The Good Jail Guide - Middle Wallop

I've resisted the temptation to join in the lively banter between the two illustrious Corps, been there done it and sadly the t-shirt is long gone. I had the dubious pleasure of arriving at MW in Sept 1979 to further my brainwashing in things vaguely aeronautical. Things went as well as things go where I'm concerned but then a cancer scare for Mater and an incompetent desk jockey (what else) shaped my destiny or at least the next few months. The disagreement over leave was apparently the fact I had taken three months-ish and had not really been allowed to. Being fresh from my training at Arborfield, what would a trained killer know and care about leave? In light of the news, I would like to add that I never refused to soldier, it was just that I wasn't there to do any soldiering and had I been there would I have been capable of it anyway.

So on my return, quite a hero's welcome I was pounced on by an "Upgrader" who thought I should do the decent thing. So after a few pints in the NAAFI followed by a few pints more, I was introduced to the rooms at the back of the guardroom. The following morning I was relieved to hear that I couldn't actually be detained at the current time so quickly put in a weekend pass which was accepted. This did seem to annoy some of the more battle scarred AETW staff but one who was a bouncer in an Andover dive soon realised I could be useful so apart from being a bouncer I almost completely took over his admin duties. Weekend pass followed weekend pass until the date of my local court martial arrived. I marched in, accepted the award and marched out straight to those back rooms again. This was a Friday and I was going to be escorted to MCTC Colchester on the Tuesday or Wednesday to serve my 56 days and as I was soon to find out, just a long weekend in MCTC terms.

My long weekend was eventful but then that's the story of my life. During my absence I had neglected my finances and the bank unknown to me had decided enough was enough. Late one evening a civvy arrived at the guardroom enquiring about a Craftsman S*****ers. As I was loitering (without intent) in the back of the guardroom, I reacted to my name, well the surname as I wasn't used to being called a Craftsman as I hadn't learnt a craft or skill and standing in semi-straight lines is not what I would call a great feat of vocational training. So I was almost served a summons but then being a SUS I had no rights and summons were out of the question. The duty officer was called and he told me that he didn't think it was worth bothering with now and told me nicely that I agreed. So the following morning I visited the RSM who was nauseous in name and by nature. He told me that I was a naughty boy and considering I was in his guardroom waiting to go to MCTC, I thought his powers of deduction were superb. I told him it was none of his business, he disagreed and pulled rank but I still disageed only silently this time.

My time in the back rooms were enough to form a very favourable impression of the setup. The food was excellent as we were escorted to the cookhouse exactly at the right time and the food was actually cooked but not burnt. I was not alone as a fellow Craftsperson was in as well, a right criminal also by name and by nature but good company and it helps when you have to blackmail the mod plods as you caught them stealing the rations. There were always cigarettes handy behind that locker just past the door to the exercise yard. The exercise yard was tested once but it was raining so we went in for a cigarette. As one of the RPs was a PTI and not inch high, we were tasked to manufacture soap dishes for the showers in the gym. It did relieve the monotony and helped to cut down the smoking. The strange thing of being in a cell is that you never actually feel locked in as virtually nobody could work the doors so the jail was run on a very open door policy.

During the day we were under the RP staff who were brilliant towards us and I only remember the one silly PT session but that was licked into touch as it was raining again. It was our duty to raise the flag every morning and despite our best efforts we couldn't hang it upside down but then somebody did manage and was quite a feature at the guardroom after that, I think it was two hands worth of extras for that. At night things could be quite horrible as there were those that wanted to do things by the book and there didn't seem to be a book so they made it up as they went along. The worst were the pot Tiffys who were out to impress. They didn't impress me but then I wasn't important. I lost my neighbour so had the run of the guardroom and was rather lonely one night as the guard had been called out. Of course the phone rang and remembering everything I hadn't been taught I answered clearly and politely "Guardroom, Prisoner here, Sir".

So finally the day arrived and I said my farewells to my hosts. A very nervous Sergeant from 70 with driver arrived and I was off to uncharted waters. I was put in the back of the (open) landrover and counted over a hundred possible moments where escape would have been possible but decided to face my punishment like a man or my equivalent of it.

I know there will always be rivalry between the REME and the AAC but I did appreciate how well I was treated by all and sundry and I'm glad I didn't judge a book by it's cover or somebody just by their cap badge, mind you some of those cavalry officers didn't have a clue but then that's another story as is my arrival at MCTC. I think I was the least nervous, there are myths to end all myths about Colly.

