Being a Boy in JLRRA


(Insert dramatic music here.)

Nowadays I work in an institution that specialises in Top-End research. Apart from being an ‘Ideas-Factory’, our task is to peel-back all the layers of lies, bullshit, romantic-bollocks, mythology and suppression that are suffocating the real truth of our shared history.

You know, ‘Fake-News’

That’s what I do for a living. Nine to Five. I get in, peel back a few layers of lies and bullshit, and then go out for an egg-banjo.

To quote the Duke of Wellington, “If you believe that, you’ll believe anything.”

But, that is pretty-much what I do.

Anyway, back to being in the JLRRA.

Did you know, as we were led to believe, it was possible to fit every piece of your uniform and equipment into a mess-tin if you folded it up properly. That is what we were told. Although, I am guessing, not all at the same time. Otherwise, why would they issue you with a kit-bag?

This would be including your greatcoat.

Yeah. Right.

We had been issued with a greatcoat. I don’t quite know why. I don’t think I ever wore mine in my life.

The last time I saw one of those greatcoats in action was some years later, in Civvie-street, worn by a friend of mine. A bit of a ‘header’ if you get my drift. Geordie Fox by name. A skinny, spotty, shambolic young man with weird habits. The coat was his personal equivalent of Batman’s utility-belt. It contained every thing he ever needed. It was all in there somewhere. Sandwiches, condoms, tobacco, papers, roaches, matches, other aromatic or repulsive stuff.


Geordie practically lived in it. It certainly smelt as if he did. He had never served in the army. Just liked greatcoats, I suppose.

Back to the main action.

You are supposed to be able to fold up your greatcoat to fit it into a mess-tin.

I don’t think so.

One time, in Bramcote, we challenged our Troop Sergeant on this. This particular one was a really nice bloke. He wasn’t going to fob us off with some platitudinous pile of bollocks. We assembled the various components and each had a try.

No Luck.

When it was his turn he regarded the issue for a while and then asked if anyone had a cigarette lighter, with a view to reducing the coat to ashes.


This was only one of a whole load of lies, myths and legends we fervently believed in JLRRA. There were many others.


  • You could use soap, as a substitute instead of starch, for your trouser creases. The alleged problem being, that if it rained, your trousers would start foaming.
  • Using ‘Duel’ liquid floor polish to provide a lustrous sheen to your boot toecaps. The alleged problem being that if it rained they would go milky and you would get picked-up (didn’t stop us doing it).
  • Instead of polishing your brasses in Brasso, you could put them in a dish, pour some Brasso in and set light to it. Yes, that worked brilliantly (no it didn’t).

God alone knows where these ones came from. I doubt if anyone ever tested them. Yet, they were firmly believed by us all.

We tried all sorts of dopey things that were supposed to make it easier/quicker/better. The problem was that we weren’t disciplined in scientific research. We had no means to make a value-judgement.

We just believed. We blindly believed.


Gamecock Barracks had previously been an RAF air-base, hence the control tower, hangars, airfield, etc.

One of the legends doing the rounds, was that the ghost of a Polish pilot haunted one of the hangars.

A couple of lads, for reasons I can’t imagine, ended up spending the night in the ‘Haunted-Hangar’. By all accounts they crapped themselves. When you think about it that is probably fair-enough. Even without the implausible ghost story, if I’d had to spend the night in one of those hangars, on my own, I’m sure I would have been scared enough to soil my breeks.

Never happened.

There were many others.


One stupid story that stuck with me for many years, was about how us NIGs turned on one of the bullies and gave him a serious beating. According to the story we hurt him so badly that he later died of injuries. We were terrified of the consequences.

There certainly was an incident and we did have to go in front of the BC. I seriously thought it was a big-one. But I don’t recall we ever got any fines, or anything if it comes to that.

Years later I discovered that he hadn’t been hurt at all. Turns out he was discharged. “Services No Longer Required”.

We had hardly dented him. But in my mind, we had done severe damage.

Christ-on-a-bike! What kind of half-wit was I? I seriously believed that I had participated in manslaughter.


So now we come to it.

Since I started doing this blog, many ex-JLRRA people have asked me how I have remembered it all. The stark truth is that I haven’t. You lot have.

To explain: Earlier I did a couple of blogs about stuff I could remember. I did one about being in the band, and another about my recruitment process. All stuff that I definitely remembered.

Those blogs got loads of responses, and you guys started coming up with all your memories. That was the catalyst for my other, latent memories to come back.

Then I started corresponding with people (Graham Benton, Keith Reeve, and Keith Dobson alert) and then other stories bobbed up from the cupboard of broken toys.

I went to the Bramcote Open-Day last month and heard a load of other anecdotes and stories. I started going through my old photographs.

With all of that, I have put this blog together. I can assure you that it is all 100% true. It may be that I have mis-remembered the order of things, but it’s all true. Those events happened as I remembered them.

I have missed some stuff out. Deliberately. Some things in JLRRA did not develop my character, despite what some might think. On the contrary, they nearly destroyed me. I have chosen not to record any of that.

So, with this blog, I have set myself the task of peeling-back all the layers of lies, bullshit, romantic-bollocks, mythology and suppression that have suffocated the real truth of our shared experience.

Your task is to fill-in the blanks.