14 December 2002

RAF Cardington # 2. A humorous story
OldEric says :-) During the kitting out exercise we each selected and tried on jackets, trousers and boots until we got our right size. The other items, we selected from containers as we moved along in a line and stuffed them into our issued kit bags. Somehow I missed the containers at the end containing the cutlery. After the last of stragglers in the line completed their picking of the items we were told to sit down on some forms roughly arranged in a semi circle and a container was brought around and we were told to put our irons.... knife, folk and spoon into the container for stamping of our service number. I thought it doesn't matter about my missing irons they will find the boxes a set of irons short and throw a set in.

The store men went away with the boxes of irons and we waited for them to be stamped. Eventually the boxes of irons returned and the number of each set of irons was called out. We each went up and collected our set of irons corresponding to our issued service number. After the distribution of the irons the corporal shouted "everyone got their irons" and a little voice from over the way said "no". "You haven’t got any irons? And the voice said "no". The corporal said something to the other store man and he went out the back and out came a tubby man with sergeants' strips. He looked black and he was bristling. " who didn't hand in their irons" he yelled? No body moved. I sat tight. He yelled and yelled again. Issuing all kinds of threats finishing with "no one leaves the building".
A hundred men sat tight, all knowing it would be a brave man to stand up and admit guilt, and I wasn't brave. Not with this raging bull of a man. I suppose a long five minutes passed and the sergeant said something to the corporal who went out the back and in two minutes returned with a stamped set of irons. The owner of the stamped set came forward, collected his irons and the sergeant suddenly was gone.

Our first taste of the apparently uncontrolled bellowing and braying we were to experience over the coming weeks, all part of the breaking down disciplining process.

I think we were all riveted to the loud bristling man, as a bird is to the beady eye of a snake. I also think we all wondered why the hell didn’t the corporal just go out and pick up a set of irons, stamp them and bring them back? Why the pantomime? But a sloppy mistake was made by the unknown me and we were all given a lesson we would not to forget in a hurry. At least that is my theory, what is yours? It happened in 1955 and now in 2002 seems humorous.

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