Fate's Last Turn

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I spent the next years of my army career with the REME workshops attached to 29 Commando Royal Artillary Regiment, working hard, travelling far, building a good reputation and gaining the respect of my peers. The psychological troubles that had haunted my earlier life, dispersed like mist on the breeze. The life and times of Peter Williams faded into obscurity as my new persona established itself and I concerned myself less and less with the risk of being recognised as the man I’d once been. Nobody would ever associate that immature young person with the man I had become. I had evolved and grown into the soldier and tradesman that I’d always hoped I would. During that time I had my wolf tattoo modified. The design which Silver Moon had so skilfully reproduced those few years ago in Canada, now incorporated a commando dagger. I didn’t think for one moment Moon would have approved. I was also promoted to sergeant.

The summer of 1981 saw me returning to the workshop main HQ in Plymouth at the Royal Citidal after a prolonged attachment to the Sphinx Royal Artillery Battery based at RM Condor near Arbroath. I expected to be stationed in Plymouth for the foreseeable future and wasn’t really relishing the prospect. It was a darned sight warmer and more pleasant than Arbroath, most places are but I’d always preferred being deployed out in the field, preferably abroad, working in my capacity as a marine as much as a REME tradesman.

One evening I expressed my feelings to one of the more senior NCOs over a few beers in the Sergeant’s Mess. He was a staff sergeant named Barry ‘Taff’ Wales. He wasn’t a Welshman, in fact he was from Yorkshire and spoke with an incredibly pronounced dialect. He had always been known as ‘Taff’ because of his surname though. Soon after we had first been introduced I’d mentioned to him that I thought he had a confusing nick name considering his accent. He’d looked at me for a second before replying, “Owt’s better than Barry though eh lad?”

He had a point and we’d been good friends ever since.

Surprisingly, he told me about a forthcoming posting he had been offered.

“There’s a small detachment of marines in the South Atlantic you know. They only have a few vehicles, boats, a few generators, that sort of thing but they do require a small REME detachment to supervise maintenance and generally look after it all. There’s talk of the RE helping to build a new airstrip down there so there will be some heavy plant sent out soon. I’ve been asked to put a team together and fly down to set up a permanent LAD. I only found out about it today and it won’t be for a few months yet. It’s on the Falkland Islands. It could be right up your street though Frank, what with your interests in wildlife and that. Think about it. How likely are you to get another chance to go to the Falklands and live with the penguins. The secondment would only be for twelve months initially, so not the end of the world if you don’t like it.”

“Up my street? Too bloody right. You can put my name down for it, definitely Taff,” I replied without a moments hesitation.

The Falkland Islands, I thought to myself. I’ve heard of them. All seals, surf, penguins and sheep. What could possibly go wrong.

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