Several Upmanship

No… not a report of the last ARRSE crawl and the subsequent photos of broken down old birds getting airtight. This is a tale of a broken down 432 on a hot summer’s day on Hohne ranges around 1983.

The fact the 43 had made it all the way to Hohne ranges under its own steam was a minor miracle but the last few hundred yards had done for it – it died a death and refused to go any more. A couple of bright young Craftsmen were tasked to have a look at the corpse of the mighty but very elderly beast to see if it could be brought back to life.

I was one of the bright young Craftsmen (well I was young if not very bright) along with a bloke by the name of Phil. We quickly diagnosed the problem – a split fuel line. ‘It’s fcuked’, Phil gave his technical report to the crew, shaking his head and drawing in more air than the split fuel line through his clenched teeth in the time honoured fashion of VMs. We got on the net for a new line to be sent and sat back to wait. The crew did the decent thing and left us to it – walking up to where all the other vehicles were parked up.

By and by the sound of an approaching Rover drew our attention, but it was not our new fuel line it was on of the Battery Staff Sergeants – Ronnie to his mates (of which there were few). Now, Ronnie was not a bad bloke but he was bloody army barmy. Rank conscious to the enth degree, even other S/Sgts made a point of not calling him by his first name in front any one with less than three stripes and a crown on their arm, a year or so after this incident, when I was a lance jack, he bollocked some poor Gnr for calling me by my nickname and bollocked me for not bollocking the Gnr. Rumour had it even his kids called him Staff and he had then stood by their beds every morning with bed blocks made. One bloke who lived near him said that you could tell when he was giving his misses the good news because you could hear him saying ‘Wun Tuh Three Wun’ above her moans all over the MQ area. He was a man on a mission and the mission was to keep the 3rd Soviet Shock Army firmly in Leipzig (or wherever it was they lived). He took this very, very seriously indeed.

The Rover pulled up by us and Ronnie jumped out. 'Whats the problem?' he asks Phil. ‘Split fuel line Staff’ says Phil. ‘How long will it be Craftsman Blackhand?’ He says looking at me, ‘About 17 feet 3 inches Staff’ says I. ‘Cnut’ says Ronnie. Phil's extra sense for extras kicked in so he interjected saying that we were waiting on the new fuel pipe. ‘Whilst you are waiting you can make yourselves useful’ says Ronnie, looking at me and thinking ‘Cnut’. ‘Oh deep joy’ thinks I as I could see him thinking ‘cnut’ and dreaming up some bone task for us to do.

Just at that point we were saved by the glorious form of four 432s passing us along the range road doing at least warp factor 5 – if you had x-ray vision your would have seen a jock VM in the back of each saying ‘I dinnee think the engines can take it Captain’. An almighty plume of dust followed them and as it cleared an incandesant Ronnie jumped into his Rover screaming at his driver ‘Follow those tanks!!’ And off they roared, leaving me and Phil wondering how a 43 could move so fast (turned out they were Mark 1 432s).

After about 10 minutes Ronnie and driver returned at a very sedate pace indeed and drove up to where the rest of the troop were – Ronnie wore a scowl that could have killed a rhino at a 100 meters- he didn’t even look at me and Phil, which was good as the pipe had not turned up and I still had visions of what he was going to dream up to stop us being idle and insolent. His driver came down after a while with a brew for us. ‘What the fcuk was all that about? I asked. His driver said that Ronnie had been ‘Several Upped’. ‘Several Upped?’ asked Phil and me in unison. ‘Yep’, says the driver ‘It’s a bit like one upped but more so. I got in front of the 43s and he screams at me to pull over, so I did and he jumped like something from Starsky and Hutch and stood in the middle of the road with his hand up yelling for them to HALT!!! . Once they had screeched to a halt about 2 inches from his nose he jumped up on the front of the first one and says to the commander ‘‘Don’t you know there is a 20 km/h speed limit on this range road????’’ ''Yes I do’’ says the commander and just who might you be?''- ''I am STAFF SERGEANT XXXX of XX Regiment'' - ''Well I am LIUETENANT COLONAL AB hyphen C of YY REGIMENT'' says the commander ''now get the fcuk off my tank -STAFF!!''

Ronnie’s driver was near cocking himself laffing as he said Ronnie had fair gone arrse over kite and skinned his knee on the front tow eye trying to salute and apologise at the same time as he slid down the front plate of the 43 ‘Yep’ says Ronnie’s driver – ‘old Ronnie was several upped good style’.

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