From The Thames to the Tigris
(The WDs at war, early 2003)


Knooke Camp: Y Sqn begins to take shape

Excerpt from an email

Tpr Martin Hill

(now Private Hill of A (Royal Scot) Coy, 52nd Lowland Regiment)


The army must have spent a lot of time looking for the most dreadful place possible to put a poor unsuspecting TA unit. The camp is tucked into such a tight Wiltshire valley that mobile phone reception is restricted to odd points - a square meter on top of a skip, a funny handshake outside the guardhouse, etc. No internet connection, no bog roll and a dead rat in the showers called Arthur.

But we still have standards. With all these posh educated people amongst us, we now eat at the 'restaurant' or 'cafe', shoot with assault 'purdeys', and drive 'cars'. Even the support crews, Scouse drivers and engineers have started greeting each other with 'aih, hellaih'.

We have almost finished more not-so-basic training, although as yet have done nothing to do with our actual role 'in theatre'. For bayonet practice on Wednesday we were supposed to run around getting aggressive (enough to ban us from going out in case we suddenly start stabbing people). Since our average age is ne-ne-ne-ninety five, we shouted a bit, stabbed a few straw dummies, got tired and sore, and went out for a quiet pint and pipe by the open fire at the local. The last couple of days we have been out on the ranges, herding lead in the freezing cold.

Our new cars are much better - 'Wolf' Land Rovers, 2.5 tdi (vroom vroom), power steering, working heating, comfy chairs, etc. We spent the first few days here fitting them out with all the shiny kit we could rip off our old fleet and loading them up with as much contraband as we could squeeze in, before sending them off to Marchwood for shipping. We must now try to remember which fuel tank has the brandy in it, and which the diesel...

We've got Anthrax! It's great! The shoulder sprouted a big red splotchy lump, some couldn't move their arms, lots of nausea, flu-like symptoms (oh no, we've all got malaria) and general yucky-feelingness. Other side effects are an overwhelming desire to wear green, waking up before dawn, spouting continuous verbal drivel, and for those of you who remember Bullshot Drummond, acute patriotism and compulsive saluting. And this is just the first jab; we have two more to go!

It's now two weeks since we were mobilised (a lifetime ago) and I think we're all feeling that it has been an interesting annual camp but that it's time to go home for a couple of weeks rest before considering the next weekend's exercise...

A WD (Tpr Edward Bowen) looking warm and comfortable outside some of the Army's premier facilities


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