Monday, 28 March 2016
I might have been in the same Regiment as them but they are not my brothers.
When I was a child I looked at policeman and thought they must a be good people, same as when I watched the trooping of the colour on the TV and saw the smart guardsman outside the Palace. I have now grown up, well some might disagree and I now know the truth, like the police the Armed Forces is a microcosm of the real world, there is the whole plethora of individuals from pedophiles to drug dealers, all manner of criminals, just the other day I was told about a soldier that I served with that had sex with a dog (Four legged version) this was an individual that I was considering going to a Regimental reunion with not that long ago. Don’t get me wrong I’m no angel but there is nothing I have done in my life that I am ashamed of. The other side of the coin like in society there are many good lads who I would be honoured to call my friend.
I have done a great deal of thinking after coming out of hospital after my suicide attempt and one thing is how the internet can also be used for good and bad. I do not disagree that it has revolutionised the way we as a society connect and put people together who would not normally have met prior to the www. Facebook is probably the main platform for interaction and the forming of certain groups can be a good thing. It’s strange how we can have `friends` on Facebook that we have never actually physically met, I am no different on that one. Obviously these are my thoughts and conclusions which you may not agree with? I fell into the trap of thinking that a web page with some people I have met in the real world that I used to work with and some `cyber` former colleagues was the definitive 12 Regiment Royal Artillery. It’s not my wife’s fault but when I was in hospital she reached out to people that were connected to me due to the Regiment in all good faith well why wouldn’t she? Being a civilian herself she will have believed they were all good lads with my best interests at heart. For the first time I really did try to make an effort to become closer to the former soldiers I served with through the Facebook group. One or two senior ranks (Sergeants and above) ignored my friend requests, I did not let that put me off and tried to contribute with relevant posts pertaining to Air Defence and the Royal Artillery. I soon noticed that hardly anyone clicked `like` on anything I wrote, but still I gave them the benefit of the doubt, it was only when I noticed that certain people could put a post of their breakfast on and get a huge response that I was not so paranoid. I reasoned it was because I had written books and maybe some of them didn’t like what I had written, even though everything I wrote was true. Over the years I have tried to analyse why the interaction is so different with the Gunners and NCOs in the 12 Regt of my era opposed to the what I see as amazing comradeship and brotherhood seen with Paratroopers and Royal Marines that I served alongside in the Falklands War. As I see it we were `soldiers` in name only, most of the time spent around camp was spent cleaning, sweeping leaves, cookhouse Fatigues (Scrubbing pots & pans) painting the curb stones black & white, being a waiter to the officers and more annoyingly the wives of soldiers that because they were married to a sergeant thought they were Royalty when they came from some shit hole of a council estate in Preston or Warrington or Glasgow and showed it at the end of the night when they were drunk and reverted to their true nature. But they looked at us like their personal slaves bringing them drink and food all night. This is how the Senor NCOs looked at us as well just skivvies to run around after them. I spent most of my army career in green overalls brushing up leaves, it was so depressing that I actually volunteered to go to Northern Ireland to get away from it all.
So when you join the Regimental Facebook group if you were not part of the `Legends` the Senior NCOS you were still in their eyes anyway a worthless gunner and they treat you the same even though thirty plus years have gone by. But I have now realized that Facebook group is not the real 12 Regiment it’s just a collection of electronic noise and like them not liking me or being indifferent I don’t have to be part of it, the same as I don’t have to go to a Regimental Reunion, which by all accounts is just the same as it always was in the army, the Gunners and maybe the odd Lance Bombardier sat on a table and then the groups of the `clique` sat looking down on the Gunners, which ironically some of them have achieved much more in life than those bullying, thieves with stripes on their arms have now.
I wish it was not like this, but I am not the only one that thinks like this, I am only reporting on how others have described these Reunions, some drunk out of their skulls at 11 am pissing in the streets and fighting, these are not twenty something young men letting off steam. There was a lad from the Regiment that shot himself with an SA80, he survived and was like myself trying to get back in touch with old comrades, he was told by some of the usual suspects that he was not welcome and that he had shamed the Regiment. Well that’s rich coming from people that treated other soldiers like shit and stole people’s wallets, cash and personal effects from their lockers, liar’s cheats, thieves and bullies are welcome but not an ex-soldier that is looking for support from people he thought would understand and be sympathetic as to why he wanted to kill himself. I obviously cannot talk for other Regiments ships, Squadrons, ect… I would like to think and hope they are better than this?
I have never been part of the establishment never been part of their `clique`, it was never in the script for the young soldier who liked to have fun and listen to Punk music to shoot down two enemy jets in the Falkland’s, it was always hoped that one of the `arse lickers` would do that and be rewarded. But once again I know I was only doing my job, but I and many others were never encouraged or praised by the NCOS, it was always shouted insults and more cleaning.
I did not just serve with the Royal Artillery and I was pleasantly surprised at how other units treated their soldiers, like the 2nd Battalion the Light Infantry, and the Infantry Regiment I served with myself as an NCO, the 4th Battalion the Kings Own Royal Border Regiment, they encouraged you in all your efforts and rewarded hard work. I also have praise for 74 Battery the Battle axe company RA, who I served with in Northern Ireland, great bunch of Gunners that I am truly honoured to have served with on active service. That’s why I am still proud to be a Gunner, regardless of 12 Regiment a Regiment that is also my Regiment my memories and my good times that the bullies can’t take away and also that Facebook has a delete switch….UBIQUE.