The Sandbag Times Issue No: 44


The Veterans Magazine

The Veterans’ Magazine Issue 44 | June 2018


BFBS meets AFVBC’s In the

Battle of the Breakfast Clubs

Supporting #abraveface


SBT News

4 Veteran Body Found

The body of missing veteran

found in woodland

5 Gazelles To Soldier On

British Army Gazelle to stay

in service until 2022

5 More UK Troops To Be

Sent To Afghanistan

UK considers increasing

troops by 450.

6 Royal Navy Call Outs On

The Increase

33 Navy escorts of Russian

Warships in past year.

Off The Grid

And it’s Matt for the win at

Thruxton. Check out the

action Page 10


14 Liberating Lives

Combat Stress new film

with veterans that have

been helped.

16 BFBS - Hatch & Geere

Looking at the Battle of the

Breakfast Clubs with BFBS

20 Driven To Extremes

Nine Veterans Challenge

The Most Extreme Driving

Conditions on Earth


9 Historic Tommy Atkins

The Big Bang...

19 Have Faith

Crazy Little Thing...

28 SBT Information

A page dedicated to back

issues, information, book

reviews etc

30 Mrs Fox Goes To War

All the latest gossip and

letters from Little Hope

June 2018

Editor: Pablo Snow

Magazine Manager: Matt Jarvis

Marketing Manager

Lisa Whittaker

Patron: Matt Neal

Honourary Patron:

Jacqueline Hurley

Additional editors:

Albert ‘Robbie’ McRobb

Jane Shields

Peter Macey

News Media Manager

Jim Wilde

Recording Engineer and PR


Vince Ballard

Email: 3 |



SBT NEWS June Edition



It is with great sadness that we report that the

body of missing veteran, Danny Johnson was

found in woodland near Chichester on


Danny, who served with the 2nd Bn, Princess of

Wales’s Royal Regiment went missing from his

family home in Bognor Regis on Sunday morning,

at around 9am. Despite a huge search of the

area, the police confirmed that a body of a man,

now confirmed as Danny Johnson had been discovered

in a wooded area at Stoughton Down,

near Chichester. The news of Danny’s death has

sparked reactions from former members of his

regiment. Editor of the SBT, who also served

with 2PWRR said: “Our thoughts and prayers

sincerely go out to the family and friends of

Danny at this very difficult time. I was truly saddened

to hear of his death, especially as one

who served in the same regiment. Although I

never knew Danny personally, he was still a

Tiger. Rest easy soldier! It has been reported

that Danny had been suffering from Post

Traumatic Stress Disorder which has led to an

outcry for the government to wake up to the situation

and do more to help veterans suffering

from mental health issues. Retired Colour

Sergeant Daz Dugan knew Mr Johnston for 20

years, having trained him as a young soldier in

PWRR. The Iraq veteran – who himself overcame

his battle with PTSD – urged the army to create a

specialist liaison officer role, who

could keep track of troops

on a regular basis. Mr

Dugan, of Bognor, said:

‘You’re just a number.

When I left the army

no-one ever rang me

up to check. ‘I had

done 25 years but

that was it. There

should be some after

service.’ Paying tribute

to his friend, he

added: ‘Danny was

absolutely top-draw

as a soldier. He was a

super soldier.

| 4



SBT NEWS June Edition

British Army Gazelle To Soldier On Until 2022

Airbus Helicopters has

been awarded a threeyear

contract to support

the British Army’s fleet of

Aérospatiale Gazelle AH1

rotorcraft under a singlesource

deal. Worth £15

million ($20.3 million), the

sustainment programme

will see the venerable

type supported until 2022

by Airbus Helicopters UK.

Although the contract

contains a three-year

extension clause, it could

open the possibility of

retiring the Gazelle fleet

earlier than the previously

planned date of 2025.

Earlier this year, a senior

representative from the

UK’s Joint Helicopter

Command revealed that

early work had begun on

identifying a replacement

for the 22-strong active

fleet and hinted that the

process could be accelerated.

Justifying the

lack of an open competition

in awarding the work

to Airbus Helicopters, the

Ministry of Defence notes

the airframer’s position

as the OEM for the platform.


Burglar Jailed for

Attacking D-Day Hero

A bogus builder has been given a

20-year extended sentence at for

attempting to bludgeon 96-yearold

D-Day veteran Jim Booth to

death with a claw hammer. Joseph

Isaacs, 40, carried out the ‘brutal

and utterly senseless attack’ on the

Royal Navy veteran, described as

‘remarkable’ by Judge David

Ticehurst, with a claw hammer

before leaving him for dead.

Illiterate Isaacs, 40, shouted

‘money money money’ as he

repeatedly hit Mr Booth over the

head at the pensioner’s home in

Taunton, Somerset. Isaacs had

knocked on his victim’s door and

offered to carry out repairs to the

roof. He became enraged when the

former Lieutenant Commander

turned him down, and forced his

way into the house where he

began the attack. Mr Booth, who

played a key part in the success of

the D-Day landings and went on

to clear mines in the

Mediterranean after the war, tried

to escape by retreating into his

house but was pursued by Isaacs,

who hit him again and again with

the new claw hammer.

UK Considering Sending More Troops To Afghanistan

The Government is

considering nearly doubling

the number of British troops in

Afghanistan, according to


Defence Secretary Gavin

Williamson is said to have

written to the Prime Minister

recommending the increase,

although a decision is yet to be

made. According to reports,

between 400 to 450 soldiers

could be sent to the country to

join the roughly 600 already

deployed in non-combat roles

following pressure from Donald

Trump. Nato has also reportedly

asked Britain to send more

troops to the country. The US

has increased its presence in

Afghanistan since Mr Trump

A combat veteran who served

his country in the Gulf War has

told how he became homeless

after leaving the Royal Navy

and spiralled into mental health

problems – but has turned his

life around and now helps

others avoid the same fate.

Rick Yarnley-Cave, 47,

suffered in the past with PTSD

after he witnessed a helicopter

crash while on operational

unveiled his South Asia strategy

in August last year. Around

4,000 troops are thought to have

been added to the 8,400-strong

US deployment in the country, to

bolster the Kabul government,

train Afghan forces and fight the

Taliban and other militant

groups. The military uplift is

intended to prevent a Taliban

Homeless Veteran Helps Others on Streets

deployment to Bangladesh in

1991. When he left the Navy

Rick found himself sofa surfing

and squatting to get by until he

secured help from the Royal

British Legion. After getting

some initial help from the

Legion with their home and

wellbeing, Rick started

volunteering with the Legionfunded

Plymouth Access to

Housing. “Because I knew

takeover of the country, target

Islamic State and al Qaida. On

Thursday, US State Department

spokeswoman Heather Nauert

said Secretary of State Mike

Pompeo had “reinforced our

enduring investment in

Afghanistan” in a conversation

with the country’s president

Ashraf Ghani. More...

what my wife did at PATH I

would often find myself

referring the rough sleepers to

her so the charity could help. I

became known to PATH and, in

June 2017, I was asked if

fancied volunteering. I was

offered the job full-time in

April this year.” The Royal

British Legion is today calling

on Service leavers and veterans

across Devon and Cornwall to

‘get help early’ as they adjust to

civilian life. Read More... 5 |



SBT NEWS June Edition

Retired Colonel Hits Out At Employers

Over PTSD Fears Of Sacked Veterans

Lieutenant Colonel Chris

Parker has hit out saying

ex-soldiers, diagnosed with

post traumatic stress

disorder (PTSD), are still

being penalised by

employers. This comes

despite a national drive for

companies to sign up to the

armed forces covenant,

which is a pledge to offer

fair treatment for military

veterans and their families.

