Stories

Path of Measurement

Diary Entry: Nov 10th. In lieu of hope, I decide there must instead be prayer. So many have lost the light in this murk. It will be a few degrees warmer than last night, we are told. The chaplain is doing visits tonight but I have declined his attention. His messages...

The Family

WAR War, once waged has an impetus of its own, and the outcome, and the manner in which it is concluded could never be envisaged while it lasts. There was no doubt that the war was all but over, the enemy defeated, depending from which side it was viewed; but the...

The Adventures of Samantha Rings

One day when Samantha Rings, a perculiar girl with long, wild, wavy hair, woke up to the pitter patter of rain on her window sill something mysterious was in the air. Samantha crept down stairs to find her older brother Danny asleep at the kitchen table. “Wake up...

The Enquiry

She had not wanted him to go to war in the first place. To her, the idea of war was an archaic and primitive one, and could only end in the complete destruction of everything for which it had begun, and the thought of her Tony being shipped right into the middle of it...

Just one big Game

“Just look at the state of him. Good grief. What were you thinking of? This is serious, you fool.” “I’m telling you he is the best!” I replied. We both watched Hayden in the mess. Seemingly oblivious to us, he sat as always in this same position, at the same table...

The Box

A tanned eight year old boy raced across the torrid sand with only his worn thin sandals as insufficient protection. In front of him a frayed football glided like an astronaut over the surface of the moon, almost as if the desert surrounding the boy was free from the...

Francois

"You want to know what scares me?" said Private Burns of Company G in a tentative murmur. “You want to know what keeps me up at night in this godforsaken place? It ain't death and dying. I just don't want to die all alone." On the other side of the upturned wooden...

Warning…Cigarettes can damage your health

“Come on you bleedin’ girl guides’ let’s be ‘avin’ you”, shouts sar’nt-major Kite. One of the pleasures of army life is being hollered at by sar’nt-major Kite. His big red face with his big red moustache, on his big red head sticks through the flap of our tent....

You can’t always get what you want

Whizzz, Bang, “blimey that one was close “ I stammered. “Na,” said eddie, “ the buggers’ are just trying to keep us awake”. “Whaddyamean Ed”. “It’s their way of stopping us getting any kip, they just lob a shell over to keep us awake, you can set your watch by ’em”. I...

Woolies for Jim

Under the grey shadows of a long, narrow room lay twelve little mattresses. Upon these rested twelve little forms, some curled up into foetal positions, some with an arm and a leg outstretched as if running a silent marathon, some on their backs with their mouths...

Home of the brave

The man who is going to kill me looks sad, sick and afraid. He stands a little off balance, leaning into the deed, right foot defaulting to a twitchy toe movement. He is afraid in a way we have no similes for. They always involve pi*****, sh******, soiling yourself in...

A never ending story

The boys sat cross legged in the shade. The older one wore a holed shirt, once white, now grey with the dust of rubble from the shattered house. His brother wore a man’s shirt he had found over his tee shirt. They had managed to gather some other loot from the ruin in...

War Land

For a million men may fall, And the world can remain, But the smallest of wars, The whole world can change. Sayid clambered nervously over the trench wall. He had been trained and tutored in the art of war, taught the principles of survival, but it wasn’t hypothetical...

To the beach once more

Jack sat up in bed his unseeing eyes staring ahead, his dream-strangled cry fading to nothing. When he reached for the warm comfort of his sleeping wife, as he’d done for fifty-odd years after one of his nightmares, there was only the cold white sheet. You’re a crazy...

Dead Man

Yvette walked around the war memorial pausing to read the names on each panel. Some were familiar but the name she sought was not among them. What had become of Papa? Had he been shot for mutiny? Or cowardice? Or desertion? She sank down on the seat that encircled the...

The bloody bike

Thirty feet of blood soaked tarmac separated the head from the body. I didn’t hear the explosion that threw me and the head across the road, you never do. Just the shockwave, that tosses you like a discarded wrapper, and slams you into the ground. Belfast was tumbling...

