The Making Of The Man Page 3

I was relieved, glad that we would not have to go through that every time that we were going to be "on parade". It took an hour to get it right, and I am sure it was the fault of the R.S.M. for being too ambitious. Lunch came as a blessed relief. Our feet hurt, legs ached, shirt tickled, drawers cellular rubbed, so we were not a happy group. It was fatal to lay on your "pit" at this stage, anyhow we had no time. I strongly believe the theory of keeping you on the move to stop you feeling miserable and homesick. Home seemed a lifetime away. The afternoon followed on from when we left off. We were going to be taught to move as one body of men. Good for discipline and a very basic requirement. I thought this was a bit of a waste of time. Did we not all know that one foot had to go in front of the other — we all knew how to walk didn’t we? Oh, but the army had their own view on how it should be done. There were certain preambles to go through. We all knew where to stand. The morning lesson had not been wasted on all of us, only some. It looked pretty good, all in height order — tallest on the right, shortest on the left. It seemed to make sense after all — or did it? This time along came the Lance Corporal we had met previously. Reluctantly, you had to agree that he knew his business. Again he thought us all deaf because of his continual shouting. It does not follow that the louder the order, the clearer it comes over. In a nervous state, such as one is during continuous training, its sole effect is to confuse. How many times I wished he would be kind and pleasant, but this was never to be. He started off by saying put your hands behind your back and place your right hand in your left and straighten your arms, pointing your fingers to the ground. We all got it right first time. He was pleased as I am sure we all were. We only had to do it 4 times before we all were invited to the next stage. It was "parade". I thought this a bit basic because we all knew we were "On Parade", but it then got a little complicated. Parade was followed by "SHUN!" so our minds duly registered "Parade, Parade, SHUN!" but nothing happened. We were, I suppose, confused. "SHUN!" was an unknown movement. No-one had told us what or who "SHUN" was. We were soon made aware that "SNUN" was the movement of one leg, bent knee raised up level with the ground, and almost to the waist. Do not bend down to meet your leg, it looks like apple bobbing, we were told by the Lance Corporal. It was a dangerous movement - if you did it too energetically, then your left leg coming down from a great height proved to be painful as it caught your right ankle. As one's aim improved, casualties became less. That was deemed enough for that day and we were dismissed. As the days passed, new movements were added and the instructors were shaping us into a unit, moving in unison and starting to look the part. We could turn to the left and to the right, salute to the left, front and right, although not at the same time. Other accomplishments included — "Halt!", "Get on Parade!" and "Form a square and open order march!" Marching was difficult for some whose coordination was not always as it should be, and the left arm and foot would go together. This gave the impression of looking like an orang-utan ambling around on the forest floor. In extreme cases when the unit was marching, the "extreme cases" were placed on the sidelines. The assault course caused many casualties and like all the other activities the permanent staff were doing a grand job in shaping us up. As the weeks went by, pride in oneself and each other was developing. The sloppy group that had arrived a few weeks ago were now looking like soldiers! The “Pass Off" parade was only a week to go. Parents were invited, unfortunately mine could not travel that distance. It all came together and the "Zombie" marchers were given flags to hold as markers who only had to stand erect and still during the parade. Dispersal took place following the parade and we all were give home leave prior to reporting to our various locations for further training and trade training. In my case it was to report to lnglis Barracks for Postal Training School (PTS) 148. The pace of life at Mill Hill was far different to Malvern. The huts that we were taught in were like a classroom. They contained desks, a mock-up of a sorting office and counter facilities. The morning started with Military skills and then we transferred into the classroom. S.S.M. George Hale presided and I recall Sgt Weatherly, Cpl George Needham, Don Doig and Bill Boyce as his PSIs. This was enjoyable, as it was 'civvy' street practices adapted to the military needs. FF1, FF3 and post orderly authority etc. When we all reached the acceptable standard we were employed at HPD Knightsbridge, the barn of a building prior to CPD Mill Hill. Page 3