Rough Diamonds and Other Gems (Major General A.N.O. (Derry) MacIntyre)

by Major General A.N.O. (Derry) MacIntyre

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eBook formateBook, (torrent)En
PublisherXlibris UK
File size1.9 Mb
GanreBiography & Memoir
Release date 23.01.2013
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Every Christmas, 1RLI held a party for all the children of every soldier in the Regiment. The kids all arrived at the Regimental Institute and following some sort of entertainment - daft divers in the pool, cartoons at the cinema - or some such, Santa Claus (usually our rotund Irish Quarter Master, George Walsh) arrived in a truck converted to look like a sledge, carrying large sacks of toys. George usually “Ho, Ho’d” at the top of his voice and threw handfuls of sweets to the kids, who lost no time in tearing into them, thus beginning their afternoon of hyperactivity and sugar overload. The band played Christmas Carols and paraded up and down, adding to the festive atmosphere not to mention the din. The kids followed Santa Claus into the Institute Hall where each one received their present. This was followed by turkey, trimmings and Christmas pudding prepared by the caterers, with ice cream, nuts, crisps, sweets and various cold bottled drinks. This had been the normal tradition. But when Peter Rich took over as Commanding Officer, he formed a Parachute Club and decided that for that year’s kids’ entertainment, Santa, (Peter himself), would arrive by parachute accompanied by a few Christmas fairies. All done up in a Santa suit, beard, red and white hat, Peter did his usual immaculate stage left exit, followed by three unfortunate junior officers dressed in fairy outfits, gauzy wings sprouting from their shoulder harnesses, fancy pointy shoes and pixie hats. But that was the last of things going to plan. The kids were all awaiting these brave parachutists on the surrounds of the cricket pitch, but if they saw the bold boys exit the plane and open their ‘chutes, that was the last they did see of them. The dispatcher had done a singularly poor job by sending them out in the wrong area altogether. The wind was all in the wrong direction and pull as hard as they liked on their steering guy ropes, they failed to find their way back to the barracks grounds. Apparently Peter eventually gave up the unequal struggle and landed beside an illegal shebeen in the veld somewhere, where a few hundred black men were seated in a circle drinking home brew. Had it been a pub with cold Castle beer, instead of a shebeen with warm Chibuku, I could understand his motive, but the proof that Peter was lost was there for all to see. The fairies also landed in an African township. I don’t know if Peter and his fairies distributed toys to the local boozers but it would not surprise me to find that they did, with lots of “Ho! Ho! Ho’s”, convincing this surprised black audience that here was yet further proof that all white men were totally bonkers. How I wish that I’d been there to see the looks on the shebeen drinkers’ faces when Santa dropped in from the skies that Christmas. Shebeen: Illegal informal bar Veld: open bushland Chibuku: traditional beer made from fermented maize meal drink with a grainy off-yoghurt consistency THE FIRST ATTACK ON UMTALI In August 1976, Umtali was attacked one night by the rebel troops from beyond a ridge of mountains straddling the border between Rhodesia and Moçambique. After the excitement had died down, the people of Umtali had a T-shirt printed with the legend across the chest, “Come to Umtali and get bombed.” To “get bombed” in Rhodesian slang meant to get skunk drunk, and that was how little regard most Rhodesians had for the enemy. At 0420h that morning, I was awakened by a massive earth-shuddering blast. Weeks previously, my 3 Brigade Head Quarters had moved into the old Cecil Hotel. Being the commander, I had been installed in the Honeymoon Suite, no less. The suite next door was reserved for visiting officers. B
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