The Sandbag Times Issue No: 51

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The Veterans Magazine

Sandbag

The

Times

BREAKPOINT

The moment you decide

nothing will stand between

you and your goals

SBT 2018

A look back at our year

with the UK’s No:1

Veterans Magazine

Proud Sponsors of

The Veterans Awards

The Veterans’ Magazine Issue 51 | January 2019


Leading from the front

in

Matt Neal

Patron and 3 time BTCC Champion.

Winner of the 60th ‘Double Diamond’ BTCC Anniversary Race

“Life is short and we need to live that life to the maximum, the freedom we enjoy in the UK is in no uncertain part down

to our armed forces, whether active, retired or recuperating and that is why I am so proud to be a Patron of the Sandbag

Times. What you do and have done for this country goes beyond words…”

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In Issue 51

The

Sandbag

Times

BREAKPOINT

The moment you decide

nothing will stand between

you and your goals

SBT Revie

P

SBT 2018

A look back at our year

with the UK’s No:1

Veterans erans Magazine

Proud Sponsors of

The Veterans Awards

The Veterans’ Magazine Issue 51 | January 2019

In The News

06 71 Suicides in 2018

A tragic year comes

to an end

07 Paddy Ashdown RIP

Former Marine and

Former MP dies, 77

08 Plea from Veteran

Homeless veterans

makes emotional

plea to government

Features

18 SAS: Who Dares Wins

The hit series makes a

return to our screens

20 Breakpoint

the moment you

decide nothing will

stand between you

and your goals

22 SBT 2018 Review

A look back over the

last year

Regulars

25 Have Faith

With Andrew Hall

31 AFVBC

All the latest from the

clubs

36 Mrs Fox Goes To War

All the goings-on in

Little Hope

| 4

www.sandbagtimes.co.uk


CONTENTS Jan 2019

w 2018

age 22

SBT News P6

Welcome to 2019

After the joys of

the festive season,

we are

back and ready

to do battle

with the new

year. Indeed,

many challenges

face our little magazine and

the veterans community over the

next 12 months.

I’ve made one or two changes to

freshen the rag up a little, as you

may have already noticed. We also

have some great features to begin

the new year.

Excitingly, as you may have seen

on the cover, we feature Breakpoint.

which is ran by ‘Ollie’ Ollerton

famed from TV’s ‘SAS: Who Dares

Wins’. Which, by the way, starts it’s

next season this January.

Breakpoint

Mrs Fox

P20

P36

We also take a look back over the

past 12 months in the Sandbag

Times. It has been a monsterous

year for us, in no small part with the

amount of readers we have attracted.

We are rapidly approaching the

2.5 Million mark with 1.5 Million of

that since April alone. This is all

down to you folks reading our little

monthly mag. I have to say our

relationship with Matt Neal and

Team Dynamics has been extremely

exciting too. The new season is

looking even more of a promising

challenge for the title for our lads

and we will be behind them every

step of the way. So, head down,

and strap in for 2019.

Editor: Pablo Snow

Magazine Manager: Matt Jarvis

Patron: Matt Neal

Honourary Patron:

Jacqueline Hurley

Additional editors:

Kevin Lloyd-Thomas

Jane Shields

Andrew Hall

News Media Manager

Jim Wilde

Recording Engineer and PR Manager

Vince Ballard

Email: info@sandbagtimes.com

www.sandbagtimes.co.uk

www.sandbagtimes.co.uk 5 |


NEWS

SBT NEWS

THE VETERANS’ MAGAZINE

January Edition

info@sandbagtimes.com

71 SUICIDES AS 2018 COMES TO AN END

| 4

By ITV News

As families across the country prepare to

spend Christmas with their loved ones,

for the families of the 71 serving military

personnel and veterans who took their

own lives in 2018 following mental health

struggles, a rather different and more

painful day approaches.

The death toll exceeds the number of

battlefield fatalities in 11 of the 13 years

that British troops were in Afghanistan,

ITV News can reveal. The research -

compiled by ITV News with the help of

veterans' organisations - found more

than one third who took their own lives

this year, and whose details are known,

had suffered from post-traumatic stress

disorder (PTSD) - an anxiety disorder

caused by very stressful, frightening or

distressing events. Someone with PTSD

often relives the traumatic event through

nightmares and flashbacks, and may

experience feelings of isolation, irritability

and guilt. One such sufferer was Warrant

Officer Nathan Hunt who took his life on

New Year's Day - the first in a long line of

military suicides this year. Following the

death of their son, Nathan's parents say

they have "cancelled Christmas this

year". "We just couldn't sit there around

the table, with our other sons and grandkids

and celebrate, knowing that he was

10 minutes down the road lying cold in a

grave," his father Derek, told ITV News.

"We just couldn't bring ourselves to do it.

Like Nathan, 31-year-old Corporal

Mathew Shillito also suffered from PTSD.

The father from Leicestershire killed himself

on October 1. Read more on ITV

GET HELP NOW: Rewind @ Tommy Atkins Centre

www.tommyatkins.co.uk

| 6 www.sandbagtimes.co.uk


NEWS

THE VETERANS’ MAGAZINE

SBT NEWS January Edition

info@sandbagtimes.com

By The Independent

Veteran & MP Paddy Ashdown Dies

Paddy Ashdown served

his country as a Royal

Marine, a diplomat, as an

intelligence officer in the

security services, as an

MP, as leader of the

Liberal Democrat party

and as emissary for the

world community.

Of politics and war – in the

1960s and 1970s, he saw

active service in Borneo

and Northern Ireland during

the Troubles –

Ashdown, who has died at

the age of 77, once

claimed that politics was

more exciting and often

more terrifying than active

service. “On active service

nothing happens for 90

percent of the time,” he

said. “But in politics things

happen all the time, and

the bullets can start flying

just when you least expect

them.” For Lord Ashdown

of Norton-Sub-Hamdon, as

he was ennobled after

leaving the Commons, collecting

a knighthood along

the way, the two were

always closely linked. More

Four in court after military operation

on Thames Estuary Cargo Ship

Four men detained when

the military boarded a

cargo ship in the Thames

Estuary have appeared in

court.

The Special Boat Service

descended on to the Grande

Tema on Friday, its owner

said, after concerns were

raised for the crew's safety.

The 71,000-tonne vessel was

carrying a cargo including

chemicals from Lagos in

Nigeria to Tilbury, Essex.

The men, of no fixed address,

were charged with affray and

Story: LBC

remanded by magistrates

until 31 December. They are

Samuel Jolumi, 26, Ishola

Sunday, 27, Toheeb Popoola,

26, and Joberto McGee, 20.

