"It was the guns that beat us" General Benjamin Menendez, Argentine Army, 1982 "Wind the bobbin up, pull, pull, clap, clap, clap" Trad. (Arr.Andi Peters) For the sake of arguement - and to protect the guilty - we'll call him Second Lieutenant LPJ. He hadn't been in the Regiment long and, even from my lowly position as a Battery Chief Clerk, I could tell that he was having something of a challenging time settling in. The very first time I had set eyes on him had been during an Officers vs Sergeants Mess games nights, when I had noticed him sitting at the far end of the polished oak table, uncomfortable in an ill-fitting suit from Top Man that could have belonged to an older (and heftier) brother. His eyes darted from brother officer to brother officer, his starched white collar consuming his scrawny neck and chin whole. If he noticed that they were laughing at his social faux-pas, at his mistake in wearing an RA tie at a mess function, they didn't show it. Well, as it turns out, 2 Lt was a fast learner. Within a month he had acquired a pin-stripe suit, with two had a honey-brown gun-dog trotting at his side. By the time the Battery deployed on adventure training about six months after his arrival, he was managing to carry off the 'county' look with effortless ease; no other middle-class boy from suburban Birmingham would have carried off green wellies with such panache, that's for sure. And when the call came to Ireland ('as it had come before'), 2nd Lt LPJ was as keen as the rest of us. It had been a long time since the Battery had deployed on ops (apart from 4 months on the Green Line a couple of years before). Everyone was up for the fight. We would have the chance to do what our fathers had done before us, to do our real job as soldiers of the Queen. Whereas they had once battered down the walls of Ciudad Rodrigo, we would emulate their deads by reading Erica The Eye on the shitter at Fort Whiterock. But first, the dread OPTAG lay ahead of us... If you ever wondered what happened to those school bullies who didn't make it onto crime watch, I'm here to tell you that they all found satisfying careers as instructors at Tin City in Sennelager. The very day we arrived, we were informed in no uncertain terms that failure to perform would result in our collective introduction to 'my good friend, Size 9'. Coldstream Guards SNCOs with broken noses, Small Arms School Corps personnel with expectant, weasle faces, a QLR Major with imaginary carpets under his arms. It almost made us pine for the tender mercies of our milkman-capped Provo Sergeant back home. By the end of day one we were thoroughly pissed off and ready to hit The Strip with a vengeance.... As with the best war memories, the march of time has blurred it all in my mind. All I remember now is the urine-rich front porch of an 'Adult Centre', the warm Pilsner, the red velvet on the walls and the line up of whores from all corners of the world (and beyond). And then - even now, it is so hard to write that it makes my throat quiver - one young Second Lieutenant stood up and saved the whole brick. As he disappeared upstairs with the 18-stone Gabonese hooker, I knew that I had witnessed something rare - an act in the best traditions of the British officer. Good bless you, Sir. This is for you, 2 Lt LPJ. Hand on heart throughout.