Delayed Gratification

February 10, 2012


On my first tour of the Far East, I worked in an office with a Warrant Officer. Between us we controlled the disposition of all British Army vehicles for the Malayan Peninsula and Singapore Island. Needless to say, he did very little, or I should say he did all the supervising. I did most of the clerical work, being responsible for the transit tracking and eventual end location of all the individual vehicles.

Every day, hundreds of pieces of paper, transportation notices, movement orders, dock arrival orders, convoy notes etc. would land on my desk and I would transfer the information to the visual system.

This structure covered the whole of one wall and was a huge blackboard, with various locations within the Far East, represented by down columns and each type of vehicle by a horizontal space, with a white, plastic disc, identifying the registration number of a specific vehicle, on a nail in each. One could see the total quantity of Landrovers, for example, passing from the docks, to storage, to maintenance, to issues, to particular units etc. or how many tanks were en route to exotic places.

After three years, I hated this wall with a passion. When I was under orders to return to the UK, I waited until two days before I was due to fly out then spent the whole afternoon mixing up all the discs and moving them into erroneously different columns.

Just before finishing time, I read the last movement order for that day. It was simple but probably the one that had the most dramatic results for me. It said quite simply:

“Your RTU (Return to UK) delayed by minimum of three weeks due to more urgent medevac requirement of BMH patient. You are to remain in post and perform normal duties until further notice.”

Oh, happiness!

2 Responses to “Delayed Gratification”


  1. Doesn’t it just always work that way? Mere mortals are denied the exquisite pleasure of meting out justice, but the gods have never been known to shirk in that area of responsibility.


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