Appearing at Chelmsford

Magistrates' Court, the

defendants spoke only to

confirm their particulars,

with McGee giving his

nationality as Liberian and

the others saying they were

Nigerian. The military had

been called in to secure the

ship late on Friday night,

after a 14-hour operation.

Read more on this story.

Story: BBC News

Johnny Mercer Criticises “Tokenistic” Approach

To Veteran Care

A Conservative MP and former

British Army officer has slammed

successive governments for their

"tokenistic" approach to caring for

British veterans.

Johnny Mercer served three tours in

Afghanistan before retiring from

military service in 2013 and opting

for a career in politics. The MP for

Plymouth Moor View sat down with

LBC and told us that he thinks the

UK lacks a central department to

support veterans.

When asked by Theo Usherwood,

LBC's Political editor, as to where he

thought the issue originated from in

the government with regard to

helping veterans, Mr Mercer said that

he thought the government had a very

"different view" of veterans. More...

www.sandbagtimes.co.uk 7 |


SBT NEWS

THE VETERANS’ MAGAZINE

January Edition

info@sandbagtimes.com

Homeless UK Veteran Emotional Plea To Government

Steve Rowe, a Northern

Ireland veteran, accused the

government of “forgetting

their own” as he told his

story of sleeping rough in

central London.

Steve, who ended up on the

streets after the trauma of his

son's death, said MPs are too

focused on Brexit to care

about the thousands of rough

sleepers in Britain. He told

Channel 4 News: “I’m asking

for help. I’m not getting it. So

what do I do? Where do I go?

“I lost a son, which just… hit

me. You can take a bullet for

Dozens of kind-hearted strangers

attended the funeral of a troubled army

veteran and poppy-seller after a

desperate appeal by pals who feared no

one would go.

Stewart Kingdom, 54, tragically took his

the Queen, you can die for the

country but I couldn’t save my

son. “There are so many exforces

guys on the streets who

are going through the same

thing. “What they have done,

the country, have forgotten

their own. “The government

are more concerned about this

Europe business and this

Brexit business than they are

their own people. “And here

we are sleeping tents and

sleeping in boxes.” According

to figures released earlier this

year, around 13,000 ex-armed

forces veterans are sleeping

rough. Read more in The Sun

Tribute to Army Veteran Poppy Seller After Life of Tragedy

Story: The Sun

Story: The Sun

own life after being plagued by posttraumatic

stress disorder from his time in

the forces. On Friday former friends,

members of the armed services and

Yeovil MP Marcus Fysh flocked to Yeovil

Crematorium, Somerset, to give a fitting

send-off to Mr Kingdom. The ex-squaddie

Photo: 4 News

served tours of Northern Ireland during

the Troubles. He also saw action in the

Falklands and the First Gulf War. But after

leaving the forces in 1997, Mr Kingdom

endured a series of heartbreaking

personal tragedies. An inquest heard that

his life "seemed to be one tragedy after

another". His father died in hospital

during a routine operation in 1997. His

mum was so distraught by the loss that

she took her own life the same day. And

on the day of his mother and father's

funeral his sister was killed in a road

accident. A few years later he was

diagnosed with Parkinson's disease and

PTSD - which contributed to the eventual

breakdown of his marriage. The former

Royal Army Medical Corps soldier was

told in August that he had terminal cancer

- and he was given just 12 months to live.

He told friends that he felt "life was no

longer worth living" and took his own life

at his bungalow in Crewkerne, Somerset,

last month. Following his death, a

coroner was unable to find any relative to

let them know of his passing. For more

on this story, click here.

GET HELP NOW: Text Combat Stress

07537 404719

| 8 www.sandbagtimes.co.uk


A World War II hero who

worked on the Dambusters

raid has celebrated his 104th

birthday.

NEWS

World War Two hero who helped on Dambusters

raid celebrates 104th birthday

Warrant Officer Frederick

Samuel Vinecombe was

involved in the iconic operation

before being shot down

over France in 1944. He was

captured by the Germans and

taken to Buchenwald

Concentration Camp as a

prisoner-of-war. When he was

finally liberated he weighed

just six stone and could not

be recognised by his family

when he returned to England.

Fred says the secret of his

longevity is a healthy diet and

active lifestyle. He explained:

“I kept out of trouble. I was

doing a [tax] collection job, I

worked until I was 80. “We

always had green stuff, the

food was really good, nothing

half cooked. “She [his wife]

didn’t seem to fry much, we

Story: The Mirror

had a good roast Sundays,

and Monday we had a nice

dinner.” The veteran, who

celebrated his birthday on

December 16, revealed his

favourite thing about

Christmas is being able to

make friends with anyone.

He said: “Merry Christmas to

all, and a happy New Year. “I

was just saying the other day,

they don’t use decorations

this year, like they have done

in the past years. “In the old

days we used to always decorate,

in the old days they’d

go from corner to corner.”

Fred is understood to have

been involved in the buildup

to the Dambusters raid in

1943. Read More Here...

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

www.dmws.org.uk

Supported by the Aged Veterans Fund

funded by the Chancellor using LIBOR Funds.

DMWS Registered Charity number:

England: 1087210 | Scotland: SCO45460

www.sandbagtimes.co.uk 9 |


VETERANS RAFFLE DONATES £500 TO THE TOMMY ATKINS CENTRE

Christmas came early for the Tommy

Atkins Centre when the Veterans Raffle

passed over a well needed donation to

the Worcester veterans centre.

Just recently, the Tommy Atkins Centre

launched a new project to help veterans in

crisis called the Veterans Online Rewind

Therapy System. However, the centre has

survived on donated laptops and hand-medown

phones and other equipment.

However, thanks to the Veterans Raffle, the

centre now has a brand new laptop to deal

with the high online demand from veterans in

need of assistance.

The Veterans Raffle formed a great working

relationship with the Sandbag Times, who

founded the Tommy Atkins Centre in 2017

and has worked mutually together over the

past year to assist veterans in a variety of

ways. Chris Hearn, the founder and chairman

of Veterans Raffle has been a big supporter

of the publication and the Tommy

Atkins Centre over the past year after hearing

how the organisation helps veterans in their

own unique way.

The Veterans Raffle was established to fund

charities that support veterans suffering from

mental health-related conditions such as

PTSD, complex injuries such as loss of limb

and those who find themselves out of work &

homeless. The Veterans Raffle currently supports

10 veterans charities and is the only UK

raffle or lottery to apportion 95% of your

donations to charity and prizes - retaining

only 5% towards admin and marketing costs.

You can find out more and enter the Raffle by

going to https://veteransraffle.uk

Peterhead veteran in horrific accident will

embark on epic fundraising motorbike ride

A veteran, who almost lost a leg in a horrific

accident, is raising funds for the

organisation which is helping him to

achieve his dream of getting back on a

motorbike.