The retired officer has said

that scores of troops were

being sacked or pushed out

of roles after admitting to

their condition. Speaking

recently, the nine-time

combat veteran said: ‘There

is clearly evidence that,

although the public is very

positive and say when

asked they will support the

military, it can be a very

different story with

employers. ‘The sad news

is once employers find out

their employees have PTSD

or have had mental health

issues in the past, very

often we find people lose

their jobs. ‘The problem we

have is the great paradox of

lots of support against the

reality that people don’t

want veterans in their

workplace because they

fear they will, for whatever

reason, lose control. That

simply doesn’t happen.’

The comments from Col

Parker has been met with

some oppostion from the

local council. One

councillor has said that he

was ‘dismayed’ at the

comments.

Royal Navy Crashed Out 33 Times For

Russian Warship Alerts Over Last Year

The Royal Navy responded to

Russian warships approaching

UK territorial waters 33 times

last year, Defence Secretary

Gavin Williamson said today.

He compared this to just one

similar incident in 2010 and

warned: “It goes to show the

increasing aggression, increasing

assertiveness of Russia.” HMS

St Albans, a Type 23 frigate, and

three RAF Typhoon jets kept a

“close eye” on Russian aircraft

carrier Admiral Kuznetsov and

accompanying ships as they

sailed down the English Channel

on their way back to Russia from

Syria in January last year.

Speaking at a defence conference

in London, Mr Williamson said

Britain was “rapidly having to

come to terms” with a “new age

of warfare”. He added: “Look at

Russia’s resurgence under

President Putin. Its submarine

activity has increase tenfold in

the North Atlantic. “But that’s

not all - in 2010 a Royal Navy

ship was called on just once to

respond to Russian Navy ships

approaching UK territorial

waters. Last year we had to

respond 33 times.”

RAF Veteran Named As Vice Captain For

Team UK Invictus Games, Sydney 2018

An RAF veteran from Wigan,

who had to leave the Armed

Forces after developing a

rare heart condition, has

been selected as the new

Vice Captain for Team UK at

the Invictus Games.

Michelle Turner had served

as a Sergeant for more than

20 years when she

contracted a virus while

deployed in the Middle East.

She developed postural

orthostatic tachycardia

syndrome, a condition that

causes her heart rate to

suddenly increase, and

means she is at risk of

collapsing. "180 collapses

later, I was a mess, to be

honest. I was fed up of

waking up on different floors

so I decided the best thing

to do was to stay in. "I was

in hospital after a bad

collapse into a coffee table

and I got an email through

about Invictus. My first

response was to say 'no I

can't possibly do that'. My

husband asked why not,

and I just said, 'well, the

more I do, the more I

collapse.' She applied to be

the team vice captain earlier

this year, while filling in the

form to be considered for

the 2018 team: In October

this year the team will travel

to Sydney to compete in the

2018 Invictus Games. More

| 6

World War One Veterans’ Association Founder Dies Aged 91

The founder of the World War One

Veterans’ Association, Dennis Goodwin,

has died at the age of 91 at his home in


The association, set up in 1989, provided

a forum where former soldiers could discuss

their experiences and remember

comrades who died during the war.

Goodwin, who died on Monday, was

appointed MBE in 2008 for his services to

veterans. With the help of his son

Stephen, he brought together 400 survivors

of the first world war, providing

assistance in obtaining pensions and

compensation for the long-term effects of

the conflict. He helped to arrange visits to

former battlefields and memorial sites in

Belgium and France, as well as to events

at Buckingham Palace, the Houses of

Parliament and the Cenotaph. “But for

Dennis, many of the veterans would never

have been acknowledged,” Goodwin’s

family said in a statement. “As the veterans

diminished in numbers, the supercentenarians

came into their own and

Dennis … took Henry Allingham, Harry

Patch and Bill Stone to all the remembrances

and other functions until 2009,

when the last one died.” Allingham,

Britain’s oldest man and the last RAF and

British naval veteran of the first world war,

died in 2009 at the age of 113. Goodwin

co-wrote his autobiography, Kitchener’s

Last Volunteer. Goodwin is survived by

his wife, Brenda, with whom he co-founded

the association. She told the BBC in

2014 that the trips to former battlefields

helped the men talk about their experiences.

There was no way their family or

friends could understand what they’d

been through,” she said. Born in a fire

station in Lancashire in 1926, Goodwin

volunteered for the RAF in 1944 during

the second world war. He served in

Burma, working with the Air Sea Rescue,

and then in Singapore and Malaysia until

1948. After the war, he joined the Local

Government Service in Preston and established

a career in human resources. He

became an executive director of HR for

Bath city council, and then town clerk for

Littlehampton after moving to West

Sussex in 1982. Goodwin went on to

organise the twinning of Littlehampton

with various towns in France and

Germany. After retirement, he was welfare

officer for the RAF Benevolent Fund for 15

years. He was also a trustee for Age

Concern and the Guild Care charity in

Worthing until he reached the age of 90.

He was honoured for his volunteer work.

Goodwin told the BBC the veterans of the

first world war “got under his skin”,

adding: “They were another breed.” 7 |


With Jim Wilde

Hi Folks, I am sure you have

noticed a few changes as far

as the radio and broadcasting

side of things are concerned.

After a great deal of consideration,

and a lot of deep thought

(honest), we have decided to concentrate

our efforts on the Information and

media side of the magazine. To this end, the

magazine has taken a step back from the

radio side of things for the time being, and

will now concentrate on bringing you daily

news updates by way of a mini podcast each

evening, with all the key points and events

from the last 24 hours. Initially this will be in

the format of a small (no more than 5

minute) audio file, narrated by my good self!

It will contain news and information relating

to the Military and Veterans Community,

including features such as the Armed Forces

Breakfast Club activities, Combat Stress features,

local news, and anything else that may

be of interest to our readers/listeners.

This is just the start of a new form of reporting

to compliment the stirling work done by

Pablo, Jane and the rest of the team on the

magazine. In the very near future, our focus

will also concentrate on newsdesk presentations

and video podcasts, with a more visual

content. This will include live feeds from

activities and events in your locality, with

local news brought directly to your screen.

These things do not happen overnight, therefore

I would ask that you be patient, as we

change our business model to meet the

needs of the Military Community. There is a

great deal of activity in the veterans world at

the moment, and we want to ensure that we

are able to bring you the latest news, in the

quickest and most professional way that we


As always, you continued support is very

important to us, therefore, if you have any

news stories, pictures etc that you think are

worthy of inclusion, make sure you get them

to us as quick as you can. You can do that

by contacting any one of us here at the magazine.,,,

or to the general account -

Thank you as always, and we look forward to

hearing from you soon.

| 6

The Historical Tommy Atkins

The Big Bang

Written By

Peter Macey

At 3.10 am on 7th June 1917 the sound of

an explosion in the distance was heard and

reported in London and Dublin. Lille

University geology department mistakenly

reported what they believed was an

earthquake. The explosion had actually

occurred in Messines in France as part of a

British led attack against the German army

who were holding the ridge at Messines.

