When I look back at the time which I spent serving in BAOR*, I remember with affection some of the characters that I had met, in particular the members of my radio detachment. We were an oddly assorted group, the was me, at the height of my powers as a Lance Corporal and in charge of the whole shebang namely a radio truck with 30,000 pounds worth of communication equipment (worth over a million in today’s levels), two mains voltage motor generators, a further Bedford truck and assorted extras such as a 90 foot telescopic aerial mast, food, cooking stoves, toilets, jerry cans of petrol and chemicals for the afore mentioned toilets etc., etc.
The personnel of the unit consisted of me, an assistant technician, an electrician/driver, a further driver and a character known as General Duties or “GD” for short. Now in a technical regiment such as the Royal Signals, to which we all belonged, there was always a need for persons of more unfortunate status than most to carry out the menial tasks such as digging latrines, washing up, peeling potatoes fetching full petrol cans from the fuel dump and other miscellaneous tasks. My GD was called Nigel, at least that is the name I shall use so as to protect the innocent (or in Nigel’s case - the not so innocent).
Make no mistake, Nigel was a super guy, easy disposition and always anxious to please, but a lack of opportunities in earlier times had sadly precluded him from a life involving any actual responsibility. If he was sent on an errand it was touch and go if he would ever return let alone have accomplished the task set for him!
Among his exploits were the tying of a support cable for the aerial mast to a tree (he was out of my sight at the time) instead of using a ground peg, driving a Jeep one night into a fire hydrant just slightly uphill from our tents and thereby flooding us all out and the prize incident was, while back in barracks, driving a Jeep and trailer past the Officer’s Mess only to have the trailer overtake him! I should mention at this point that Nigel did not hold a driving licence of any sort and escapades of this nature ensured that he spent many weeks in detention.
Amongst Nigel’s other problems were a complete inability to establish a rapport with the opposite sex until one night when, to everyone’s surprise, the sister of a certain young lady whose favours I was enjoying at the time, took a fancy to our Nigel. They went off together and later that night we were all waiting with baited breath to find out how he had got on. He walked into the barrack room looking very pleased with himself, “well, how did you get on?” we all asked. “Fine he replied, and I’m meetin’ ‘er termorrer - I wrote the name of the place dahn so’s I wouldn’t fergit it”. “Where are you meeting her?” I asked. Nigel handed me a grubby piece of paper upon which was written with a smudged pencil a single word………………….
FOR THE BENEFIT OF ANY OF MY NON GERMAN SPEAKING READERS, “EINBAHNSTRASSE” IN ENGLISH TRANSLATES INTO “ONE WAY STREET”. NIGEL HAD SEEN THE SIGN AND ASSUMED IT WAS THE NAME OF THE PLACE AT WHICH HE WAS! I NEVER FOUND OUT IF HIS ENSUING ASSIGNATION WAS SUCCESSFUL OR NOT.
*British Army of the Rhine
© Henry Dallimore