Derek Hunter was riding his 2005 model

Yamaha FZS1000 Fazer motorbike past

Trump International in February, 2017

when he was involved in a four-vehicle

collision. Mr Hunter, a civil servant from

Peterhead, suffered life-threatening

injuries to his right leg when his femur

and knee were left shattered. But now,

almost two years later, with the support

of family and friends, allied to his determination

to climb back on a bike, Mr

Hunter is trying to raise £1,000 to support

the organisation who made that

dream possible. In May, the 46-year-old

will ride across the American Wild West

challenge thanks to backing from nonprofit

organisation Bike Tours for the

Wounded (BTFTW). The organisation

ensures that service personnel, who are

injured, wounded or become sick in a

Story: Press & Journal

way which is career or life-limiting,

receive the opportunity to escape from

their comfort zone as a means of aiding

their recovery. Mr Hunter was a soldier

in the Royal Signals for 19 years before

he left in 2014 and got involved with

BTFTW through his brother. He said: “I

was on my way down to see relatives in

the central belt on when I was involved

in a major accident near to the entrance

to Trump International golf course and

was knocked off my motorbike by a car

that was attempting to avoid a truck and

car that had collided. Read more here...

GET HELP NOW: SSAFA Helpline

0800 731 4880

| 10 www.sandbagtimes.co.uk


ASK KERRY

Ask Kerry...

Let her help you to open doors

www.opendoortraining.co.uk

Fill in the Blanks

Happy xxx Year

Xxx Beginnings

Xxx Look

Brave xxx World

Xxx Year Resolutions

This is the time of year when we look

back at the old year and see a new year

beckoning. Full of possibilities. I have

always told my clients that this is the

time of year when they need to look at

their CV. Give it a ‘spring clean’. Review

the content, decide what information is

still relevant [or not]. The task is not

onerous. Put the kettle on [those that

know me will be smiling at that comment]

and spend no more than 3 minutes

reviewing your CV with cold eyes.

Pen in hand, mug of tea in another.

Why you may be asking? It is important

to give your CV a ‘health check’. It is a

record of your work. [Present and past].

Mark on the CV skills you have learned

in the last 12 months, increased responsibilities

at work [promotions and so on],

CPD activities, new career highlights etc.

for job applications

but as a

‘marker’ of your

progress. It is a

record that you

use as an aidememoire

when

preparing for

Performance

Review Meetings,

promotion boards

and last and certainly

not least a

way of checking

salary levels.

I have saved my favourite saying for now.

New Year New You.

The 3 minutes you spend reviewing your

CV is the first step. Small steps at the

beginning of a longer journey.

I wish you all a very Happy and Peaceful

2019.

When you have done all of the above,

put the day’s date in the top left hand

corner and make a note to yourself to

update the CV, he first week of January.

If you don’t already do so, keep a paper

copy of your CVs on file. With the year

marked in red in the top right hand corner.

Inevitably they will in years ahead,

be viewed as a resource for meandering

down Memory Lane/Amnesia Ave.

Which is fine!

An updated CV is a resource. Not only

GET HELP NOW: Combat Stress

0800 138 1619

www.sandbagtimes.co.uk 11 |


HISTORICAL TOMMY ATKINS

A Month for Hope?

By Pablo Snow

January marks the

anniversary of a

monumental event in

history. An event that would

attempt to break a nuclear

stalemate which would mark a

significant step in finally ending

the Cold War.

On January 3, 1993, President

George Bush and Russian

President Boris Yeltsin signed

the Start-II (Strategic Arms

Reduction Talks) Treaty,

eliminating about two-thirds of

each country's long range

nuclear weapons. The very

things that had brought the

world to a fear of annihilation

for over 30 years were finally

being withdrawn.

I can remember the sighs of

relief as it sunk in to our minds

that we were not going to suffer

the horrors that nuclear war

promised. For me personally, it

had been something that had

been in the forefront of my

mind due to my service. At the

end of 1983 until the beginning

of 1986 my mob, the 1st Bn

Royal Hampshire Regiment was

sent out to Berlin where

tensions still remained high

between East and the West.

Although we enjoyed the

German culture on our time off,

we were always at a state of

high alert waiting for the

moment that ‘the balloon would

go up’ as we used to say.

Between the British, French, the

USA and the, then, USSR,

duties were shared including the

guarding of Hitlers henchman,

Rudolf Hess, the only inmate of

the notorious Spandau Prison.

While he was alive the Russians

had a foothold in West Berlin,

but what would happen if he

died? would we be looking at

conflict, another Berlin

Blockade, nobody really knew.

History would sort this matter

out just a year or two after we

left when the Berlin Wall finally

came down following the death

of Hess. The Prison was

flattened and all of a sudden,

peace was on the horizon.

On our return to the UK, we

were still in the thick of it by

being deployed to the UK

missile sites, including

Greenham Common which

would always give us the chills.

However, it wasn’t until 1993

when we would finally see the

demise of these awful weapons.

At least for a few years.

The START II treaty was agreed

on at two summit meetings

between George H.W. Bush and

Russian Pres. Boris Yeltsin, the

first in Washington, D.C., in

June 1992 and the second in

Moscow in January 1993.

Under its terms, both sides

would reduce their strategic

warheads to 3,800–4,250 by

2000 and to 3,000–3,500 by

2003. They would also

eliminate multiple independent

reentry vehicles (MIRVs) on

their ICBMs—in effect

eliminating two of the more

controversial missiles of the

Cold War, the U.S. Peacekeeper

missile and the Russian SS-18.

Later, in order to accommodate

the delays in signing and

ratifying START I, the deadlines

were put back to 2004 and

2007, respectively.

Unfortunately START II never

actually came into force. The

U.S. Senate did not ratify the

treaty until 1996, largely

because the parallel process was

moving so slowly in the

Russian Duma. But it did

suceed in moving the realistic

threat of Nuclear war to the

back burner.

As we start 2019, I can’t help

but look at the position of the

Global theatre and wonder will

those ideas ever be realised?

We can but hope.

| 12 www.sandbagtimes.co.uk


BRAND NEW

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The SBT would like to

welcome Urban Prints,

Worcester as an official sponsor

for our magazine.

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GET HELP NOW: NHS England S/West

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| 14 www.sandbagtimes.co.uk


SBT Book Review

By Andrew Hope-Hall

Fighting For The French Foreign Legion

(Memoirs of a Scottish Legionnaire)

Author: Alex Lochrie

Publisher: Pen & Sword Military (www.penand-sword.co.uk)

RRP: £12.99 (Paperback)

ISBN 178337615-5

Not enough books in this genre in my view.

