tagRomanceOfficers and Men Ch. 01

Officers and Men Ch. 01


This story is down to some research I did into Army background dressing for 'The Big Brother Hole' and some 'officers/soldiers divide' thoughts that just wouldn't go away.

Much of the research is from Wiki, the British Army website and many like it, and in particular a cracker called the Army Rumour Service and the conversations and 'banter' that goes on with that site.

When I was writing it, I had one face in my head, a real person, a real tall person and also a real soldier, a real hero - someone I'm proud to call a friend, and to whom it is most respectfully dedicated,

To Lieutenant C...


Since I was hit puberty people have called me a giant, and I'm a female one at that - I joined the army straight from University and it was fine, right up until the second I told anyone my surname, they giggled

Major, Linette Major - quite a boring name unless you want to join the army, Lieutenant Major, Captain Major, God forbid I ever became Major Major. It was the running joke of my whole career, and everyone thought it was 'just the biggest hoot!'

"Oh I say, Second Lieutenant Major, bet that's confusing for you dear," said the very senior officer.

Yes Colonel, it is Colonel, Ha ha Colonel, Fuck off Colonel.

The other great joke of my life was my height, I'm still one of two girls that I know of that are over 6 feet tall. I'm six foot four, and it was the bane of my life as I just kept on growing despite people telling me that once I hit puberty it would all be fine, but it wasn't.

"How tall are you?" people would ask me with a smile, "What's the weather like up there shorty?" They'd chuckle, "I bet people say that to you all the time," said everyone shorter than me.

"Yes short arse, Ha ha short arse, fuck off short arse.

I joined the army because I vainly thought that the tall jokes would be beyond the serious military, but no. It carried on.

On the combat phase of our initial training and I found that no one wanted to be my 'buddy' - why? We had to dig trenches, six feet long by three feet wide by five feet deep, or six feet in my case.

One of the other cadets had been in the Army Reserve and we all kind of listened to him because he had done lots of these before as a private soldier. He was the same age but had that 'been there, done that' attitude to him and we all kind of listened.

"Trench digging is a pain," he said, "especially if you get stuck with Major as your trench mate." Everyone laughed. I tried not to let them see how hurt I was that all of them, this bunch of friends I'd thought I could count on to back me up, laughed at me and not one of them came within ten feet of me as we stopped in our platoon area for the night.

There were chuckles as the gang paired off and I just looked around as even the girls I was closest to kept their distance.

"You'll have to be a miner to dig a trench with Major," said a wag.

The corporal found the smart arse and he found himself as my trench mate for the night. I was embarrassed and tried to apologise.

"Don't apologise Officer Cadet Major," said a stern voice from the Sergeant Instructor, a rough and tough, hook nosed hooligan from The Parachute Regiment, "If he had less of a gob on him, he'd have less digging to do."

The regular army non-commissioned instructors at Sandhurst were clever, funny but not abusive; after all, we would one day be commissioned officers and they'd go back to their various Corps and Regiments and still be Sergeants and warrant officers and could bump into us.

Sergeant Major Bacon, a giant from one of the Guards Regiments that was taller than me and was no stranger to people taking the piss out of his name. He's nicknames went from 'Kevin', through to the favoured 'Smokey' at best to 'Eggie' at worst, but was the Academy Sergeant Major, the senior instructor at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, so it was only ever to his back and from a distance.

He took me to one side following some piss taking in the queue when we were being measured for our parade uniforms and for our passing out ('Major's skirt is going to be expensive - hope they have enough material for the rest of us!'). I grimaced, it had ceased to be in the slightest bit funny some months before and I found I was the butt of all the jokes pretty much constantly and he heard it - again and stood over the offender and took her to task.

"Where do you get off talking about people's height Officer Cadet?," he snarled, looming over her by a good eighteen inches, "you're were obviously in the queue for a sense of humour when the height was be given out."

