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Pull Up A Sandbag
Sandbag Reminiscences of Dave Wakelam Sandbag
The Bird In The Drying Room
One spring day, Mick Webster and Dave Newton came back from a walk down to the cliff tops with a blue bird's egg wrapped up warm in a cap comforter. (Useful, weren't they?)
"Where did you get that?" they were asked by the rest of the Knightsbridge boys.
"From a nest in the grass." they replied.
"What the f**k are you going to do with it?" they were asked. (It wasn't big enough to eat!)
"Hatch it out!" they replied.
"Where?" they were asked.
"In the drying room!" they replied. (Obviously!)
So, the egg was placed on the warm pipes in the drying room, but not in the cap comforter, which was returned to its rightful place in a locker layout. I can't remember what the new bird's nest was made of, but it must have been something civvy. For the next few days the egg was monitored carefully, until, lo and behold, it hatched!
Oh yes, it f***in' well did!!
We all became Junior David Attenborough Leaders, and fetched milk from the cookhouse which was fed to the baby bird from a dropper. At this time, the whole operation was a better kept secret than 'Overlord'. Slowly the chick graduated to a diet of solids and started to put on weight (Which is more than we did.) and gradually grew feathers. We still had no idea what type of bird it was, but hoped it would grow into something big enough to eat. However, we were soon to find out, courtesy of one of the Regimental twitchers, that we were raising a Kestrel! We decided that it would become the Knightsbridge Platoon mascot, and that we would reveal it to the world as a fully grown, fully trained aerial killer.
It must have been about this time that the secret was leaked, and we were assembled in the Platoon yard by the Platoon Commander, Lt. Gillies RASC. He asked if the story about the kestrel was true, and what we intended to do about it. We took a collective gulp, and owned up, revealing the mascot scenario. Good old Mr Gillies was impressed, and made us swear to keep the drying room bird-shit free, and he would clear the project (because that's what it became!) with Major Appleton, the OC. And so, courtesy a of blind eye turned in high places, we continued until the kestrel was almost fully grown.
Now, I introduce the villain of the piece. Our Platoon Sergeants were 'Clobber' Cleaves, Somerset and Cornwall Light Infantry, a good guy and very supportive; and 'Benny' Hill RASC, a squat, swarthy individual, who hated Junior Leaders. He was a bully, and was only doing his job because being a success at a Junior Leaders' Regiment was seen as a good career move. 'Benny' had had a bollocking from Mr Gillies for some unsavoury act of the bullying variety, and decided to take his revenge on the platoon. We returned from training one afternoon to find the drying room door open, and the kestrel gone! There was a near mutiny, and a lynch party formed, because it didn't take Sherlock Holmes to work out who was responsible!
Justice was done however, as thanks to his heinous act in destroying Junior Leaders morale and initiative (A project, remember!), Benny was kicked out of his career enhancing post, back to the RASC. I never ever came across 'Benny' again, but more about Mr Gillies, and 'Clobber' another time.

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