CANNON POOL By Craig Hannan, SASR
This was the same course 1/81 SAS patrol, medics involved a few of us – me, Pete Sides, Dutchy Valkenberg, Kerry Danes, Dave Parsons and a couple of others I can’t remember. The School of Army Health had this old muzzle-loading cannon. One night after the boozer closed, Sidesy and I were walking back to the lines and stopped next to the canon. We looked at each other and said, “Go yeah, got to be done.”
Each SAS course had knocked this thing off at some point and placed it somewhere so the Army had decided that enough was enough and had chained it down to a concrete platform. So while Sidesy went to get some tools, I kept watch on the roving piquet. We waited for an hour or so to get the timing right before using the 30-cm shifting spanner to snap off the eyebolts.
‘Beauty,’ we thought. We went to pick it up and couldn’t move the fucker.
So off to the lines we went to rouse as many as we could. On the way, we decided where it would end up. We got the boys. Four of us could barely move it and finally got it to where we wanted to put it – the pool. Sidesy went to snap the chain and lock off the gate but with no success. It was too heavy to lift over the fence, so we went to ‘Plan B’ – unbolt a whole fence panel. We needed a diversion to keep the piquet away so a couple of the boys went and created a little havoc elsewhere. We got it in the pool area and were just going to dump it in when we realised it would go straight through the bottom.
It was just the end of winter and still fucking freezing cold so Dutchy, Dave, Sidesy and I stripped and got in. Talk about freeze the balls off a brass monkey! We had to separate the barrel from the gun carriage to make it possible to move it. So we set the carriage in, then put the barrel in and then bolted it all back together. A little underwater construction, before the four of us pushed it down the deep end. While we did this, the others put the fence panel back.
Just before lunch the next day the shit hit the fan. We were all fronted by the CO and told if we did not return the cannon, we would all fail the course. No one coughed. This went on for a while till we thought he would have a fit. He tried personal interrogations to no avail. We couldn’t help it and pissed ourselves laughing. They still had no idea where it was, so we took them and showed them. Ballistic would be a good description of the CO’s reaction and this just had us all laughing harder. Needless to say, we had to remove the said item from the pool and return it.
On the same course again, with the boozer one night chockers full of people, I decided I liked the nude four-by-two-foot painting hanging above the bar. It was a nice picture of a nude woman reclining. I walked up to the bar, reached up, lifted it off the wall, tucked it under my arm and walked out. The next day I mailed it back to the OR’s boozer at the regiment. It was nearly a week before they noticed it was gone. They searched all our gear, rooms, cars and shit.
It hung behind the bar of the Gratwick club in the regiment for years until it was remodelled. I have no idea where it went after that.
The enemy never monitors your radio frequency until you broadcast
on an unsecured channel.