Edited, due to a serious lack of paragraphs.
Quite an interesting post but paragraphs man, paragraphs!
They didn't teach me paragraphs at Arborfield, I think you do them on a Tiffy course. That's me paragraph-less for life but a better man for it.
A little off topic but was there a MCTC type place in BAOR once? My fave nick was at Templar bks in Ashford. I live in Ashford & during one leave from BAOR me & a mucker ended up in a bit of a scuffle in a pub one Saturday night. When the local plod nicked us & realised we were squaddies they took us to Templar bks as the local nick was full. We were duly locked up for the night while the Int corps guys wondered what to do with 2 scaleys from BAOR. 10am the following morning my mate asked the duty SGT if we could pop down the NAAFI for a pie & a drink. "Of course, just don,t do a runner" came the reply. We ended up in the NAAFI till 7pm that evening when the Orderly Sgt came in & told us to get the fcuk off "his" camp & when we get back to Germany we,ll be warned for orders by your own unit. Overall it was a very plesant stay at Temper bks. Lets hear it for the Int Corps !!!!!! Never did end up on orders back in Germany just copped a few extras instead. Got away with that one quite well me thinks !!!

Regards LT.
MCTC - - Been there seen it Done it . .

Lone Tree - Did you make it to level three with the blue epelets ? We had a TV in level three . . .

Probably one of the lowest ebs of my 23 years, but I could honestly say that on a Monday morning I would know what I would be doing all week, and that remained the case. Jeesus, that confidence and assult course were unreal, and the BFT was on grass. Did you ever do the 10 miler with the SLR's and full CEFO. PTI just said, if you wanna do a runner then please leave the SLR behind, no one ever ran during my experience.

Perhaps the best part was church on Sunday, we used to swap gizzits with the D wing chaps.

Oh and those Nissan Huts . . Mmmmm.

Memories eh.
mpsman, Never done Colly. The only time I done was 14 days at 7 Sigs, & that 1 night at Templar. My mucker ended up D wing for 3 months before being carted off to HMP Brixton. Well that,ll teach him for belting a RMP with a men at work sign. 12 months do not pass go etc !!!!! Looking back now I can see how young & stupid I really was. Its quite embarasing really. But we all tend to make mistakes when we are younger. Some make bigger mistakes than others as in the case of my mate !!!!

Regards LT.
Sorry LT, it was MisterSoft who alluded to doing a shift in Colly. I must slow down when reading and laughing so much at the same time.

A ho, colly, I learned so much from it. I grew up after that . . I think...
It's nice to know that at least somebody is interested. I got 56 days but was released after doing 35, managed to keep my third off for good behaviour and even gained a day as they don't realease on a Sunday. Of course it wasn't the homecoming I expected as the Friday night before I was released, the IRA bombed Netheravon and the world and it's hamster was on stag and so was I the following night. Right onwards and upwards, paying particular importance to grammar, spelling and the use of paragraphs, somehow it didn't seem that important but apparently it is.

So late January 1980 I arrived at a windswept, wet Colchester. The nervous Sergeant from 70 responding to the barked orders from a another Sergeant with strange cap badge picked up my kitbag and ran to a nearby building. The driver of the landrover was not moving probably through fear but I ran easily despite the heavy smoking at MW nick and plus I didn't have a bag to carry. The nervous Sergeant who was now even more nervous threw my bag down and asked if he was allowed to leave as if he would have to accompany me for the duration of my stay. He left wishing me luck and I could hear the tyres screeching as the landrover sped off to safety. He didn't stay long enough to find out that the only reason we were rushed was that it was raining, there goes another myth.

I was ushered into a room where a rather large spotty buckfuck told me to drop them. Even at Arborfield we used to say hello first but I complied. He then examined my groin with a pencil, lifting my cock and generally messing up my centre parting. Apparently he was looking for wee beasties as he called them and fortunately I hadn't tried to smuggle any in. I was ushered back into the other room and the contents of my kitbag was unceremoniously dumped on the floor. Any luxury items that I had were thrown into a large brown envelope. So my 56 day supply of tobacco and various toiletries were put to one side. With hindsight the goold old army talc can hide a fortune but only one is allowed, two is considered decadent and you're likely to get the one with all the goodies confiscated.