Twenty two subterranean mines, of varying

sizes had been laid at the ends of tunnels

directly under the German positions on the

ridge and nineteen of them were set of

within a period of twenty seconds. The

explosion that occurred was the loudest

noise ever heard at that point in time and is

still ranked as the largest non-nuclear

explosion of all time.

Tunnelling in war is not new. Ancient Greek

and Roman warfare included tunnelling as

an effective weapon and form of retreat.

And since those times tunnelling had been

used on and off throughout history. But it

was only in 1916 that Tunnelling Companies

were formed as part of the Royal Engineers,

with recruiting primarily from the mining

communities of Britain, amounting to

around 25,000 tunnellers.

The first use of tunnelling during WWI was

by the German army during the Somme.

But the plan to carry out this type of

operation for the ridge at Messines had been

a long time in planning. Due to the

stalemate that had occurred with trench

warfare it was now more important to try

any ways to create problems for the

opposing forces and move forward.

Particularly with the introduction of tanks

and mobile vehicles into the war effort.

The Tunnelling Companies of the Royal

Engineers had been working on the tunnels

they were creating since January with

expertise and daring. Often working

underground, their fellow infantry comrades

were attacking or defending trenches on the

battlefield itself. There were often cases

where the British mining and tunnelling

would break through into a German tunnel

and a fire fight would ensue.

In this particular operation which took place

in June one hundred and one years ago the

large mines were under St Eloi, charged with

95,600 lb of ammonal. At Maedelstede

Farm with 94,000 lb, and Spanbroekmolen,

one of the highest points of the Messines

Ridge, was filled with 91,000 lb of

ammonal. This latter mine was set 88 feet

below ground at the end of a tunnel over

1,700 feet long.

When detonated on 7 June 1917, the blast of

the mine at Spanbroekmolen formed what

became known as the Lone Tree Crater,

some 250 feet in diameter and 40feet deep.

The explosion was followed by an all out

attack to capture what was left of the ridge

and gain ground which included artillery

bombardment, infantry and armoured

advances and air attacks from the Royal

Flying Corps.

The evening before the attack, General

Harington, the Second Army Chief of Staff,

remarked to the press, “Gentlemen, we may

not make history tomorrow, but we shall

certainly change the geography.”

The explosion certainly did change the

landscape forever and went towards

capturing the ridge at Messines and assisted

the advancing allied forces efforts to win the


It is estimated around 10,000 German

soldiers were killed as a result of the Mining

operation and subsequent explosion at


Were any of your relatives involved in the

RE Tunnelling Companies? If so we would

like to hear from you at SBT or contact us at

Forgotten Veterans UK (FVUK). 9 |

when he also claimed pole position. After having his first

quick lap taken off him for track limits, Dan pulled another

rocket lap out the bag to claim P4 – for the third qualifying

session in a row.

Round Three: Thruxton

A Dream Weekend As Matt Bags Pole, Lap

Record, Race Win & Third Place Podium

Sunday 20th May 2018 marked the turning point in the fortunes

of Matt Neal, Dan Cammish and Team Dynamics. The

SBT team descended to the Salisbury Plain Raceway in force

to report and support our patronage. Already excited for the

races due to witnessing Matt blow the track record out of the

water as well as taking a brilliant Pole Position for the first

race. We had beautifully warm conditions, an empty camera,

two reporters and our social media guru all set to enjoy the

day. So, without further ado, lets hand over to Ben Durrell,

Team Dynamics to tell us how it all panned out.

Ben Durrell, Team Dynamics

What a great weekend for the team. A trio of podiums and the

maiden win for the new FK8 Type R. We knew on paper that

the car was very-well suited to Thruxton, but Matt shocked

everyone at the first opportunity in qualifying.

He set a time of 1:15.612s, the first ever BTCC driver to break

the 1:16 barrier – breaking his own record that he set last year

Matt took a dominant lights to flag victory in race 1 after a

blistering start saw him beat the rear wheel drive BMW of

Colin Turkington into the braking zone at the first corner and

keep him at bay for the remaining 15 laps. Dan climbed a

place to P3 early on and held on until the flag, his second

podium in a mightily impressive debut season in the championship.

Race 2 saw Matt start up front again, this time with a passenger

onboard in the form of 75KG of success ballast. A sluggish

start meant that after the first few laps he had dropped to

P3, although he did fantastically well to hold off a cohort of

much lighter cars behind him and finish with a podium. Dan

had a slight moment coming through Church early on, he

subsequently had to pit and crossed the line a lowly 26th.

A fruitful reverse grid draw placed Matt on the 3rd row in P5

for Race 3, he converted this to yet another strong points finish,

hauling the car home in P8 – making him the highest

point-scoring driver of the weekend. Nice and light, Dan

carved his way through the pack to make up 13 places and

cross the line in P13 on the final lap.

We’ve launched ourselves up to joint-second in the

Manufacturers’ Championship, straight second place in the

Teams’ Championship – while Matt & Dan are firmly in the title

hunt at this early stage in 6th & 7th in the championship.

How things can change! We’re next racing at Oulton park in

just under 3 weeks’ time, a track that Matt had pole position at

last year – can he do it again?

Photo: Jakob Ebrey

| 10


Thank you to Ben for another great report and also an extra

thank you for including the Sandbag Times in the Hospitality

area over the weekend. It was a lovely surprise to see it mingling

amongst the VIP’s.

Anyway, moving on, lets hear from the drivers on how they

enjoyed their weekend.

Matt Neal

“It has been an incredibly special weekend and I am delighted

to have given the Civic Type R (FK8) its first BTCC victory

on ‘home soil’ at Thruxton. That pole lap is one I am especially

proud of – I was hanging everything out there – so I am

really chuffed to turn it into a win. I had a fantastic start to

grab the lead through the opening bends and from there the

Civic Type R’s strengths through the quick corners meant noone

could get close to me. To get another podium in race two

with that much ballast demonstrates just how good the package

is and shows we are very much in the title battle this year.

I really think the tide is changing for us and this is the start of

good things to come.”

Dan Cammish

“Race one was a brilliant result for the entire team. To get a

double podium is a huge reward for everybody’s efforts in

making the Honda Civic Type R such a competitive machine.

It was a great qualifying for me and to turn that into my second

podium finish of the season is very satisfying. Race two

didn’t go entirely to plan for me. I had a bad start and ran offtrack

which put me down the order. I did the best in race

three and I’m happy to have scored points. All in all, it’s been

a good weekend and our pace at various points proves how

much potential there is from both myself and the Civic Type R.

Well done to Matt for his brilliant pole position and victory in

race one – he has had an absolutely mega weekend.”

Photo: Jakob Ebrey

So how do we top that weekend? Hopefully, by doing it all

again in a few weeks time at Oulton Park. The FK8 was truly

magnificent this weekend especially at the hands of two great

drivers. I predicted a few weeks ago that Matt’s experience

would pay off at Thruxton and I think i hit the nail on the head.

He was nothing short of pure class but I also have to mention

a truly outstanding drive in the last race by Dan going from

26th to 13th with an epic performance. So, my predictions,

taking into account all performances so far, the car is a very

slick package in the dry, hopefully the wet stuff will also not

be so much of a problem either. To see Matt do so well this

weekend must have got a few people thinking. His legendary

status on the BTCC circuit is far from over, in fact it may even

be about to step up a gear. At Oulton, bar misfortune, I see

Matt at least getting on to the podium, if not winning a race.

