I’ve had a few people asking if the wanking story was true, I can honestly tell you that was, as was this one…
We had been briefed that there were no working trains in Iraq and the tracks had all been destroyed or stolen so it came as no surprise when we got crashed out to guard a de-railed train. Slap bang between two oil refineries and next to a small run down hamlet there lay a train. I am still confused as to how it crashed, I understood that a bit of track was missing and that this had more than likely been the work of the local villagers. What confused me was that is was a very gentle crash, the engine had come off the tracks but it was parked quite serenely in the sand, the rest was all intact and still where it should have been.
The train had been carrying supplies for the US forces further to the north. One of our patrols was already on the scene, they had been stationed at the nearest refinery but had to head back quickly to make sure it wasn’t attacked. We turned up to relieve them, two teams of four, I commanded one, Paul the other. The guys we were relieving had already caught one potential looter which was unfortunate for him as I wouldn’t have gone anywhere near somewhere guarded by McThug.
So we were left, 8 of us and a train, alone in the desert, it was getting rather biblical as the call to prayer floated over to us. Needless to say were were soon bored. Paul and I, having positioned the teams into a perimeter set about exploring our charge. It was just shipping container after shipping container, perfectly secure, or so they thought. The Americans were clearly very grateful that us Brits were guarding their train from the baying looters. What they hadn’t considered was two British soldiers armed with Gerber multi-tools and a lot of time on their hands.
The first ‘carriage’ contained a random selection of quad bikes, training pamphlets and parachutes in their bags. Parachute bags are a sought after commodity in army circles, great for stowing all your kit, we took one each but agreed we were better trained than the owners of the train and decided against the pamphlets.
The next container held fuel pods that usually reside under the wings of aircraft, we had no need for them. However we soon hit the jackpot – camp beds, the mother load of camp beds. We had really bad camp beds that were about forty years old and didn’t keep your arse from the floor. They had magnificent structures that let you sleep in unbridled luxury, even with little hole so you could fit a mosquito net. Paul and I stole enough for our teams the went n for a bit more pillaging but found nothing else worth stealing and retired to our trench (when I say trench I mean folding chairs).
We were later visited by the company colour serjeant, the man in charge of stores, he had come to bring us some food. He too got rather excited by our haul of camp beds and promised to return and return he did, with a 4 tonne truck and more men. We then proceeded to unload around 150 camp beds from the train and he drove off into the night. We were forced to seek shelter under the freshly looted train as it randomly started to rain. In the desert. In the summer.
We handed the crash site over to another battalion the next day, it was obviously our duty to report that some heavy duty looting had occurred before we arrived.
We were escorted back to our camp by McThug. His vehicle was in front of mine. We were driving through the middle of the desert when I saw the door of his vehicle open and something fall out. We passed whatever had fallen out and just after we did it exploded. The same thing happened again, he was dropping grenades out of his door!
The beds were kept hidden for the rest of the tour. As the vehicles were being shipped back to the UK they had to be inspected by the military police he sealed them with hologrammed stickers, the vehicles were promptly driven round the back of some buildings, the beds were loaded on and the stickers replaced.
I may owe the US taxpayer a few dollars. Sorry!