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Stonehouse Massacre

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It actually all kicked off the day before the dinner when we had "stand training" in the middle weekend between the MTQ continuation training and pre-RMAS Cadre and the all-arms phase and FTX the following week. Most of the previous week we had been out most days until 9pm or later and by the time we got sorted/showered/changed it was about 1030 and the CO insisted on closing the bar at 11, so there was huge amounts of binge drinking, and drinks going back to the 12 man rooms in the blocks. That Saturday we finished training at 10 am and had a sports morning/sleep before getting transport into Plymouth. Gun troop laid on a few 4-tonners to ship their lads into and back from town, which the whole contingent abused. Most of us did our own things in groups and then went on the urine as we had a pay parade on the Fri night and got an advance on the 2 weeks pay. Most of the PSIs came out with us, and a few lads almost drove into Q "Dickie" M******an (bulldog chewing a wasp, but a top guy), so being a bit hard (and worst for wear) he stood in front of the car when it turned round and threatened to take all 5 of them who were in the car. It got into a bit of a scuffle involving most of the PSIs and as many of us as could wade in before legs and arms started getting ripped off these 5 lads who turned out to be Matelots.

On the Sunday morning the CO got us all in the cookhouse and said that he had been a bit hard on us the previous week by not giving us any social time, but that he had got on to the CO at Stonehouse Barracks and arranged the use of the cookhouse for a Contingent Dinner so we could let our hair down, and that we would all have to make a ?15 contribution towards food/wine. He also alluded to a spot of bother in town the night before and that he expected no repeats of the kind of incidents he had heard about (but obviously couldn't prove). He told us that the dress was jacket & tie and female equivalent and that the ladies and senior officers would be bussed in coaches and the men would travel in the back of 4-tonners. We then spent the day being run ragged round more stand training and were given only 30 mins to shower and change before the transport left. Most of us were tired, hungry (a lot of us didn't get lunch that day), and pissed off. We arrived at Stonehouse and the dinner kicked off with a pre-dinner drink and most of us got a few v large G&Ts down our heads. When the dinner kicked off we were caning the wine and anything else we could get our hands on, and the mood started to get a bit ugly because all the talk on the tables was about how much of a t**t the CO was, and we just carried on drinking (that's when Jonny M couldn't hold it any more, tried lagging in an empty bottle and missed wazzing all over Knobby C. (There's a theme developing here).

When the dinner ended everyone was utterly shitfaced and the CO got on the bus with the girls, who were really gone. A few of them threw up in the bus, and one managed to cover the back of the CO's seat in technicolour yawn (one described it as a river of vom running down the coach). Most of us got the transport back at about midnight and started turning in when the some of the JUOs started coming round saying the CO was in the guardroom going mental and we should just get our heads down. At about 1 am we were all called on parade by the Adj. As we were forming up we noticed he couldn't stand up straight and was slurring his orders. One of the guys in my room (an Irish guy whose name I can't remember) started giggling and Lt Ed "Prize-Turnip" (the HAC dumped him on us for being clinically useless as anything but target practice) started taking himself more seriously than he should have been and pushed the OCdt. Prize-Turnip got a bit of a shock when matey started accusing him of assault and shouting at him across the parade square and threatening to have him up for ABH, and had to be dragged off Lt P-T. The Adj started reading down the list of officers from the 2 1/c down all of the staff officers and PSIs and only those left in the rear party were in camp. He then went down the list of 2Lts and JUOs/ Ocdts by room. Knobby was in our room but had passed out on the bed. Someone had tried undressing him and his pants were round his ankles (he never wore undies for some reason, really disturbing) and when the Adj called his name someone replied "he's passed out on the bed Sir!". The Adj demanded we get him so with Sgt Maj W*****s (the only RMP I ever liked) we carried him back on the parade square his bollox hanging out a stream of urine steaming behind him with WO2 W shouting at him "If you're sick on me Sir I'll gaol you for the rest of your life!!". We dumped him on the parade square before the CO walked off in disgust. "Cav" C*****n started laughing and was gaoled. He was sent to the guardroom and said he had to use the heads and disappeared for 20 mins, apparently because he couldn't get his trousers back on after trying to pull them up with both feet down one leg. He was taken outside to sober up and just walked off threatening to charge anyone that stopped him. We were all dismissed and sent back to our rooms.