As far as Dan is concerned, three rounds down and 4th in

qualies each time. Two podiums and a potential pole. For a

first season in BTCC, that is very impressive. Yes, he is still

figuring out the new discipline but at the same time he is carving

his own name as a force to be reckoned with. Very, very

quick driver indeed. The more experience he gets the more

of a problem he will be to the rest of the field. Oulton Park is

another fast track with plenty of challenging corners. Last

year, our team had a great day with plenty of podiums included

a great 1-2 with Gordon Shedden winning race 3. But it

can be an unforgiving circuit, with plenty of overtaking, incidents

and whatever the weather throws at them there will be

much to consider. Matt is very experienced here so, as earlier

said, I predict great things. Dan is at a bit of a disadvantage

in the experience of BTCC at Oulton but I am sure he will just

go out and do what he’s been doing all season. I so can’t

wait for the lights to go out. Again the SBT team will be trackside,

hopefully with a few live reports and interviews from Matt

and the gang. See you all there on the 10th.

Photo: Jakob Ebrey

Pablo’s Predictions

Standings: Matt Neal 6th - 68 pts Dan Cammish 7th - 62 pts Halfords Yuasa Racing 2nd - 127 pts Honda 2nd - 219 pts 11 |

The Tommy Atkins Centre...

Tommy Atkins Centre May

Well, the sunshine has reached out and touched us at long last,

and I for one am regretting my poor decision to forego the

sunscreen on a recent day out to watch the BTCC at Thruxton.

It was an awesome day out watching the touring car races, but

I went out as a woman and returned as a lobster.

That aside, I’m very much looking forwards to our patrons Team

Dynamics, Matt Neal and co visiting our centre on 12th June for

Pablo to show them a presentation on the care we strive to

provide for our veterans here in Worcester, and also the

background of why we opened our veterans centre.

Combat Stress are also holding our first Peer Support group at

the centre on 14th June, so we anticipate meeting plenty of

veterans that day, with lots of banter going on and plenty of

refreshments. Really looking forwards to meeting some new


We’re all looking forwards to an active month here, and would

like to remind our local veteran community that you’re all most

welcome to pop in for a visit between 0930 and 1530 Tuesdays

and Thursdays. The kettle is always on, and if you have any

issues we may well be able to help you out, if not then a chat is

always on the cards.

Enjoy the sunshine everyone, and don’t forget the sunscreen.

Sunburn hurts.

Jane x

Are you:

A Service Veteran?

Aged 65 or over?

A family member or carer

of the above?

If so, you could bene 昀 t from the

support of a DMWS Welfare O cer

We are experts in the provision of Medical Welfare and have supported the

Armed Forces Community during medical treatment since 1943

We are here to help, contact your local Welfare O

cer today:

A Guide to Medical Welfare Services

for Health Care Professionals, Organisations

and Support Workers

Caring For Those Who Serve – Frontline To Recovery

Supported by the Aged Veterans Fund

funded by the Chancellor using LIBOR Funds.

DMWS Registered Charity number:

England: 1087210 | Scotland: SCO45460

| 12



Veterans share their experiences

of military-related trauma to raise

awareness of the charity

that helped them

A group of veterans have shared their experiences

of living with military-related trauma in a

new short film for Combat Stress, the UK’s

leading charity for veterans’ mental health.

The film, which features a round table discussion

of four former servicemen, aims to raise

awareness of military mental health and the

impact that treatment and support from

Combat Stress has had on the lives of the veterans.

One of those men is Colin, who joined the

Army when he was 18 years old and spent his

18 years of service in Northern Ireland.

He said: “I struggled with civilian life from the

start – I found the transition very difficult. I

don’t think I lasted longer than two months in

any job. I missed the pattern and routine of life

in the Army and didn’t feel like anyone understood


“In 2015 something from my past came up.

From that moment on something hit me – I just

didn’t feel right. I started to have flashbacks

and suffer with anxiety.

“By chance I found the Combat Stress card – it

fell out of my wallet at the time I was feeling

the worst but after making the call to ask for

help, things started to get so much better.

“At the start, I found it embarrassing to talk

about my mental health problems – it felt like I

couldn’t tell anyone but that’s no longer the

case. I know how much Combat Stress has

helped me so by taking part in this video I

hope to encourage others to seek their help


Sue Freeth, Chief Executive of Combat Stress,

said: “Our new film gives voice to the impact

military-related trauma can have on the lives of

veterans and how treatment from Combat

Stress makes a big difference. It’s intensely

moving to see a group of veterans talking

about their mental health in such an open and

honest way.

“Over the past five years we have seen an

average of more than 2,000 referrals each year

from veterans dealing with trauma-related mental

health problems such as anxiety, depression

and post-traumatic stress disorder. It’s

vital that we increase donations to continue our

work so that more veterans can benefit from

our treatment.”

The concept of the Combat Stress film was

developed and produced by Raw London, a

creative content agency specialising in third

sector digital campaigns.

Founder & CEO Ryan Wilkins said: “Raw

London was delighted to work with Combat

Stress to help deliver this ambitious film, which

tackles the mental health of former servicemen

and women head on.

“We often see celebrity-fronted campaigns in

the media, but we wanted to ensure that this

campaign would resonate with and speak

directly to our client's target audience.”

To watch the film please visit

| 14



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Hatch and Geere’s Battle of the Breakfast Clubs

Hatch & Geere from BFBS Radio have laid down the

challenge to the AFVBC’s around the UK

Of course, the Sandbag Times had to know more....

Since the SBT opened it’s doors for the first

time, we have always had a great interest in

radioshows. Just recently, we spoke to

Richard Hatch, from Hatch & Geeres Morning

Show on BFBS who was only too happy to

make the connection between them and us.

The show is now hosting a great competition

called ‘The Battle of the Breakfast

Clubs’which goes out 0910hrs every

Wednesday morning. But we will let Richard

tell you more. Before that though, lets find

out a little more about our two hosts, Richard

Hatch and Verrity Geere.

He's Vice Patron of the Soldiers Arts

Academy which is a platform through which

serving and ex-serving military personal can

participate in the creative and performing


When he was in Afghanistan he presented a

daily radio show from Camp Bastion to

troops all over the region and all over the

forces world. While there, he interviewed

David Beckham for a live 1 hr radio special

and hosted a Q&A evening with him. Richard

was also part of the Radio 1 - "10 Minute

Takeover" with Fearne Cotton and Greg

James for which BFBS were awarded a

"Friends of the Forces" award by the Royal

British Legion which was presented to BFBS

by Prince Harry.

Richard Hatch with Golden Balls David Beckham

Richard Hatch:

Richard is an award winning presenter/producer

for BFBS radio in the UK. For the last

25 years he's travelled the world living alongside

HM Forces in the Falklands, Gibraltar,

Germany, Bosnia, Kosovo, Cyprus, Belize

and Afghanistan. He's currently based in the


Richard has won 5 New York Radio Festival

awards for a wide variety of radio projects. He

co-wrote and produced the documentary 'The

Chelsea Pensioners - A life served' which won

Gold. He won Silver for co-presenting the

daily 'Hatch & Duffus' radio show which won

in the comedy category. Plus three Bronze

awards; two for executive producing the military

themed Comedy sketch show 'Damn The

Torpedoes' with Kirrin Productions and one

for presenting 'The Richard Hatch Breakfast

Show' in British Forces Germany.

