Deflation – or Brought Right Down to Earth!
Looking back, one wonders how the NCOs were selected for training apprentices and cadets. They were, with few exceptions, of a very high quality, with forceful personalities but not of the raving and screaming variety of NCO the media seem to delight in depicting on our television screens. No doubt all of us can recall hearing a word or two that would have shocked Aunt Edna, but my recollections do not include volleys of obscene abuse directed at us as apprentices, nor as cadets. The incident below was dealt with by an NCO who evidently saw no merit in yelling abuse at us for playing up, but knew well how to cope with what, after all, was insubordination.
Senior Entry at last! In our last term at the College and with the end in sight perhaps we were justified in feeling a little light hearted and over-confident - or possibly even “cocky”. Outside the West Camp gymnasium, dressed in PT shorts, singlets, boots and socks, we were doing a session of Physical Training one afternoon under Sergeant Bendelow whom I had previously known a year or so earlier back in East Camp. We began to play about and play him up. The PTI soon had enough of this and, pointing to a black hut about a hundred yards or so towards East Camp, ordered “Round that black hut, and the last one back does 20 press-ups!”
So off we ran or, rather, trotted, not all that fast, to the back of the black hut where we gathered, paused for a while for a little discussion and then jogged slowly back in line abreast so that we were all first and, equally, all last. Not satisfied with press-ups and deeming a further lesson was needed, Sergeant Bendelow ordered us to fall in and then proceeded to run us towards East Camp. He, of course, did not run, but walked and when we were 20 or 30 yards ahead, shouted “About turn!” until we were behind him and then gave another “About turn!”, and so on until we reached a point on the track to East Camp where a path forked left into a coppice running alongside the paddock at the back of the Commandant's residence, “The Lodge”.
The paddock had been ploughed and Bendelow directed us into it and called “Halt!” His next order was “Take off your boots and socks and place them on the ground at your side!” Having done that we stood barefoot and wondering – but not for long. “Mark time!” shouted Bendelow, and then “Double mark time!”. After a few minutes of our bare feet pounding up and down in the dirt, with some stones in it of course, Sergeant Bendelow let us replace our boots and socks and marched us back to the gym, by now somewhat quiet and with our egos suitably deflated.
Fred Hoskins 54C