The DTL: in praise of an icon.

When last back in the UK I played the "guess which unit is hiding" game by counting the number of Turdises (pl Turdi?) parked around SPTA. In our right-on, eco friendly times* we cannot set up the monument to British military excellence, the DTL, and another part of our history is doomed to the chemical loo of time. Before the memory fades (and believe me, these days remembering to put trousers on before leaving the house is considered a success), allow me to pay homage to the DTL.
My first encounter with said monument was being tasked to establish one in our company location on an exercise that rejoiced in the name of Spearpoint 76. Camping in an idyllic glade in the German woods close to the IGB, all that was needed was a thunder box to give it that "home from home" appeal. I obviously have an artistic side. In a trice, there was the gazunder, sited on a slight rise, coyly draped with hessian screens and with a lovely view over a sun-dappled glade.
I was proud. No, damn it, I was exstatic: my first (and possibly only) military success. If I'd left it at that, the bn would still look back with nostalgia, saying "Rickshaw was a tw*t, but, by heck, he could make a good DTL".
But I didn't. Something made me decide to persuade one of the lads to slip down into the pit and, when presented with the first bottom to appear at the hatch, to reach up and tickle it. Fortunately, my section was blessed with a fellah who could be persuaded to do something like this. (There was little in the way of care in the community in those days). Into the hole went our hero and Rickshaw went off to find a sittee. Now, I do have an overly enlarged suicide gland and on this day it was working overtime. Who should be striding towards me but my Pl Sgt. Who better to christen our DTL? I subtly attracted his attention by jumping up and down, calling out "Sarn't, sarn't.... ooh please, its the DTL. Its finished. Oooh, its wonderful. Come and see. Come and see!" Even he got hacked off in the end and altered course to view my constuction masterpiece.
"Yeah, ok Rickshaw. Well done. Now stop fannying about and get back to your area."
"But don't you want to try it out sarn't?"
"But you must" (Said in a wheedling, Uriah Heep fashion).
(Suspiciously) "Why?"
"(Improvising furiously) "Well, the lads have really put themselves into this job and I reckon they'd be chuffed if you'd be the first person to try it out" - Trying not to widdle myself at the play on words.
(Exasperated sigh) "Oh, okay".
So up the slope to the gazunder stalks Sgt E.
He pauses to note with approval the neat returfing, the privacy accorded by the screens and the thoughtfully provided two week old copy of the Sun conveniently to hand. in fact, he enters into the spirit of the thing and, whilst 3 Sect 9 Pl stand a respectful distance back, ready to applaud the deed when 'twere done, Sgt E drops his trews and sits in regal splendour upon the throne..............
For approximately .00000017 of a second.
Having returned to earth from a low orbit, Sgt E looks down into the depths and with a roar that nearly made the entirety of GSFG collectively seek their own DTLs, screamed "whose in that effing 'ole?" Well, a muffled voice explained that it was in fact Pte So an so (of the Plymouth So an sos, a respected local family) and we all thought "Joke over".
Not so. Sgt E was a soldier of the old school. A cam pole was put to immediate use, knocking the DTL attendant to the floor of the pit and Sgt E then sat to take his ease. Several weeks on compo and no real desire to "go" were no obstacle. It did take him the length of time to do the Sun crossword (night was falling by the time that last pesky three letter clue had been solved) and sending Sgt E's face the sort of colour that graces a Cardinal's robes, but eventually the deed was done. From the depths of the DTL came a low keening noise - the sort of moan that you make on realising that not only is your wallet is empty, the goddess you slept with has been stolen and replaced by the heifer snoring in your pit and the massed bands of the Household Division are conducting a warm up in your head.
The years have gone. My chest and stomach have exchanged places and dimensions. The Bide A Wee While rest home for the chronically aged (Wilton Branch) beckons and the DTL is no more. Lament with me........

* Unless you are camping out somewhere like Kabul in 02.....

Latest Threads