This post is inspired, if you can call it that, by the person that uses that exact search term ‘we hate raf armourers‘ in Google or wherever to find his or her way to my blog. It’s not like it’s a one off as my stats show me that this search term has been used on no less than 7 different occasions resulting in page views etc.
As an ex RAF Armourer myself with 15 years of service behind me I got to wondering why anyone would actually feel hatred towards us. Jealousy yes, I can see how all of the other ancillary trades (Leccies, Engine Bashers, Riggers, Stackers, the list goes on…) would be jealous of us but not hate us.
As I recall back in the day when I was a line armourer at RAF Brawdy the Airman’s Mess was organised such that the centre tables were exclusively used by the armament tradesmen leaving the rest of the tables, satellite tables if you will, for the rest of the world. It was like we were their Sun and they liked to bathe in our light and warmth. Definitely no hating there, only love for what they obviously regarded as their betters.
When I think about the plight of the ‘other trades’ who, after realising they weren’t in the same pay band as us, tried in vain to pretend they weren’t bothered that we earned more money than them and could drink more beer than them, it brings a tear to my eye. From laughing of course.
The Armourers always seem to be blessed with having more nutters than any other trade and that’s not a bad thing. It’s things like that that ensure you get perks like the centre tables in the Airmans Mess (closest to the drinks island ;-)). Other trades don’t fuck with you. Well most of the time they don’t but I do recall the MT Drivers getting all up themselves during my time in South Wales. Seems that they had a bit of a bad ass posted in who did a bit of boxing and slowly a few of their number began to get increasingly more rowdy on the base.
The Armourers on the station (RAF Brawdy) had already been gathered together and all housed in one barrack block, Esmonde block if memory serves, in a bid to keep all the nutters in one place. As the MT guys, led by the boxer, started to gain a bit of notoriety the powers that be decided to place them in Esmonde block as well. Marvellous move. Now we had all of the station nutcases in one block and the MT guys were desperate to make their bid for emerging as the top boys, to use a hooligan term.
One evening we had a power outage and so the obvious thing to do was to vacate your room and head off to the NAAFI bar to drink beer. The place was lit by candles and some people carried torches and it made for a satisfactory ambience and much ale swilling took place. All of the various trade cliques would form and each would mind it’s own business but be aware of one another’s personal spaces. As plumbers, the given slang term for armourers, we were respectful of the other trades’ need for their own bits of NAAFI real estate in which to drink their beer so encroachment was rare but would on occasion take place if our numbers swelled unexpectedly. Strangely enough the reverse was never so, probably because as I said earlier we were loved by one and all.
Anyway, during this evening of dimly lit drinking I felt the need to piss so I made my way to the toilets. Upon arrival into the bogs I was met by several of the MT boys who were no doubt loitering in the confines of the mens urinal because that’s how they rolled. Now I’m not suggesting they were all a bunch of puffs, but I find it strange when a bunch of guys prefer to spend their time in the gents as opposed to the bar.
So, the self appointed 2 i/c (second in command) who made a habit of standing behind the boxer when he had shot his mouth off in the past shouted me over and the boxer stepped up and offered me a pint. Since we had all been housed together there had been a very much heightened awareness of each others’ presence to the point that you knew it was going to kick off at some point but nobody knew exactly when. Instead of passing up his most generous offer I stupidly assumed that this was some sort of peace offering and chugged half the glass down. I thought at the time that it must be American beer of some sort because it was weak as piss. Warm too. That’s because it was piss 😦
‘Very fucking funny’, I said as I chucked the glass into the corner and made my way through this dimwitted crowd to the urinal where I proceeded to answer the call of nature. I made my way back to my mates and told them what had happened and told them the boxer was going to get it for what he’d done but I needed their backs in case it became a free for all and I got outnumbered. It was agreed upon and we left the NAAFI shortly after last orders.
Upon arrival at the block I could hear excited shouting and the usual bollocks you hear in a barrack block after the beer taps are turned off and I made my way upstairs to ready myself to make amends for what went on in the NAAFI bogs. As I neared the top of the stairs I caught sight of 2 i/c out of the corner of my eye going into the laundry room and heard him laughing, probably about how they put one over on me. I went in and there was the boxer joking around with his mate. I went straight for him and asked him what the fuck he thought he was doing taking the piss (actually administering the piss if we’re being accurate) and at first he denied it simply laughing it off. I stood my ground and challenged him again getting a reply along the lines of ‘What you going to do about it?’.
Before he’d finished his sentence I’d already nutted him and was proceeding to give him an up close look at my nicely polished brogues (yes, they were in fashion then). It was all over in a matter of moments. The boxer held his hands up and asked me to stop which I did. I told him I couldn’t have simply let him get away with it and as far as I was concerned the matter is done with and we move on.
By now two squads had formed ready to have it out but I waved my lot off and went back to my room and got ready for bed. I’d been in bed no more than 10 minutes when in bursts the boxer challenging me to round 2. I told him to fuck off as the matter is now closed. We don’t need more fighting. He said to me that either I come out for round 2 or one night real soon he’d be back when I was asleep and put a steam iron over my head. With that he left.
So once again we had to get the battalion roused and I had to ready myself to meet the boxer one on one again. The MT boys had their crew ready and we had ours. The agreed way to settle this was for me and the boxer to go outside in the carpark and go at it again.
We squared up and this the time the boxer was on his toes bouncing around like boxers do. I remember thinking at the time that I’d beaten this guy once so why not twice? My preferred plan of attack this time round was to start off with a nice hefty boot to his balls which, had I executed properly, would have seen a very different outcome to what actually happened. A wild swing towards the boxer’s testes was easily dodged and before my boot had found the tarmac that it had just left he stepped in and popped me right in the eye which knocked me to the floor. He proceeded to try to kick me in the face but failed and I pretty much did what he did and held up my hand. It was over as quickly as it had started.
‘We’re even’ was all he said. We shook on it and our two gangs departed back to their respective rooms. We didn’t exactly hang out together after that incident but we always let on to each other, be it in the bar or the mess or somewhere on the station. The armourers and the MT guys never had a fallout after that day to my knowledge.
Now that little war story goes back to 1979 / 1980 ish and there’s no real reason for reproducing it here save to engage you for a few moments and maybe even distract you momentarily if you’ve had a crappy day. Getting back to the reason for posting today, that being that some poor misguided soul out there hates armourers, I was rather hoping to get a reply back from the mystery person who doesn’t like us so much. That thought cheered me up that I could have some dialogue with him (or her, but less likely I think) but then I got to thinking…what if this guy’s a Rock Ape (RAF Regiment) ? You’d get more meaningful conversation out of a desert boot.
See ya next time 🙂