Does every unit have one?

I have many memories of being in the TA and these are mainly of the characters I served with. We used to have a West Indian guy called Clem who was a one man walking disaster area. The stories about Clem in my unit were legion - every man jack had a story about him. One of my favourites occurred about 25 years ago, the platoon were literally driving out of the main gate of the TAC en route for a weekend FTX when we saw Clem running down the road with two Tesco carrier bags in his hands. The four tonner stopped and I, as platoon sergeant, jumped over the tailgate (Oh! To be able to do that today!) and screamed at Clem that he had 5 minutes to get changed into uniform while I sorted his kit out. I went into the platoon store and gathered up Clem’s webbing, sleeping bag, steel helmet, digging tool, mess tins and respirator but when it came to his NBC suit there wasn’t one on the shelf. Taking a brand new suit still vacuum wrapped from a box - I threw the lot angrily at Clem who had by now arrived half dressed and out of breath.

We arrived at the training area and began to dig to Stage 2. I shared a trench with the PC and the platoon radio operator (totally bad practice I know). A little later in the day we were ordered to move to an increased NBC state – consequently the word was passed around the platoon to don NBC suits.

Clem was sharing a fire trench with Pedlar Palmer about 30 metres directly to our front. As we dressed we watched Clem take the brand new NBC suit out of larry large pack. He tore open the inner and outer plastic bags and removed the contents, which were a pair of NBC over trousers. Clem put these on and crossed and tied the braces in the prescribed manner. Not surprisingly Clem, being Clem, was a little slower getting ready than the rest of the platoon, and he now had a bit of an audience watching his every move.

He removed the second sealed packet from his large pack and ripped the bags open. Clem now pulled the contents on over his head and this is where the fun started…

Unfortunately Clem had not been issued with a NBC suit but in fact two pairs of over trousers. He logically assumed that as the first package contained NBC trousers the second package must contain the smock. We were now treated to the spectacle of Clem trying to put a pair of trousers on over his head – he forced one arm down each trouser leg and was desperately trying to find some form of opening (the hood) in the crutch of the trousers and almost forced his head through the material. This struggle went on for a couple of minutes and by this time the whole platoon were p***ing themselves with laughter, particularly when Clem took the trousers off his head, studied them carefully, turned them around and then tried to put them back on again! This struggle went on for several minutes

The PC was on his very first weekend with the platoon and despite my protestations, he refused to believe that this pantomime hadn't been engineered for his benefit!

As I said, there are dozens of stories about Clem involving such things Grenades, the 120mm MOBAT, Flamenco Dancing, DIY tailoring of Number Two Dress, Impersonating an officer and many many more.

But the real point of this post is this - does every TA unit have a Clem? If so what stories have you got about your one?
Seemed to me like normal STAB behaviour


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I remember Clem! Top geezer, when B Coy at Edgware were in 6/7.

Wan't he responsible for cooking fried bread in OMD75 one morning?

Ah, happy days, when all we had to worry about was Courage Trophy and Lord Mayor's Parade. No mad rag-heads trying to blow us up, and no mad PM's mobilising us for - well, for anything, really!
Mentioning no names, but a Nigerian soldier on our books turned up prior to our two week camp in germany with particularly little kit. When asked why he had so little, he said he did not need much for the weekend.

"Victor, we're going to Germany for two weeks you lunatic..."

"O!....O!..." etc.

Fairplay to the dimwit, he actually came with us...


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Of course the army is full of 'Clems'. George MacDonald Fraser caught 'Clem' perfectly in Pte McAuslan. Everyone knows him, regardless of regiment/battalion/squadron/platoon.

Personally I hope he remains for the next 200 years as really he is the backbone of the army. He might not do things in the 'army' way, he is probably the bane of the Pl Sgt's life; but he will stag on right through anything that comes his way.

One comment by GMF was that, despite McAuslan causing all sorts of trouble just by being himself, his platoon protected him.
Even ARRSE has one it's called Heywood_Jablowme
We had one on the range. His SLR wouldn't fire, so this berk stands up and looks down the barrel to see if there are any rounds in it. There was, and the thing was cocked, and the safety was off. The range Corporal kicked him all the way back to the billets. Several people turned white with shock.
Though we did laugh about it afterwards.
I've been with the Regs and TA so know it's not confined to the weekend warrior, but in the TA the stories are always funnier because they were laughed at by all as a funny episode and not regarded as a state secret so that your unit wasn't seen as 100% perfect.

I have two stories about the same lad. He was well liked and had a heart of gold. Unfortunately he wasn't the sharpest tool and as a result of trying too hard he made some mistakes.

On an FTX we were on a recce and the Paras were playing enemy. We heard that the Paras liked to give anyone they captured a bit of a kicking so tensions were high. We were patrolling slowly and silently when the lead scout dived for cover. We all followed suit and waited top find out what the score was. The patrol commander crawled forward in the mud to see why the scout had taken cover. The scout was looking down and had one eye covered.
"What's up Duff?" asked the patrol commander
"Flare" replied Duff
The patrol commander looked up and saw the object, fully lit up, and still in orbit. He got up and kicked Duff in the ar5e.
"You stupid cnut - that's the moon!"

Another one was in Germany and on the usual day off in Hamburg. The platoon had gone to a brothel and sampled the wares. One girl in particular was a stunner, resulting in over a dozen lads giving her five minutes of army love. Duff was last but waited eagerly to see her. He was in there the longest and came out grinning from ear to ear.
"How was it Duff?"
"Brilliant!" smiled the satisfied young thruster. Now the best bit. This was in the eighties, before aids and condoms. Duff stood up and squared his shoulders, full of pride.
"She tasted lovely!"
Quite a few platoon members wretched at the thought of Duff slurping away at their deposits!
Another Clem gem.

The lads are on the range firing GPMG SF and Clem is spotting for one gun using a pair of binos slung around his neck. The tracer rounds indicate that the gun is off target yet Clem has not given any corrections. Bernie Bloom, the guns sergeant is watching and says - "Clem, give me your glasses" - in order to check the fall of shot - Clem duly passes his spectacles to a bemused Bernie........
We have the "barking snake" he's a tech though so he should be a little strange. He just takes it to far.

some of his classics

1) on the range, digs muzzle into ground. Loaded and made ready, looks down the barrel to check for obstruction. "STOP!! apply saftey catch lay the weapon down and GET THE FECK OFF MY RANGE YOU FECKING LOON!"

2) While climbing with the snake leading.
me: "oh snake... when did you put in the last saftey" HVS climb with lots of scope to shove in a nice friend 3 and snake is now about 15m above me.

snake: "I put a friend in as I started the pitch nothing since" I start to look worried...

Snake: I'm coming off!!!!

me: aww sh1t!!
20 odd metre of fall later and i'm glad there was only 18M below me as he creamed it right in to the deck and I was ok. Looked really sore for him though.. Shame!

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