The last outlaw

He leaned on the broken down perimeter fence, and gazed across the deserted airfield. In the distance to the south west he could make out the old group H.Q. buildings, now occupied by a construction company. To his right toward the north stood what was left of the...

Aden Christmas

December. Aden 1965. An aggressively hot and dusty place surrounded by harsh grey mountains and arid tracts of sandy desert. A place too, where the hatred of the local populace for us British servicemen was a palpable force daily translated into acts of murder and...

The Chiefy

The wind was cold as it blew across the bleak airfield, and the rain drizzled from a darkening sky. We stood under the bombers wing in a forlorn group, eight youngsters out of merry quips. The false laughter of bravado had died away as we suddenly found that we needed...

Army Dreamer

Private Phillips hears the storms that others cannot hear. He hears the fall of raindrops, the wind whipping though the trees and the deep, distant boom and thump of thunder in far-off, unseen hills. His eyes cast ever skyward, he has become the regimental expert on...

Remembrance day

The stone lion stood proudly outside the Cowdray Hall. The dates engraved behind it were still engrained on my brain. EElizabethabeth stood beside me, her arm hooked into mine. Some of my comrades lay a wreath of red poppies. Her lovely figure was hidden by a loose...

Deader

June 16th, 1976. I remember that day. It was on that day that I felt that teasing rush that made my fists clench. It was on that day that I felt hatred -it was tender, but scarily satisfying to feel that forbidden emotion. And I can feel it once more… …at a dangerous...

Inside insights

His voice: that’s what I remember most about Dad. It wasn’t in any way extraordinary, at least not as far as I can judge, but I think one cannot help but be partial about the voices of the people one loves most because it is so much a part of their being, their...

Her Daddy meant the World to her

Her daddy meant the world to her. He was the strength, the pillar, the support that held her world together, but daddy was gone. He was in Northern Ireland supporting the troops that were trying to keep the peace. She didn’t understand the politics of it all, she just...

A lucky game of poker

Major Jim Blackburn leant back in the canvas chair. His elbow rested on a wooden bench made of local Afghan plywood so dry it was almost desiccated. He looked at the cards in his hand. The three and four of clubs, the eight of spades, nine of diamonds and the jack of...

Sins of the Parents

He was tall. More than that I couldn't say, as his face was shielded by his hat and the collar of his raincoat. I took the envelope from his hand. He walked away. “Wait,” I said, “ We need to talk.” “It's all right Carol. Everything you need to know is there.” I...

Josh

My grandson and I were clearing out the attic, making room for the conversion work that would provide extra space, when we found it, an old photograph of Josh. We were moving old steamer trunks full of newspaper cuttings and photo albums and we happened on one that...

Hop-picking, our summer holidays in 1950

At the age of 5 our mum must have had the worst possible start in life as in WW1 she lost her dad, John Sheldon. He died in Hamburg a POW on the 23rd December 1918. But her misery wasn’t to end there as in WW2 she also lost her husband Edwin Webb, this on the 30th May...

Remembering

The chill wind curled it self lazily around my neck finding its way into my chest. Jack my brothers youngest, held my hand and shivered. A group of men to one side stood motionless heads slightly bowed. They’re getting less now these men from the countless small...

Late result

On 29th December, 1940, the Luftwaffe kindled the Second Great Fire of London. The first sirens sounded at 6.17pm and the last bomber cleared the City at 9.30. For three and a quarter hours incendiary and high explosive poured down onto the square mile that is the...

Remembrance

The towering stone cross atop the war memorial was starkly silhouetted against the pale sky, pointing heavenwards, like a brandished spear stained with the blood of the rising sun. On this cold, bright November morning, nothing stirred except the fallen russet leaves...

The boy at Papelotte

Julien Taine was an unremarkable boy. The only reason he was up and about so early on a Sunday morning was to collect the apples. The June morning was fine and the grass along the side of the lane was drying. Julien sauntered along towards Papelotte Farm, his untidy...

Who was he ?

