THE GOOSE WITH THE GOLDEN EGG By Stephen Harris, C Coy 2 RAR RCB 1997
During a RCB rotation with C Coy 2 RAR we had conducted the usual round of training that was always organised, more so to ensure that we were all busy and kept ourselves out of trouble… not that it ever succeeded in all my trips.
I was attached to C Coy as a section commander from Pioneer Pl and as such often had to wear several hats as DMEO operator, Battle Noise Simulation (BNS) operator/supervisor, mine warfare, booby trapping and any other job the coy decided was a Pioneer responsibility
During the rotation we deployed to Pulada for the normal suite of live fire ranges. After conducting the standard rounds of grenades, anti- armour, sneaker, snap, gallery, and section and platoon attack ranges the company was to conduct platoon live fire night ambushing complete with claymores, Mag 58 on tripods and BNS. The company 2IC had been given the task by the OC to ensure that it was good and realistic and had been allocated an extra petty cash budget for stores to ensure realism. As Pioneer section commander I was seconded to conduct the BNS and camp set-up for the activity.
The 2IC had purchased timber, hessian, rope, spray paint and a mountain of unfounded enthusiasm for the task and we used all of these to construct a mock enemy camp. His enthusiasm, however, was used for the purchase of a stereo system with long detachable speakers to be buried in the middle of the killing ground. It was to play a tape he had made in a foreign language with the intent to ensure that the Pl Cmd picked the correct time to initiate the ambush, with the idea that when the narrative indicated the enemy commander had arrived at the meeting, the ambush would be initiated. The fact that no one could speak this language didn’t matter. The power to operate the stereo was via a battery pack that he had me remote to his safety pit at the rear of the ambush located with the PL SGT, thus giving him control over the time to initiate the stereo.
The preparations were completed over the next few days and finally the first platoon moved in, deployed Claymore, set trip flares, mounted and set gun – the ambush was set. As darkness fell, the stereo started and the tape commenced… and it went on and on… and on and on… until finally the ambush was initiated. Everything went off without a hitch – well done lads! The 2IC claimed it was a great success; this was repeated for several nights and going along swimmingly.
It was finally my platoon’s turn for the ambush. After working the ambush for the last few nights, I’d decided or at least thought that I’d let my 2IC take the reins. After all, I’d seen all the workings and would get very little out of it. However, our coy 2IC was so engrossed in his success that he demanded I now participate in his great activity but only after I’d refurbished the enemy camp, set and checked all BNS, safety supervised the claymores, checked with him and given the thumbs up… Then I would join my section as part of the ambush… Oh and post what I would refurbish, check safety of claymores etc etc… ‘Dogs nuts,’ I thought (amongst other things). It was then decided that things would be spiced up for the final ambush.
I returned to the base camp, had a quiet word to the OC, PL COMD and safety staff involved in the activity and secured myself a copy of ACDC (TNT). The next day we returned to the ambush site to commence the refurbishment and set for the night’s activity. I busily appeared to be setting the BNS, only this time it was placed throughout the camp… mock buildings were laced with detonating cord, slabs placed under his figure 1s and mock meeting places were all wired back to a central initiating point in the PL COMD pit. Safety staff acted as sentries while the stereo was dug up and the tape replaced with a bit of good old AC/DC. Now to the power… and more so his ability to control. The remote power cable to his stereo ran straight though the PL COMD pit. I spliced in an alternate power source that would remain with the PL COMD and that would override his should he try and stop the tape after realising music was playing and not his scenario tape. I quickly briefed the PL COMD on the set-up and confirmed that when the 2IC initiated his cassette, he was to connect the wires and keep them connected no matter what. Having done my duty. all the while getting the hurry up by the COY 2IC, I dutifully reported that the ambush was ready and took my place within my section.
As darkness fell and silence consumed the area, the coy 2IC took centre stage and as always connected his power source. Through the deathly black silence of the jungle, instead of hearing his foreign tape he so delighted in… he got good ol’ AC/DC… TNT started to belt out at top volume. He immediately disconnected his power source… but AC/DC would not be stopped. He panicked and started to cut his wires. Looking totally bewildered, panicked and confused, he looked at the PL SGT holding apart his two power cables and said, “Sarge, what is happening? I can’t stop the music… Where is it coming from? There is no power and it still keeps playing.”
The SGT (in on the scam) drily said, “Not sure, Sir. Better give it another go.” In a blind panic, the 2IC was cutting wires connecting/disconnecting. All the while TNT was belting out through the Malaysian jungle. The PL COMD with beautiful timing and just as the song reached “Watch me explode” hit the tit… In unison the entire mock village was launched 60 ft into the air. Claymores initiated as trip flares illuminated the entire display and the interlocking machine guns ripped what was left apart…
As quickly as it had started, silence fell. All that could now be heard was the crackling, burning remnants of the beloved timber and hessian village… and the odd chuckle from the PL. The withdrawal was ordered and completed as the platoon withdrew to vehicles and returned to camp.
The safety staff assembled to check the site. The 2IC could be seen to be glowing with fury as he raced to his beloved cassette, removed the tape and found the dreaded AC/DC tape in place of his own. He proceeded to unleash fury on the safety supervisors, demanding to know which one of them it was.
Meanwhile, I was busy doing my job, checking the BNS, rolling cable and trying hard to contain myself as I could hear his fury and him lecturing the safety officers about wrecking the PL training. Of course none of them confessed… it wasn’t them. I finally returned to the circle after completing my check… With deep-set fury and venom he asked one final time who had done this. I casually asked, “Done what? Oh, the tape… yeah, that was me.” His jaw is probably still on the ground. He was flabbergasted. Off he stormed to obviously report me for disciplinary action to the OC, who was back at base camp.
It was an hour or two before we’d completed the clean-up and returned to camp when the OC greeted us with a massive smile. “It worked a treat from what I hear,” he said. “But I’d steer clear of him for a few days.”
The company had a weekly award for the biggest clown or foolish act, awarded during a company parade. The winner had to carry with him at all times until the next award a large, heavy gold-coloured egg or face a fine of a shout at the boozer parade and an extended period of the award… Yep, the 2IC became the Goose with the Golden Egg…