WRAC – Im the one with no jacket on

I have lots of memories of my time in the WRAC and some lovely friends that stretch way way back!

I joined up in March 1980, really because I had no idea what to do with my life and joining the army seemed like a good idea and would allow me to carry on playing hockey!

Initially I was a storewoman but later changed trades to join the Royal Signals as a Data Telegraphist (hence why I can type today!)

One of my favourite memories is of a time when I was serving with 233 signals in Northern Ireland.  During my tour it was decided that a group of us would be sent across to Faslane on the West Coast of Scotland for a week of adventure training.

That week was probably one of the funniest weeks in my whole life.

It started on the ferry over .. the sea was pretty rough and you have never in your life seen so many green looking women in one place at the same time.  A few dragged themselves up on board to share their breakfast with the creatures of the deep.  The rest of us just sat below and groaned and rolled with the ferry.

Our accommodation was not actually in Faslane camp, it was up on top of a hill in old metal nissan huts, the round corrugated iron type, rustic wasn’t the word .. but it was reasonably dry and clean and the eight of us with the WRAC settled in to our temporary accommodation.

We were surrounded by sheep, which initially we thought was cute .. our thoughts did change when one morning we couldn’t open our door (it opened outwards).  One of the sheep had died during the night right outside .. we were trapped .. 8 serving army women, trapped by one dead sheep.  Eventually we did manage to get out, I have vague memories of someone skinny squeezing out the door and pulling the dead sheep away so we could escape.

But is this the end of the sheep story .. oh no .. not by far.

Blod, to make us laugh, decided it would be really funny to grab a clump of its wool and stick it down her knickers giving her a woollen merkin of giant proportions.  Oh how we laughed.

Oh how we laughed even more when it transpired that Blod had managed to get sheep ticks in her “floo floo” and had to spend an hour in the bath, legs over each side, with tweezers pulling them out … it probably didn’t help that most of us were hanging over the top of the bathroom partition taking photographs of the scene.  Poor Blod, she didn’t live that down for ages .. and will probably kill me for posting this on here!

The next day we set off on a 24 hour march .. with an overnight stay in tents halfway.   The picture above is our group finishing the end of the march… sore feet and a bit smelly .. me particularly so … the reason will become apparent below.

When our group of 4 set off we initially had all our kit in rucksacks and they weighed a ton … off we set .. uphill .. it was a killer, everytime we thought we were reaching the top there was another high bit behind it.   We stopped for a quick water break and rest.  Being of the highest intelligence <cough>  I decided instead of taking my rucksack off I would rest it on a gate post.  Great idea.  Well… it would have been if the gate post hadn’t given way and I ended up on my back arms and legs flailing like a stuck tortoise!  .. luckily the girls helped me up (after falling about laughing) and off we set once again.

Very soon we came to a high level flat moor .. easy walking .. I was walking alongside Blod, she was on the path, I was walking across the moor grass at the side of the path, when suddenly I sank, right up to my knees in this smelly quagmire that stank… Blod helped me out (again after laughing) and I turned round (while walking backwards) to shout to the girls behind about what had happened to me .. suddenly I sank again .. this time right up to my waist.. if it hadn’t been for the rucksack I would have probably gone right under …

This time it took the other 3 girls and our instructor to pull me out and I was stinking … really really stinking … no-one would walk beside me <lip quivering at the memory> .. and I had to endure the wet slimy clothes for the rest of the walk until we reached camp.

When we did reach there I was ordered to walk into the loch and stay there until I was clean .. so not only did I have to suffer being stinky, I then had to freeze!

Thankfully it worked.. and my clothes dried quickly by the campfire, which we gathered round to cook our rations of baked potatoes and beans.

Blod and I took our dinner back to our tent and ate it there.

In the morning I was awoken by Blod calling me all the names under the sun with the words “dirty bastard” flung in there too .. “what is it” I mumbled … “YOU” she shouted “have shit just outside the tent door”    “No I didn’t” I spluttered back, as I looked out the door …. and there lay the burnt potato skins of the previous night ..