The story started in The Veterans Club, New Plymouth, New Zealand. Every story has to start somewhere, and this is as good a place as anywhere. My daughter got married ten years ago, and about five years ago, she and her Husband moved to the other side of the world to...

Sister McConochie. Glasgow, December 1959

Sister McConochie sat in the Nurses’ Home office, going over her reports. She had some good girls under her care this year, and one or two not so good. Carol and Diana were the best of the bunch. Being a student nurse could be heavy back breaking work sometimes, and...

Keep it for best

I’ve done it, Ma. There, what d’you think of that?’ Alfie unscrewed his hand. On his palm lay a shiny new shilling. ‘Oh Alfie, you never ’ave,’ Mrs Duggens stopped in the middle of blacking the kitchen range and stared at the coin. ‘Tell me you got it somewhere else,...

National Service Catterick 1956 – Nostalgia

Those after my generation may not apprciate the importance of radio Luxembourg, but back in the50's it was our only source of popular music. It was,as the name suggests, based in Luxembourg and actually had commercial breaks!! This was 10 years before the BBC finally...

Nigel

NATIONAL SERVICE STORIES -R.SIGS. - 1955 When I look back at the time which I spent as a member of BAOR, I remember with affection some of the characters that I had met, in particular the members of my radio detachment. We were an oddly assorted group, the was me, at...

The Earthing spike

National Service Stories- R.Sigs- 1955 I have recently remembered another rather amusing incident from my national service days. As you may possibly recollect from my previous narratives, I was put in charge of a mobile multi-channel radio link. Amongst the equipment...

Street at War

Wumpf! It was like a dull thud but it shook the house and rattled the windows. “That was a bit close,” muttered Margaret. “Are we going to die?” whispered William, nestling against her. Margaret immediately regretted her involuntary comment. “No, of course not,...

Incident at Alrewas

Silent noise may be an oxymoron but if you wish to experience it go to Alrewas. On a calm, sunny day with the Armed Forces Memorial gleaming in the sun like a Greek temple the silent beat of a million marching feet forces itself into your consciousness. Each memorial...

Taste of death. A small incident WW2

As a member of the Guards Armoured Division and advancing through Holland this incident occurred and which I still experience today. Having reached our objective for the day, we settled down for the night in and around a small farm. Everyone dug in, or selected safe...

Aftermath

This is a true story. Only the names of individuals have been changed to protect their identity. In 1952, I obtained an industrial training placement at a large steelworks in the Austrian city of Linz-an-der-Donau and stayed there for three months. During that time, I...

Desert Saga

‘Oi you.’ Naively I looked up and caught the corporal’s eye ‘Yes you. Come ‘ear.’ Although I had been in the army only a matter of a few months, I had realised that I was a non-entity, just a number. In addition I had also discovered that I had the sort of face that...

Memento Mori

Heather was cold. She pulled the two gray blankets up to cover her nose. She could feel her breath warming her face that way and it was surprisingly comforting. Mummy had said she wouldn’t be a minute, but Heather knew better. Every time the air raid warning went,...

My ( Very small ) part in the Cold War

September 1962; the “Cold War” was at its height. A Young Airman, 21 years old, arrives at the Gates of R.A.F. Scampton. Fresh out of Trade Training as an Air Traffic Operations Clerk, and about to take his first steps into a Real “Operational Station”. Was he...

Snow Boots

The German soldiers arrived with the sunset, marching into the yard in a wavering line. They stood waiting while their commander spoke to Svetlana’s father. She peeped around the door frame, watching them. How straight they stood, how proud in their ragged uniforms....

History

My Dad is silent. His dark eyes are fixed on the flickering images; a new, Hollywood version. In his well-worn chair in the corner of the lounge, he watches his family’s story, split apart by advert breaks. I watch him, wondering what he feels. My Dad rarely speaks to...

A shaft of Sunlight

It was the photograph that did it. An ordinary holiday snap of the coastline. But it was the shaft of light breaking through the winter clouds, focusing on that patch of sea that set the memories pouring back. Even in those far gone difficult days, most did what they...

