Whilst out on a foot patrol in South Armargh we had to stop at farm complex to give it a quick search, nothing to serious so no need for a search team. The weather had been unusually nice as in it wasn’t raining like it normally does, in fact we had a few weeks of sunshine.
There where four in my team, Dean Branscome who was the multiple commander, Steve Mascuree known as Nana who was the team leader, Mickey Heron and myself. Steve was in a good mood and had volunteered to carry the GPMG for the day giving me the day off.
As we approached the farm complex Dean was told over the radio that the other two teams had gone firm on the high ground providing an over-watch while we carried out the search of the barns and outbuildings. We split up and had a quick glance around, we didn’t want to hang about too long as we still had a few miles to go to get to the Helicopter Landing Zone (HLS) we had plenty of time to get there but we didn’t want to take any chances as it would have been a long walk back to camp if we missed the pick up.
After a few minutes of bumbling around and sticking our heads into the various buildings around the complex I heard a deafening scream for help, it was Nana, I sprinted (well walked fast) to where the scream had come from, I took a quick glance around to see if I could see Nana but couldn’t, a few seconds later Dean and Mickey arrived, again we heard the shout for help and this time we could see where it was coming from, unfortunately for Nana the spell of good weather had dried the surface of the shit pit in a corner of the farmyard and he had gone straight into it neck deep, as we ran to help him out the smell of the freshly disturbed mixture of farmyard animal turd became unbearable, if it wasn’t for the fact that Nana was starting to fully submerge in the pool of pooh we would have probably just left him to get himself out. None of us wanted to get close enough to help him out so Dean got Nana to hold onto the GPMG and we would pull him out with it, well I would anyway, they do say that rank has it privileges and although me and Mickey where the same rank he was laughing that much he ended up rolling around on the floor almost wetting himself.
After a few minutes of pulling and pushing Nana was out of the cesspit literally dripping in shit, it was all over him, after spitting a mouthful out and letting us all know how disappointed he was with us all for taking our time getting him out he walked over to the hose pipe where he started to hose himself down, the shit was everywhere, he took his helmet off and it was dripping out of there, his chest webbing pouches where full of it, even trouser pockets where overflowing with shit.
After about ten minutes Dean informed the other two teams to make there way to the HLS and we would be right behind, he then informed Nana that he would have to wait until we got back into camp before he could get the rest of the shit off him as we where now running late for the helicopter pick up. We still had about an hours tab to the HLS and we made Nana walk in front so that he was up wind of us, the smell could almost make you vomit even though he had spent a good 30 minutes being hosed down and getting rid of the vast majority of the shit off himself.
We got to the HLS with only a few minutes to spare so we all got straight into formation ready to get onto the Chinook when it arrived. I could see poor Nana starting to shiver as he continued to remove dollops of shit from about his person.
After about 15 minutes of waiting for the arrival of our lift back to camp Dean called all 12 of us into the hedge line to give us the bad news, the Chinook had been re-tasked and we would not be getting picked up but we did have two choices, we could wait until the Chinook had finished on its new task with no guarantee of when or even if it would come and get us or we could start the three hour walk back into camp.
Feeling a bit sorry for Nana, Dean gave the decision to him and he decided to wait to everyone’s relief, none of us wanted walk back.
I’m not sure if Dean cancelled the Chinook after an hour because Nana was starting to go down with hyperthermia or because the smell of him just became too much but we started the three hour walk back.
As soon as we got back to camp Nana jumped into a hot shower fully clothed, including his chest webbing and bergen and began to clean himself off before a visit to the Med Centre while we all clean the GPMG between us.
Nana stunk for weeks after falling into the cesspit, but the jokes lasted longer than the smell.
D Gray – Auchnocly January – July 1992