Depot Battalion R.A.S.C

Chatty's picture

There's not really a lot to say about Borden. The camp and the town lacked any facilities worth remembering. The journey to Borden was uneventful, Three tonner to West Moors station, long since gone to the land of Dr Beeching's losers. The "Brockenhurst Express", a stinking, dirty incontinent steam locomotive, grunting and farting its way to nowhere fast. It must have worked, because eventually we got to our destination. Albeit after dark, so the shocks were yet to come. I was always taught to believe that spiders were an insect. However, the Army can always buck the system. An insect with wooden legs. Our leg, and I'd imagine all the others, was the most inhospitable place I'd yet experienced. From the luxury of central heated comfortable rooms, to a tube of planks, with doors and windows. Most of which were ill fitting draft emitters. Prominent because of its absolute ineffectiveness was the "Pot Bellied" central heating system. A large block of shiny black cast iron, with an equally highly polished chimney, standing proudly exactly in the center of the billet. Its ability to heat comes into question. It still confounds me how so many fully grown men can fit into such a small area. A billet full of shivering squaddies huddled within an area no bigger than a decent double bed. Beyond that circumference, even a thermal suit would have been hard pushed to perform. All I can remember about the cuisine was that it was barely life sustaining. I was beginning to wish I'd never uttered those immortal words, "Gizza posting" First day at Borden was one of rush here, rush there, salute this paint that. Pretty basic Army stuff. The first and seemingly most important task was a forced march to the "Tonsorial Artist". It wasn't a case of those who needed their hair cutting, it was a case of "You're here and you'll have one". I honestly do believe that the tosser with the shears was an ex apprentice of the Marquis de Sade. He had the look of a man possessed, Scissors blunted to perfection, a comb with less teeth than a champion Gurner. Yes, here we had the perfect example of a brain dead National Service flier who really had ambitions to reach the top. Sadly it was only the top of other peoples heads. Once that savaging was complete our next task was to go to the Quartermasters Stores. When the Shadows made the hit record of the same name, they obviously weren't acquainted with the real thing. The purpose of our visit was to be fitted, I use the term very loosely, with our "Olive Greens". The last item you will ever see in a 1963 QM's store is a tape measure. All storemen are given the "Gift of Guess" "How tall are you?" "5'10" Sir". "No need to call me Sir, I'm only a Senior Private", these National Service ranks still amaze me. "5'10", try these, I guess they're near enough" Shorts, I use the term loosely, another 2" and they would have been Longs. Longs with enough slack to make a pair of shorts, Hats floppy, Hose tops, puttees, drawers cellular and on and on ad infinitum. And I was only on standby. Drawers Cellular. Now these are an item well worth a mention in their own right. Obviously thought up and designed by a celibacy conscious Monk. © P.B. Chatfield 30 Jun. 01