Growing up as a dyslexic (in a world that had

yet to discover dyslexia) according to even

his parents Alex Lochrie would never succeed

at anything he did. Discovering a talent

for drawing and art he had a varied life

including time spent as a sketch artist for the

Police, then at the impossible age of 38 he

joined the French Foreign Legion. The

legion, naturally, made some adjustments as

to his age and he was accepted. It was a

refreshing story, given the recent sway

towards the use of expletives every five words

by certain writers of their military memoires,

as if this shows the world how tough they are.

I find a real toughness in people who can and

are able to restrain putting this sort of thing

into print. So apart from the odd one or two

re-arranged words Alex gives a stirring tail of

his life in the Legion where he not only flowered

but flourished. He visited many parts of

the world during his time in the REP

(Parachute battalion in the Legion) and

served in many conflicts and wars. His reaction

as a man of more mature years was interesting

to see. Such was his selflessness and

love of the Legion that towards the end of his

time there he said “I felt that as I was

approaching fifty, it was getting harder to

keep up with the standard of fitness expected

within the REP. Although I was still very fit I

did not want to keep going to the point where

I could not keep up with the eighteen years

olds”. Those two sentences, really show the

measure of the man.

One other thing that was brought out was the

loyalty not just by the men to the Legion but

by the Legion to its men of all ranks and of

the retired. Alex considers this as one reason

why PTSDS is not such a big problem within

the ranks of the Legion, both serving and

retired. It is like one big family. He gave

some examples of this great concern and is

something that I think is peculiarly lacking in

British regiments when one reads the memoirs

of even the most recent conflicts. Where

essentially once you are out – that’s it.

BOOK REVIEW

Coming Down in the Drink

The Survival of Bomber “Goldfish’ John

Brennan DFC

Autobiography written by Sean Feast

Publisher: Pen & Sword Military

(www.pen-and-sword.co.uk)

RRP: £19.99 (hardback)

ISBN 1473891531

John Brennan led a very tough life growing

up in the Republic of Ireland. Before moving

to London and working as a chef. With the

invasion of Poland he joined the RAF

Volunteer Reserve. It was to be some weeks

before he could go into flight training.

Selected as radio operator and bombardier

he completed both types of training in a time

when new equipment was coming off the

development lines at an enormous rate.

Eventually, a Flight Sergeant, he was posted

to North Africa and joined the Goldfish club

(for anyone coming down at sea). In 1943 he

was back flying missions from the UK in

Halifax bombers.

The one thing that struck me so starkly in this

account was the amount of crew who were

killed in flying accidents or faulty aircraft. The

numbers, if the truth be told would come

close to the number actually killed in action.

More credit to the chaps who kept flying

these aircraft mission after mission.

John Brennan was promoted to officer rank in

1943 and was awarded the Distinguished

Flying Cross in 1945.

A really fascinating read of life in the bomber

command during the Second World War.

GET HELP NOW: Tommy Atins

01905 813936

www.sandbagtimes.co.uk 15 |


The Tommy Atkins Centre

Tommy Atkins Centre January

Here’s wishing all our readers a safe and

enjoyable New Year. We are all really looking

forwards to our opening on Friday January 18th

at 12.00 when Matt Neal will be with us to

officially launch our new centre.

2018 saw us assisting many veterans around

the Worcester area, and also the launch of our

new VORTS (Veterans Online Rewind Therapy

System) which is a unique and extremely

successful way of helping our veteran

community in times of mental health crisis.

01905 813639 is the number you need to keep

somewhere safe, or visit our website

https://www.tommyatkins.co.uk and use the

skype option bottom right of the screen.

We’re also very thrilled to have assisted a

veteran locally over the last four weeks, who

was initially suicidal and homeless when we

first met him, and whom we have successfully

BTCC Champion, Matt Neal to Open

New Tommy Atkins Centre

Sandbag Times Patron and three times British

Touring Car Champion Matt Neal will officially open

the new Tommy Atkins Centre on 18th January

2019 at the KGV, Brickfields, Worcester.

The new facility, supplied by the Worcester

Community Trust, came in to operation earlier this

month with much improved facilities to support the

veterans community in Worcestershire and

Herefordshire.

placed into temporary accommodation, treated

his PTSD, and have also managed to secure

employment for him with accommodation

provided when he relocates in early January to

start his New Year off with an extremely

positive outlook. It’s such a pleasure to be able

to see the change in him from a broken man

into one with a brand new future now within his

reach. We wish him every success in his new

career, and look forwards to moving on through

2019 and providing as much support as we are

able to any veterans in need of a helping hand.

Remember to always check up on that veteran

who is normally out and about but you haven’t

seen for a few days. A phone call or a knock

on the door could make a big difference. Have

a fantastic New Year everyone.

Jane xx

Website: www.tommyatkins.co.uk

brought up to speed on current issues and plans

within the centre.

Combat Stress, SSAFA and other veterans organisations

will also be present at the opening providing

an opportunity for the public to learn more

about the services and to meet the British Motor

Racing Legend who is taking time out prior to his

2019 BTCC Campaign to support veterans.

Backed by the Worcester City Council, it is

planned that this new site will be the first of three

facilities under the Tommy Atkins Banner to operate

within the region.

Matt, 52, has been a long supporter of the UK

Armed Forces and Veterans with many of his

friends having served. He became Patron of the

SBT in 2017 and regularly visits the centre to be

GET HELP NOW: Tommy Atkins Centre

01905 27825

| 16 www.sandbagtimes.co.uk


TOMMY ATKINS CENTRE

The Tommy Atkins Centre

Supporting Veterans in the Community

c/o KGV Community Centre

10 Ash View

Worcester

WR4 9TL

Fridays - 1000hrs-1430hrs

01905 813936

info@tommyatkins.co.uk

www.tommyatkins.co.uk


Accommodation Support

For Further Details:

Tel: 01746 833797/ 830191/ 872940

Fax: 01746 835774

Catterick Mil: 94731 2940

www.spaces.org.uk

www.riverside.org.uk

Email: spaces@riverside.org.uk

It’s Back! SAS: Who Dares Wins

Yes, it’s true, this January sees the

return of the hit series SAS: Who Dares

Wins.

Following the success of the first three

series, the boys are back to put another

25 civilians through the worlds toughest

selection process.

Ex Royal Marine and SBS, Ant

Middleton heads up the Special Forces

team along with Ex Royal Marine and

SBS Matthew ‘Ollie’ Ollerton, Ex SAS

Mark ‘Billy’ Billingham and Ex Roya

Marine and SBS Jason ‘Foxy’ Fox.

Together making a highly profession

and experienced team perfectly suit

to taking the applicants through the

orous and highly demanding proce

The applicant will be put through a

mentally and physically demanding

cess throughout the series.

