Denmark – November 1973

 Ex. Absolom Express

B Troop D13/R234

A multi-national NATO exercise with the E21/R241 working to DCN Stanbridge


Only recently arrived in the Regiment straight from training at AAC Harrogate, this was my first overseas exercise and one of those rare (I was later to note) occasions that a 14th Signal Regiment detachment actually used camouflage. We were located in Denmark, near the border with Germany. I remember that it was cold and wet for most of our time there.


Unfortunately, the night before the Troop left Norton Barracks for the exercise, I played vigorous table-football in the NAAFI from which developed tendonitis. Determined that this wouldn’t keep me from my first overseas trip, I kept the problem well away from the FoS who would have hit the roof if he’d witnessed me operating the BID equipment with a tapered matchstick holding the Plain Language button depressed. ‘Needs must’ as they say.

During the exercise a Colonel came over to visit our tactical camouflage.  I clearly remember him asking Sgt Colin Sobers (from the Caribbean) where the troop defence was. Colin, totally un-fazed, answered saying “De fence am over dere Sir” pointing to a three bar fence surrounding an adjoining field!

We had one day R&R during the exercise and it had been decided to see how I (as a raw, naïve fresh-faced ex-AAC lad) would cope with “nightlife” in downtown Flensburg which was the nearest place of any size, just across the border in Germany. We all went into a small dingy club, down some stairs and there in the middle of the room was a small stage with chairs all round. We all sat down with our extortionate beers waiting expectantly for the action. The lights dimmed and after a few seconds, a naked couple climbed onto the stage. For the next 20 minutes the guy proceeded to demonstrate to us what must have been every page of the Kama Sutra! I have never seen people less interested in their art as those two on the stage! My introduction to live porn was ingrained in my brain for ever.

As it was a NATO Exercise we shared the dining tent with the Germans, Danes and French amongst others. Having eaten my dinner (served in my mess tins), I looked around for somewhere to clean my kit and noted where the dishwater was in a large pot. Now being a brand new ‘soldier’ and keen to shine, went over and swilled out my mess tins and rinsed my knife-fork–spoon (KFS). I couldn’t understand why the Germans kept glaring at me; “maybe they just hate us Brits” I thought. I was advised a little later that I had washed my mess tins and KFS in the German’s soup… ooopppsss!! Needless to say, the details of this minor mishap were quickly broadcast throughout the Regiment.

Memories – Steve Birch  2018

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