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Pull Up A Sandbag
Sandbag Reminiscences of Alan Ventress Sandbag
It's Only A Slight Break
One rather harrowing memory from Tonfanau was from the first week there when we were all introduced to the pleasures of the assault course. Naturally some lads were much more agile than others and there were a number of looney PT instructors - corporals if I remember rightly in tight pants with sewn in creases and singlets, all in the middle of winter screaming their heads off at us to get over this wall, water moat or other seemingly insurmountable obstacle.
Anyway one bloke fell badly when jumping from a wall and couldn't move - they thought he was skiving and really got stuck into him, naturally instilling the fear of god in all of us. They were dragging him along, screaming - the poor sod had broken his leg and couldn't walk let alone run.
I heard later that the main bastard of the instructors was busted down to private for that brutal episode.
Another memory I have of the AAJLR is that when I went there on the train I was decked out in a new suit which I had spent most of the 1965 summer holidays working to pay for - at the time I was about 5' 8 inches tall - anyway when we got to Tonfanau, they took away all our civvies and locked them in a suitcase somewhere.
Come Christmas leave time I went to get into my suit - but the bloody thing didn't fit me - I had grown about six inches! I ended up going home in uniform - bizarrely when I left the Army in 1971 I was still listed as 5 foot 8 on my Army Certificate of Service!
I was part of the group who were transferred to the JTR Rhyl in early 1966 - many of us stubbornly hung onto our AAJLR flash on our battle dress tops, but after about three months we were ordered in no uncertain terms to remove them or face disciplinary action.
This was a very sad day for all of us I might add - we had built up a great sense of camaraderie in a very short time at Tonfanau Camp.
This would have happened about March/April 1966 - and that was the end of our connection with AAJLR - there was never a section at Rhyl of ex-AAJLR blokes, but even so we tended to stick together.
I am still in touch with two mates who were at AAJLR with me from Sept 1965 to early 1966; Ian Ambrose, who is now a Lt Col in the RMP and Martyn Fletcher who transferred from the RMP in the early 1990s to the RAEC - he now runs his own education/training business in the UK.

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