Henry’s Star

Henry’s daddy was an airman who often had to spend time away from home and sometimes had to go to foreign countries to help all the brave men and women that were trying to make the world a better place for everyone to live. This particular year, his daddy, whose name...

Between the lines

Overnight, the wind had risen again, colder this time, carrying the threat of even more rain. Most of the passengers were seeking warmth and shelter below decks, leaving the determined and the downright foolish to face what crew members called the South Atlantic...

A charmed life

The drawer was stiff from lack of use, but opened with a squeak when Helen tugged it. The ensuing familiar waft of lavender brought vivid memories of her late grandmother as Helen found the bundle of envelopes she was seeking, pushed to the back, and tied with a faded...

RAF/RN Rivalvry..from a military forum

( Found on a Military Forum ) 5-Feb-09 14:49 NEWTON Current weather conditions have reminded me of a story doing the rounds in, I think, the mid-70s. Apparently, RN ratings at an RAF base (Phantom squadron at Leuchars?) in similar conditions built a snowman, which a...

Rats

Lieutenant Reginald Arthur Riley R.A. sometime lecturer in English at a teacher training college in Cheltenham gazed through his binoculars at the small town standing on a low hill above the winding, tree-lined tributary of the River Lys. Beside him his Bombardier was...

It’s not that I don’t like cats

Its not that I don’t like cats, it’s more like well cats not liking me. I do like them and if they would just tolerate me, I would love to do the same for them. Having said that I suppose cat lovers everywhere will be yelling for my blood. So please allow me to put my...

The treasure hunt

I last saw my Father in February 1944. Dad was a bricklayer – plenty of work for him at that time –building air raid shelters had been his main job since 1938 – I could just remember seeing him, ably helped by Mum, building a blast wall to protect the entrance to our...

A Brogue, a Bin and Berlin

Serving as a Royal Military Police NCO in the British Sector of West Berlin was still quite something, even in the early eighties. For a start, compared to other postings, we went on duty mob handed – which was a novelty. There were two NCOs to patrol the Berlin Wall,...

Free from infection examination

My friend Gordon was a RAF conscript during National Service. When it comes to swapping yarns with him, I can generally hold my own, but this one was a proper Brahma: “In the summer of 1959, twenty four of us from my Squadron were picked to go to Canada as ground crew...

Horse

Neigh! Neigh! Oddenstein: "Come back with my horse, that's the last bit of voice I've got left." Monument having tripped and concertina-ed over a gnomon: "What a grumpy looking gnome." Gnomon: "Speak for yourself, sunshine, if you had t sit out in all weathers on top...

Letter from the nurse to a friend

Dear Cordelia, Oh my dear friend, I am a broken woman, a sad embittered lonely old woman. I am sitting at my dressing table writing this letter to you. The hour has struck midnight and yet I cannot sleep, afraid of the ghosts, afraid of the nightmares. The tragedy,...

What does God mean to me ?

What does God mean to me? Well for something to mean anything there has to be a something or someone, which evokes the question; is there a God at all? The God we are brought up to believe in, as told in the bible, created heaven and earth in six days, resting on the...

The Narritive of my only sea adventure

The Narrative of My Only Sea Adventure (I Hope!) 11.7.1943 March 23rd 1943 Being my own personal experiences of the torpedoing of the “Windsor Castle” on that day. The day previous, 22nd March 1943, we, 2,000 troops, airmen and soldiers, had been given instructions...

Taking Orders

This is a true story. A Lance Corporal (LCpl), who we will call Gus, was told to report to his Staff Sergeant (SSgt) who we shall call Stan. Now Gus was not the brightest tool in the box and was renowned for his rather shadowy ways and was known for telling tales...

The Sweetest Empire

( An abridged and adapted excerpt from my second Novel ) In 1914, having just completed her nursing probation at the Royal Free Hospital in London, Kitty waves her brother, Harry, and her lover, Lawrence, off to war. A few days later she begins work at the Royal...