He is the current Guinness World record

holder of the "Longest Underwater Radio

broadcast". He managed 4 hrs and 43 minutes,

in a show that was heard all over the

forces world.

Verity Geere

Verity Geere has worked in TV and radio

since 2002, as a broadcast journalist and presenter

across the BBC and commercial radio

network for the IRN news team at ITN and

Sky News Radio.

She presented national news bulletins and

co-presented the Breakfast Show on Magic

FM in London for five years, to more than two

million listeners. This included outside broadcasts

for key news events such as Royal

wedding, London Olympics and London

bombings. During her time at Magic she contributed

to the newspaper reviews on ITV’s

This Morning.

Verity also worked as a news correspondent

in Los Angeles for Feature Story News, presenting

TV reports and live two-ways including

covering Ross King on Good Morning

Britain and reporting for news channels


Outside of work, Verity enjoys music gigs, the

cinema, theatre, tennis and spinning. Verity

comes from a family of extroverts – her broth-

| 16

er is a Hollywood actor, her dad is a newspaper

journalist and her sister is a costume

designer for Warner Bros.

She blushes at the drop of a hat, she bruises

like a peach and she loves a dabble at


She loves serving the forces world by being a

part of the BFBS family.

Hatch & Geere Battle of the Breakfast Clubs

The UK DAB+ Breakfast Show, Hatch and

Geere have launched their latest regular feature

‘Battle of the Breakfast Clubs’ where they

chat to a different Armed Forces and

Veterans’ Breakfast Club from somewhere in

the UK.

The feature is a great way to promote the 250

plus AFVBC around the country and to highlight

the camaraderie these clubs offer to veterans

who want to ‘Return to the Tribe’. In the

feature they talk to the club founders about

where they meet, who comes, what they get

out of it. And most importantly what’s on the

breakfast menu! There’s also an opportunity

to plug the club and mention when they next


The feature finishes with a

general knowledge quiz.

There are 10 questions

and for each question

they get correct they gets

one item of the Full

English. For example

there's a sausage question,

or a bacon question,

or toast question. If they

get 8 questions out of 10

correct they win the

‘Hatch and Geere medal

of honour’ and they go

into the Breakfast Club

Hall of Fame!

So far, Hatch and Geere have chatted to all

sorts of military veterans from Breakfast

Clubs in Dudley, Dumfries, Macclesfield,

Stoke, Swansea, Hatfield, Southend,

Portsmouth and Southampton – but with 250

across the country there are many more to

keep this fun feature going!

Tune in every weekday from 0630-1000am on

Dab+ or via the BFBS App.

If you have a story or you'd like to take part in

'Battle of the Breakfast Clubs' jut email

Swansea AFVBC 17 |

Canada Calling

The Canuck Connection

Today with the forthcoming Peace Talks moving in the right direction

in Korea. I give you this TRUE story of the Korean War Strange

Deaths in Korea: by Canadian Lieutenant Hub Gray PPCLI. The

credit for this article goes to a brother Apprentice Patrick Buzzel.


As we move off we are confined in a narrow valley about 400 meters

across. Soon the valley broadens to become about a mile wide. It is

treeless, although the hills to our right are spotted with sparsely

spaced trees that become relatively dense higher up. To our left the

coverage is limited on the lower, almost bare hills. The rail line

continues on its eastern axis while we move north. Making our way

along a rough track we feel exposed. Our uneventful patrol

continues for almost three hours when we sight an enemy formation

about 1 km ahead. Sergeant Major, platoon sergeant, and I bring

the men to a halt and into a defensive formation. I examine the

enemy through my binoculars. I can hardly believe what I see. The

enemy does not move, the soldiers maintain an almost parade

square formation, steadfastly in column of route. We are totally

exposed in the middle of a broad treeless valley. Are we walking into

an enemy trap, to be ambushed from our right flank or from the

rear? For some time I carefully observe our front and flanks.

Everything is so still. We are in an inverted "V" formation: two

sections forward one in reserve, everyone at the ready in case we

are ambushed. We advance unopposed towards our enemy. It is

so quiet our nerves are on edge, anticipating that at any moment a

sudden burst of fire will engulf us. The silence becomes deafening.

The heat of the day under a cloudless sky is increasingly

oppressive. After a cautious and tense 10minute advance we come

full upon the enemy formation, comprising two officers, three NCOs

and 51 soldiers - 56 in all. They are lined up in four ranks in column

of route, a captain at their head and a lieutenant and sergeant to the

rear. There are a number of features that I had never encountered

before in my Korean experience and I cannot believe what lies in

front of me. First - these men are armed to the teeth. Never have I

seen the enemy with so much weaponry and such generous

allotments of a variety of ammunition. The officers have highpowered

binoculars, much better than ours. There are burp guns,

two medium machine guns, grenades and a light mortar. The

enemy we had previously faced was always short of weapons.

Prisoners taken at Kapyong were instructed to acquire additional

arms, ammunition and food from us! Second - these troops are not

dressed in the standard issue green "Mao type" uniforms. They are

attired in a summer drill formal kaki dress and the tunics have dull

brass buttons. Third - they are all sitting on their haunches, torso

bolt upright, UNFINISHED BUSINESS - MASS MURDER uniformly

at attention. It is as though they were seated in formation resting

between photographic shoots. They are all dead. Stone dead. A

concentrated examination does not reveal a point of penetration on

even a single body. Once again I pause to examine both our flanks

and rear for any sign of movement. None. We are strangely alone,

exposed in the middle of a plain about a mile or more wide with 56

dead enemy soldiers, positioned like statues about 8-10 km forward

of our armoured support Where is our living enemy? And how the

hell did these men die? What and who snuffed out their lives, and

why are they positioned here, appearing like chessmen? My

thoughts are interrupted when one of my troops asks permission to

accumulate souvenirs from the enemy, a not unusual request in

action. I readily concur. The soldier immediately makes for the

officer positioned at the head of the column on whose chest rests a

pair of high magnification binoculars. The soldier gives a tug, the

glasses hold fast to the body. Determined to liberate his prize he

pulls harder. The glasses finally break free, but adhered to them are

first the officer's shirt, then his skin and then his ribs, leaving a

gaping circular hole about 10 inches across. Our soldier falls back,


engulfed by a black mass, which storms out of the body. Some of

us laugh nervously as the vermin migrate to a newly found

deliciously warm Canadian body. The mirth, which has broken the

tension, is short lived as others retrieve photographs of loved ones,

wives and children from the 56 statue-like corpses. Suddenly we are

also reminded they were human beings who had a terrible injustice

inflicted upon them. I move to inspect the body exhibiting the

gaping chest hole. Inside is an empty shell, the innards have been

totally consumed. No amount of training or months of warfare have

prepared me or anyone for this bizarre 'horror. Some of my soldiers

continue inspecting the bodies while others are highly disturbed

and move off from this grim scene. Lance Corporal JC Wanniandy,

a Canadian Indian, finds the retching stench of this unnatural death

so nauseating he will not stand anywhere near the formation. Here

are 56 soldiers, having no innards, no point of penetration,

unvaryingly positioned rigidly upright on their haunches, dead.

