Military fatality on Mont Blanc


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Without wishing in any way to offend the sensibilities of the grieving.

I was instantly transported back to mmm about 1984. I'd been on local leave in Traz and drove into work on the Monday. Didn't get in the door before, "Stop, Corporal Alien. Go home. Get your blue twat hat and put on barrack dress trousers and boots." (I always wore lightweights and boots ready to be dicked for some mundane get-your-barrack-dress-dirty job, but by wearing them, I never got dicked. How cool was that?)
"Corporal B fell off the Matterhorn while you were away and killed himself."
"You are to represent HQ platoon as escort to the coffin. When you get back, draw an SLR and you'll be taken next door to the Green Howards who will teach the six of you the duties of Escort to the Coffin."
"But, but ..."
"No buts, just do."
"But ..."
Gone. Changed uniform.
Drew SLR. Fell in with a bunch of REEMs. Called to shoulder arms. Threw SLR at shoulder. Got away with it. Marched to the Green Howards' drill square. Stood at ease in the shade.
From the far side of the square came the most horrendous noise. It turned out to be the 1GH drill pig shouting at us. He ordered us to shoulder arms. Again, I threw the SLR at my shoulder.
There was a mighty roar. Ticktockticktockticktockticktockticktockticktockticktock as he stormed across the square and stuck his nose in my face.
"You, yes you, the Shiny Arsed Pay Corps corporal. Been in the army five minutes and a corporal already, eh? Did they not teach you rifle drill in Basic Training in the Shiny Arsed Pay Corps then?" (Note I have left out an awful lot of shouty, sweary words cos it isn't the NAAFI, after all.)
Calmly I replied, "No Staff." The colour sergeant bristled: I had chosen my words well. "Because it took me eight years and a transfer out of a cavalry regiment to make it to corporal. The cavalry use sub-machine guns don't you know. Her Royal Highness The Princess Margaret was not at all disappointed with my SMG at my last action as a cavalryman, presentation of a new guidon. See, I never did Basic Training with the Shiny Arsed Pay Corps."
"Never done rifle drill?"
"Get off my square!"
I got off his square. As I left I muttered, "I tried, to tell them. I did."

Fast forward four years. RSM's parade at Worthy Down. End of parade, he calls a bunch of senior NCOs from the Computer Centre to stay behind. Sergeant Alien was on the list.

"The Adjutant General is going to open the new Computer Centre (that we'd been in a good few months already). You lot will provide the Honour Guard."
"Sir," interjects Sergeant Alien, "Does that mean rifle drill?"
"Yes of course."
Sucks through teeth. "Cannot do rifle drill. Ex-cavalry. See there was this time ..." Sergeant C butted in, "Nor me, ex-RTR."
"Don't worry, I'll have plenty of time to teach you ... personally."

Back to the tragic death of a soldier killed in a mountaineering accident in the Alps.

"Well Corporal Alien. You're a German Linguist, yes? You can devote the next week to being escort to the grieving parents. So I spent my time organising a B&B out of the Commanding Officer's Public Fund (or whichever fund it came out of) and driving the parents around the high spots of Osnatraz ... which didn't take long.

Sorry for interfering in a grief thread. As you were.
1977, Gib Bks, Cove. 30 of us just completed Combat Engineer training and awaiting posting to regiments.
On parade one morning and its the start of the firemans strike.

"Right, listen in. Forget your postings for a bit ... you lucky lot are going to become Firemen ! Smith, Jones 316, Brown - Birmingham. White, Black Green - Manchester " etc. etc. etc.
Bit of a briefing on what to expect and then ........

"Oh ...... has anyone done any climbing before ?"

" I have Sargeant." It just came out. Not a concious thought about the consequences until the second syllable had been uttered.

"Right Sapper M_Mud, you are going to France"
( I had done one day on sea cliffs with an uncle who was a rock climbing enthusiast)

I joined a group of RE mountaineering freaks who were off to Mont Blanc, training on glaciers, survival stuff and a bash for the top to finish it off.
During the 3 days we were actually living up there, 9 or 10 people were killed, including a famous mountain guide.
And a plane crashed into the mountain.
At one stage, just below the snowline, I heard a roar behind me and watched the narrow path we had just walked disappear 100's of ft into the valley below.
Crossing a glacier, roped as a group of 7, a crampon did not bite in enough and I was accelerating towards a greeny black abyss. I rolled onto my iceaxe to drive the point into the ice - and it made no bloody impact whatever. Just before the ropes went tight I slide into a fissure right next to the dropoff, rucksack wedged in - me on back and one leg over the edge.
A day or so later we were near the summit and a storm came in.
" We'll head for the Vallot Hut" says the boss.
When this wooden refuge appeared out of the blizzard and we went up to the entrance, there was no door. Inside there was about 8 feet of snow with maybe 40 people on top climbing into doss bags.
We climbed up to bed, had a shitty night and next morning were advised to get off the mountain as there was filthy weather imminent and you could be stuck there for days.

It was a memorable experience but not one I volunteered for again.


Chaps. Good stories but there is a family grieving tonight. Perhaps the wrong forum?

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By the way if you read the link it is a services climber.

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RIP and all that however I'm sure the military fraternity is used to random inane, and even slightly amusing dits when someone throws a 7. He was actually doing something with an element of risk involved, not like he took a sharp shuttlecock in the eye.

This is how it SHOULD be done.

Alan Partridge Goes to a Funeral - YouTube

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