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Produced by publishers of The Popular Village Monthly


7 Things you probably didn’t know about the Armed Forces

1. In 2005 the MOD issued soldiers with special underwear. In 2005, the Ministry of Defence issued soldiers special antimicrobial underwear that can be worn up to three months at a time with out needing a change. ”The antimicrobial underpants were introduced by the Ministry of Defence in 2005 as part of a new desert uniform for soldiers. “They are coated to prevent bacterial infection, and we have tried to arrange the seams so that they don’t chafe,” said Col. Silas Suchanek.

2. Each year around 10,000 Nepalese apply for around 400 Army places.The Army recruits soldiers from Nepal where around 10,000 applicants each year compete for 400 places. The Gurkhas celebrated serving the Crown for 200 years in 2015 and have been an integral part of the British Army since 1947 when they transferred from the Indian Army. The selection process is one of the toughest in the world with 10,000 applicants vying for around 400 places. Tests include the infamous doko race which involves a three-mile uphill run carrying 35kg (77lb) of sand and rocks in a basket strapped to the back.

3. The Royal Marines 32-week commando course culminates with a 30-mile speed march. At the end of Royal Marines training recruits need to pass four Commando tests in the space of a week. All tests are completed carrying 21 lbs of equipment and a rifle. These include a six-mile endurance course followed by a four-mile run back to camp, a nine-mile speed march to be completed in 90 minutes, a Tarzan Assault course and the 30 mile “Yomp”. Upon completion participants are presented with their Green Berets.

4. The Army has used mascots including a Ram called Private Derby. Some units in the Army adopt military mascots - animals maintained for ceremonial purposes. The Army uses and has used various mascots including a Ram called Private Derby, a Shetland Pony called Pegasus and Bobby an antelope.These are different to working animals, which serve in combat or transport roles. The British Army has both official and unofficial mascots. Official mascots are entitled to the services of the Royal Army Veterinary Corps and looked after with public money. Official mascots also have a regimental number and rank. As with regular soldiers, they can be promoted and demoted!

5. Celebrities who served in the Royal Navy include James Bond author Ian Fleming and Sean Connery who played James Bond. Ian Fleming who wrote James Bond served in the Royal Navy between 1939 and 1945 and the first man to play 007, Sean Connery, also served but he was medically discharged because of an ulcer. Dragons Den star Duncan Bannatyne joined the Royal Navy in 1964 at the age of 15 but he was Court discharged after four years for throwing an officer overboard.

6. The Armed Forces have been involved with counter-poaching and work within the NHS. Did you know that the Armed Forces have been sent to help with anti-poaching operations in Africa, work within the NHS and even be deployed worldwide to assist with humanitarian missions? Deployments have included Malawi in East Africa helping in the fight to prevent poaching, the Gulf on anti-piracy missions and Sierra Leone in West Africa helping to fight Ebola.

7. On a Naval vessel someone called a Clacker Mechanic on board is the cook. The Royal Navy is renowned for having its own slang including 'Clacker' which is Navy Slang for pastry. Other slang includes: things such as “Icers” and “redders” (Something very cold is icers. Something very hot is redders), “Gonk” which means sleep and “hoofing” which means something is very good.

David Winterbottom – PRO for the Gnosall and District RBL Branch.




Samaritans Awareness Campaign

In times of trouble, The Samaritans are always there to listen. So it is vital that information and contact details about The Samaritans are readily available in places where people may turn for help, such as the local medical centre or doctors’ surgery.

“A common fact in very many cases, is that in the period leading up to a suicide, the person has had contact with a doctor’s surgery,” says Alan Alecock, Stafford Samaritans Outreach Co-ordinator.

This has prompted a new initiative at surgeries in and around Stafford to increase the awareness of the lifesaving service offered by The Samaritans.

With the support of the Clinical Commissioning Group which finances surgery services, The Samaritans have so far visited Gnosall, Brewood, Rising Brook, and Mill Bank medical centres for two-hour sessions on busy Monday mornings. Over the following six months, further awareness sessions will be held at 12 more surgeries covering Stone, Eccleshall, Coven and Uttoxeter. With the agreement and assistance of surgery practice managers, The Samaritans set up a display board giving clear contact details. They also make a friendly approach to those in the waiting room to answer any questions, and distribute “free number” contact cards..... handy should anyone know of someone going through a tough time.

“We are also always keen to meet or hear from anyone who can help, or those who perhaps are thinking of training to be a Samaritan,” said Alan. 

This initiative follows on from others involving medical staff in Staffordshire. The Samaritans have conducted much more detailed awareness sessions for nurses in training, and for paramedics. Whilst realising the time pressures doctors are facing, Alan Alecock is hoping to set up similar presentations for GPS. 


Steve Torrington

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