A trip to Aldershot.

Discussion in 'Postwar' started by David Layne, Jan 7, 2022.

  1. David Layne

    David Layne Well-Known Member

    In July of 1971 I was a member of the United States’ 7th Army Parachute Team stationed at Bad Kreuznach in Germany. Each year we would do an exchange visit with the British Army’s Parachute Regiment’s “Red Devils” who like us were a parachute demonstration team tasked with representing their countries military.

    Our visits usually lasted around five days. We would fly over from Germany in a Huey crewed by personnel from the 350 Aviation Company in Hanau. We would make a fuel stop in Belgium and then proceed on to Aldershot.

    On this occasion the 7th Army Parachute Team had been invited to participate as guests in the British Army’s annual “Aldershot Army Show” on Queens Avenue Aldershot.

    The Brits were very keen to jump the Huey, an aircraft not in their inventory. We were equally keen to jump their Westland Scout helicopter operated by the Army Air Corps and their Britten-Norman Islander. These two aircraft were the usual jump ships for the Red Devils but were aircraft the Americans were not familiar with.

    The American contingent also got to go through part of the Parachute Regiment’s student jump course where we jumped three times from 800 feet from a tethered balloon operated by the R.A.F. at Hinkley Common Drop Zone.

    Those three balloon jumps and jumps from the Army Air Corp’s Westland Scout enabled us to be awarded British Jump Wings that we were authorised to wear on our uniforms.

    U.S. Military regulations allowed for the wearing on the uniform of one foreign award or decoration. Several members of the team had other foreign awards, mostly German and Vietnamese, each individual wore the foreign award of their choice.

    At Aldershot there was an area the middle of the barracks area known as the Parade Square. It was an area of grass that was not to be ventured on and all members of the Parachute Regiment knew this in fear of WO1 (Warrant Officer class 1), RSM (Regimental Sergeant Major) Nobby Arnold taking retribution on them for walking on” his” Parade Square.

    According to a description of Arnold given to me by a soldier who was at Aldershot at the same time as Arnold he appears to be an utter eccentric. The soldier writes.

    “He used to arrest ‘anything’ and have it put into the guardhouse jail. You would not walk across ‘his’ parade square as it was classed as his ‘hallowed ground’. I think he arrested his pace stick once (or maybe a few times) when he dropped it on the parade square. A story goes; he used to pass a soldier every morning and the soldier used to say, ‘Good morning, Sir’. After a long time, Nobby said to the soldier, you can call me Nobby when we pass on a morning. Next day, the soldier said, ‘Morning Nobby’ and Nobby arrested him and put him in the guardhouse jail for insubordination”.

    So, a plan was hatched between us and members of the Red Devils (who relished in the thought of seeing Nobby’s tail twisted) for the Americans to stroll across the Parade Square at a time when Nobby was know to be in his office that over looked the square.

    Our fun didn’t last long as RSM Arnold soon turned up. With veins sticking out from his forehead, eyes bulging and mouth frothing in rage Nobby Arnold commenced giving the Americans who had the temerity of venturing onto his grass a major chewing out.

    If a British squaddie was addressed by an R.S.M. he would stand at rigid attention. Not us, it enraged him that we all stood around in a relaxed manner, chewing gum, smoking and dropping ash on his beloved parade ground.

    It did nothing to help foster Anglo/American relationships and enraged Nobby even more that as we pleaded ignorance, we referred to him as “Buddy” or “Sarge.” We protested that with his accent we couldn’t understand what he was so upset about.

    When he finally got through to us, we argued that there were no signs telling us to “Keep Off the Grass.” And anyway, looking around for our Parachute Regiment Red Devil hosts, “They” said it would be OK.

    Needless to say, “They” were nowhere around, in fact there was not a single member of the Parachute Regiment in sight, all had mysteriously disappeared.

    We had got Nobby, he knew it and much to their delight, did most of the Parachute Regiment.

    Of course, we were safe in the knowledge that he could not throw us in the glasshouse for such a trivial offence without causing major problems.

    I think it must be one of the funniest things I have ever been involved with.
    Last edited: Jan 8, 2022
    alberk, dbf, davidbfpo and 8 others like this.
  2. davidbfpo

    davidbfpo Patron Patron

    That is a story that Paradata might like or even the Parachute Regiment journal / magazine.
  3. David Layne

    David Layne Well-Known Member

    They are welcome to use it.

Share This Page