Posted by: TheAuthor | 24/01/2011

The art of barbarism

The lights tore on amidst the darkness, “Get up, UP!” came a shout from the doorway as two men burst in. Moving from bed to bed, kicking and pulling everyone from their slumber – most had only been in bed for a couple of hours. “Get into your fighting order, you have 2 minutes!”. Half dazed William hurriedly dressed and formed up dutifully, with the rest of the boys. Once there, the shouting continued only this time berating ensued. “Your jacket isn’t ironed, 30 press ups!”; “Your boots aren’t polished, 40 press ups!”; “Why are you looking over there, 20 press ups!”; “You call those press ups, do them again!”.

Once all the infractions had been ironed out, the boys were led outside in the cool pre-dawn autumn air and formed up into three ranks. “Stay together, follow me” called one of the berating men, of average height, with more muscles and menace than would usually be seen on a man. The platoon started at a jog, weighed down by their kit all the while, before developing into almost a sprint that seemed an eternity. The boys were led around the area, running and jogging for an hour or so (dawn had not yet come) until they returned back to their starting point. “Casualties!” one of the men cried out, “Pick them up and extract them now!” started another. Before William and the platoon were a series of weighted dummies, designed for various drills and training, each weighing at least 65kg. The dummies were immediately picked up and carried by the weary platoon, around the grounds, until dawn came.

“Get inside, push to the front of the queue for scoff, you have 5 minutes!”. William looked over to one of his fellow members and looked in bewilderment, the queue was huge. Brazenly, the boys ploughed through the queue to the front and began helping themselves rapidly before sitting down and eating at the speed of a thousand gazelles. William noticed a couple of boys from his platoon just coming to sit down with their food as the men entered, “Breakfast is over, get out now!”. William looked at the clock, it really had been 5 minutes.

Outside again, the platoon were run over to an open space of grass. Being shouted at, pushed, pulled and made to feel angry, really angry. Ready to fight back with the men conducting what felt like barbarism, but William and the platoon never even spoke out of turn. They continued, “One whistle blast hit the deck and crawl until your elbows bleed! Two blasts, get up and run until your eyes bleed!” No one could tell you how many laps of the open space they did, or how long they were there, but dawn was now a long way behind.

Suddenly a new shout came out “Form up, follow me!”. A welcome relief, a change of pace and a chance to breathe. Straight to the armoury, to sign out their own rifles and bayonets. After the stop-gap in fitness the platoon were led to a clearing and sat down, panting and very tired. Sitting very alert, incase a kick came from behind. Before us were the dummies from before, staked to the ground as if standing upright. Today was no ordinary day, the platoon were being taught how to use the bayonet. Each boy lined up before the dummy  and over and over again, walked towards it before plunging the bayonet into the target. Blood (red dye from balloons) burst out from beneath the dummies clothing, dripping over the hands and rifle of the boys. Ebbing into the jackets of some. “Rifles down, follow me!” Shouted one of the men, William and the others chased the man. Up and down the uneven clearing, round trees, crawling though a pond and up a stream, before being led back to their rifles. Back to the bayonet drills, over and over again. Thrusting into the dummies the platoon did, twisting as the bayonet was withdrawn, before moving to the next.

“STOP!” Form up” called one of the men, William followed the rest of the platoon and formed into three ranks. The boys marched back to their accommodation, catching their breath and taking stock of the past number of hours spent being rushed around and berated. “Wash off with this hose before coming inside” called one of the men, “Then get ready for duties after lunch”. It was over, no more breathlessness.

Just a fight over who was washing who off first.



  1. your good

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