A soldiers Story

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Non-Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic

A soldiers story of the road back from hell part 1





Story -

The Road Back from hell






By Citizen Zee











For my darling ferrets, my only family


"I shall not go quietly into the cold embrace of the endless night,

Lest my beloved be the last thing in my sight"


River Dawson Copyright 2016












I wasn't born into a happy world, I was born into a war, a war against the people by the state, a war for survival in a family that, except for my dad did not want me and resented me.  From an early age I became tough.  As a small boy I played commandos in the woods.  At 7 years of age I began writing poetry and stories and had some poems published in a book that went to prison and ships libraries.  Throughout my life I have been told by teachers I am a gifted writer, but I leave that up to you, my readers to decide.  My life is remarkable, brutal, but in the end, survivable. It trained me from the cradle to be the best that I could be.  To be the best man I could be.  I began road navigation at 7 and off road orienteering navigation.  I was a crack shot from being a small boy.  I wanted only one thing, to be brave, to be a soldier.  My father was in the Royal Engineers throughout many campaigns in many theatres of WW2.  He won many medals and was a very brave man.  He left school at 14 so was not highly educated as I myself am.  He did have a wonderful gift for art which I inherited and was a great story teller.  He also had a high capabillity for mathematics.  I often wondered if his life would have been different if he had had the opportunity to go to university.  His family were poor, and there were five sisters and my father.  He often waited outside the pub or the betting shop for his father, who I never met, he died before I was born.  His mother whom my mother met briefly, was, apparently a stern fearsome woman, what one would describe as a battleaxe.  I myself stayed on at school having always believed at the urging of my father, that education opens many many doors.  I stayed on for sixth form and went to college and got the trade of motor mechanic.  Over the years I continued my education, in the army and outside it through the open university.  I got two degrees and a PhD in recent years.  I remain what I have always been, what I was born to be, a soldier.  For I now live in the end times and in or out of the army my life has been a desperate fight for survival, a fight which even though I am no longer in the military, will be a fight to the death where only the strongest will survive.  I intend that to be me.  I will survive.  I wasn't just any soldier, I went to Sandhurst and became an officer.  All the posh boys hated the rough course lad from a Yorkshire pit village.  Even though they were young they all had fancy cars. I had a clapped out Ford escort.  Still they saw in me something that frightened them, something they respected, like I was always going to become more than they could ever hope to be.  I did not know then how right they were.  Every day of my life I trained, became fit, honed my skills.  Sandhurst was no different.  I learned everything they wanted to teach me at extraordinary speed.  I excelled on the ranges being a crack shot.  The CO called me into his office and asked me what i wanted to do after Sandhurst.  I said I wanted to join Special Forces, I wanted to be a Sniper.  He platted his fingers then unplatted them, balling his hands and tapping his index fingers together as he thought.  Dawson, I am going to recommend you to sniper school.  There is a gentleness in you too son, the artisan to balance the soul of the warrior son.  Keep it, it will keep you sane.  The course you have chosen is not an easy one.  From here you will be assigned to an infantry regiment and from there attend P Company the Parachute Regiment Selection Course.  If you pass, and 7 out of 10 do not, you can then go to Sniper School and train as a sniper.  Your next course of action, should you choose to take it could be Special forces.  SAS selection is brutal and few make it, thereafter its one mistake and you are binned during training and RTU'd  (Returned to unit)  but many more VW (Voluntarily Withdraw).  But, Officer Cadet Dawson, there are things you need to attend to here.  Buckle down to the lessons we teach here, your teachers tell me you have a thirst for knowledge which is really good. You have top grades.  Choose your path carefully Dawson.  "Yes Sir" I said, stood and Saluted.  "Dismissed" He said.  I marched away to my accommodation block, my shiny boots squeaking on the equally shiny linoleum floor. He had filled me with many ideas and suggestions, but I had only really heard two words. Sniper and SAS.  I knew where I wanted to be and what i wanted to do.  I knew I would have to work hard, toughen up, and be physically fitter than any man alive.  My heart soared as all the pieces of my life thus far slotted into the huge dynamic visage that was to be my future!!  I knew my father would be proud, very proud.  


