In the woods, Poland
Somewhere in the woods - I cannot say anything else as being a lowly foot soldier on a regular army exercise I had no need to know where I was. Tell the troops what they need to know and if they don't need to know then let them find out for themself if they can be bothered. Though I could be bothered, the need to stay warm and be entertained in rest periods were more importand to me than knowing which piece of woodland in Poland I was in.
16 Nov 2005 - In the woods, PolandThis military exercise started with 3 days in Germany and then a drive to the exercise area in Poland. The exercise for us started in a vehicle depot as the troops we joined with had been on exercise for about 7 weeks and were on a short break to recondition equipment and to refresh. This suited me fine and I escaped from the cold, miserable conditions into the NAAFI hut for tea and films.
The exercise when it started involved movement to various positions to await for the imaginary enemy in the scenario, night convoys, sleeping onto of an armoured vehicle and doing stag (guard duty) at ridiculous o'clock.
Being late November in Poland meant the weather was cold and damp and towards the end there was snow. Doing stag at 3AM was awful even wrapped up like the Michelin man. The air was so cold it hurt the nostrils!
At the end of the exercise we were given access to hot showers and as the warmth flowed back into me I began to look back on the exercise with fondness! The return journey was on a warm, comfy coach and we were then given 3 days R&R which involved sight seeing around Paderborn (Germany) and drunken escapades.
Poland - Military exercise, vehicle depot
For me, the exercise began in the vehicle depot while the Battery took some time off before redeploying. Whilst the unit took the time to maintain their vehicles I chose to hit the NAAFI. Boredom and cold were the biggest enemies. This wasn't as lazy as it sounded as I was not trained on Stormer. Stormer is the name of the self propelled anti air defences that use the HVM missile.
Poland - Stormer in the woods
Parked up in the woods awaiting nightfall, this was home for one particular night. At night the vehicle was covered with a waterproof sheet and underneath this was where the crew slept. At least it blocked most of the wind. I did stag twice this night and drew the short straw of the 03:00 to 0:400 shift - the coldest time of the night. However, the beauty and peace of the forest, illuminated only by the moon on a crisp, clear night is a beatiful experience - even if painfully cold.
Poland - Inside the Stormer
This was my seat for most of my time in the vehicle. On the move it can be disorientating and unless you find the right posture in the seat, quite nauseating. I managed to jam myself into my seat so was comfortable even though I was shaken about.
Poland - Outside Stormer
During downtime I was given a quick lesson in how to drive the vehicle and then given some time to take it through its paces.