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Sandbag Reminiscences of Mike Insall Sandbag
Not Even Fifteen
I joined the AAJLR on 11th September 1962 at the ripe old age of 14 years 361 days! Frankly with hindsight it was pretty shameful to get lads of 14 sign away some 12 years of their life! I signed on for 9 years as they told me I would get more pay!!
The first 13 weeks was pretty grim (thanks to Sgt's Tull and Falkner), particularly coming from a very comfortable middle class home! My dad was army barmy, and I did like many aspects of military life, but I'm also a bit of a free spirit!
I did a total of 3 years at the AAJLR in Normandy Platoon, and 3 in the regular army in 24 missile Regt in Paderborn, Germany, when I was at a last able to buy myself out for £200.
At AAJLR I reached the dizzy rank of J/Sgt alongside J/RSM Ellis. Also knew Clem Pook the boxing champ and his mate Tim Simper. My best mate was Pete (Spud) Murphy from Hull and Jack Bater, like me from Devon.
All the RMP guys were a cocky lot!
No-one has mentioned the winter of 62/63. On the trip back after Christmas, the troop train from Shrewsbury went via North Wales due to the heavy snow blocking the line. We arrived at Tonfanau at about 0130 hrs and went to bed without any food.
All the water pipes froze up so we had to get water from the fire water tanks. The huts were of course freezing and we even had snow on the inside of the windows! It was always a battle to light the fires that had to be put out at night. We slept in all our cloths to keep warm.
At one stage we all went out to local farms to help dig them out. I loved the walking etc. but hated the endless drill and the PT!
I was captain of the hockey team that won the western command cup in about 1964.
On a DOE overnight expedition we pitched camp and then went off to a pub several miles away. We all got well sloshed and were in big trouble as several guys collapsed and it was absolutely bliddy freezing. Luckily an army Chaplin and his wife came past in their car, and he kindly took us all back to our camp, requiring several trips as I recall. The next day we all had terrible hangovers, but had to pitch camp again, alongside the road being used for the RAC rally!!
I also attended the Army Outward bound school, luckily in the summer. It annoyed the staff that I smoked, and also that on one hike I declined to use the map as I knew where we were (Fishermans retreat!) When walking up to Snowdon I found a pound note - a weeks pay!, and used it to buy everyone a cup of tea in the restaurant on top of the mountain.
I visited Tonfanau in about 1983 but could not get close as the bridge was blocked.

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