Saturday, April 12, 2008

On this day - Falklands

After a weekend at Lympstone it was time to set of to join the task force which had left in a bit of a rush. Whilst it had been a good move politically to dispatch the task force as soon as possible it wasn't necessarily the best move militarily. Equipment and troops had been loaded on the nearest ship, with troops not always being on the same one as their kit.

We had spent the Easter weekend trying to buy decent equipment - rucksacks, sleeping bags, waterproofs and other bits and pieces. The armed forces have always provided their own kit on the basis that equipment supplied is barely functional, cheap and designed by someone who has never left a warm office*.

We were heading for Ascension Island where we would meet our equipment which was already on a ship, but nobody was sure which one. Our journey was going to be by Hercules via Gibraltar and Senegal for refueling. We shared the plane with members of 8901 Naval Platoon, you may remember them as the guys who were on Stanley when the Argentinians invaded. They were quiet and didn't talk much but our Marines did get from them that they were pretty determined to make amends, not that anyone blames them.

On Gibraltar we went to the cook house to get a bite to eat and wait for the plane to get clearance for the next leg to Senegal. There was a function on in one of the rooms and everyone was having fun whilst we looked on through the windows like some modern day Oliver.

Senegal was just a refueling and quick smoke break and on to Ascension. We landed amidst utter chaos, helicopters, truck and land rovers whizzing all over the place like demented ants. We spent the first night sleeping in the ammo compound whilst the boss went off to find someone in authority who knew what we were supposed to be doing.

*When I was at the School of Signals we did invite equipment designers to a yearly day out where we would dress them in full NBC equipment and ask them to operate their equipment. We had one guy who had designed a radio that had a very noisy fan so we locked him in the vehicle with it running for 2 hours, he soon got the message.

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