Series 4 comes with a difference thi

year. Due to the MOD’s announcem

during 2018, that women could serv

| 18 www.sandbagtimes.co.uk


l

al

ed

rigss.

pros

ent

e in

- Sunday 6th January 2019 - Channel 4 - 9:00pm

all arms of the military, the series is also

open to women for the first time.

Since 2015, SAS: Who Dares Wins has

been one of the most popular shows on

British TV. So popular, in fact, that it

was announced recently that there are

plans for a celebrity series planned for

later in 2019. I must admit, the mind

wanders in eager anticipation to see

who will have the courage to give it a

go. Remember, it’s open to EVERY-

ONE. I so can’t wait for that.

Personally, I cannot wait for the off. The

SBT will be following the action throughout

and bringing readers up to date with

daily website blogs and a report in

February’s edition.

You can follow the team and past series

by going to:

https://www.channel4.com/programmes/sas-who-dares-wins

SAS: WHO DARES WINS

www.sandbagtimes.co.uk 19 |


BREAK-POINT GUARDROOM

Since it’s inception in 2015Break-Point

has been an industry leader in the

Corporate& Public training worlds from

the outset. Lead from the front by the

former SBS operative and star of

Channel 4’s “SAS: Who dares wins”

Ollie is clear that in order to achieve

your fullest potential you must prepare

your mind for the task ahead whilst

ensuring your body is physically and

nutritionally ready.

Steering away from the traditional personal

& team development events

utilised by many organisations, what you

can expect from a day with Break-Point

is more akin to an episode from the hit

TV series that has seen Ollie and his

counterparts catapulted into an un-natural

limelight for the traditional Special

Force’s operator.

Being able to pull from his Elite training

and knowledge base of the Special

Forces world, whilst working alongside

Armed Forces Veterans whom employ a

myriad of expertise Ollie is able to deliver

an individually tailored package for

each person or organisation which is

second to none.

Taken direct from their website the clear

definition of BREAK-POINT is the

moment you decide nothing will stand

between you and your goals. It’s the

relentless refusal to accept your limits.

Our team, with years of experience in

the British Special Forces behind us,

have the ability to change the way you

think, the way you feel, and subsequently

perform.

Ollie is also a founder of Strong Men

Org Uk. Working alongside two former

participants of SAS: Who dares wins,

Efrem Brynin and Dan Cross their aim is

simply put as having a unique UK Wide

brotherhood will help improve the physical

and mental health of men whose

lives have been devastated by bereavement.

By connecting with the outdoors

StrongMen provides a safe environment

for activity-based weekends, relaxation

and discussion.

Ollie is not quiet about the battle he has

had with his own mental health and has

openly spoken about his struggles whilst

in and out of the Forces having once

said he used alcohol to silence the noise

going on in his head. It is from these

battles and the effect that mis-under-

| 20 www.sandbagtimes.co.uk


BREAKPOINT

stood and mis-managed mental health

support has on service personnel and

veterans that has given Ollie the drive to

create his own Veteran Support organisation

aptly named Break-Point

Guardroom.

The brainchild of a close personal friend

the Break-Point Guardroom was created

to be a one stop shop for service personnel

and veterans in their fight to better

themselves professionally or personally.

Run by two former members of the

Armed Forces who between them have

a wealth of experience and knowledge

spanning the generations, they strive to

cut down the swathes of red tape service

charities have built up over the

years. What used to be a simple problem

to fix is now encircled by weeks and

sometimes months of paperwork and

bureaucracy all of which is a difficult

process to understand if it’s your first

time through.

What they have achieved in their short

time is nothing short of inspirational

drawing from their own experiences and

knowledge of the military system they

have to date assisted over 20 veterans

with simple issues such as replacing a

washing machine door to arranging

counselling for a veteran and are currently

assisting the bereaved wife of a

veteran who sadly lost his battle with

PTSD. All this has been done with no

funding other than donations from fellow

veterans wishing to help their brothers &

sisters.

This is soon to change. In the coming

months the Break-Point Guardroom will

find a new wind in it’s sails which will

result in numerous opportunities being

created purely for the veteran community.

Seeing the potential and unique

skillset that veterans can provide to a

workplace is not difficult and many companies

overlook this during the applications

stages.

You can keep your eyes open for these

opportunities and others via their

Facebook page Break-Point Guardroom

and should you have any questions feel

free to drop them a message.

www.sandbagtimes.co.uk 21 |


SBT

2018 Review

In a year where so much has happened in Armed Forces and

Veterans world, the SBT has been hard at work to capture

events and bring our readers the very latest news, reviews,

stories and gossip as it happened with a little bit of fun thrown

in for good measure. We take a look back at the last year with

the nations favourite Veterans magazine.

January 2018

The year started, unfortunately, how it was to

continue. WO2 Nathan Hunt was the first of

71 Armed Forces and Veterans to take his life.

More troops were sent to Afghanistan and

MP’s called to unite charities. We feature

Emille Gheeson as he ventured

into hostile territory with the Robin

Hood Complex and Mrs Fox made

her debut in the SBT with her hit

series ‘Mrs Fox Goes To War’.

March 2018

In the March news, the NHS initiative

TILS was rolled out. The Welsh Guards

were confirmed to return to Afghanistan

and the suicide figures continued to

rise with the death of Jarryd Wingfield .

We featured the wonderful book ‘A Half

Shilling Curate’ and also carried out a

review on the Armed Forces Covenant

following reports of failures.

May 2018

The pilot involved in the Shoreham

aircrash was in court charged with

11 counts of manslaughter while North Korea

announced that it was halting Nuclear testing.

The 2018 Airshow season was upon us and the

SBT took a look at the displays which were to

grace our skies.

February 2018

The Deepcut Inquest was all over the press

with the new inquest into Pte Sean Benton

who died at Deepcut Barracks. Two SAS officers

went on trial over the Brecon Beacon

deaths and we lost Capt Dean Sprouting to

an accident in Iraq. Our main feature was the

hit play ‘A Brave Face’. An amazing production

with not a word spoken but yet so much

said. Look out for it again in 2019.

April 2018

The big news in April was the death of Cpl

Jonathan Bayliss following a Red Arrows Jet

accident. Gen Nick Carter was named as the

UK’s new Military chief and the MOD paid out

compensation for PTSD for the first time. The

big feature was the launch of the BTCC season

with our patron, Matt Neal in a brand new

Honda Civic Type R (FK8) at Donnington Park.