A very ordinary woman

There is a quiet corner, well away from the main path through the cemetery, in the graveyard of All Saints Church in Orpington. There are about fifty graves in that particular section, and the headstones reveal that the earliest occupant was interred in 1932, and the...

Uncle Ernie’s contribution

In pride of place on the sideboard was a photo of a young man, in RAF uniform, proudly displaying his newly won ‘Wings.’ I asked who this was, and the silence that followed was sufficiently awkward for me to know, even at my tender age, that I should drop the subject....

Dolphin down

The tapping stopped, leaving an eerie silence. It had been banging at first but had grown weaker, very quickly. The automatic emergency lamps cast a pallid glow over the pinched, shocked faces of the shivering men scattered about the cramped compartment. Ian Gardener,...

Gurgle Gurgle

I am waiting in the hall for my mother to get her hat and coat on. The Daily Mirror is on the hallstand. In those days it was compulsory to take the Mirror – I pick it up. The date is 29th March, 1943. I smile to myself. It’s my birthday – sort of. I’m 14 months old...

Have faith

Measured in terms of church attendance, I’m a terrible Christian, but in the small Oxfordshire village of my early youth the agricultural seasons and religious festivals were all interwoven and we school children made regular trips to the church to celebrate them. The...

Dark Psychiatry

It was her silent affirmations that kept her from going completely insane. Stopped her from fading away into the nothingness of the room around her “I am here. I am here,” she repeated over and over, “I think therefore I am”. The darkness had taken her over once or...

What have you done for us lately ?

The glowing white tombstones gleamed out of the grass, like Great White shark’s teeth in green gums. A wave of female bodies moved back and forth, searching, gasping, falling, and accepting. All except one. Alice had not wanted to come here. Hers was not the role of...

Pop

When I was three, my greatest friend was Pop Figgit. He and his wife Margaret were two of the nicest people I ever met – and sixty years later I have found no reason to change my opinion. Early in 1941, their house in a south London suburb was bombed. They were...

An Appointment with Albert

In 1954 I was thirteen years old and was a pupil at Colditz. Well, Skinners’ Grammar School for Boys, as it was more commonly known. Every Thursday afternoon, everyone in the third, fourth and fifth forms was consigned to the loving care of Sergeant-Major Jock...

The Autumn offensive

The morning mist that had hung heavily over the landscape had long been burnt away by the crisp, clear streams of the autumnal mid-morning sun; which in turn had surrendered to the steady drizzle of the light rain which was now falling. It was mid-afternoon in...

The Appendectomy

A short tale of agony Oh! The anticipation of entering the IN side of the General Hospital. No longer was I a simple casualty in the OUT. The fickle finger of medical fate had indicated quite dramatically, by prodding me continuously in the right side of my belly,...

Poacher Bill, a wheelbarrow and a wedding

These things seem unconnected yet they sort of happened at about the same time, as always with Bill things sort of happened. Working in my garden one sunny afternoon the old Landrover chugged up, and with what sounded like a big sigh of relief the chugging stopped,...

The Dogs of war

You experience something really rotten. It twists your thinking. It makes you ask the big questions. You work it through and think. Alright, got it dealt with, moving on. Then you are walking down the street one day...and it is a beautiful day...clear and crisp and...

Fathers day for a warrior

My favorite memory of my father was him carrying me on his shoulders through the snow to get donuts. I had a lot of little brothers but I was the only girl and the oldest and I knew my dad loved me big time. My father was six foot five, this giant man with huge hands,...

Loving a warrior

A dear friend of mine is getting married. He sent me this pic and wanted me to write something to share at his reception on Warrior Love. I have been in a position to watch many a warrior fall in love, commit and then the relationship shatters. The Warrior left...

The Thinking Soldier

A certain soldier ( who is not a million miles from this keyboard ), stationed in Germany in 1974, was trying to wind up his Troop Sergeant, Johnny Luck. " What would you do if I called you a ' Tosser ' ? " Sergeant Luck was shocked. " I'd throw you in the guardhouse...

