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Strong public outcry following last months instalment containing the story that shall henceforth be known as ‘Cat-gate’ has lead to a thorough investigation as to the whereabouts of these poor little ginger kitties. To the relief of feline enthusiasts the world over Mummy ginger cat was spotted trotting happily about camp just the other day licking her lips and looking full of life- as to the whereabouts of her offspring, I can only imagine it was cuddled up somewhere fluffy, awaiting its next meal. However, rest assured that I have personally vowed not to rest until I see them both alive and well. Just while we are on the subject of welfare- the rest of us are fine (thank you for your concern) despite a recent outbreak of rickets due to a lack of calcium in our diets which has been linked to the sudden mysterious shortage of milk on camp…

In less pressing news life has continued on, I have been out and about a good number of times now which has been varied to say the least as well as hugely rewarding. Spending time with my troop is a true highlight of the job and an enlightening experience in itself. On one of our longer excursions we had a few extra people who joined us for the duration, one of whom was, I am fairly sure, the character upon which all Dickensian stereotypical Yorkshiremen are based. For starters he was enormous (not quite on the same level as the Great Dane but easily in the same weight category) with hands the size of dinner plates that were constantly used to get his point across (either by means of gesticulation or, where necessary, the use of force). He had a massive shaved head which was home to two severely cauliflowered ears and a nose that appeared to have been broken more times than Bill Clinton’s vow of fidelity. On top of his rugged appearance he was not one to shy away from getting his opinion across on matters dear to his heart. At one point I was discussing how I thought the quality of our ration packs had improved with one of my troopers when said Yorkshireman blurted out, almost uncontrollably “Don’t you dare Sir! Now days they are full of bloody foreign food, curries and such the liike. What ever ‘appened to good old Corned Beef ‘ash, that were good honest British food. Thai Green Curry?! You won’t catch me eatin’ that foreign muck!” And with that he returned his full attention to his thermos which contained a lovingly created brew from his very own private stash of, you guessed it, Yorkshire Tea. “That’s another thing, the tea is shiite and all. I bring me own and God ‘elp any man who gets in between me and me brew.” I am in no doubt that he meant every word and was all the better company for it.

Not long after that excursion brought the moment that I thought was destined seal my place in military history with the likes of Churchill and the Duke of Wellington. We were out and about as a troop, doing our thing when I spotted what appeared to be some sort of camp way off in the middle of the open desert. There was a collection of 4-5 sandy coloured tents with people milling about around them. This is it I thought, as a good reconnaissance soldier I had managed to find what others had not seen. It looked just like one of those training camps you see (admittedly in films but they must be based on something) or better still I had found the baddies secret HQ that had gone unnoticed all this time. I was overjoyed, it was a Cavalry Officer’s dream, we would charge forward taking the enemy by surprise and rout them before they knew what had hit them taking the General prisoner and returning to camp a hero to be sized up for my oil on canvas portrait to be hung above the fireplace in the mess.

Unfortunately there were a few things that prevented the story from panning out quite the way I would have liked. Firstly, we don’t really do business like that anymore as there hasn’t been a good old Cavalry charge since we replaced our horses with tanks nearly 100 years ago (and all the poorer for it in my opinion), although even if we did still do things the old fashioned way given my track record with my vehicles one of us would have surely broken down mid charge anyway. On top of that any baddy of equivalent General status out here would be highly unlikely to be camping out in the desert meaning the best I could hope to capture would probably be my opposite number who, if he knows as much as I do about the bigger picture, would have proved to be an unlikely swap for a Victoria Cross. However, the most glaring reason for a lack of glory in this episode was delivered by my Troop Sergeant who, when I suggested over the radio that we should at least go and investigate this highly-suspicious-probable-heart-of-the-insurgency camp, calmly replied:

“Sorry to disappoint Sir, but I think you will find that that is a Bedouin camp, they pop up all over the place around here.”
“Roger. So probably best not to mount an assault on it then?”
“Umm. No Sir. Probably best not. Although they do make very nice rugs…”

We didn’t assault the friendly camp of nomadic Afghans but on closer inspection they did have very nice looking rugs. Had we had our interpreter with us at the time I would have loved to go and have a chat with these incredible people who seem to live a great life traveling through the desert with their camels, goats and donkeys setting up camp where they fancy and simply living off the land. A wonderful life, save for the occasional routing by British Cavalry charges of course.

Other than that, dare I say it, we are all looking forward to returning home in under a months time. Camp is filling up with the new faces of those taking over from us which is a wonderful sight, even if they are mostly Royal Marines. The down side is that as the Marines have now taken over our camp they have brought with them all sorts of odd Marine-isms such as calling the cook house the Galley, imposing odd and unnecessary rules and strangest of all replacing the word ‘camp’ with ‘HMS’. I’m assuming one of them will eventually work out that we are not actually on a ship and are in fact in a ‘camp’ in the middle of the desert but we must let them figure these things out for themselves.

That’s it for what I expect will be the penultimate installation of ‘War’ Diaries, as ever keep the replies and comments coming in and thanks for all your support thus far, it means a huge amount.

By Rich Glover