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

Pull Up A Sandbag
Sandbag Reminiscences of John Burns Sandbag
Please Don't Tell My Girlfriend
One fine day in Snowdonia 5 of us were on a Outward Bound Exercise which involved trudging around from check point to check point collecting clues along the way.
One of the check points involved getting up on top of the Devil’s Kitchen, a position of substantial height in the region. As there were five of us we came up with the cunning plan that if only two of us climbed up to the top to get the clue then, the other three could stay below with all the quite heavy rucksacks we were each carrying.
It was a very pleasant day so I and one other well known member of Cambria platoon (who I won’t embarrass by naming) volunteered to take a leisurely hike to the top. Have our ‘Tonafanu Special Packed Lunch’, get the clue and meander back down to join the rest of the lads.
No problem at all getting to the top or getting the clue but when we were half way through the sandwiches the most awful mist descended. Still no problem, we were highly trained Junior Leaders. So out with the map and the compass and by dead reckoning set off on the prescribed course, which took us straight over the edge and down the sheer cliff!!!
Some minutes later we found ourselves stuck on the sheer face unable to retreat or go down. Panic and Fear were not the words – we were snookered.
I refused to budge and about half an hour later we were still their when the mist lifted. We could see the rest of the group a few hundred feet below and I started waving and shouting for them to get help and even to arrange a helicopter evacuation. I wasn’t moving and that was that.
It was then that my very good buddy, who was trapped with me, realized that being a J/Sgt Major his career was disappearing fast and told me to shut up sharp. He thought he could see a way off the face of the cliff.
If we could reach across a flat slab of Welsh rock we could make it back up to the top. He stood their and reached across and found that even though we were hundreds of feet up he could do it – and he did!
He then tried to persuade me to do the same. It was at that point that we found out that he was some 6 feet tall with a good size reach and I was only about 5’ 8’’ with a far smaller reach that couldn’t make it, even if I wanted to.
The next hour was spent with I. M. trying to hassle and persuade me to make the leap and grab his hand. Oh Aye!!
It was only by blackmailing me and by threatening to tell my then girlfriend how big a chicken I was that he did eventually bully me to do it. My legs have never shaken so uncontrollably since!!!
Suffice to say we survived and as a group kept it all to ourselves and that I.M. retained his J/Sgt Major and went on to have the brilliant career he dreamt of.
I met him a few times over the next few years even though we were in different Arms. The most notable was when on a foot patrol one dark night in Belfast when his patrol came around an un light corner from one direction and my patrol came around it from the opposite direction. It was a wonder we didn’t shoot each other up. Another lucky escape for both of us.
I hope that he and his family are well.

 Return To The Sandbag Menu 


Why not tell us what you remember:

 Email the Webmaster