The following morning someone turned the radio on and there was a news story about a German sailor who had jumped over the side of a ship and a search and rescue operation had been triggered. Someone commented that this was the kind of nutty thing that Hans might do. When we got to the cookhouse Hans was sat eating his breakfast with 2 MPs either side of him. We asked around, but no-one knew what was going on. Someone saw him being led back to his block and a few of us followed him, and when he was alone we asked what had happened, this (as best as I can remember it) was his reply (and apologies for the German accent!)

"I vent out vis ze PSIs to a nightclub where we got drunk and danced. At about 2 am we were kicked out and we valked back to ze ferry. I was not sure if ze ferry was coming and so I walked down the quayside a bit until I saw a jetty. I decided zat I could make better time myself and found a bin bag to put my clothes in and I sat on ze jetty and contemplated ze tide. I got into ze water and began to swim with one arm, holding ze bag with ze other. I washed up on ze other bank much further downstream zan I thought and had to walk back to ze camp. I decided that it would be dangerous to walk down the side of such empty country roads as I might not be seen and run over, so I started walking down the middle of ze road while I dried out. About half way back to camp a taxi stopped and asked me where I was going. I told him, but said I did not have any money, but he gave me a lift back to ze gates anyway. I was called in to see the CO this morning who said that I had started a search and rescue operation and that I must return home".

What had happened was that a woman had seen Hans sat on the quayside naked with his clothes in a bag and thought he was trying to commit suicide and phoned the police. He got into the water and started swimming across the Tamar (the most tidal basin in the UK) and the tide dragged him almost 5 miles downstream towards the bay. An RN minesweeper was coming into port after an exercise and picked up the message from the Coastguard to be on the lookout for a suicidal swimmer. Hans washed up on the shore, by which time the news had broken on the local radio that someone had gone into the Tamar, and the Taxi driver had just dropped off his last fare when he saw Hans and stopped. Figuring something was wrong ( a semi-naked German who was soaking wet walking the streets was a bit unusual) he took him back to camp and called the police. The police then called off the search and the following morning an Asst Commissioner paid the CO a visit.

Later that morning the CO called another conference in the cookhouse and gave a very brief account of what had happened the night before and said that he had misjudged the mood of the evening, but that was by no means an excuse for our behaviour. We later found out that the as the RSM was being commissioned he was leaving at the end of camp and was dined out. The tradition was that the CO is always invited, but the RSM hated him so much that he deliberately didn't invite him. After his dinner he got v drunk and rounded up a load of the JUOs and some of the OCdts he got on with and had an all-nighter in his room. At some dark hour he got up and announced to all of the PSIs that he was "going to t**t the Colonel!" and proceeded down the corridor to the CO's room. He got most of the way there before passing out in the corridor. Being good oppos the PSIs decided to leave him there until morning, but forgot to pick him up in time for the COs rousing and morning run/shower. The CO, seeing the now ex-RSM slumped in the corridor just stepped over him and carried on walking down the corridor.

But yes, the PSI's all did threaten to resign en-masse, including the TA WO2s, because after the dinner the CO called all of the SNCOs in for a mass bollocking for being out when the Adj did the roll-call, and they objected to being treated like children when there was no legitimate way that the CO could impose a curfew. He also tried (unsuccessfully) to close the Sgts Mess bar each night on camp. The first thing the new RSM had to do when he arrived in the 2nd week of camp was calm all of his WO2s down. I had an immense amount of respect for both PB and FB, the former for being more like Windsor Davies than Windsor Davies, but doing it with such good humour and the latter for really taking the time and effort to look after each and every one of us in his quieter, but no less authorative way.

There was also the RGJ Cpl who was there with his sect to DS and play enemy who pulled one of the girls that collected the fares on the Torpoint ferry? He presented himself the following morning at HMS Nelson's sick bay with a piece of corn wedged in his jap's eye from shagging her up the arrse? Or the JUO who got so drunk he wandered into the bogs in the girls block and was caught in one of the traps having a tug?