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Alex Douglas-Kane shares her experiences and understanding of Discover Nature Awareness

Saturday, 23 January 2010

Tales from the Desert

1) A friend of mine shared a story with me after the war. During the training phase just before going into Iraq he was attached to an American unit. They had just completed a joint operation when he heard an American Officer say. "Gee no wonder you Brits win so many God Dam Wars, you guys practise chaos everyday."

2) Looking out over the gun position one day and surrounded by nothing but flat desert as far as the eye could see. I saw a hazy image in the distance it was getting closer, unsure what it might be I kept a keen eye on it. Then he came into full view like something out of Lawrence of Arabia.

He was alone on his camel he stopped by the nearest gun to him. They shared some words unknown to me, except for perhaps AsSalam-u-Alaikum which means may peace be upon you.

They also shared a cup of tea, and off he went into the distance fading into the haze, no Compass, no GPS and no Map, looking very much at home in his environment.

3) We had to stop because there was a tank battle five kilometres to our front, our chaps were taking care of it, and we went into all round defence. I made a mug of tea and lit a cigarette and I then walked around the guys, giving them a sip of tea and a drag of the fag.

As I came up on our left flank there was a single column of American Abraham tanks waiting for their next set of orders.

I shouted up to one of the tank commanders "would you like a cup of tea mate" he looked down at me with disbelief on his face, and said "there is a tank battle going on over there”. I responded by saying "I know, it’s five K's away and our guys are taking care of it, would you like a drink of tea" he responded with "you limeys are crazy, drinking tea in the desert" I answered him by saying "I will take that as a no then" and returned to my vehicle.

I now have this image in my mind. This guy is now back in the states, his grandson is sat on his knee asking him "what did you do in the war grandpa" and he answers "well son, I met some crazy limeys drinking tea in the middle of the desert during a tank battle".

Which was five K's away and our boys had taken care of it.

I heard a story, that one of the American units had T-shirts made with the following printed on the front, 2nd Armoured Cavalry Regiment – Second to None.

A small unit of British Royal Engineers attached to them had their own T-shirts made up, which read. NONE (think about it).

We were receiving a briefing from American and British commanders one day, and they had decided instead of using a map, that they would use the desert floor instead, with various objects from the ration boxes to represent the different units and objectives to explain the plan of action.

So, a tin of sausages became 3 RRF (Royal Regiment of Fusiliers) and a tin of corned beef was 127 (Dragon) Battery and so on, they used just about everything from the ration box they could to illustrate their point.

Then came that magic moment. You know the one, right time, right place, you had to be there to believe it. Well believe me when I say to you it was all we could do to maintain some sense of order.

Dick Gardner our survey Sergeant turned and whispered to us behind him, we need to watch out for the BRG.

Someone said what’s that then? Dick replied the “Bean Reinforcement Group.”

I nearly wet myself.

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