On the road, in uniform and out
Final Rank: Cadet C/Sg
Years Served: 5
‘I joined the Army in August 1984, aged 17 years old. I was doing a carpentry and joinery apprenticeship but it wasn’t for me. One lunchtime, I went down to the Army careers office and enquired about joining up. The Recruitment Sgt – a friendly chap as I recall (aren’t they always?!) – asked me why I wanted to join. Well, I’d spent five years with the Army Cadet Force, rising to the rank of Cadet C/Sgt in the Queens Regt, had enjoyed every minute of my time and wanted to experience it for real. I also wanted to serve my Queen and Country.
‘The next thing, I was on my way to selection in Sutton Coldfield. I passed, but what did I want to do? I didn’t know really – I hadn’t given it a thought! So many regts and corps to choose from, but I had an idea: the Royal Corps of Transport. I couldn’t drive but, hey, they would teach me and I wouldn’t have to pay either.
‘It was the beginning of August and I was off to Buller Bks in Aldershot, training depot for the RCT – 10 weeks of square bashing, exercises, SAA and fieldcraft. Oh, and cookhouse food! (Gotta love the cabbage mechanics.)
‘Training finished, passing out parade done, I was sent to ASMT Leconfield, the Army driving school. Car test passed within a week, then on to Land Rovers and Bedford TK and MK, passed my then Class 3 Licence, then back to Buller to await posting … Where would I be going?
‘After about two weeks’ waiting, I was off to Germany, 10 Regt RCT in Bielefeld. I had only been to Germany once before and that was as a cadet. When I arrived I was introduced to Herforder Pils (yellow handbags, as they were affectionately known) and “bratwurst und pommes mit mayo”.
‘It wasn’t just that though, it was BFT, CFT, boxing – yes, I had been posted to Fighting 10, well known in the Army for their prowess in the boxing ring. To start with I was posted in HQ Sqn, the admin sqn of the regt, but later moved over to 9 Sqn (Shiny 9). This was a TTF (tanker transported fuel) sqn, where I gained my Class 2 Licence, did a hazmat course, and was delivering fuel to the Army Air Corp and RAF bases.
‘In 1987 I was posted back to the UK to join 63 Sqn 5 (AB) Brigade in Normandy Bks Montgomery Lines opposite the Parachute Regt Training Depot. We were part of the Airborne support team that included engineers, medics etc. An even tougher fitness regime ensued.
‘I got to travel around a bit, going to places like Northern Ireland, Germany, Cyprus, Denmark … some obviously better than others. I also spent some time attached to 110 Provost Coy RMP, day in day out dressed in No2s. What a chore!
‘I left the Army in 1990 and returned to civvy life. What was I going to do? Well, I’d been taught to shoot people and run away fast, and I had also learned to drive a truck so, as the only legal option was the driving, that’s the road I took. However, I couldn’t settle, moving from company to company.
‘I decided a change was in order and in 2010 I joined the ambulance service and trained as frontline ambulance crew. I was back in green kit. What a fantastic job! Yes, it had its highs and lows, but I could deal with them. What I struggled more with was keeping my family. My marriage had broken down and I had found a new partner who was very supportive and proud of my work, but I inherited her five children and that’s not cheap! I made the decision to return to driving as the money was significantly better.
‘I have now found Marine & Cargo, a dedicated logistics solutions haulier who is very much supportive of serving and ex-Forces. They have signed the Armed Forces Covenant, and support Veterans’ Gateway and All Call Signs.
‘Brothers Andy and Nigel Marshall run the company and were themselves civilian contractors in Kuwait, assisting the Forces with vehicle and equipment movements. Since joining the company in August 2019 I have been made to feel welcome into the team. It’s more a family – the bosses care and will help you out, they will assist with the transition from military to civvy life and are looking into healthy eating for drivers. I feel happy and at home working for them. I am so much less stressed than I was, but I do still miss my Army life. Who doesn’t?’
For full details of the work of Veterans’ Gateway and how it could help you or someone you know, read our full-length feature here.
About Veterans’ Gateway
Veterans’ Gateway is a first point of contact for veterans, their families and carers who are in need of support. The service is delivered by a consortium comprising The Royal British Legion, Poppyscotland, Combat Stress, Connect Assist, the Ministry of Defence and SSAFA, the Armed Forces Charity. Veterans’ Gateway represents a pathway to a full list of services, from housing and recovery to mental health services, financial and employment advice. It aims to reduce confusion for veterans seeking support within the military charity sector and to ensure it can signpost to the right service for any need a veteran may present with.
If you are in need of support, call 0808 802 1212, text 81212 or click here to visit the website and find out more.