24 October 2002

The Sergeant

OldEric says (:-) If you read Windy earlier this is a loose continuation of that tale. The sergeant concerned, I cannot remember his name was in a different section to me. He was somewhat older than most of us, probably around 35-40. One of his roles was sergeant of discipline and for that role alone he was disliked. At best without his disciplinary role he wasn’t particularly popular. The Sergeant was married and lived with his wife down in nearby Famagusta in private accommodation. In Famagusta it was reasonably safe from terrorism as this area was predominantly populated by people of Turkish extraction who disliked the Greeks. Not that the area was free of Greeks but they were in the minority in the area. Each evening coming off duty he drove to his home from the camp at Ayios Nikolaos and when he reached Famagusta shopping area would invariably call at a particular corner shop and pick up the daily groceries---milk, etc. The Sergeant was in the shop 2 minutes and then on his way home again. When he returned to his car on this particular day a gut-wrenching sight met his eyes, his gun belt holster was empty. Against strict regulations, for comfort he used to take off his gun belt and place it on the passenger seat and there it remained until he arrived home. Reporting the theft, the only outcome that could be was a Court Marshal and judged inevitably guilty.
His Court Marshal sentence was 3 months in the military prison and reduced in rank to Corporal on completion. In military prisons, unlike civilian prisons a prisoner forfeits all rights, has no privileges, he is at the whim of his jailors. On release, I remember his face, like Windy's face it was drawn and haggard. Over the following weeks and months I would occasionally look at him and think, he was the shell of the man I remember.
Towards the end of my service in Cyprus I learnt that the weapon that the Sergeant had lost was responsible for the deaths of 2 British servicemen in other locations on Cyprus. The price the Sergeant paid in the military prison was little compared to the price he paid with the knowledge of those 2 deaths. Did it haunt him? I don’t know, it most probably did.

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