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Pull Up A Sandbag
Sandbag Reminiscences of Dave Wakelam Sandbag
Tonfanau Scams
When you get 800 bored, hungry and hard up young men stuck in the back of beyond, it's not unnatural for their minds to engage in ways of eliminating, out of the list just mentioned, the thing that pissed them off the most. Notice I haven't mentioned sex-starved - remember Bromide? The result of this brain power was usually a scam, some of which I will talk about here. I have listed them, in reverse order, of popularity.
5. The Protection Racket.
Usually masterminded by by some inner city weasel, accompanied by a couple of low-browed knuckle draggers. The weasel would approach the intended victim and demand money or ciggies. If not paid, he would get the knuckle draggers to visit the victim, usually after lights out, and administer physical punishment. The victim usually paid up. The good thing about this scam was that it was so odious, the perpetrators were usually bubbled quite quickly, and after a spell in the nick were dispatched rapidly back to civvy street where one hoped they would have a really difficult time explaining to potential employers why the army no longer wanted them.
4. The Kit Thieves.
Not yer normal tea leaf who was merely replacing a bit of kit that had gone from his locker, but the gobshite who would nick kit from a sprog the night before a locker inspection. Said gobshite would watch the sprog sweat and worry how many days RPs he was about to get, then would say he had a spare one, which he would gladly sell to the sprog, just to get him out of the shit you understand! This scam was a bit harder to detect, but usually ended up with the gobshite doing a spell behind bars at Chez Fagg.
3. The Money Lenders.
Usually a non-smoker, who had a bit of extra cash, or a kid whose parents still loved him enough to send him postal orders. This ponce would then 'lend' his mates money to go to the pictures or buy polish/blanco/soap etc, as long as they paid him back with interest. The more enterprising of these usurers managed to extend their sphere of business outside their own platoon. This was a hard scam to crack, as borrowing money was also an offence punishable by death (or maybe extra drills).
2. The Canteen Raiders.
Usually a gang of desperadoes from the Training Companies. Suffering withdrawal symptoms from lack of chocolate or tobacco, they would plan The Welsh Job. Not to do a bank for bullion, but either the R Company canteen, or in the case of 'real' villains, the NAAFI. Armed with deadly weapons such as pokers, they would creep at dead of night to the back of the target building, smash the window, throw a small JL through said window, and wait outside with pillow cases which were rapidly filled with goodies thrown out by the small JL inside. No getaways in souped up Minis, but a sprint like f**k back to their platoon area. Easy enough done in the days before burglar alarms, but they did get caught quite often, didn't they?
1. The Tobacco Barons.
Everybody's favourite! If you were unfortunate enough to smoke you must have fallen victim to one! Often a smoker himself, he would come back from leave with an extra half ounce of Old Holborn and a packet of papers, and twenty tailormades, bought with his credits before they all went. The scam kicked in when an unfortunate smoker, out of baccy, would ask for a roll-up. The baron would roll a microscopic ciggy, pass it over on condition that he got two roll-ups back on payday. If a tailormade was borrowed, the interest rate was five roll-ups or two tailormades. By the end of term, the baron, not having spent a single tanner on ciggies, would have a considerable wedge, and enough ciggies to not only last through his leave, but to carry on where he left off next term.
Me? I was none of these! I was Knightsbridge platoon's Mr Solvol Autosol! Remember the chrome cleaner that cleaned up bayonets so they gleamed like mirrors on parade on Drill Competition, or Graduation Parade? A tube of that cost two bob in those days. At a tanner a bayonet's worth, there was enough in a tube to get my two bob back, and put a few more in the kitty for leave (including enough for a new tube of Solvol Autosol!). Can you still get it, I wonder?

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