June 2018

The sad news that Danny Johnstons body

had been found despite a high profile search

shocked the veterans community. The UK

considered sending even more troops to

Afghanistan and retired Lt Col Chris Parker

hits out over employers attitude to PTSD. We

featured BFBS radio as ‘The Battle of the

Breakfast Clubs’ was launched.

| 22 www.sandbagtimes.co.uk


SBT 2018 REVIEW

July 2018

Alerts went up as veteran Robert Mason went

missing. Thankfully, in this case he was

found safe and well. Para’s were hit by the NI

enquires and the Royal Navy intercepted

more Russian warships. We reviewed the

Forces and Veterans venue, the

Union Jack Club and the SBT

launched OP Wamits (Walk A Mile

In Their Shoes),

September 2018

In September, the waterboarding scandal

was the main story while elsewhere

it was announced that the Mercian

Regiment were to deploy to

Afghanistan to train local security

forces. Our main feature was the comedy

play ‘Solder On’ which was

embarking on a nationwide tour.We

also announced that there would

be a Remembrance 100 Special.

November 2018

The British Press came together in

November to highlight the huge

suicide figures for the year while the

UK saw a spate of vandalism on it’s

Remembrance memorials. We

reviewed a positive year for our BTCC

team and featured the incredible voices

and brand new album of the D Day

Darlings,

December 2018

And so we arrive at the Christmas

edition where Russia opens fire on the

Crimean Navy and the charges of British

Soldiers over the Bloody Sunday killings were

delayed yet again. We reviewed the single

‘Saved a Soldier and sent Christmas messages

to our troops from the SBT readers.

And so ends a very busy year.

August 2018

Suicides were the big news in Issue 46 as we

were still reeling from Danny Johnson. The

Government came under pressure to improve

reporting data and reports came in that RAF

Scampton was to close. In our articles, we

featured the documentary, ‘No More Falling

Heroes’ from Dai4Films and we feature Dr

David Muss and the Rewind Trauma Therapy.

October 2018

A British Veteran was jailed for 8 years in

Turkey for fighting ISIS in Syria and two officers

were acquitted over the Brecon Beacon deaths

in 2013 while on SAS selection. Featured in

the mag was the return of ‘A Brave Face’ along

with a brand new mask making project for veterans

and we began our reports on the 2018

Invictus Games..

Remembrance 100

Special

The long awaited Remembrance

Special was launched following the

UK’s involvement in conflicts over the

past 100 years tracking the journey of

the poem ‘A Tale of Remembrance. We

also bid a sad farewell to SBT writer

Albert ‘Robby’ McRobb who passed

away in October.

Read all of our back issues at www.sandbagtimes.co.uk/magazines

www.sandbagtimes.co.uk 23 |


KEVIN LLOYD-THOMAS

BEAT PTSD

A cracking new self help guide to beat

PTSD by Kevin Lloyd-Thomas

In May 2011, Australian Infantry combat veteran

Kevin Lloyd-Thomas walked away from

suicide.

The book, “Beat PTSD - How A Combat

Soldier Conquered Chronic PTSD To Live A

Life That Truly Matters And How You Can

Too,” is the worlds first and only “How to/Self

help book, written by a veteran specifically for

serving men and women, veterans and their

families. It hasa global audience.

Grabbing life back by the throat, Kevin developed

and implemented specific plans and

strategies to turn his life around.

It’s about “Parachute thinking.” “Your mind is

like a parachute - It only works when it’s

open”

It's about surviving and thriving in peace time

after returning from a war zone, says Kevin.

By implementing the five step life plan, setting

your own goals, with the seven pillars of

success, tailoring it to suit your own requirements,

you'll be able to set yourself up on the

path

to achieving whatever it is in life you want, no

matter what your current circumstances

might be.

Raw, Riveting and Real. Says Tim Thomas,

Special Forces Medic in Afghanistan

“Beat PTSD” is like a beacon in the wilderness.

This unique book is for those still serving,

or for those struggling in the civilian

world, those torn apart by PTSD, fearful of

asking for help because of stigma, knowing

their career is under direct threat.

Beat PTSD addresses the key issues of veterans

families breaking up due to PTSD, related

domestic violence, and the distressing

effects on children.

GET HELP NOW: NHS England South East

020 3317 6818

| 24 www.sandbagtimes.co.uk


HAVE FAITH

Come Unto Me all you who are weary

HI. My name is Andrew Hall, and have taken the responsibility

of writing for the faith corner. I am not a clergyman, however I

am a brother in the Tertiary order of the Society of St Francis.

This has been a recent development for me in a 48 years of

acknowledging Jesus Christ as my Lord and Saviour.

Like many of the readers here, though, I have served. My

service was in a country called Rhodesia – now Zimbabwe –

during the long and bitter war there 1967 – 1979. I grew up

with the war and eventually fought in it until the ceasefire on

A friend at the church I worshipped at, at that point of time,

suggested I go for a retreat at the Society of St Francis House

at Glasshampton. In April 2001 I duly did so. It is quite an

austere building, a former stable block at the end of a bridle

path near Shrawley in Worcestershire. I rang the bell and the

guest brother came in, wearing his cassock. Stepping into the

cloisters, was like going back several hundred years. Brother

Raymond Christian showed me to my room, explained who

the SSF European Province were, then showed me the daily

timetable. He departed with a gentle smile. At first I noticed

the extraordinary silence in the place. I walked over to the

window ledge, rested my elbows on the lintel then prayed that

the Lord would bless my stay. At this point I burst in to tears,

deep heart wrenching tears. It was during this time that the

word of the Lord came to me, a verse often read but not quite

understood “Likewise the Spirit also helps our weakness: for

we know not what we should pray for as we ought but the

Spirit himself makes intercession for us with groanings which

cannot be uttered.” Romans 8:26. I felt more certain at that

point that the Holy Spirit was interceding for me.

After that came sleep. I sat in the armchair and started reading

from the Psalms, then before I knew it I had been asleep

for three hours. I went to the evening meal at 18.30 and then

returned to my room. I slept straight through from about

19.30 to 07.00 the next morning. Another verse flagged itself

up to me “Come to me, all you that labour and are heavy

laden, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28.

In the years since, I have learnt the real value of solitude and

silence with the Lord. We fill our lives with noise and activities.

Many Christians pray at length but spend no time in

silence meditating on the word of God. Silence allows us to

concentrate on Christ. The very concept of rest, is silence.

When the guns fell quiet on 11th November 1918, the quiet

was great. When the ceasefire came in Rhodesia, we were

withdrawn from deployments and the news made us quiet. For

many, all we had ever known in Rhodesia was war. I was 7

when it started on a small scale, then it grew year by year to

1979. The peace that man brings never lasts, but the peace

of God is everlasting.

December 28th 1979. In later years, after moving to the UK, I

spent a year with the Territorial Army before being asked to do

some part time work by another Government Department

which offered more excitement. I am sad to say that my marriage

of 18 years came to an end in 2000 when that awful

Decree Absolute came through the post. The greater part of

the break up there was in part my inability to settle into the

civilian world and missing active service immensely. The

stress of having to move country not once but twice had taken

its toll.

