When writing blog posts, I always like receiving comments. It is a great way to make blogging a more extroverted process. In regards to this screed on female naval officers-in-training, Ex Bootneck relayed this interesting story on the government:
True story: Pull up a sandbag and shade the candle.
One day mid-Spring.
I took over a ‘position’ that operated from ‘Eastern Kings Fort’, which was part of the ‘Longroom’ at Royal Marine Barracks Stonehouse, Plymouth.
(A true fortified castle built into, and atop, a granite cliff. Drummers pit sat beneath its long drop at the base of the main outer wall. The ‘pit’ so named after the Marine drummer who played the death roll, prior to French Napoleonic Prisoners ‘Warranted’ executions).
As I perused my new found surroundings I noticed red painted fire buckets in place around the ‘inner’ external walls. On closer inspection they were noted to be of galvanised metal dated 1920, each filled with sand! They were quite common around ‘Stonehouse’ and were accepted as an every day lot.
Happy with my newfound position; I continued with my ‘handover’ routine and signed for all of the equipment as designated on the Equipment Schedule, which included the fire buckets. This also included four ‘arm true’ guard dogs, (Blaze, Kaiser, Jasper, & Juno) as well as the paraphernalia that goes with them. I was now the ‘Senior Dog Handler’ of Stonehouse Barracks ‘Royal Marine Dog Section’; the sun was shining brightly that day.
As we entered into a lazy summer I was at my most content. ‘Bess of Eastern Kings’ (my three-month-old ‘Staffie pup’) accompanied me to work every day, we both occupied a JNCO’s cabin in the old clock tower of Stonehouse Barracks, a 10 minute walk to the Fort. She was often alongside me on each patrol (initially Land Rover bound), until she was old enough to tag along discretely on foot patrols.
One early morning the compound ‘kicked off’ as a stranger approached the massive steel portal entry gates. It was obvious he was part of the Civil Service engineering department (his vehicle and presented ID confirmed the same). He had come to take away the ‘fire’ buckets, as it was their bi-annual inspection. He replaced the same ‘like for like’ with temporary ones. I was amazed when he poured the sand from each bucket into a small skip instead of just transferring it over to the empty bucket?
The next surprise was when he extracted a ‘fresh’ sack of sand (from several) held within his vehicle; cut it open and topped up the new buckets. And off he went, only to return two weeks later to complete the return of ‘my’ fire buckets, and continued the evolution in reverse? I was then presented with a buff brown envelope that contained a receipt from the ‘Civvie’ contractor, who was sub-contracted by the Civil Service department.
Being the efficient person that I am I asked what it contained; “the bill for maintenance and repairs” he replied? “You have to hand it to the base supply officer for payment”. I opened the envelope, which attracted a look of horror from the (un) Civil Servant stood before me.
Bi-Annual Inspection; In accordance with contractual agreement.
“Dog Section: Eastern Kings Fort”
* Maintenance and Service on Twelve Galavnised Steel Fire Buckets
* Sand (fire fixing) Exchanged On Each
TOTAL INVOICE £ 860.00
My look of horror matched the (un) Civil Servants!
(((“You are F*^*^*g joking mate”))) !!!!!!!!
He assured me he was not! He would return within six months to do the same again.
In fact throughout Stonehouse Barracks, the Royal Artillery Citadel and the Royal Naval Dockyard, there were thousands of the red blighters that had a rolling maintenance contract on them? The contract had started when ‘Adam’ was a boy (actually it could be traced back to the 50′s)?
(The ‘un’ Civil Servant never did return! In fact the Sub-Contractor did not receive any more work. He more than likely retired to his villa on the Costa del Sol).
The very next day I stormed down to the Base Supply Office and demanded to see the ‘Fire & Maintenance rep’ (an additional ‘un-paid’ qualification of no value save it kept you out of the pub due to its long accumulated paper trail).
“There isn’t one” came the reply from a 3-badge marine ‘scribe’. “He retired a fortnight ago, pensioned off” ~ “Ah”, (whispered I, not too loudly), I knew how easily such reps could be appointed, especially at JNCO level as it “would look good on your personal record”. I discretely left the office leaving behind the ‘INVOICE’ on the ‘scribes’ desk.
Hitting Mach-1, I shot along the escape corridor and bumped into the newly appointed Army Warrant Officer-First Class (G4 Brigade Ordinance Warrant Officer ‘aka, BOWOW)! As I was twice his size he bounced off me into the cut granite wall!
“Bloody hell ‘Royal’, where’s the fire” he said, making light of my speed. I apologised profusely as he asked for directions; then; “so what is your role in life, what do you do” ~ “I run the dog section Sir” came my reply; wanting to flee before someone started looking for a ‘volunteer’ to be the next ‘F & M rep’. “So that must be your Land Rover outside with the ‘Staffie’ pup sat behind the wheel” ~ “Yes Sir it is” (the ‘Rover’ also had dog warning signs splattered all over it, which was a dead give away).
It turned out that ‘BOWOW’ was also a ‘Staffie’ man.
Rank from that day forth had no privilege, as each man is equal within the ‘Staffie’ world, it also helped that I trained his pup on a daily basis.
Of great interest:
One of the roles of the ‘BOWOW’ within 3 Commando Brigade was to order, check and maintain ordinance as well as equipment on every level; he held the power of write off against all items on issue. I mentioned the tale of financial waste caused through the Fire Buckets, he was more aghast than I was. Within weeks each metal bucket was replaced with a red plastic heavy-duty sand bucket (with cover), costing £4- each, which did not ever require maintenance.
The summer continued to be glorious… ‘Bess’ was a ‘babe magnet’ on our little walks around town and country. Numerous cries of “how-cute-is-she-I-want-to-take her-home” were matched with my reply of “you’ll have to take me too, we come as a package:
A good friend of mine was ‘clobbered’ with the ‘F&M role, even though I warned him to stay clear of the BSO’s office. His down fall was the pretty Jenny Wren that worked in the department; as was said at the time by the Base Supply Officer…“Corporal you enjoy being in here so much, that I will give you an excuse to visit more often”.
And in case some one is looking in, who was around from that era…
Yes I do know how the monstrous pile of dog ‘doo-doo’ happened to appear on the Corps RSM’s office step. And No it was not the Adjutants dog, he simply carried the can for another canine.
Can you keep a secret?
So can I!
(And that is only half his reply. Go to the original post for the rest! Thanks Ex Bootneck. . .)