My head was spinning but of one thing i was certain. I was breezing through Sandhurst highest in all my classes and best marksman they had had in years.  The pampered rich boys of earls and lords were jealous. They hated me with a passion I am sure, but they kept their distance and had a grudging respect for me.  They knew I was destined for distant dizzying heights that they would never see.  I knew I would operate in the most dangerous war zones and situations in the world, anywhere in the world, and at a moments notice.  I could afford no distractions.  The Military at that moment became my family, my partner and my life.  I was a happy man and but for the rules I almost skipped to the ranges that afternoon as the sun shone, the birds tweeted and all seemed right with the world. At least, it certainly was in my world.  I had no idea how the CO's words would come back to haunt me, about taking care to safeguard my humanity and needing the soul of an artisan to balance the heart of a warrior.  I would be the best. I would suffer too, more than any man should ever suffer.  The course was set, co-ordinates logged in.  I was on my way, for better or worse I was about to be what i was meant to be.

On graduation day I looked crisp and smart in my uniform, pressed to perfection and boots so shiny you could use them for a shaving mirror.  The makeshift stands they had set up were packed with family, friends and wellwishers, who watched proudly as their resective officer paraded, drilled and passed out of Sandhurst. They then all ran towards their loved ones in the crowd, who had left their seats and surged forwards in a wave of congratulations and pride  I left the parade ground and walked away, unnoticed and uncongratulated.  I reached the accommodation block and hung up my uniform.  I lay on my bed in my underpants and contemplated the day. I was proud and happy but there was nobody there for me.  It was a trend that was set to continue, every war zone, every mission, when I stepped off the bus there would never be anybody there for me.










After graduation I was shipped off to join the infantry.  I reported to the gate, showed my id and the guard on the gate saluted.  "Officers quarters that way sir" he said and I looked where he pointed. It was a grey imposing building next to the officers mess.  I was only here for three months at 2ic (2nd in command) of A company.  After that came what I craved, P company, the training course for the Parachute regiment.  It was brutal and few passed but I could not fail.  Failure for me would never be an option because in the course I had chosen for myself, failure would get me killed.  For me the three months was just marking time, I did my duty I was saluted I gave orders, but it was mechanical.  My heart just wasn't in it.  The time passed slowly, painfully slowly, each day felt like a week, each week felt like a year.  I was 23 years old by now, tall blonde, well built and tough.  I was considered handsome by the girls but I didn't care.  I had to stay focused.  The goals I had set myself were almost impossible to reach even for the most determined and I had to give all of me to make it.  I would pay the price for my dedication but at that time I didn't care about consequences.  I was a full blooded combat soldier who craved the heat of battle, the endless adrenaline rush.  

You may be thinking that if I had known then as a naive young officer what I know now would I have taken the path .  I did? That would depend on when you asked the question.  After my service, No, id do it all again in a heartbeat. Now, No I wouldn't or I would give it all up for love, but that is another story for further in the book!

I tabbed (tactical advance to battle) 30 km a day with a 65lb bergen on my back.  I spent hours in the gym lifting weights and pumped up on testosterone and adrenaline.  I spent even more hours on the ranges honing my craft.  Others went partying and drinking, some went whoring, me I was focused and dedicated.  I lived ate slept and breathed the military.  There was a hunger in me that would not be satisfied by these things, only war would satisfy it.  I realized that war, my constant companion, would be the only thing on earth that could satisfy my lust for danger thrills and adrenaline.  I also recognised as time passed there was a darkness in me, a darkness the army would bring out of me. A darkness that scared even me.  It was seen by the other officer cadets at Sandhurst and it was certainly seen by my commanders.  I was what they needed and craved, a war machine, an unstoppable juggernaut that would complete every mission and not be diverted by a pretty face or bright lights and parties.  I was that soldier.  Right then I felt indestructible.  I would later find I was no such thing and I was hell bound on a course of self destruction that one man saved me from.  A man I met a P company.  He would become like a brother to me.  I arrived at P Company with my kit such as it was.  Rank didn't matter here. We were all nothing in the eyes of the instructors who would beast us until we bled.  I took the bunk at the end of the Nissan hut which was freezing.  I was September selection and freezing cold.  We had had snow the previous week and the small windows has ice on the insides.  I took the bunk farthest away from the door and the bottom bunk at that.  I put sheets on my bed and the thin dog blanket, scrounging up a spare to put a dog blanket curtain up.  I was to spend the entire journey through P company cold, hungry, tired beyond reason and bleeding and blistered everywhere.  By the time I left I would have done myself permanent damage.

