“Denim to Khaki” Northern Ireland

The next morning the Troop were in the briefing room going through their patrol orders for that day. They had carried out local patrols around the surrounding area, but this time they were going to be away for a week working out of a barracks in Portadown. There was an air of excitement in the room, however Martin was still in a bit of a mood from the previous evening. He still did not know who had been the phantom egg thrower, and he wouldn’t find out until after they had returned to Germany. Two of the teams were going to be situated in the Police station in Lurgan, and would work together with the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC). The briefing finished, everyone made their way to the loading bay. After a quick equipment and communications check the vehicles made their way towards the M1 motorway and onto their designated patrol areas. On the way Richard’s two vehicle patrol had been tasked to set up a ‘snap’ vehicle check point (VCP). As they approached junction twelve on the M1 they exited and took Dungannon Road south east towards Portadown. After a couple of miles Martin who was the multiple commander gave the order for them to stop and set up the VCP. The front vehicle came to a halt, positioning itself diagonally across the road. Richard’s vehicle did the same creating a chicane. The guys leapt from the vehicle Ron placing himself in a ditch with the GPMG facing back up the road. He would act as the cut-off man if any vehicles attempted to burst through the check point. Richard took up his position in the centre of the two vehicles as he was their teams ‘chat up’ man. It was his job while Martin was sending the vehicle details over the air to talk to the occupants and find out as much information as he could. He grinned to himself when he saw the registration of the first car to enter the check point. It was German donated by the white plates with black lettering. The first few letters indicated to him that it was from a town not far from where they were stationed. ‘Watch this he whispered to Martin’ in a surreptitious manner. Martin did not know what he was talking about at first but smiled from ear to ear as the penny dropped. Strolling casually over to the driver’s side of the vehicle, Richard motioned for the driver to wind down his window. ‘Guten Morgen, wie geht es dir’ he said in almost flawless German. The drivers jaw just dropped, and he was unable to speak for a few seconds. Richard thought to himself that this guy never woke up this morning thinking he would be stopped in the middle of nowhere by armed Troops. To top it all one of those soldiers was speaking to him in his own mother tongue. Once he had regained his composure he answered Richard that he was fine. After the routine questions had been asked and knowing that these were simply tourists Martin waved them through.

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