"Don't let the fuckers see you hurt Major," he said in all seriousness and mentioned that he had been in hearing distance after some light-hearted discussion turned nastier when a senior Officer Cadet had called me a freak when I told him that 'what's the weather like up there' wasn't funny, had never been funny and would never be funny.

"You do what I did, you take all that ridicule and that juvenile name calling shit and you grow a pair, and you suck it up. But you suck it up and you transmute it into straight up energy, happy that you'll climb higher and taller, and more fucking powerful than those fuckers who think they are comedians and having a teenagers giggle at your expense ever fucking will."

He snarled, I snarled.

"Yes Sir," I said and from that point on I became a regular army hard arse.

I had ten months at Sandhurst and I buckled down. The snarl that Sergeant Major Bacon had instilled in me hardly left my face for the remaining seven months. I had a few tough moments, shed a few tears (probably less than some of my colleagues, even the male ones) and during the junior term I was spotted by one of the lecturers and he suggested that I make use of my degree in Modern European Languages and my rather punchy attitude and join the Intelligence Corps.

I applied, took various tests and was interviewed. As with all good interviews I never knew how well or how badly I had done. The three officers, as befits the Intelligence Corps, were inscrutable and gave nothing away. I saw the one other cadet I knew ready to go in after me, so wandered back to my room.

I was invited back that evening to meet the three officers again. I had that awful post-interview question 'so how do you think you've done'.

I thought about the coward's way out, and 'Don't know sir' but my months at the Academy wouldn't let me do that so I went for honest.

"I think I did OK sir, I lost it a bit at the beginning but that was just nerves, I'm hoping I did quite well." All three smiled and I figured I was either just right or they were being kind.

"Well Officer Cadet Major, you did very well I'm pleased to say. You are just the kind of young officer we are looking for and we will be recommending you for a place in the Intelligence Corps."

"Thank you sir!" I beamed one of my very rare genuine smiles.

Once I passed out from the RMAS, I headed straight to Bedfordshire and the Int Corps Headquarters and began my training there.

Call me a show-off but I pissed it. I took to the analytical work and the problem solving and loved every moment, and I was surrounded by people that were slightly more cerebral, OK nerdish, and my height was mentioned just once and I confirmed that I was 6 feet 4 inches tall and that I had a first in Modern European Languages and it was pretty much forgotten.

They sent me to various places to practice my language skills and to use them, spending a year as a roving assistant Military Attaché in all parts of the world and just talking to people. Then they decided it was time I went to earn my money in Most of Europe, Central and South America and the Middle East.

As a soldier I went to all the places you'd expect such as former Yugoslavia, Iraq, Germany, Northern Ireland, and of course Afghanistan. I grabbed every opportunity, every training course, every exercise, and every deployment and like to think I made ten times as many friends as I made enemies. I had a bit of a hankering to do some secret sneaky type stuff and admitted as much. My commanding officer smiled and gave me one of those dragged out 'Yeeeeeeeeees' responses that actually mean 'no'.

"You've been an assistant military attaché Lin haven't you." A statement, not a question.

"Yes sir," I said.

"Well, in that case you've probably been photographed by most of the security services of the western world and a few others, even our so called friends. And let's face it Lin, you aah... you do stand out rather don't you?"


"You are probably one of the tallest women in the Army aren't you?"

"I've never checked Sir," I said, slightly miffed at this.

"I mean this in the nicest possible way Lin, but I've not met another woman soldier as tall as you in a twenty year career. It's not that you stick out as an army officer, you are an exceptional army officer, you stick out as a human being, and that's not good in that particular line of work."

Shit, ah well.

This was my career and a double O number aside, the Army did what it does best, making useful soldiers. I took all of the adventurous training that I could. So much so my mid-twenties was like a TV commercial for tampons. I skied, parachuted, scuba-dived, ran, cycled, rock climbed all at the Army's expense.

At the Army's sport parachute training centre I still remember leaping from the elderly Britton Norman Islander aircraft and instead of the regulation 'thousand and one, thousand and two...' and the rest of it, as I fell away from the plane I screamed "Owwwww bodyfor-orm, body form for you!'

