As the train Pulled into the station on a cold and wet winter’s afternoon, I heard a voice shout out
over the tannoy “Aldershot, this is Aldershot”. As I stepped out of the door I could see four other
passengers climbing off the train with suitcases and rucksacks. I wondered, were these to be my
new army buddies. At the entrance to the station stood two men in uniform, leaning on a four-
tonner army truck. One stepped out and shouted.
“All right anyone for Depot Para, over here and give me your names, then get out your
“Hello, sir. I’m Robert Williams.” I said confidently.
“Don’t, call me sir. I’m not an officer, I work for a living. Call me corporal.” He snapped.
“Oh! Yes sir, sorry sir, I mean corporal.” I said. As my confidence was quickly shattered.
“Don’t, worry son. You’ll soon get the hang of it, I assure you.”
As we approached the entrance to Browning barracks, there was a full size Dakota airplane
parked on the grass at the side. Just like the one’s they used for parachuting, in the second world
war. As I was taken to the top floor of a three-story building, I began feeling really excited, and a
smell I couldn’t quite put my finger on lingered all around. There was a long corridor, with
rooms running off it. The two corporals went into a room about halfway down, leaving us to
stand against the wall on one side. Then suddenly through the door, leading to the staircase a
large man entered in uniform with three stripes on his arm. A sergeant, I thought. He turned to
one of the guys standing next to me.
“That wall has stood up on its own for many years son. So, it doesn’t need the likes of you
leaning on it to keep it up. Now stand up straight and don’t lean on the wall, and that goes for the
rest of you too.”
It was quite some time before someone reappeared from the room and started calling out names.
“Yes,” I shouted.
“Follow me.” He ordered.
He led me to a room just down the