Friday, 6 November 2009

A Dependant's Tale

There has always been a soldier in my life. When I left home, and before I was married, I was not strictly dependant upon one, but my ‘escape’ was relatively brief.
I was born in a British Military Hospital in Münster when my parents were in Germany with the Royal Artillery (the Gunners). At the time they were living in a caravan because they were considered too young to be married (they were 22) and so the Army wouldn’t provide them with a married quarter. My imminent arrival resulted in two house-sitting arrangements until a quarter could be found. We later moved to Hanover and then Hildesheim, before moving to Larkhill on Salisbury Plain in time for me to go to school. We moved again as Father’s career took him through further training at Staff College, first at Shrivenham, then Camberley and on to Barton Stacey. I went to 4 schools before becoming a boarder in Kent when I was 10. I stayed at that school for 6 years, moving to another for the 6th form. My parents and ‘home’ continued to move, including another posting to Germany and one to Northern Ireland. By the time my parents bought a home of their own I had lived in 15 quarters, 2 schools (at 4 addresses) and 4 student addresses in London and Leeds. I was 21. This is not unusual in the services.
Husband was a soldier for 30 years; he left the Army last month. We were married as the first of the recent Gulf Wars came to an end in 1991; I was very glad he was in a desk job, as he has been during the current conflicts. We were separated soon after Eldest was born when he did a tour in Northern Ireland, and again when he served in Bosnia (he missed her first two Christmases). As a 'dependant' you have to expect this, it is their job after all, but none of us like it. Lucky Youngest has never been without him. Since we married we have lived at 9 addresses and this we plan will be our last.
My uncle and one of my brothers both missed our wedding as they were in the Gulf, one an RAF navigator and the other a Gunner, like Husband. Father did three tours in Northern Ireland in the 1970s when I was away at boarding school. I got all my friends to write to him!

Paternal Grandfather was in the Army Education Corps. He and his family were in Singapore when the Japanese attacked in WW2, and his wife and children were evacuated on the last ship out. He died in Changi. On my mother’s side, Great-Grandfather, commanded the 1st Battalion The Black Watch and was killed in early September 1914 at the Battle of The Aisne. He left a wife and four children. His only son was also in The Black Watch, and was killed in France in 1940.
I will count my blessings on Remembrance Sunday once again.

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