Although I had taken the ABC course (Atomic, Bacteriological and

Chemical Warfare) at The School of Infantry, Camp Borden, I cannot

reconcile this situation. I first consider Nerve Gas, which kills in

seconds, but that would have sent the men into convulsions. Had

these men been drugged? It is a bizarre scene, totally unreal and its

implications terribly disturbing. It is as though the assembled

enemy may have been on their knees praying for forgiveness to an

unseen, all knowing and all-powerful deity. They may have been

pleading for their lives, but if so they pleaded in vain. It is time to

return to Gumcochyi, to have the tanks transport us back to the

Patricias. We are three to four hours away from our armoured allies.

Once again I am concerned that we might engage an unseen

enemy force, but our return is uneventful. On reaching my slit

trench, I write my report and deliver it to my Acting Company

Commander, Captain JWG Mills. Meanwhile the troops are abuzz

informing everyone of the devastating sight they have just

witnessed. The word quickly circulates D Company. Soldiers

wonder if they will be next. How did these men die? What agent

killed them? How would our men protect themselves from a similar

attack? Is it even possible to defend oneself? The soldiers of D

Company soon have variations of this incident flying in all directions

as only a body of troops can. I expect to lead a formation back to

the site the following day but I hear nothing more of the matter.

There are other patrols to be undertaken and on 21 May UN Forces

advance forward from Line Golden. Forty-five years after witnessing

this dreadful sight, I examined the Second Patricia's War Diary, for

May 1951 at the Museum of the Regiments in Calgary, where the

PPCLI archives are held. Incredibly there was no mention of this

incident. I could not believe it! I decided to reference all available

records. Finding nothing I widened my search. During three years

of enquiry no consulted authority has admitted to having any

knowledge of this incident. Each of the many United States

authorities I contacted recommended an alternative source.

Amongst others I wrote the following: National Archive at College

Park, MD, Department of the Army, The Center for Military History ,

US Army Intelligence and Security Command, US Army Chemical

Corps Museum (Twice, no reply), US Army Chemical School (Twice,

no reply), US Air Force, Classification & Review team, SAF AAZD,

Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama, Republic of Korea, Military

Attaché, Ottawa Director of the War Museum, Institute of Military

Affairs, Further to initial report ? (Link Here)

On that S T R A N G E Note we wish all the best to the 2 Koreas, in

their long awaited Peace initiative.

Here is your wee bit of Military Humour enjoy: This one in honour

of all the females currently in the military, When the sergeant told

our new commander that his driver could not participate in an

upcoming field manoeuvre because she was pregnant, the enraged

commander demanded to know just how pregnant she was.

The sergeant’s reply: “Completely, sir.”

Nil Sine Labore Robby

| 18


Crazy Little Thing Called Love..

That ol’ crazy little thing called Love seems to rear it’s head

more and more these days and so it should. Yes, I have

spoken about this before but on a recent charity project, in

which we were visiting all of the WW1 memorial in

Worcestershire, the same thing kept showing up engraved on

the monuments.

“Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his

life for his friends.” (John 15:13). It’s almost as that particular

verse was written for veterans and servicemen. Sometimes I

look at veterans these days and I have to wonder how deep

that pool of love is.

We have all seen recently, how ex-servicemen have been put

regiment had taken his life. Yet through the sorrow, I saw a

massive outpouring of love from former comrades who

probably hadn’t seen him for years. But his passing moved

so many.

So to finish, I would like to say a prayer especially to Danny

for his love to serve his family, friends and his country and to

say thank you for all who have passed because they loved.

up against the wall of justice with the many investigations and

accusations yet they are proud people. People who would

have freely given their lives despite how they are treated

when they get back home.

To a Fallen Hero. You shall never be forgotten. For

though you may be gone from this world, your spirit will

live forever. It lives in the laughing eyes of children who

are free from want and opression. It lives in the bravery

and conviction of those who still struggle for liberty. And

it lives in all who served along side you. May you

continue to be the light in the dark. May you rest in

eternal peace in the loving arms of God until we all

meet once again.

Stand Easy Tiger, Duty Done...

Then I look at our young servicemen, still willing to serve

regardless of the many problems that face them once they

leave. Why would they do that? Some argue that it’s

ignorance, some say its just the government lying to them,

some say its a sense of duty. I believe that somewhere in

everybody’s heart there is that small part that wants to protect

those who they love. They do it because they love.

So many times I have heard the saying “I don’t do this for the

money” or words to that effect. When we hear things like this,

we can have hope in all that seems bad in the world because

no matter who or what people do, everybody possesses that

ability to love and while that is present, there is hope. This

week I received some very sad news that a member of my old 19 |


Nine Veterans Challenge The Most

Extreme Driving Conditions on Earth

little car sailed over the top, I felt a buzz I hadn’t

experienced in years. We were screaming

with enjoyment.”

The veterans took part in teams, but it was not

a race. The aim of the expedition was collaboration

and camaraderie; something so many

medically-discharged British servicemen

greatly miss.

Abbott’s team mates were fellow Marine Matt

Bispham, who did two tours of Afghanistan,

and former Black Watch infantryman, Richard

Scroggie, who was deployed twice to Iraq,

and who was involved in the battle for


“Every time we conquered another desert

obstacle we would jump around and shake

hands like we had conquered the World,” said

Bispham, who was awarded a military cross

for his conduct during an assault on a Taliban

stronghold in Afghanistan. More combat

action left Bispham struggling with the psychological

effects of what he had experienced,

which led to him being forced to leave

the Royal Marines last Christmas.

“During this expedition I found myself smiling

for the first time in 10 years,” he said. “It really

was the best therapy. It was like a defibrillator

for me. It has kickstarted me.”

Nine British military veterans have taken part

in an expedition to circumnavigate Morocco,

including crossing the Sahara Desert in twowheel-drive

cars costing less than 300 GBP

each, in a bid to counter the scourges of


The five army veterans and four former Royal

Marines have each spent years trying to

recover from traumatic incidents, which they

experienced while deployed in Bosnia, Iraq

and Afghanistan.

The Dakar Challenge expedition, which followed

in the tracks of the 1990s Dakar Rally

competitors, was the brainchild of Mac

Mackenney of ‘Driven to Extremes’, an organization

which aims to turn around the lives of

PTSD sufferers, by taking them on extreme

driving challenges around the World.

The veterans set out in 16 year-old Citroen

Berlingos and Peugeot Partners to cross

some of the most inhospitable terrain on the

planet; driving from Morocco’s Mediterranean

coast to the Atlantic, along the border with


“We survived it but we were completely shattered,”

said former Royal Marine Commando,

Matt Abbott. “I never believed such cheap

cars would make it through the desert. But

when we went up that first sand bank, and our

Former medic Sergeant Kes Bradley, who was

in the Royal Army Medical Corps for 17 years,

worked in the hospital in Bastion in

Afghanistan, and was a medic on MERT rescue

missions to pick up injured and killed servicemen.

She said the terrain in Morocco was a real

problem for her at first, because it looked so

much like Afghanistan.

“I got a horrible weird feeling. I had to keep

telling myself everything was alright. It was so

similar. I think the others felt the same.”

Bradley also had to overcome another hurdle.

Since succumbing to PTSD symptoms, she

had developed a phobia of driving.

“I don’t know why. I overthink driving. I had

agreed to go on a driving expedition and I

couldn’t drive. It was crazy. But the minute we

hit the desert I thought : “I want to frigging

drive. Why not?”

