Tuesday 21 July 2009

Tales from the Academy – Anyone for the 3/9ds?

We live a few miles from the RMAS and can often hear the sound of small arms fire in the wee hours of the night and thus we know that Sandhurst is on exercise (known as manoeuvres in other countries) Exercises are conducted at regular intervals and the weather makes little difference to the plans. It may be hot and humid, foggy, frosty, snowy or cool and dry. Memory suggests that in the 1960s it was usually cold, wet and miserable, with icy rain being directed by north-easterly winds into the frozen visages of miserable cadets in muddy dug-outs. If conditions were extreme ponchos were issued but otherwise the only item each one had to shield him from the elements was a thin army blanket which acted more as a wick for the rain than a protection. Worse even than the ice-block feet was the total boredom as the young men wished themselves elsewhere as they waited for 'things' to happen.

Occasionally the boredom was alleviated by happy chance. The areas in which exercises were organised were generally remote, off the beaten track, isolated, inaccessible . . . except, in some cases, by car. In those self-consciously law-abiding, ostensibly very moral days, young unmarried people were expected to restrain their natural urges and wait for marriage to allow full expression. They were not encouraged to entertain the opposite sex in their bedrooms where in any case the temperature was not very different from the outside. There was no privacy in their homes and no central heating so everyone huddled in the one room that was kept warm. The one place where some sort of seclusion might be found was in a car.

So it was one night that one couple found a secluded spot to take time for themselves, unaware that they were in full view of a number of cadets in camouflage. As the scene unfolded and the car windows became increasingly fogged someone called out, 'Anyone for the 3/9ds?' (that being the price of a cinema ticket at the time)

As soon as the words were spoken the car driver revved up his engine and sped away as fast as the muddy, uneven terrain would allow, leaving behind a chorus of chortling cadets.


  1. Very funny memory--one that, ahem, brought back thoughts of some of my own steamier car adventures. (Yikes, did I say that?)

    Thank you for sharing!

  2. Thank you clairz - seems it's a shared experience across the generations, even now!


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