Things started to hot up from now on, quite literally. Two more men had gone missing at the weekend whilst on the pub-crawl. Had I known how hard life in the jungle was to have been I may well have joined them.
We flew over to Belize, first class of course, and arrived at the jungle warfare school. We looked the part in our Bermuda shorts and shirts. Killer had fallen for another practical joke; his diary had been changed so that he thought we were on Arctic training. Had we known the effect the heat exhaustion an 18 stone man goes through wearing thermals in 35°c temperatures we may have not played this prank. However, everyone had a laugh, and the important thing was that Killer saw the funny side once he was out of intensive care.
We first learnt the essentials of jungle survival. First up was learning how to clear enough forest to enable getting a tan, how to kill all the funny creatures in the jungle and how to destroy the cultural identity of the indigenous tribes. Then in the evening it was time for a barbie.
The first problem we faced was making a bed. Using our WAP phones we found out that the nearest hotel was 50k's away. This meant that we had to get out our SAS pocket survival guides and learn how to make a duvet and headboard using only a few twigs and a used parachute. Soon we had a nice little camp formed up. Smudge was working on a nice water feature for the garden we had designed when we had our first contact. The training team simulated a helicopter attack by throwing tins from the treetops. We soon put a stop to that. Using Killer as a human shield I ran for the chainsaw and chopped down the trees they were in. It's not the conventional way to neutralise a helicopter but we were praised for our initiative.
|Bad combination: SAS soldier and a big gun in a jungle. Luckily they didn't give us bullets, who knows how many would have died. I am in fact sitting on Killer's head after he passed out|
On the second day we set about learning the skills needed to slot an enemy target in the Jungle. Using captured baboons as the enemy force we planned a two front attack. I was placed i/c for the unit, and so it was my balls on the line if it went wrong. Luckily for us the baboons were attacked by a tribe of killer ants, and so proved to be an easier target. However, Killer still managed to be captured and so we had to leave him. None of us were willing to give up a banana for the ransom, so we decided to move on without him. Three men sent in later on to rescue him lost their lives. The baboons were immediately signed up with a three-year contract, although two were put down for failing to salute an officer.
By now food rations were getting low. A tribe of hippos had managed to nick all the biscuit brown and the Tabasco sauce, as well as every sachet of chicken curry. We needed to find a source of food from the Jungle. Using Delia Smith's Guide to Jungle cooking we set about creating something special. After four hours of searching we gave up and instead nicked food from the officer's store.
The next day we set about recreating the scene described in Andy McNab's Immediate Action. In the book he describes how they used so much explosive to remove a tree that it flew 50m in the air. We wanted to go one step further. Using a contact from Ukraine we managed to source some Uranium and so packed the tree with a home made nuclear bomb. Killer was chosen at random to push the detonator while we watches from 30 miles away. And boy did we beat McNab! Not only did the tree fly half a mile into the sky but so did all the trees in a 10 mile radius. It will take something to beat that feat. Although on the down side all the wood landed on the last 20 members of the Wandakaka tribe, wiping this unique tribe off the face of the earth forever. Shame about that.
|Us next to our new swimming pool. Note the distinct lack of trees|
Just as I was starting to enjoy sunbathing in the Jungle it began to rain. And when it rains in the Jungle it pisses it down. But even then the rain brought a plus side. The crater left by the tree experiment began to fill and so we had the first Jungle swimming pool. Smudge knocked up a quick diving board and by the end of the day we had a wave machine by bobbing Killer in and out of the water. Life was sweet.
|Last ever photo of the Wandakaka tribe|
But as soon as it began it was over. We had all passed with flying colours, and Killer received a mention in Dispatches for the injuries he had received. Although this was later rebuked on the request of his fellow squaddies. As members of the Regiment we serve Queen and Country, but we do it in secret. Medals and awards are for those who like to wear them in front of other squaddies, and that's not acceptable in the S.A.S. Although I gladly display my medals which I wear with pride around town.
|Awards picked up after my jungle training. L to R: for services to the logging industry, best i/c and for gaining new recruits (7 baboons)|
The operation had its downfalls, every one does. Four men had been eaten alive; two were last seen entering a cannibal tribe camp and three officers died through malnutrition. Injuries were rife. I sprained my shoulder attempting a reverse flip dive and Smudge had broken two fingernails. Seven men had an upset stomach and five men stumped their toes on tree stumps. In terms of casualties this had been the worst mission yet. It could only get worse. Oh, and Killer suffered from heat exhaustion, radiation burns, baboon scratches, broke an arm and a leg and caught various diseases, and spent 3 weeks in hospital. You should have heard him moan, you would have thought he was the ONLY one who suffered.