Projects Taking The Queens shilling – Bertie Price

Taking The Queens shilling – Bertie Price

Soldier Magazine April 2013 - "End of An Era"
© Andrew D. Bird

Being a soldier, there’s nothing like it you know, not in any other walk of life. You can be a policeman, a miner, a nurse, and in all those you give service to the public but basically you’re free. Where as in this [Army] life you are and you’ve got to be entirely dedicated. You have situations say in a street or on a hill side, and suddenly crack, crack, crack goes the rounds and they’re aiming at you. That body of men, their lives are entirely in your hands be you a private, non commissioned officer or officer and you’re as reliant on them as they are on you. You tell them what to do, that’s what they’re looking to you for, and when you tell them where to go how to deploy and how to respond to the situation, if you make the decision a lot of these boys could get killed. I suppose in all my career I’ve only been in that kind of situation where someone’s been shooting at me, a total of about twelve times altogether if I remember rightly – Ireland, in Aden, and we had a couple of dust-ups with the Eoka guerillas in Cyprus. You don’t feel frightened, you feel excited, and it’s an adrenalin rush. This is the test: are you going to come through are you going to get them or are you going to do something damn stupid and let them get you? You go cool and thoughtful, like you’re trained to. But you’re disciplined and your boys are disciplined: it’s no good you all rushing round like a bunch of trigger-happy hooligans. You know you’re in danger and that you’re going to have to fight your way out of it. In a sense it like thoroughbred racehorses in the Grand National. They go around the course and they jump every obstacle, some fall and don’t get up again, and others carry on right through to the end. It’s a strange feeling of excitement that you can’t describe to someone who’s never been involved in it.