Anonymous hero

At eight years old, one of my jobs during the school holidays was to make a daily trip to the corner shop for my mum. I was a bit of a dreamer, was seldom in any hurry, and would chat to anyone I met. On this particular day, there was a man waiting at the bus stop,...

The Jonah

You know Davy he has got no luck, we are starting to call him the Jonah, how’s that I asked, what’s the script with him? Well let me tell you, you know the first drogue bombing that we had and the RUC hot spur got totalled, Ye I remember that blew a huge hole in it,...

I was picked up by Aliens

Never believe what you hear It was late 1992 and I was on a trip from Birmingham, Alabama to Los Angles, California I was traveling out I 20 about 80 miles from El Paso, Texas. It was very late at night or very early in the morning, around 3 a.m. When all of a sudden...

Only in the Military

Vietnam 1969 While stationed at Dong Tam, Viet Nam in 1969. This event took place that makes you wonder about the Military We were all sitting in a makeshift outdoor theater watching a movie provide by the Military It of all things was a war movie. All was going well...

Juvenile poachers

The largest river in Wales, the River Severn, in the far off days of my youth, curled it's lazy way through fields of Butter Cups and Daisies, it's banks alternating between steep sides and sandy shores, from deep forbidding pools, to murmuring bubbling shallows,...

Sandringham duty

During that beautiful sunny summer in the early days of the War, the Welsh Guards had the pleasant duty of providing the guards for the Royal Family, whilst they enjoyed their summer break at their Sandringham Home, in the county of Norfolk. This provided a pleasant...

Poacher Bill. A loveable rouge, and friend.

Poacher Bill, introduced. Old Bill was a Cotswold man through and through, born and bred to Country ways and lived in a little village near Burford, often referred to as the Gateway to the Cotswolds. Bill had four great consuming interests in life, they all started...

Flying under bridges for fun

Whilst browsing the other day, my butterfly mind wandered to the History of that beautiful city of Winchester where I once lived, I remember the old bridge over a minor road on the outskirts of the town which was known locally as “Spitfire Bridge”. Apparently on one...

Scallywag Soldiers

It was after we had been on the ranges, one afternoon towards the end of the course that I had one of the most pleasant and contented moments I’ve ever known. We finished the live firing early for some reason. We were on a very open range surrounded by grass and scrub...

“Dingo” and the RWF

Londonderry, Christmas 1978 Between 1978 and 1980, I served with the Royal Military Police in Londonderry, Northern Ireland. My unit was stationed at the old U.S. Navy base at Clooney in the Waterside, but we were responsible for patrolling within the City walls on...

Tolney Picnic

I like Sneinton, it’s got character, and it’s not a bad place to live. It has shops, takeaways, and pubs and is even on a regular bus route to town. But, when the sun begins to shine it can be a dusty canyon and the need to escape to greener places begins to fill my...

The Tank Leaguer.

The sixteen tanks began reversing off the ridges where they had been for the last hour. The light was beginning to fade and the sun was casting lengthening shadows over the distant Radfan Mountains. The gunners, sweltering inside those mobile ovens, traversed their...

Vintage Calvados

My host smiled as she handed me the bottle, ”Treat it with respect, use it as a medicine, not just for pleasure”, her words spoken in the strong earnest manner of the French farming community of the Calvados region of France. It transpired that this was one of the few...

‘Wartime Romance’

Standing on the beach on the French coast at Dunkirk, dirty, hungry and totally exhausted, being alternately machine gunned by German aeroplanes and shelled by German Artillery, in that part of the war in 1940 when all seemed lost, I was completely unaware that I...

A Place Of Safety. The Cup And Saucer Tree.

For more than seventy years, I have kept secret my faith in that beautiful tree, and in all that time it has never failed me. In times of great stress, and sometimes great danger, I simply climb up into its branches, letting my mind absorb its magic, and I know I am...

%

of people exposed to mass violence have been shown to develop PTSD

Million Adults are diagnosed with PTSD during a given year

Women are 2x more likely to suffer from PTSD than men