit, and dug a fairly good shellscrape for Shaggy and Tris all on my lonesum. Kalah Sah (Bridge too distant) is on and off and on, esp whether we are to be involved. Paras seem to think SMT will be enough, despite close to where Ali Kut and Chemical Ali's forces are. It's their party, so can't really complain about not being invited.
Jay M's birthday - the first I think? We have nothing consumable spare. Made him a card. Ed gave him a surrogate bottle of wine, which he got with a few other things in the middle of a light sandstorm. Watched first two episodes of Red Dwarf with Jay. Got some kip then at 1900 went out with others to check one of the HWWG cyclone stations, as force protection. Spread out lightly on site and peered out at the quiet dark, trying not to sillouette from too many angles and at the same time stay in visual touch with the others. Realised that, stupid stupid boy, had only bombed up one mag on the first ammo release and not bombed up rest afterwards (well, I had a GPMG normally).
Stag at midnight - have no idea who the other two were but they were bloody funny. Lots of traffic on the MSR (Tampar?) presumably tooling up for the next push. The Americans drive with night goggles, which makes the convoys spooky to watch; dark lorries bombing along with no lights and just far too close
Lunch time went with Conn & a Fuchs to some N Irish place. They're spread thin, running patrols out 50km. Now formed up waiting to move with 16AA Brigade HQ to 3AAC FARP, some confusion this morning/last night about NTM, but we were on the ball as I was monitoring the net, so ner ner ne ner ner to Brooke who reckoned we didn't need to any more. We're all getting a bit tetchy; nothing to do but anticipate next stage and get on each others nerves. I've started smoking again.
The regs are playing footie between the formed up vehicles and I'm on radio watch for Jules who is supposed to be finding out where we're going but is still here, so I'm going to read a book...
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