Robin Horsfall presents the first in a short series of humorous soldier’s memories.
My earliest memory of Des was turning up at his wedding reception with my wife. I was wearing a charcoal grey two-piece suit and my wife was dressed to suit the occasion. I had only been away from Aldershot for three years and the unique style of a Para Reg wedding had faded away into a grey and murky past.
When Des stood up to make his wedding speech he was dressed in blue jeans, desert boots and a 1 Para sweat shirt. ‘Thanks for coming’ he said ‘the beer’s behind the bar, the food’s on the table so fill yer f***ing boots’.
A year later, we drove out of the Belize jungle in a Pink Panther truck to Huby’s, a remote but well known bar on the Hummingbird Highway a road that ran between Belize City and Belmopan. We appointed our junior rank Harry to be Colonel for the night and proceeded to consume as much food and rum as we could.
Next day as we prepared to move before sunrise Des was nowhere to be seen until in the early morning gloom near the centre of an empty field I noticed two Rot-Weiller dogs. They were sniffing at both ends of a six foot long, eight-inch wide plank of wood set up as a seat. The curious dogs were investigating a body covered in a mosquito net with the upturned boots attempting to raise the net away from the sleeper's face. It had failed miserably and Des's swollen features combined with a hangover would have scared the toughest of us.
Years later after leaving the army, we were sent to Memphis, Tennessee to pick up a wealthy family. Given forty-eight hours rest we ended up in a bar playing silly games. It was decided that we would all wear our clothes inside out for an hour. Des as you will recall was I Para and had not been wearing underpants. It didn’t need much imagination for our American cousins to understand what the English meaning was for ‘Skidmarks’.
Everything in this story does bear a resemblance to persons who lived their lives to the full!