Well I never! Anecdotes about allies in the sandpit

With the demise of the Italians, I got to thinking about the various nationalities in the sandpit. I remembered, with a snigger, my experience of the Bulgarians. I wonder, has anyone else got any multi-national anecdotes from their time in the sandpit? Mods - if this offends our brothers in arms, you'd beter move it elsewhere.

Here’s a Bulgarian anecdote for you.

I was looking down the long road that goes to the palace, alongside the Shatt Al Arab one morning, when a convoy hove into view. As per SOP, the gate VCP stopped all traffic leaving to let it through. Mind, it took a while. They trundled along very slowly. And more and more vehicles appeared. We thought we’d seen the last one, but, no, more and more kept appearing round the corner, a km away.

The first one reached us. Bizarre. Who were they? There were trucks of strangely Eastern European appearance. US woodland cammo. AK47s. More mustaches and swarthy characters than the ‘YMCA’ video. The interpreters were asking ‘are they Russians?’ (and shite-ing themselves about it).
In the lead was what can only be described as a clown car. It was green, but a cross between a ‘kubelwagen’ and a Hillman Imp, with 70’s curtains covering its seats. Clearly this was someone important. It led the convoy – by then about 100 vehicles through the palace, and stretching as far as the eye could see.

By this time there were convoys backed up, horns honking, irate people asking what the hold-up was, and an audience from every office and store along the palace’s water-side.

A small figure detached himself from the clown car. As he approached through the heat haze I waited. He reached me. He was an odd mix of Vlad the Impaler, Groucho Marx and Sheriff Rosco. His mustache provided us both with much needed shade.

He said ‘I am Bulgarian Major. Where are we, please?’
Thinking that he wanted a military answer, I replied ‘HQ xyz Bde’
‘HQ xyz Bde, Allsopp Lines’
‘The palace’
‘Mmm. Which palace please?’
(is this a wind up, I ask myself) ‘Basra palace’
At this he looked aghast. ‘Basra? BASRA palace?!!!!’
‘Er… yes’
‘Not An Nasiryah??!’
‘No. That’s about half way to Baghdad’
‘We have gone wrong!! Show me?’

He produced a map. Or rather an A4 photo-copy, very faint. I looked at it. Turkey was on the top left. Iran on the right. In the middle was a little circle saying in Bulgarian – ‘here it is’ or similar. I recalled a page from my old 'bumper bok of countries, for nine year olds'

I took him to Bde HQ to get a decent map. Or rather several. He was like a kiddy in a sweetshop. When he’d done his ‘shopping’, he asked ‘can you take us?’
‘Where to?! Nasiryah?!’
‘Yes please’
Fat chance matey, I thought.

After they’d stayed for lunch and caused queues at the cookhouse of an hour and eaten all the food for the day, as luck would have it, some US vehicles were found that were going to Kuwait, and could at least take the Bulgars to the MSR that led to the west.

Once again, there was the tedious business of letting them leave, with the alternate gate open for incoming traffic.

Allsopp Lines took stock of its sadly depleted food stocks and chuntered.

All was peaceful once more.

At 3pm a chippy little Bulgar came in, beaming and said ‘Hello! Tell us, where are our friends?’
‘F~ck me. Have they left you behind?!’
‘You know where you’re going?’
‘Do you have a contact number?’
‘A frequency? A radio?’
Where is it in Nasiryah you’re going to – perhaps we can contact someone there’
‘er………. No’
‘Two vehicles?’
Hmm. Just these two blokes and their clown car then.

They settled in to wait, while efforts were made through MND SE to contact the Bulgarians. They passed their days fishing in the Shatt, sunbathing, and troughing.

4 days later a call was received from Nasiryah and they came back to collect them.

Waving to our new friends ‘Boris’ and ‘Ivan’ we watched them go, in their little clown car.

And laughed.
I remember during the first Gulf War the former East Germany donated a whole boatload of logistics vehicles, flatbeds, tankers, recovery vehicles to the war effort. God knows who these things were destined for, but they did give us a big clue as to the state of the former East German army should WWIII ever have broken out in Europe. From Al-Jubayl all the way up route Dodge these things were strewn, and left where they had broken down. There must have been hundreds of them just dieing after a few miles. If any actually made it to their destination I would have been suprised.

Similar threads

Latest Threads