Leaving the comfort of a brick built building I was semi-marched to a large barbed wire gate with two rows of nissen huts beyond it. Memories of the Great Escape and other POW films sprang to mind. This wing was for those who would be corrected and put back into their army environment, suitably refreshed, educated and totally army barmy. The other two wings were for those that were getting out after leaving the iron on and burning out the inside of one of the navy's finest or those that refused to soldier which was usually just a short stay, a wet one but a short stay. Within those that were soldiering on, were various grades where extra privileges were gained through brown nosing, arse licking or showing that bootie screw your arse as he was as bent as a nine bob note. It even progressed to being allowed out one afternoon a week but with my short stay I was never going to reach such dizzy heights.

Through the now open gate of Stalag Colchester I was marched to see the Wing 2IC, a crab lieutenant who had been dead for years but still managed to fill a desk. I was told all the rules which took some time, apparently gobbing in the lines was almost punishable by death and even escape didn't seem so serious in his eyes. I neglected to ask him what gobbing in the lines was, I was sure I would find out soon enough and I did. So I was promised an interview with the Wing OC who would no doubt be just as dead but at least he was army, a retired officer from some obscure regiment that disappeared when Wellington was only a full screw.

I was shepherded into a nissen hut with a central stove, approx eight beds, a toilet at the back and a distinct lack of continental quilts and NAAFI bed linen. I was given a bedsapace, a board to put my card on proclaiming to all and sundry who I was and how long I would be enjoying the facilities. A full set of blankets and a couple of pillows and most importantly a box to put or should I say arrange your kit. It was bed blocks of course with all the lines nicely lined up. Everybody slept inmside the mattress cover with one blanket so as not to disturb the bed block. On your board went the card, your gobbling rods, a clean (non hairy) soap, a razor blade and a clean and dry toothbrush. Toiletries and plenty of them were a second currency only to tobacco and bed blocks could be bought and sold if they were good enough.

The inmates were a good cross section of the army, a few crabs as well but no wavy navy. I was only the second REME and no AAC but a few ACC and the rest mostly infantry but the cavalry and the artillery were not going to be left out.Only only my second or third day as we were doing bayonet drill, a highland fusilier was introduced who had stabbed his guard commander and it took half an hour before anybody would stand even vaguely close to him and only under threat of losing remission. I was in a room with a particularly proud gunner who had sidetracked five grand from the sergeant's mess in London and was quite a celebrity when he wasn't trying to commit suicide.

Our first instructor was a former para who was the army judo champion and was almost olympic standard. He commanded alot of respect and he got it. As long as your laces were straight you were ok with him and he was firm but fair. There were MCTC sergeants and those who were transferring from other corps or regiments and an engineer we had was just as disillusioned as us and life was one long fag break if you rolled them thin enough to last. The map reading instructor's first lesson was to show you the best escape route and some had actually done just that but only a select few actually got away. One cross country champion just went straight on when told to turn left and was never seen again. Another was picked up by a screw who phoned the police and was recaptured in a multi-storey carpark not realising who had picked him up.

There was an emphasis on fitness and at the earliest opportunity we were APFA'd and BFT'd. I'm proud to say my APFA score went down, one of the first apparently and I never passed a BFT. You can take a horse to water but you can't make it drink. The PTI even tried pyschology or talking as he called it and the usual questions were trolled out. "What would you do if you saw the last bus leaving?" "Get a taxi!" "But what if you had no money?" "I wouldn't be out then!" Sorry all wasted on me. My REME compatriate found out very quickly about gobbing in the lines as after an eight mile run the lines were almost knee deep in phlegm and he was just unlucky to gob at the wrong time. Three days that cost him and after that all you hear was swallowing.

All mail was censored and any mention of screws was returned to sender. Stamps were reused as Brasso removes a postmark and the screws got wise to the green shield stamp trick where it appeared the stamp had been torn off by accident. Any medication was taken at the wing guardroom which was a hut by that impressive wired gate. Religion played an important part in our lives as if it hadn't been for the Catholics then we wouldn't have got the results. Us C of E's were marched in number twos for a jolly singsong but infinitely better than the non believers who stood outside rigidly at attention for the duration of the service. Much easier just to toe the line.

At the time of my incarceration the other wing made up of wavy navy and nohoper crabs and the most useless army were farming. This involved food production and since I think all they knew how to grow was cabbage, it featured pretty heavily in our diet with obvious consquences. All that we wouldn't or couldn't eat was fed to pigs though I don't remember ever eating cabbage flavoured pork. A local animal rights cell had complained that the pigs were being kept in inhumane conditions. There were two pigs in one hut while there was up to ten of us and all that cabbage, I think the pigs had it better for a while at least.