Bradley said she used to be the hospital

clown in Bastion, always trying to raise the

morale of the injured service personnel, but

her PTSD symptoms had changed her. “I am

not bubbly and happy anymore. I keep wanting

to go back to that person but I can’t.”

Jason Smith, a former Royal Engineer who

| 20

served in Bosnia and Iraq, said the expedition

had restored his sense of humor and his

sense of purpose. His post-military welding

skills certainly came in handy as the struggling

cars lost engine and bodywork parts all

along the way. He said: “I hadn’t felt so

appreciated in a long time.”

“We took two Nissan Patrol 4x4s as support

vehicles,” said ‘Driven To Extremes’

Mackenney, whose company Max Adventure

has been behind the PTSD challenges from

the start. “We used them to pull the cars out

Abbott. “I feel better. I feel positive. My head

is going, but in a good way. I feel like the old

Matt. There haven’t been any dramas. A few

rows, but with nine people with PTSD we

would have expected more friction. But we all

just mucked in.”

Bradley said: “I felt a huge achievement just

being part of a really great team. I have to

make sure that I don’t get back into my little

deep hole, but force my way out of that hole

and stay on top of it.”

of the sand. Sometimes a bumper or a tow

hook would tear out at the same time, or the

front wing or a light. Our still-serving REME

mechanic, Sergeant Nick Wright, worked

through most nights to try to keep us all on

the road. We could have done the whole

thing in 4 x 4s, but our budget didn’t allow it

and where’s the challenge in that anyway?

This expedition was aimed at testing the veterans

in difficult circumstances, as much as

the vehicles.”

There were a few times when we felt like giving

up,” said Bispham. “I think everyone had

moments like that. The biggest challenge was

not letting whatever symptoms we were suffering

come to the forefront. We had to pull

together and look after each other. I am in a

totally different place now than when I left


“It’s been a mind-blowing experience,” said

‘Driven to Extremes’ is intending to repeat the

same expedition next year, also using cheap

cars, and has a full calendar of other driving

challenges for military veterans planned

before then. Veterans struggling with PTSD

related problems, who would like to take part

in an extreme driving expedition can contact or visit the 'Driven

to Extremes’ website and Facebook pages.

Civilians can also join in the adventures.

‘Driven To Extremes’ is sponsored by major

corporate sponsors, such as Shell, Inmarsat,

Craghoppers, DFDS Ferries, Cooper Tires,

Koni, Vango, Mintex, Victron, Wynns, ATS

Euromaster, The Fat Chef and Asrian Flux

Insurance, to name but some, who have

made it possible for British military veterans

to take part in this challenge, and others, free

of charge. 21 |

TO ORDER PLEASE CALL: 01226 734222




Armed Forces &

Veterans Breakfast Clubs


The VBC Website has now been revamped/redesigned and is now live. There are

several new features including a Post Code search facility that brings up the five

nearest Breakfast Clubs to your Post Code, and we now have a News feature and

links to the current issues of the Sandbag Times and much more. To make it easier

for people to get to it, funds have been made available to allow the acquisition of

more domain names.

The new address is and the old address is pointed at the new site.

The main alteration is that the email addresses have changed from:



As many of you, in the AFVBC world may know,

the Sandbag Times is now available as a printed

edition. Unlike the online edition, we cannot

offer the printed copies for free as we have to

pay for expensive printing costs and obviously,

the postage. However, we have done some

number crunching and we are pleased to say we

can send out packs of 5 magazines for £20.00.

Unfortunately, we regret that we cannot send out

single copies at this time, hopefully that will

change in the near future as the SBT grows.

The prints are of excellent and professional

standard with 250gsm covers and 130gsm

pages with stunning colour and graphics. If you

would like to order monthly magazines for your

club or send in entries, then please email us at This printed copy will

be used to support the Tommy Atkins Veterans

Centre in Worcester.

| 24

Veterans Breakfast Clubs

Lichfield VBC

Well, 69 in attendance today on our 3rd Breakfast

Club meeting, it consisted of 63 Full English

breakfasts and 3 other types of breakfast food,

e.g. scrambled eggs on toast, total numbers

including members, wives/partners and chil

-dren 69,

South Leicestershire AFVBC

This morning I visited the South Leicestershire VBC

(I am a member of the Ayrshire VBC) where Lewis

Cooper (serving RAF and started the club) and

Phil Roberts (Admin) made me most welcome,

and special thanks to Dan Tennant and Nobby

Robbins for the welcome.

Grantham AFVBC

Just short of the magic 50 today. A couple of

new faces, great banter and chat. 25 |


A word from the Ed

Hopefully, you’ve read the ‘Off

the Grid’ article. I have to tell

you we had a superb day apart

from the fact Jane frazzled her

face in the warm sun. Been

feeling so sorry for her. She’s not

good in the sun. Apparently,

Vince, who came to do the

photography is now walking

round with legs like strawberries

and cream in lieu of the shorts he

was wearing. The other thing that

was red hot was the action on the

track, I won’t go over it again,

Check out page 10. Unfortunately,

on the site we are no longer with

VRN. I won’t go into the reasons

but we do now have BFBS on our

radio page along with many other

changes to the site including an

AFVBC page, a Tommy Atkins

Blog page ran by Jane, a page for

Matt Neal and a brand new page

for the SBT News Bulletins

presented and produced by our

old friend Jim Wilde. Jim has a

few plans which will hopefully be

making an appearance in the very

near future. In all, the site has

been given a total overhaul and

clean up. Do jump on and enjoy.

You also may have noticed the

changes to the privacy policy on

the site, contact forms and

subscriptions. This is due to the

GDPR which came in this week.

Sorry if it causes a pain, all I ask

is just tick the button so we can

keep sending the mag out to you.

I would like to send out a hello to

the guys in HMP Hewell and

HMP Long Lartin who are now

getting copies of the SBT. This is

part of our plan to help veterans

in the justice system and get them

back where they belong. Back

out here, settled and with a good

job. Finally, a big thank you to

all at the Tommy Atkins Centre

for the great work that has been

carried out. Many veterans are

now in a better place thanks to the

hard work of Jane, Lisa and

Marie. Plus Jo and Kyrie. Keep

up the great work girls. That’s it

for me, till next month, Px.

“Go on, I dare you.

Pull my finger!”

Ways to find us

The Sandbag Times



A Song For A Hero

The Brand New Rock Opera which tells the truth of what

happens to our heroes when the killing ends. Packed with

incredible songs, breathtaking graphics and an emotional

rollercoaster of a story that will leave you asking

questions for a long time to come.”

Where Do They Go...

...When the Killing Ends

| 26


Operation Blues 4

By Vince Ballard

Issue 4





















written by

the ultimate

Blues man.

Our old pal Vince. His forth outing

sees the quartet of his so-farsuccess.

sees a fantastic article

on the queen of the Blues, Beth

Hart live at the Royal Albert Hall.


A Part Of The Sandbag Times Group

The mag comes with all of its

regular features from Tone

Tanner, Pete Feenstra and yours

truely on Folk. The magazine is

released on the 1st June 22018

online. To get your copy, just

go to

2018 UK Blues

Award Winners


Exile & Grace

King King

Here’s another one from my old mate Vinny.

King King featured in the Operation Blues

last month and I have to say very much

impressed with this little gem.


