We would like to chronicle for posterity individual's service memories and experiences that otherwise
may never be recorded outside of commercial publications.
There are no restrictions and you may like to remember a time or place or a fallen mate, we owe it to
our children to pen our experiences and there is no greater honour we can give those that fell than
ongoing life in our memories.
This section may be accessed by young formative minds or old incurable ones and potential authors
are urged to omit detail or personal references that may shock or offend.
A degree of plausibility and fact, although although not essential, is encouraged and the insertion
of asterix where descriptive expletives are required would be appreciated.
In an effort to maintain the tellers flavour, editing will be limited to correcting outrageous spelling and
grammatical errors typical of soldiers narrative.
Welcome to Africa
Having had recent prior military service, and thus having been inserted into an RLI recruit course that was just
about to start it's COIN (Counter Insurgency) phase of training, I had only been in country a few weeks when I had
an interesting "Welcome to Africa" experience.
For the preceding week, my RLI recruit course had been on exercise in the Lake Kyle area, undergoing COIN
training in the Lake Kyle game reserve area.
At the beginning of this deployment, my bivvy partner & I had the misfortune being allocated a large expanse of flat
rock for our bivvy and rifle pit location.
This rock shelf was so large, it was impossible to shift to more conducive ground without such a move being
immediately obvious to our instructors.
Unwillingly to earn the wrath of instructors that a self-initiated move or even a request for alternate site would
surely bring, we made the best of a bad situation.
As it was impossible to "Dig-In", we carried a shifted number of large nearby rocks to construct a stone sanger that
we then slung our bivvy halves across.
As our instructors were apparently please with the way out training had gone, on the last night at Lake Kyle,
recruits were rewarded with a temporary relaxation in the normally strict RLI discipline regime and, took the form of
each recruit being allowed the unheard of luxury of two bottles beers
Given that with any group there are some who do not drink beer, thus it came about that some resourceful recruits
were able to get their hands on more than the intended quantity of beer.
My Welcome to Africa experience happened the next morning during those few minutes just before true dawn,
when the darkness of night is still heavy but there was enough greyish light beginning to seep through that one
could start to see nearby objects in vague definition.
As was our usual routine, my bivvy partner and I were awake well before first light and were quietly setting up our
brew gear when, we heard a noise coming from a close but unseen location in the bush which we estimated to be
about 30 metres to our direct front.
As the noise sounded like someone blowing down the neck of an empty beer bottle my partner & I came to the
conclusion that it must be one of the more resourceful recruits who, still intoxicated from the previous evening,
was wandering around playing the fool.
As I was aware that as a recruit there was no such thing as individual guilt and that punishment for any
transgression was generally metered out to the whole recruit group, I felt it wise to get the bottle-blower back to his
bivvy before any instructors noticed him, and the inevitable fire & brimstone descended upon us all.
I had only walked a couple of paces towards the noise when it changed significantly in character from a soft hollow
resonate blowing sound to that of a loud deep guttural growl that, clearly was of non-human origin.
My reaction was instantaneous and instinctive, I turned and diving back into the sanger, and in one fluid
movement, grabbed my FN as I landed and brought it around to bear over the top of the sanger wall, chambering a
round in the process.
The deep growl must also have been heard by fellow recruits in nearby bivvy's for, the loading of my FN was
almost immediately followed by the sound heard a number of other FN's being cocked, all with the distinctive
metallic crunching sound that is made as a round is chambered.
Without further incident, or siting of what had made the growl, the routine dawn stand-to procedure followed and
about 30 minutes later, all the recruits formed up on a dirt track for the usual morning run.
A couple of hundred metres down the track the bush opened out to a large vlie where, about 150 metres from the
track was a large tree, with a small pride of adult lions lolling about underneath.
At breakfast, my fellow Rhodesian recruits (much to their amusement) proceeded to educate me about the habits
of lions, that they often prowl around the perimeter of camps and, that the noise I took to be "bottle-blowing" was
in fact, a typical lion's "cough" sound.
Welcome to Africa
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