Once Works Well was pure technology. Now it seeks merely to divert.
Pansy subjects - Verse! Opera! Domestic trivia! - are now commonplace.
The 300-word limit for posts is retained. The ego is enlarged

Thursday, 30 July 2009

Why I never invaded anywhere

Lee Enfield .303 rifle. The original design dates back to the turn of the century. But then the RAF was primarily into bombs.

Bren gun, known in the RAF as an LMG or light machine gun – so christened by some brass hat who never had to carry one.

Before the RAF capriciously decided I would be taught to repair radio equipment I underwent basic training - squarebashing (UK), boot camp (USA). I was warned about lying with loose women, about not brushing my teeth and about espousing the teaching of Bertrand Russell rather than those of the RAF’s Yahweh.

More important were: obedience to orders (including those requiring me to go out and get killed by the enemy) and killing skills. I’ll forgo the hysterical yet comical bayonet training and concentrate on the three loaded guns I discharged.

The first was a .22 rifle on a 25-yard range. One instructor got into position on the ground and another bawled explanations. When the prone instructor took aim silence descended and nervous anticipation rose. The discharge was like the tiniest of farts. Suppressing a snigger (which would have been unpleasantly punished) caused my sternum to ache.

I then shot a .303 Lee Enfield rifle on a 200-yard range. Did I hit the target? It didn’t matter. For me an enemy 200 yards away was a notional enemy, a mere theory. With the Bren gun we reverted to 25 yards. A burst required squeezing the trigger during the time taken to say “A thousand and one”. There was a caveat: “Don’t count to a thousand and one,” screamed the instructor.

Two bursts and the paper target tore apart, then – to my delight – detached itself from the holder and flew into the air. For the first time I had an inkling of why some men get addicted to shooting guns. Soon, however, I was wielding a soldering iron. Haven’t squeezed a trigger since.