Don't worry only a couple more paragraphs, I'm getting bored myself. We had a passing out parade where you learnt everything you had been taught. Both officers were propped up to take various salutes then it was to the mess for pink gins, not us of course. We did learn sentry drill, silent sentry drill, and funeral drill and so much that they don't bother with at Arborfield. Of course all totally useless on my return to MW.

The rooms had their daily inspections and even the coal had to be clean. The draughts and dominoes had to spell out the date, why, I'm still trying to work out. It was January/February and bloody freezing more than six inches away from the central stove but there was still one screw who would tell you to get on your box and do your kit. There was a radio that went from hut to hut and my three chances at listening to the outside world had quite varied results. The first time it was Radio Caroline which sounded like the BBC World Service as it faded, farted and whistled. The second time saw the radio die on us or rather the batteries and no replacements so no radio and the third time was apparently after Caroline had sunk so nothing worthwhile was on the radio.

Right I've bored you long enough. I'll end with one of those stories that means that while I was at the wrong place it was sometimes the right time. Can't remember who he was but he was sat on the bog doing what comes naturally when he decided to do what comes unnaturally. Yes something came up and it had to be dealt with. So he was in mid strokew when a screw who was walking around the back of the hut, spotted him and rapped the window. He turned so quickly, he cricked his neck. This is what we heard afterwards but what we saw was somebody on a chair with trousers round ankles, in a definite eyes right position being carried by four blokes using brooms through the chair. Whether he completed his mission was never learned but that brightened up a rather mediocre day.

Thanks for sticking with it, if you did that is. It's all true, my memory isn't as good as it used to be then neither is nostalgia. Excuse the odd spelling mistakes etc. and hope you managed a smile.

I was firmly grounded at the bottom and stayed there. I was only b&b so not many did it until 4 weeks when I was there. Maybe it was my attitude, the bastards.

A good post. Thanks for taking the trouble to type it all - and for the paragraphs :wink:
For those of you who were at 664 Sqn AAC 1981-1983 like me, I'd like to tell a true story about an air trooper who sadly died in a car crash. I'm sure those of you who were there will remember the bad vibes that the hierarchy caused and the mess that transpired after his death but a funny story that shows what a loss it was to the unit and not just the fact he used to get changed with the curtains open while the wives club were in our bar which was opposite his room and that he never wore underpants. Also a great loss was his friend and mine, a lcpl, also AAC who was also sadly missed. I'll crack open a beer for them both tonight.
mpsman said:
Sorry LT, it was MisterSoft who alluded to doing a shift in Colly. I must slow down when reading and laughing so much at the same time.

A ho, colly, I learned so much from it. I grew up after that . . I think...

I did a good stag at colly,I remember the woodbines in the tea urn bucket ,6 from every table and I also remember being on DRO's and collecting the baccy from the bottom of the bucket and sneaking it back to the Nissan hut to dry out in a boot polish tin lid to smoke,rolled up in a page from the soldiers bible,things you do for a smoke eh
mpsman said:
Sorry LT, it was MisterSoft who alluded to doing a shift in Colly. I must slow down when reading and laughing so much at the same time.

A ho, colly, I learned so much from it. I grew up after that . . I think...

I did a good stag at colly,I remember the woodbines in the tea urn bucket ,6 from every table and I also remember being on DRO's and collecting the baccy from the bottom of the bucket and sneaking it back to the Nissan hut to dry out in a boot polish tin lid to smoke,rolled up in a page from the soldiers bible,things you do for a smoke eh
We had a PARA who smoked the asbestos lagging off the pipes, he ended up going sick. As you say the things you do for a ciggy. He thre away a dog end that would have lasted me a week. You soon learn don't you?
Can you remember sports afternoon on a Wednesday,football they said,I thought feckin great,but there idea was running round the feckin pitch 30 seconds quicker every circuit,it certainly made me grow up
I remember the end of the BFT was round that sodding grassy bit, used to sink in it like running in thick mud. Used to fail there and then, never out of breath which pissed them off bigtime but explained about the grass. Got way with it everytime. Worst was those sodding ropes, got a rope burn that made me think I had prostrate problems. Oh such happy memories.
Me as well mate,Naafi break,tea with no sugar and a bloody digestive and then once a month a film show,if you got best hut you won a radio, 1975 I was there
Me as well mate,Naafi break,tea with no sugar and a bloody digestive and then once a month a film show,if you got best hut you won a radio, 1975 I was there
Here we go. You were lucky! What's a digestive? What's a film show? No problems with sugar so you had it tougher. Did you ever see the breakfast cereal scramble? Fcuking amazing! It was for the cardboard for the bed block.

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