I had reels of Zinc Oxide tape that supports joints and ligaments, prevents and protects blisters and anything else you want it to do.  It was a gift from the gods.  After I laid out my kit, another man walked in, small, wiry, dark haired.  Pete, Pete Grogan, he said offering me his hand.  River Dawson. I said as he took my shovel of a hand and shook it briskly.  He was stronger than he looked and before my service was done he would save me from myself and I would save his life more than once.  "I hope you don't have to carry me up and down Pen y fan mountain mate" I said and he laughed saying "So do I you big fucking ape!!!"  he was the only man who could insult me and walk away.  There was no malice in Pete, but my words were sincere, I doubted he could lift my huge bulk onto his shoulders.  He called me big Ape, so later did his wife, the lads in regular army would call me the Yeti.  Anyway back to the story.  P Company started with a Sergeant walking in saying we were nothing half of us would fail the first day.  There were now 30 of us.  Many had seen action too, although not me or Pete, not yet.  When he had finished his speel it was time for chow.  The food as usual was disgusting, burgers fried like concrete and black, soggy vegetables that had seen better days before they were stewed to death and lumpy badly made Cadbury Smash to pass for mashed potato.  The gravy was in short supply and thick as mud.  "Jesus, some things never change!" i said to Pete and let out a hearty barrel laugh that boomed around the tiny Nissan Hut, which was also freezing and miserable.  Thirty blokes who didn't know each other crammed together in a tiny space.  The atmosphere was awkward and frosty.  By the end, those who made it through bonded. A hellbound brotherhood who would lay down their lives in a moments notice without a seconds hesitation.

We began our first day with a thirty mile TAB with a crushing load in drizzle and mist that would freeze the balls off a polar bear.  It was pure hell.  As we topped the hill, what we thought was the last when we saw them, we saw the four tonner there to take us back to camp.  As we approached they drove off!!!  I was to find out later this was 'the sickner' and they waited another mile or so down the road for us to tab to them.  It was pure hell, our energy was gone, our legs were gone, our backs rubbed raw and bleeding from the bergen sawing into it, everything ached we were one mass of pains and aches and raw flesh.  Three VW'd that day!!!  (Voluntarily Withdraw) .  I would not be one of them.  Thank god for zinc oxide tape!!!  Back at camp we had a hot brew and some scoff such as it was then off to our freezing Nissan Hut with ice on the inside of the windows, and it was only September.  I thought my balls would drop off as I shivered under my dog blanket. I was cold, hungry, in alot of pain, bloody miserable, and my back plastered in zinc oxide tape.  Before the end of p company I would be a physical wreck, my back raw, my knee dislocated, my ankles swollen and battered but my spirit elated when i earned my wings, if I earned my wings!  At this point it was by no means a certainty.  Two of the three that VW'd today were battle hardened and tough. A Royal engineers guy who was even bigger than me, a man mountain, dropped out.  Jesus, this was going to be a rough ride, A white knuckle ride through the halls of hell and back.  At the end of this torture I would only be halfway to my goal.  I had six months of even worse torture during SAS selection to come!!!  I prayed I would survive as I slept fitfully with dreams of my future keeping me company.




Submitted: April 07, 2018

© Copyright 2021 Citizen Zee. All rights reserved.

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