Ralph Macchio

Joe Seneca

Stevie Vai

Kee[ping with the Blues theme

of the page, lets take you back

to the 1980’s with this guitar

classic. Ralph plays a music student

who goes on the road with a Blues

legend looking for a lost song. Amazing

guitar work from Stevie Vai and Slide

Blues King, Ry Cooder

Back issues of The Sandbag Times are available to download here 27|


Mrs Fox Goes

To War...

The Chronicles of Little Hope

1939 - 1945

Villager of the month:

Violet Millington

Mrs Fox notes in her diary entry for 16th

August 1939 that

“Violet Millington is nothing, if not consistent.

She’s been endeavouring to catch herself a

man since that awkward spat she had with

Bertie Bolsover in1925 and is, I fear, becoming

increasingly predatory and desperate. Basil

says that even he daren’t turn his back on her

as he’s fairly certain that him sitting on her

hand at the Little Hope Church Fete last year

was no accident, it certainly hadn’t been there

when he stood up to salute the flag, as it were.

To the uninitiated, and the unattached, Violet

can be very worrying indeed. Fortunately, Aunt

Maude is made of stern stuff and may, I

believe, consider using her as a character study

for the novel which she’s been threatening to

write since 1908.

Basil has threatened to de-camp to his London

club immediately should Violet ever come to

visit again, and says that he will not return

home until he has word from the Royal

Observer Corps that she’s actually left Yorkshire

behind her and is on a one-way trip back to the

capital. A little harsh perhaps, but I do believe

him to be serious...”

Which pretty much sums her erstwhile little

friend up. Unfortunately for Basil (the

Brigadier, Mrs Fox’s husband) the Luftwaffe

puts paid to any chance of a bit of peace and

quiet at home for him by bombing Violet out,

as it were, and thus setting in motion a chain of

events which bring her to Little Hope where she

sets her sights on more than one unfortunate


The Colonel said he'd seen some great tits

on the windowsill. Violet said she was game

if he was.

Thus ended her 20 minute stint in the ATS...

You can catch up with the adventures of

Violet Millington at

| 28


Hilda Ffinch:

The Bird With All The Answers

Hilda Ffinch, Little Hope's very own Agony

Aunt (page 5 of the Little Hope Herald) was

easily bored and terribly rich. She loved nothing

better than taking on the problems of others

and either sorting them out or claiming

that she'd never heard of them if it all went

tits up and they had to leave the district

under cover of darkness having followed her

sage advice.

Dear Dicky,

Thank you for your latest communiqué, I trust

that you are no longer experiencing problems

with your drooping marrow and that you are now

in possession of a prize specimen which stands a

good chance of having someone’s eye out at the

forthcoming Little Hope village fete. This being the

case, a word of advice – keep it under wraps until

the last possible moment in order to avoid the

green-eyed spectre of jealousy which is rampant

amongst men with withered gourds at such an

event - I should hate to see Mr Percy Filch take a

rubber mallet to it in a fit of pique similar to the

one which he demonstrated in 1936 when he mistook

Mr Trotter’s ‘thrice stuffed porky banger’ for

a new variety of aubergine and made a complete

fool of himself in front of the Duke of Kent.

With regard to your nocturnal visitors – have you

considered filling your wheelbarrow with three

pints of gum Arabic and a pound or two of chicken

feathers and leaving it in the middle of your

onion patch? The lure of a comfortable bunk (as it

were) will surely be too great a temptation for

your mysterious lothario and his doxy and they’ll

be tarred and feathered in next to no time, making

identification an absolute piece of cake!

This month’s plaintive cry for help was sent in

by Dicky Rutter who’s had his onions flattened

rather harshly...

Dear Mrs Ffinch,

I have a problem which may well be a police

matter rather than ‘one for you’ but I’ll run it

past you anyway.

I was out a night or two ago taking my evening

walk down by me ‘Dig For Victory’ patch. In the

evening half light and black out I thought I spied

a vandal wheeling my barrow across my patch

and so went to have a gander. On drawing closer

and my eyes becoming more accustomed to

the light, I was horrified to see a courting couple

in an act of...well modesty forbids me...

I didn’t recognise the couple as they made a very

quick exit. Is this a police matter? I’ve been taking

my fouling piece with me over the past few

nights, prepared to let them have it should they

return - 8 square feet of damaged spring onions

- its not on!


Reg ‘Dicky’ Rutter

I will have a word with Constable Clink this

evening (he generally calls in for a quick one with

my cook during the course of his beat, tea being a

great stimulant) and will tell him to be on the

lookout for two extraordinarily large (and exceedingly

game) birds in the vicinity of your allotment.

He has a keen eye and knows precisely what to do

with his truncheon.

I do hope this helps.


Hilda Ffinch

The Bird With All The Answers

p.s. Should you have any spare onions please do

drop them round, my cook has plenty of sage and

does rather like a good stuffing.

If you’d like Hilda Ffinch, The Bird With All The

Answers to address your own wartime problem,

then pop along to

to subject your

personal crisis to her (hopefully) sober scrutiny.

Remember to give yourself a suitable wartime

alias! Letters will be answered online and a selection

of them published in next month’s Sandbag

Times. 29 |

Poetry Corner

The Alcoholic

His eyes are red like boiling blood

His skin is pale and white

His head is smashed to a thousand bits

As he thinks about last night

This hand he holds afore him

To watch and shake and shiver

But then his kidneys start again

To pulverize his liver

His tongue he next examines

But the colour is not known

Because across the top of it

An inch of fur has grown

He gazes in the mirror

And death just stares right back

And while he looks in disbelief

His body starts to crack

He starts to cough and splutter

And gradually to choke

And promises for the hundredth time

To lay off Bacardi and coke

©Carol Atkinson

To My Husband

Life with you my darling

At times is hard to bear

But you know that I feel better

Whenever you are there

I have so many problems

And lots of worries too

But when we are together

I work them out with you

So never leave me never

For longer than you need

For without you my darling

To death my heart would bleed

© Carol Atkinson

Stab Wounds – River Flows In You

These are the marks of our past because

When I say stab wounds I do not mean that

When a blade has entered our skin but

Words and actions that have made us bleed

When the double edged sword of a sentence

Slices a cut so deep that it will never heal.

When the blade has been heated

And leaves burns on our backs

Leaving behind more pain and suffering

These are the marks left behind by the fakers.

Who live to build you up

Just to tear you down piece by piece.

The people who say they are your family one moment

Then pour poison into your ear the next

These are the people you can’t give a knife to.

Because that knife represents your hopes,

Your dreams, your secrets.

And once they have that knife they will use it against you

And carve into your skin like clay,

Moulding you into their puppet.

Making you contort in pain to their lies,

Their rumours and their falsehood.

As Jill Blakeway once said ‘beware the person who stabs you

Then tells the world they’re the one who’s bleeding’

This quote rings true

Because the traitor will always play the victim

They will try and gain sympathy.

They will turn your pain into guilt.

This is because they are so good at what they do.

They manipulate and lie to live.

©Daughter of Paul Searson

Win This Fantastic Title

This unusual and beautiful book collects together twenty

five of the often read, well-loved poets. Each

poet is illustrated with an original watercolor

portrait by the talented young artist,

Charlotte Zeepvat, who reproduces in

pleasing script one of their works, giving a

biographical summary that placed the poet

firmly in the battlefield context in which

their work was conceived.

To have a chance at winning this

fabulous book, simply email your

poetry to: 31 |

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