Short Stories

We were being dicked to stag on the radios with Coy HQ while the rest of the battalion was split up around the hills overlooking the settlement and the Bay. Your not supposed to occupy the enemy’s position after you have captured it or he has vacated it at any rate, as he has an accurate grid of the entire position, trenches etc. Which he has given to his artillery and all the supporting elements of his army airforce navy etc. The problem was that there were only so many places you could go and dig, before you ended up in the sea. So like it or not we moved into the empty trenches once we had cleared them.

There was an unexploded 500lb bomb about 20 yards from the house But we didn’t mind, at least we were down off that fucking hill.  We had managed to get a space in the loft of one of the houses in the settlement. We had also managed to have a bath and get some of our clothes washed. Even had a proper out the oven made by a woman cooked meal. We had sat round this big table like little lost schoolboys being bossed and bullied by the lady of the house. Only hours before we had been living life at a basic level, kill or be killed. The dead even now still littered the landscape.

Outside there was a 50 gallon oil drum near the white picket fence that went round the house of Brooke Hardcastle the Falklands Island manager of their Darwin settlement. It was full of rubbish compo rat packs and various other pieces of cardboard, so someone lit it and we stood around the flames getting warm. The view from the back garden as you may say was one that was I suppose quite pretty if you could call it that. I’d rather be looking at it from through the kitchen window where inside it was a lot warmer than where I was presently standing. If I was really honest I think it would have been best viewed at the bar of the elephant on the back of a post card. Anyway here we were.

There was a muffled thud from the depths of the oil drum and it rocked slightly. We all assumed that it was probably a tin of compo cheese that somebody had binned without it being opened. The flames and cardboard were given a bit of a poke and the night filled with sparks and flying embers. Then there was a loud crack and part of the side of the drum near the bottom disappeared. We all stepped back just as there was a multiple firecracker tirade of noise. This time we were all on the deck and crawling like mad for the small drop to the beach. It would appear that the drum had an unknown quantity of small arms ammunition in it (and God only knew what else). The drum took hours to burn out.

Later on there was a call from brigade, they were going to bury the dead and hold a service. They wanted the Coy commanders and prominent officers to attend, a media thing apparently. They asked if anyone could ride a bike, (the bike being motor bike) I put my hand up. It had been some time in reality (about 6 or 7 years) Willie was more qualified to ride than me. But I suppose I brow beat him in the end.

It was a Yammi 125 trial and I was asked to take the OC A Coy to Goose green. There were ruts and ice patches every 10 feet. I hit every one of them on the way there and we both ended on our arse, after each one. In the end he finally got to the chopper pick up point, I didn’t think I’d got a permanent job as his driver.

I remember walking back because the RSM confiscated my bike. Not that I was really bothered, I’d had my cabby and my arse was sore to say the least. I think he was getting his own back for the Kenyan trip, but that’s another story (Or maybe Major Hockley said something o him?). Anyway during my walk back the OC’s runner arrived in a captured land rover. He was going to look for the boss’s gonk bag and he would drop me off on the way past (at Darwin that was). Off we went in the ex civvies, confiscated by the Argies, now commandeered by the British landrover. With the American made 50 cal. Mounted in the back.

It’s just a pity that (Beast) the OC’s runner had not checked that the wagon was full of petrol before he set off on his quest. I had opted to stay with him instead of getting out at the turn off to Darwin settlement. I had thought that it would be better for beast that he should not go alone. The truth was there were still roving bands of hostile enemy out there. One more of the monumental mistakes that I have made in my lifetime. It was not easy driving over that terrain I can tell you. Especially when you started to think about the mines.

Beast was doing well all things considering. It was when I asked him how much farther it was to where the gonk bag was, his response started to worry me a bit. After being told it was only a couple of k’s down the track (I could no way, under the sun call it a road) towards Stanley. The same track which we had skirted round at Coronation Point, we at the time heading inland away from the coast and the mined road towards the reverse of Darwin Hill and the enemy trenches. Three times he’d said now it’s just over this next rise.

You could see it coming a mile away and yet you hoped that you were going to be wrong. But I’m never that lucky. Yeah he was lost. Well so was I to a certain extent (well I was with him!).No map, compass the two of us had ever seen this part of the island during daylight not that it would have made any difference really, (it all looked the same!). Then it happened .The wagon just died on us I didn’t know what to say.

When it comes to faults with vehicle engines, I’m your Marilyn from the Aussie soap “Home and Away”. Trouble was the mechanic was a different soap and her name was “Kylie”. I tried all the usual (I hoped) avenues. I poked about a lot but it was dead. It turned out that being on a slope, facing up hill on the track with a petrol gauge that didn’t work and no juice left in the tank. Meant that no matter how great a mechanic you were, unless you could piss 4 star we weren’t going anywhere.

Chinese Parliament convened and we came to a mutual decision that we’d better fuck off back to Darwin (or anywhere else our blokes were) quick like. I decided (in hindsight) foolishly, because I reckoned that they’d carry spares (the Argies that is) that I’d best take the 50 cal with us. Beast carried a box of ammo and I slung the 50 call across my shoulders and off we went.

As we progressed along the track it started to get dark and things began to become more familiar to us. Well not really familiar but we became more comfortable in the darkness. It became our friend. Nobody could see us and we couldn’t see fuck all either. It suited everybody all round. When you see the yanks carrying the big machine guns in the old world war 2 movies and they’re firing them from the hip and running about mad every where. Just remember those are 30 cal machine guns. Mine was heavier. Much fucking heavier.

Any way after a while we reached the arse end of Darwin hill again. Last seen from this direction from a prone position whilst being shot at by enemy machine gunners. Stopping for a breather, on my hands and knees, .I rolled over on my side and it was like I had never made it across the open bit of ground some 40 plus hours ago. Meanwhile Beast had now decided he knew where he was and the location of the OC’s gonk bag. Off he went into the black abyss, we’d agreed on a couple of passwords between us (trouble was that only the 2 of us knew them) B coy was out here some where dug in fingers on the triggers.

Beast returned triumphantly with the gonk bag and we decided to contour around the edge of the hill. Past the bit we definitely knew was mined, going along the beach to the back of Brooke Hardcastles’s house. We were challenged on the way in. It was Dinger on stag so although they’d changed the password he knew my voice. He said we were lucky there didn’t we know the beach was mined? Gleefully he also informed me it was my turn for stag on the beach trench. Saying that the 50 cal would come in handy the CSM took it off me and gave it to one of the platoons. I never even got a chance to fire it.

By the way a Gonk Bag is not any piece of strategic military hardware or any thing that may help decide the out come of a war. It was a comfort thing. The toms slang name for an army sleeping bag. Beast and I had trekked across the possibly hostile countryside on a mission to: search: locate and if necessary re-capture the company commander’s sleeping bag.

View giajl's Full Portfolio