As an Army Air Corps Groundcrew soldier, one of my jobs would be driving fuel bowsers, 4 ton trucks and Land Rovers, so I would need my HGV licence. The driving school is located at DST Leconfield in Yorkshire and was our first rendezvous since passing Basic and here we joined the rest of the Army. Sometimes l would cross paths with fellow Air Corps recruits, more often on the night out.
I was amazed at the enormity of the school and its facilities. I still didn’t have much confidence with chatting up the girls. I have a distinct memory of another soldier who introduced me to poppers, where I remember I had to lie down with my head spinning. I felt like I was raving as the music sounded so clear, noticing certain sounds not recognized before.
God was watching over me, as years later I learnt that poppers were popular with the gay community for loosening up their rectums. All I remembered was that he wore a black beret and he kept smiling at me.
Sometimes I did feel lonely. As I didn’t lose my mind or get too depressed I must have visited the Naafi bar and had a cuppa with a matron type person, which would have reminded me of boarding school.
I encourage any soldiers using the driving school to use their welfare services, as wknd’s on camp can be quite lonely. I must have unknowing been entertained by an angel.
The AAC soldiers also had to obtain our Hazmat certificate for working on the helicopters. Here I had more freedom to have a few beers in the evening. I just had to be mindful of any driving the following day.
I Thank God I was able to complete my HGV, as I had some distractions along the way and had to repeat various tests. Next I had to prepare for Middle Wallop. In early 1997 a B3 AAC Ground crewman course started and I was on it. I arrived at the guard room in a taxi and spent the next few hours looking over my shoulder, until I had everything squared away. I was stressing over the fact that an NCO could have been waiting for me, but thankfully to no avail.
I’d imagine the reception I received at Middle Wallop was more paletable than the one I received at basic. Middle Wallop is the HQ for the Army Air Corps, where soldiers learn their trades and treated with respect, until the day someone forgets their place and then they too are screamed back into reality.
Even though I was tall and skinny, the OC still picked me to represent the trg sqn in obstacle races as it displayed my endurance.
The training staff were good at their job and yes the Sgt also had a hearing issue as he predominately shouted at you. To cope with the noise pollution I used to tell myself that he must have also been bullied at school.
In a nutshell, what you give out, you will always receive. Which reminds me of a time of bonding with a fellow recruit. I was driving down the High street and on approaching our destination I thought it would be hilarious to ditch our vehicle and launch V onto the pavement, using his right face cheek as a landing pad. Moments later a WPC asked him if he wanted to lodge a complaint against me as his face now displayed a war wound. We both laughed as he replied you’re sound as he picked up my trolley of a vehicle.
With my testing experiences of life, I like to think I have already harvested that seed.
I used to get very excited whilst walking away from any chinook helicopters turning and burning, because the down draft from the blades would sometimes lift you off the ground, especially when hooking up 4 ton Bedford trucks. There was also so much to learn, when you consider the location for the links on the net and the dimensions of the HLS (Helicopter landing site) and the weather and if the ground was firm enough. There were folders full of orders etc, which were heavily relied on.
We spent much of our time with the Lynx mk7 aircraft on Salisbury Plain, performing refuel and re-arm duties and occasionally ferried to strategic points on the plain.
It was in Andover that I got tribal and had my first tattoo, a tiger’s head as tiger was my nickname from my mini rugby days with my flashes of similar aggression.
I’ve always danced in a haphazard style, but only difference is that now I can do it whilst sober.
I was part of a posting of 21 soldiers to 1 Regt AAC Gutersloh Germany, where we were looking forward to getting an extra £150 every month and tax free beer.