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WALKING BACKWARDS... British Army Northern Ireland 1977

They began the process of knocking me into shape right from the off. On my first patrol I had to walk backwards for four fucking hours! Well, someone had to do it and as I was the new boy, that was my job. It was no good complaining, if my Commander had caught me not doing it, I’d get a stiff kick up the arse. I walked backwards for the rest of the tour and after a few weeks I was an expert at it. If ever there should be an Olympic event for running and walking backwards, I’d bet my house that a British squaddie would win gold every time. In the end I just did it without thinking about it...until the day I fell down a quarry. I fell about fifty feet down and all I could hear from my comrades was, ‘where’s that fucking idiot gone now?’    I broke two teeth, twisted my ankle and bust a finger. They thought it was hilarious and looking back I guess it must have been, but I didn’t find it funny at the time. On the up side, it got me off patrols for a few days.
When I returned from Ireland I often demonstrated my walking backward skills around town whilst out with my girlfriend. Unsurprisingly, she walked the other way, thinking I was some sort of nutter.


From Clive Ward's book  “The Unnamed Soldiers”

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