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Pull Up A Sandbag
Sandbag Reminiscences of Dave Wakelam Sandbag
The Memory Of An Elephant
Joe Mutch and I spent our first afternoon armed with a small coke shovel each, putting two bins of coke in each bunker in the platoon. It took yonks!
It was so cold when I was in 'R' Company that the sea froze, it was three weeks before we could flush a toilet, the water in the fire buckets froze between filling them and room inspection, some lads got frostbite, we had to have water brought in in bowsers and the MO had to purify it, we only had two mess tins of water a day to wash in, and they wouldn't send us home. To add insult to injury, we had to dig the Welsh farmers out of the snow on adventure training!
Does anyone remember the waiting list for the nick because Colonel Lash locked so many people up? Or the extended Halt, peculiar to Tonfanau, which drove drill pigs and RSMs spare, and the strange salute that went shortest way up, shortest way down?
I also have the memory of an elephant and can remember loads of people and stories from those halcyon days.

When I arrived at Tonfanau, I was 5'9" tall and weighed ten and a half stone, and when I left I was still the same height and weight, but an entirely different shape. I was also a much tougher character. This wasn't entirely due to PT, Sport, Adventure Training and stress, it was largely due to a starvation diet inflicted on us by man's service cooks drafted in from the Waffen SS!
In particular, I remember tea time on hobby nights. After queuing for a mug of tea and being issued with two slices of bread by a fish slice wielding Obergefreiter, we proceeding at a Keystone Cops style pace, with the words 'Don't F***in' Run!!!' bellowed after you, to a table where the Orderly Corporal sat you down. In the middle of the table was a tiny plate, with a two ounce blob of jam and four half ounce pats of butter. The first guy to sit down immediately took half the jam, with the next guy taking half the remainder and so on, before each guy took his allotted pat of butter and proceeded to make his jam sarnie. The last unfortunate to sit down usually ended up smearing his bread on a pink stain on the plate. If you had a graduate on your table who sat down first, the other three enjoyed a completely jamless sarnie! If, however, four guys managed to sit down almost together, there followed a knife fight which would not have looked out of place on the Marseilles waterfront at dead of night. I still carry the scars, and am lucky to still have all my fingers! All part of the toughening up process, I guess.

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