Home Page | A.A.J.L.R. Forum | Contact The Webmaster

Pull Up A Sandbag
Sandbag Reminiscences of Paul Treen Sandbag
What Did You Do In The War Grandad?
Double Declutching
We RA boys learnt to drive the Austin 1 ton trucks for our continuation training. We started off with circuits of the concrete road by old AA gun positions outside the camp, a distance of about a mile.
I was quite pleased with myself, getting from 1st gear up to 3rd during the first few circuits - change up to 2nd passing that pile of bricks etc. The civvy instructor stopped me and we swapped seats. "This is how you will be doing it at the end of the course son". He then drove about 100 yards, changing up and down the gear box about fifty times.
"All done by double declutching and listening to the engine revs"
I never did master it!

In - Out - On Guard
The Infantry boys did Infantry Tactics and would appear at the end of the day covered in mud, blood and camouflage, as befitted their trade. We were also given some weapon training where we had to bayonet those dummies that looked like they'd been attacked by everyone in the British Army since the Boer War. I remember the training was given by a tough little Sgt from the Queens Regiment. He was really motivated and did his best to motivate us Recruits by aggressively attacking one of the unfortunate dummies. "Look at 'im" he screamed as we gazed on in fascination. "He's wounded and lyin' on the grahnd (He was a Londoner) - "he's showin' yew photos of 'is wife and kids! Never mind all that b, stamp on is froat, then get the baynit into 'is ribs. KILL 'IM."
"Now it's your turn. I want to hear aggression, I want to hear you scream."
Funny how self conscious we were. The dummy made more noise than us ...

Friog And Arthog
Nothing special about these two tiny villages just up the road from Tonfanau Camp. During our first ever map reading lesson in R Company, Lt Webb was teaching 2 Platoon how to "orientate the map". That was quite easy in Tonfanau as long as you remembered to point the big blue bit on the map towards the sea. I just remember these village names because they were the first two compass bearings we took before we got onto the more difficult bits like back bearings and all the rest.
I always used to look for blue bits on the maps to get my bearings - didn't help much in Borneo!!

The Deer Hunter
I remember that during our first term in Tonfanau, the whole of R Company were sent to a big estate out in the Welsh countryside. Our mission was to round up the land owner's herd of deer, for some reason which I have forgotten.
We were each given a couple of thunderflashes and some of the lads even got blank rounds for the SLRs. We set off in a line through the woods of the estate. We had great fun, shouting, blasting off the SLRs and throwing the thunderflashes (and getting paid for it!)
Our group eventually cornered a couple of deer against a drystone wall. As we closed in they charged at us, leaping straight over our heads and easily escaped to freedom.
Final Score: Deer... 1 ---- British Army's finest ... 0

The Mysterious Lake
Four of us from A Company were out on the Welsh mountains on the Duke of Edinburgh's Silver Award expeditions.
You will all remember that we had to cover a large number of miles over a couple of days with everything in rucksacks on our backs. As a "bonus", to stop us thinking about food, sore feet, food, women, and food, we also had to carry out a project en route - I think we were searching for that rare or extinct species - a smiling Welsh farmer welcoming us onto his land.
Anyway, late on the first day we struggled to the top of a particular mountain on the way to our planned night stop. The patrol leader - I think it was Nobby Noble - was looking puzzled as well as knackered when the rest of us reached him. Below us was this gigantic lake stretching as far as the eye could see. We all crowded round the map. The nearest bit of blue on the map was miles away from where we reckoned we were. Of course we all blamed Nobby and his lack of map reading skills.
We set off along the edge of the lake, trying to get back onto our right route.
No luck - night fell and we were hopelessly lost.
Totally worn out we took refuge in an old disused concrete sheep pen until the next morning. I think we ended up phoning the camp who despatched transport to pick us up.
We found out when we got back to Tonfanau that they were building a new reservoir - so new that it wasn't marked on any of the maps.
So Nobby was leading us on the right track all the time!
Unfortunately, the Permanent staff were unsympathetic and failed the four of us, inviting us to do it all again at a later date.
Thankfully Graduation intervened.

The Tal-y Llyn Railway
Another 'R' Company night exercise saw us moving up to the village of Abergynolwyn, an abandoned village at the end of the Tal-y-Llyn narrow gauge railway, which was THE (as in only) tourist attraction in that part of the world in those days.
We were then to take part in a dawn attack and capture the village.
We keen young soldiers duly set off, marching along the railway track.
Now, this was a narrow gauge railway, and the railway sleepers were close together , so we were all marching along with very short strides. Must have looked very comical!! Just when you got used to this Welsh goosestep, and got a rhythm going, you would find that the next sleeper was a bit further apart, with the result that everyone was crashing into each other. The novelty soon wore off as we slogged for miles, past all the touristy places like the Dolgoch Falls. The "Oohs and Aahs" of the tourists had been replaced by the "Efing and Blinding" of the sweaty, p*ssed. off 'R' Company.
We eventually and thankfully reached our objective as dawn was breaking, swept down the mountainside and captured Abergynolwyn and 3 sheep.
And no, we didn't get the train back.

Morfa Training Area
'R' Company were carrying out a night exercise at this god forsaken spot. The exercise involved travelling between various check points using compass bearings only - you all remember that. There were a few checkpoints to get round - You had to reach each one to get the next compass bearing or you were in the sh*t.
I seem to remember that even the Padre was manning one of the checkpoints.
Anyway, the Permanent Staff thought it would be a jolly wheeze to ambush us at various points with thunder flashes etc. to make it more exciting. For them! Didn't do much for us.
Our group duly walked into one such ambush and we all hit the deck. One thunderflash fizzed in an arc and came to rest on the top of Jack Woodwards small pack. Unfortunately he was wearing it at the time. Luckily one of the lads spotted it and Jack was able to shake it off just before it exploded.
"Fookin el" was his only comment at the time.
I think he moaned about the burn marks ruining his small pack blancoing back at camp later.

 Return To The Sandbag Menu 


Why not tell us what you remember:

 Email the Webmaster