To the non-believer I urge you to seek Christ with all your

heart. To the believer, take time out for some peace and quiet

with the Lord. He will speak to you in ways that amaze you.

Jesus himself said to his own disciples “And he said to them,

Come you yourselves apart into a desert place, and rest a

while: for there were many coming and going, and they had

no leisure so much as to eat.”

In coming weeks I shall be exploring this message of Silence,

Peace, being still before the Lord.

So a blessing from Philippians 4:7 “And the peace of God,

which passes all understanding, shall keep your hearts and

minds through Christ Jesus.”

GET HELP NOW: NHS England North

0191 441 5974

www.sandbagtimes.co.uk 25 |


New partnership to support

veterans with hearing problems

Combat Stress is to work with UK Veterans

Hearing Help (UKVHH) to support former servicemen

and women with hearing problems

associated with their service in the Armed

Forces.

Some veterans undergoing mental health

treatment with us struggle to join in with our

group therapy sessions as they have difficulty

hearing what’s being said. Tinnitus and high

frequency hearing loss is common condition

among those who were in contact with heavy

weapon fire, constant noise through communications

headsets and so on.

Last week UKVHH visited Tyrwhitt House to

talk about what their organisation does and

how Combat Stress can refer veterans for

hearing assessment and provision of state-ofthe-art

aids.

Adrienne Coward, Regional Operations

Manager South for Combat Stress, said:

“Even a small loss of hearing can greatly

restrict any of us and result in isolation. This

can worsen mental health and make it very

hard to take part in talking treatments.

“By working with UKVHH, we can help veterans

make even better use of the treatments

we offer and make it easier for them to enjoy

family life, leisure time and work.”

Colin Baker, UK Veterans Hearing Help

Stakeholder Engagement Lead, said: “We

fully understand the difficulties experienced

by those with a hearing loss, which can

cause additional stress as well as the reluctance

by individuals to join group sessions

and social events.

“Hearing loss is something that you cannot

see and often causes problems through the

lack of understanding by others. We look forward

to working with Combat Stress and

together, believe that we can raise the quality

of life for those suffering as a result of military

service and enhance their ability to join in

with others on the road to recovery.”

| 26 www.sandbagtimes.co.uk


Veterans

Raffle

Help us support our

Armed Forces and

Emergency Services Veterans

Join now at

www.veteransraffle.uk

YES Society are the promoter of the Veterans Raffle

Licensed & regulated by the Gambling Commission. Licence 37221. BeGambleAware 18+


UKVHH - Mick’s Story

I was diagnosed with profound hearing

loss. I contacted UK veterans Hearing

Help with a ‘maybe’ approach. I was

helped all through the procedure and

was kitted out with hearing aids, appliances

for tv, phone ipad.

The difference was IMMENSE! My first

sound i heard was a light aircraft taking

off over a mile away. I have since

enjoyed hearing birds, rain on the window

loads of ‘forgotten ‘ sounds.

Because my hearing aids are linked to

my ipad, i am able to use it as a phone.

As such i phoned an old Army pal of

over forty years acquaintance! Its been a

blessing talking to the guys again with

UK VETERANS HEARING HELP

no problems. I am SO grateful!

Special mention to Vickie, she helped

me through the whole experience.

Another special mention to John at

Crystal hearing , Marlow, the man who

fitted , adjusted my hearing aids.

My life has changed magically. Ive gone

back forty years , hearing wise.

Thank you to everyone who made it possible.

—Mick Potter

UK Veterans Hearing Help

www.sandbagtimes.co.uk 29 |


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 www.afvbc.net and the old address is pointed at the new site.

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

Support@VeteransBreakfastClubs.co.uk

to

Support@AFVBC.net

SANDBAG TIMES AFVBC OFFER

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

info@sandbagtimes.com This printed copy will

be used to support the Tommy Atkins Veterans

Centre in Worcester.

GET HELP NOW: Return To The Tribe

AFVBC.net

www.sandbagtimes.co.uk

31 |


Edinburgh VBC

Edinburgh Breakfast Club, Xmas Lunch

22 Dec 18 , 70 on parade

Par AFVBC

Par Christmas dinner 22 in attendance a good

time was had by all

Lichfield AFVBC

Well we had a mad idea, instead of holding our

usual "Last Saturday of the month", as it sat in

between Christmas and the New Year, and people

wouldn't interested in adding another event, we

brought it forward to today, as this would be be

more amenable to our Breakfasteers, I'm pleased

to say we had a turn out of 67 breakfast, including

8 new faces and for the first time no children,

which was a big surprise..... roll on the New

Year........To all the other Breakfast Clubs across the

country and worldwide Lichfield AFVBC wish you a

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year, and may

your Breakfast Clubs grow and solidify, onwards and

upwards

38 www.sandbagtimes.co.uk

| 32 www.sandbagtimes.co.uk


Veterans Breakfast Clubs

Stockport VBC

Spreading a bit of Christmas cheer this morning to

one of our veterans. I delivered a Christmas hamper,

kindly donated by Hazel grove rotary club and

Kathryn Skinner to Chris Dronsfield.

Chris hasn't had the best of years this year and I

hope this will go some way to bring a little bit of

happiness to him and his family.

Lliria (Valencia) AFVBC

Merry Christmas from Lliria (Valencia)

AFVBC; 8 on parade this morning,

including a couple of partners.

Worksop AFVBC

We had a good turnout for our families

lunchtime Christmas buffet. Good time had by

all at worksop veteran's breakfast clu

Alloa AFVBC

Alloa AFVBC Christmas

party night. A good turn

out by members and

their wives..

www.sandbagtimes.co.uk

www.sandbagtimes.co.uk 33 |


Stand At Ease

Ways to find us

The Sandbag Times

www.sandbagtimes.com

thesandbagtimes

@thesandbagtimes

info@sandbagtimes.com

Caption Competition

Come up with a funny caption for the picture

above and win an autographed card from

our two Team Dynamics drivers, Matt Neal

and Dan Cammish.

Just email us your funnies on

info@sandbagtimes.com.

Other Useful Numbers

Combat Stress 0800 138 1619

RBL 0808 802 8080

SSAFA 0800 731 4880

NHS TILS 020 3317 6818

Tommy Atkins 01905 813936

Samaritans 116 123

| 34 www.sandbagtimes.co.uk


Squaddie Humour

Squaddie Humour

A brand new section celebrating the warped

sense of humour of our British Armed Forces

Saw Him Coming?

