Friday, 25 July 2014

A Rover at Dover.

I had looked forward to going to Woolaton Hall this year, as the aniversary of my first event, but it was not on. Hunton was my second, but it clashed with Painshill, so here was Dover!  a lovely event run by the Western heights preservation society. The 45th were only down for the Sunday, officially, but I decided to go as an advance guard and take part in the first day, if only to chat with visitors, see the goings on and say Hi to a few people I knew in the other units.

I did a recce on arrival, (after collapsing quietly for a few minutes to cool down, crikey it was good to get the great coat and pack off (which was over my jacket, waistcoat and shirt.. it was very warm and muggy and Im sure steam came out). Camping was in a different spot to last year and it didn't look like anyone could get into the main fort where most of the surviving structures were, so the canvas it would be unless I stumbled upon some hidden nook outside.
                                            The tunnel to the inner fort, this is the big end!

I left most of my camp kit/pack with the 4th Royal artillery as I went wondering again. There was some drill  Footguards and Camerons, a display of WWII weapons by some Paras and one of different kit worn by the Germans, and the artillery firing every two hours.

I was enjoying the day but during lulls I did feel a bit displaced, if your camp is your home and your unit is your family then I guess I was an orphan for the day (fortunately I tend to get adopted quite easily). I also went exploring and found more Victorian gun platforms and a shell magazine in the woods overlooking the sea.  and some furtive men in the car park/disused sheds.

As evening drew on everyone was drawn up to the footguard/79th camp which was at the top of a steep slope, earlier people had detoured slightly to go up and down a gentler incline, by the end of the evening people were generally just sliding down. A box of snuff did the rounds for those who partook, including one called Dynamite which was abit like snorting a fisherman's friend. An expected storm failed to turn up, and I quite merrily settled down to sleep.

It did rain a bit in the night and I had one of those moments when you wake up and for a few moments have forgotten where you are. I was pleased to say that the red ants seen throughout the day never made an appearance and at some point after dawn I heard Duncans voice as he was directed towards 'The French camp' and up I got.

Chat and coffee. and waiting for folk to turn up (hold ups on the Mwhateveritis) and set up our table and tent. We ended up with eight of us, although only four were firing fusiliers, so we had to think of good scenarios for putting up a decent fight against at least four times our number, but first was the unveiling of a commenorative stone by an Admiral whom I belive was also warden of the cinque ports. Typically after all forming up it rained for precisely the amount of time the satutes were meant to be fired, first volley.. okay.. second volley.. about one in four managed to fire. We then went through the 12 loading/firing steps as a display but only shouting 'Le bang!' at the end.

Everyone returned to camp (Mike by a longer route as he physically didn't think he would fit through the entance tunnel) and ate some communal provisions and sorted out our damp muskets but by now the sun was coming out. Speaking of muskets I was a bit embarrassed when I got up and found most of my lock had gone orange with rust overnight just due to the foggy air).

The skirmish! a bit like last year we were to rush out from a tunnel and surprise some of the redcoats, a few shots and a charge, Aaaaagh!  We then tried to rouse the spectators to rise up and support us but they weren't having any of it, not even my singing helped.

On came the enemy and we had a good skirmish but we ended up dead or captured and once again I was put in the position of pleading for my life (I'm a miserable pleader) but along with two fellows we were cruelly shot, I had to be shot twice. what a cheek.

Back to camp and an imprompu loading/firing competition and possibly a green jackets sniping at us, causing our officer to duck for cover.. not actually picking up a tomato.. (there were some professional photographers going round, this is one of theres as I obligued 'shooting' in their general direction).

Then it was au revoir, next event being Eastbourne (now tomorrow) which promises a good turn out.  Homeward bound.. one strange incident on the way home was a girl (about 19?) got on the train where I was sitting on a fold down seat.. she immediately looked and screamed like she'd seen something distressing (like a huge wasp or something).. I looked around me and couldn't see anything and then she screamed again, and said 'What is that?' pointing at what I thought was my cowhide musketbag.. I said 'It's a bag, like a case..' and she said 'Oh do you have a prostetic limb?'  I said 'er, No.'  and she just hurriedly walked off.  Leaving me entirely puzzled.  All I could work out was that as I was wearing my white kit except for black gaiters/shoes against a dark carpet that she might have looked down seen me as a man with no legs beneath the knee, just stumps, for a moment.. screamed then recovered.. but ? I don't know what was going on in her tiny mind, and never will.

Coming soon...

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