Bastogne

“Doesn’t this feel like an episode of ‘Band of Brothers?’

3SG Gerard Tan asked anyone who’d listen, prompting another thread of conversation.

“Which one?”

“‘Bastogne‘, my favourite one, where they’re being bombarded by artillery endlessly in the forest, and there aren’t any officers around, and there are no resupplies of food and water”.

Gerard was right about the depiction of misery. The 4th and 5th day of our unit’s ATEC evaluation stopped feeling like an exercise, and began to take on some resemblance of a real military operation as we started to ration food and water – fuck the ammunition, not enough, never mind – in case we really got stuck in that neck of the woods that seemed impossible to negotiate with a bicycle, much less a battalion of tanks and armoured fighting vehicles.

At least a dozen vehicles had already gotten bogged down or disabled by the third day. My motorcycle was put out of commission on the second, having crashed into a creek which flooded the engine. (I was unhurt, but had to abandon the bike for the recovery team to recover – it took them three days, but that’s another story).

Armoured vehicle drivers logged unbelievable hours at the wheel/sticks every day of the exercise.

One tank overturned, but her crew escaped unhurt. At the other companies, no-duff (real) casualties amounted to not more than cuts and bruises, with the most serious being a dead-fall (tree branch) injury that initially required a helicopter medivac.

I am certain we were very, very lucky to make it out of the exercise alive and mostly unhurt. My mates will attest to that. I don’t know how to describe how bad conditions were. Maybe you’d have to ask Gerard about that. He did ask those around us who’d listen:

“Why does this feel like the retreat of the Russians?”

About a minute passed before he corrected himself:

“I mean, why does this feel like the retreat of the Germans?”

Yeah.

So, if you believe reserve training is doing something for the security of the nation, spare a thought for your colleague who’s had to take a coupla weeks off work. Sometimes, it’s not quite a holiday.

Ex Wallaby 2005: Tree 1, Armour nil
Tree 1, Armour nil

Ex Wallaby 2005
Taking shelter

Ex Wallaby 2005
Exhausted

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14 thoughts on “Bastogne”

  1. A very good description of the misery we went through. I couldn’t agree more with this statement..

    “So, if you believe reserve training is doing something for the security of the nation, spare a thought for your colleague who’s had to take a coupla weeks off work. Sometimes, it’s not quite a holiday.”

    Very well put! Sometimes I just think we reservists are often taken for granted – comments from colleagues about going back for “holiday camp” just make my blood boil. True perhaps for the clerks, downgraders, chao keng and what not, but certainly not for us guys in company line. For me, EX Wallaby 05 really brought home the message of how dangerous our training can be, and how close we could be to experiencing real injuries, even if we are not at war. The Singapore public at large doesn’t seem to realise that!

  2. A very good description of the misery we went through. I couldn’t agree more with this statement..

    “So, if you believe reserve training is doing something for the security of the nation, spare a thought for your colleague who’s had to take a coupla weeks off work. Sometimes, it’s not quite a holiday.”

    Very well put! Sometimes I just think we reservists are often taken for granted – comments from colleagues about going back for “holiday camp” just make my blood boil. True perhaps for the clerks, downgraders, chao keng and what not, but certainly not for us guys in company line. For me, EX Wallaby 05 really brought home the message of how dangerous our training can be, and how close we could be to experiencing real injuries, even if we are not at war. The Singapore public at large doesn’t seem to realise that!

  3. Yes, terz, I spent many days in close proximity with Mr Tan, and can vouch for the fact that he’s only semi-elitist because he doesn’t shirk from having to eat ‘Bubur Terigu’ from a green pouch for 4 days in a row.

  4. Yes, terz, I spent many days in close proximity with Mr Tan, and can vouch for the fact that he’s only semi-elitist because he doesn’t shirk from having to eat ‘Bubur Terigu’ from a green pouch for 4 days in a row.

  5. Kit! Start a blog and tell the world. Faster! Nabeh to all those who don’t believe we put in blood sweat and tears in defence of this fine nation!

  6. Kit! Start a blog and tell the world. Faster! Nabeh to all those who don’t believe we put in blood sweat and tears in defence of this fine nation!

  7. Food … in … green … pouches … *Spasm* … *Spasm* … *Flashback* …

    If I ever have another ‘Oriental Noodle with Seafood (Crab Stick)’ or ‘Chilli Flake Glutinous Rice with Chicken’ or ‘Black Pepper Chicken Pasta’ it’ll be too soon!

    The Aussie Quarantine regulations pretty well made sure we were dependent on those green pouches *Spasm* … *Spasm* … *Flashback* …

  8. Food … in … green … pouches … *Spasm* … *Spasm* … *Flashback* …

    If I ever have another ‘Oriental Noodle with Seafood (Crab Stick)’ or ‘Chilli Flake Glutinous Rice with Chicken’ or ‘Black Pepper Chicken Pasta’ it’ll be too soon!

    The Aussie Quarantine regulations pretty well made sure we were dependent on those green pouches *Spasm* … *Spasm* … *Flashback* …

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