Young Sapper X on his second day in the Unit after completing

his Basic Training and Combat Engineer III course a few days

earlier, was called over to the Troop G10 Store by one of the

Troop Corporals who informed him a section was tasked to

clear an area of trees out on the edge of the airfield.

Two other Sappers and one of the Troop Lance Jacks were

already clad in Husqvarna (Chainsaw) PPE and were busy

checking that each chainsaw had its full inventory of spares

prior to heading out on the pending tree cutting task. Sapper X

was told to get the full PPE on ASAP. He proceeded to don his

PPE (leather leggings/chaps, protective gloves, boots, shin

guards and jacket), when the Troop phone rang, which

Corporal T answered. Corporal T wrote out a quick memo,

placed it in a brown envelope and handed it to young Sapper X

explaining that the memo had to be handed personally to the

SSM, who was currently in his office. Sapper X was told to put

on his helmet complete with visor and ear defenders; the section

would be leaving their berets in the office to avoid getting

them in a crap state during the tree cutting, so he would need

some kind of head dress at Squadron HQ.

had hand delivered the memo to the SSM. “Make sure you

wait for the Sergeant Major’s reply before leaving his office”

was Corporal T’s final instruction.. Sapper X, not wanting to let

anyone down in his first few days, eagerly rushed off with

chainsaw in one hand, memo in the other, wearing full PPE,

with helmet on and visor down!

Our intrepid young Sapper entered Squadron HQ, marched up

to the SSM’s door and knocked. Hearing a bellowed “Enter!”

he opened the door, marched up to the SSM’s desk and halted

smartly a foot from the desk, then handed the memo to the

SSM stating he had to wait for the reply. Faced with a young

Sapper in full PPE, helmet visor down and Chainsaw in hand,

the SSM calmly opened the envelope and read the following

memo:

Sir,

I completed my Basic Combat Engineer Course on Friday last

week and was informed that I had to be at 33 Engineer

Regiment (EOD) for first parade Monday morning. This completely

messed my plans up, as I was looking forward to a long

weekend at the minimum after finally completing my Basic

Training. I am pissed off to say the least, so I am kindly asking

you to fill out a leave pass for me in order to give me a long

weekend from this coming Friday. Fail to do so and I will start

up this chainsaw and saw your fucking desk in half!

Thank You, Sapper X

Corporal T instructed Sapper X to make sure he was wear- ing

his helmet correctly in the offices, including keeping the visor

down and as he had signed for the chainsaw he would be

using, to take it with him and to keep hold of it as it was a

starred item. The section would get the rest of the kit loaded

and meet him outside Squadron HQ in 10 minutes, after he

Luckily the SSM had a good sense of humour and

even wrote a reply to Corporal T’s Memo. He sent the

young Sapper on his way with no reprisals, but no

doubt had a quiet word some time later with Corporal

T (if SSM’s words are ever quiet!).

Back issues of The Sandbag Times are available to download here

www.sandbagtimes.co.uk 35 |


MRS FOX GOES TO WAR

Mrs Fox Goes

To War...

The Chronicles of Little Hope

1939 - 1945

“Happy New Year!” from Mrs Fox and the villagers of little Hope!

Hilda Ffinch:

The Bird With All The Answers

Letter of the Month

| 36 www.sandbagtimes.co.uk


THE CHRONICLES OF LITTLE HOPE

There’s a cautionary tale from Hilda Ffinch this festive

season! The moral: Better a pig in the bath

than a night in

Dear Mrs Ffinch

The Stoker’s Arms...

Honeysuckle Cottage,

Hangman’s Lane

Little Hope

I’m a bit worried about my husband, Albert. He’s

been acting very oddly over the last few weeks, ever

since he had a letter in a brown envelope from

London. Two days after the letter arrived he went off

to the Smoke to see a man about a dog and hasn’t

been the same since. Last Monday I found him writing

a letter with onion juice in the washhouse and

my old mother said she found him stuffing a fuse

into a mouse in the pantry.

Has he lost the plot? What should I do?

Yours,

Mrs Betty Hall

Dear Mrs Hall,

You may be surprised to learn that there is quite a

lot of this sort of thing going on at the moment and

that you are not alone in your curiosity. In times of

adversity, such as those in which we find ourselves

at present, the Government launches a myriad of little

schemes to take people’s minds off the worst

case scenario – in our case that is almost certainly

the nightmare of Herr Goering munching his way

through the last of the madeleines in miss Titty

Henderson’s cake shop in the High Street – and my

intelligence suggests that one of these marvellously

diverting schemes is none other than a recruitment

drive by the Boy Scouts!

In his (slightly) younger days, my own spouse was

wont to pull on a pair of khaki shorts, straighten his

woggle and sally forth for a bit of a dib-dib-dib in the

scout hut with the pack in his capacity as Scout leader

of Little Hope, a position which he initially gained

on the back of being a personal friend of the then

Prince of Wales and secondly for displaying an excellent

bit of wood whilst endeavouring to impress the

examining board for the badge of the same name.

Other skills which the colonel learned ‘under canvas

with the lads’ as it were, included semaphore, a spot

of fishing, sonnet composition, giving a decent bunk

up and flashing across a distance of twenty five

yards with the aid of a hand mirror. Such forays into

the world of alternative methods of communication

lead me to believe that your husband is engaged in

the exact same thing as the colonel’s previous wont,

albeit with some new and exciting high jinks which

were clearly added after the Colonel fell out with the

Prince of Wales over that terribly butch Wallis

Simpson character and found himself literally up the

creek without a paddle at an up-market jamboree as a

result.

So fear not, Mrs Hall, your spouse is evidently

engaged in the sterling work of egging on the downy

cheeked youth of today in the hope that they’ll

become the stubble-chinned British warriors of

tomorrow!

Be proud, Mrs Hall, be proud! God save the King!

Yours,

Hilda Ffinch

The Bird With All The Answers

p.s. There is a slight chance that your spouse has not

been grabbed by the Scouts at all and that he may

have joined the Secret Service. Should this prove to

be the case then don’t assume that he’s just pleased

to see you when he returns from work, he might actually

have a loaded service revolver in his pocket and

making inadvertent amorous overtures towards it

might startle him and set it off. You might also want

to keep an eye out for men in raincoats slipping up

your back passage when you’re asleep and take care

to avoid batting mice in the pantry with your broom,

as they may be primed and a good thwack could easily

take out half of the High Street. Just a thought.

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

Answers to address your own wartime problem,

then pop along to

https://www.mrsfoxgoestowar.co.uk/hilda-finchagony-aunt

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.

www.sandbagtimes.co.uk 37 |


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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

POETRY CORNER

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

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This unusual and beautiful book collects together twenty

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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:

mike@sandbagtimes.com

www.sandbagtimes.co.uk 39 |


Sandbag

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