The instructor heard it but was kind enough not to dock me points from my score, impressed that I could be that funny at 2,000 feet. Before I got onto the plane for my first jump with him he grinned nicely, well nicely for a paratrooper at least.

We had to sit on the floor of the narrow fuselage and I squeezed my long legs in, head and shoulders taller than any of the other passengers.

"Look at this way Mam," he shouted over the noise of the engine and the rushing wind seeing my discomfort, "at least you don't have so far to fall as these short arses..." If he wasn't about to get me to jump out of a perfectly good aeroplane at over 2000 feet I might have taken him to task over his humour.

My parents would worry when I went to dangerous places of course, especially when something happened to friends or colleagues. Iraq and Afghanistan were both punishing and I did both operational and strategic roles in both theatres. Several of my deployed patrols hit IED's, had quite significant contacts with the enemy, but I still reckoned that on the balance of things I'd saved more lives than I'd lost. I walked the walk with them of course, and rode in those bloody Land Rovers that weren't fit for the job, but they still made us ride in them. I think that knowing that we were in a roadside bomb war with trucks that were no different to the ones that farmers drove their sheepdogs around in was part of the fear, added to that I was always conscious that despite my body armour, ballistic helmet and being in the company of some of the finest soldiers on the planet, I stood out among all of them and would make a very large target in someone's gun sight.

I still have the occasional nightmare, but many of my colleagues have post-traumatic stress disorder and I guess that I do as well. Still, being in the army did help of course because we all talked the same language and to some extent got what the other person was going through.

But with the drawdown of troops from Afghanistan, and then from the former British Army of the Rhine, I found myself back in London and doing some anti-terrorist work.

On my thirty third birthday, I had a solitary drink in the mess and a Skype message from my parents. Still my mother gave me the 'when are you going to take some time out for you' speech. As a trained interpreter I knew that this was actually 'when are you going to take some time out and have grandchildren for me.'

I was adopted when I was a baby and knew nothing about my blood parents; I call them that because as far as I'm concerned I retain the title 'real parents' for the two wonderful people that raised me as their own even though they were then in their mid-thirties and able to have children of their own.

I never screamed it from the roof tops that I was adopted and would never dreamed of trying to find out who my blood parents were; it's not that I'm cold, it's just I have nothing in common with those people other than DNA and I would never even consider doing something that might cause my Mum and Dad any distress.

Mum and Dad were older than their contemporaries at my school and college parents evenings, and being that much older and more set in their ways I guess that it was as much a reason for my being a bit more stay-at-home and nerdy and bookish than my classmates that didn't get stared at and have snide comments made about how tall they were, and this was reflected in my grades, which were excellent even though I say so myself. I never had any boyfriends at all until I moved into Halls at University.

My experience with boys was limited to friends, and when Mum and Dad finally drove away on that first evening at for my Fresher year, I was half elated at the freedom and half terrified at the same time for the same reason! I had a couple of dates then lost my virginity to a really nice, 6 feet 5 inches tall, good looking guy that got a scholarship to an Ivy League College in the States within six months, so that was the end of that; it was a real shame because he had no issue with me being tall and he was just taller than me and took it in his stride. I had a couple of short romances with short men until I graduated.

The army was something that I came to quite late in my studying. I had thought about teaching like my Mum, or an accountancy like my Dad, but an honours degree in modern languages didn't really leap out in either. One of my short beau's was a member of the University Officer Training Corps and I accompanied him to one of his Regimental dinners. I think my rather clunky approach to dressing up (smart, attractive and most of all sexy looking clothes for a six foot plus girl are as rare as rocking horse shit) made one of the senior officer guests ask me how I thought army training was.

I of course told him that I was just there with my boyfriend and I actually wasn't part of the unit.

"My dear girl, why ever not? What are you studying?" I told him Modern languages,

"Good heavens, you're perfect Army Officer Material!" he said taking my hand and sending my boyfriend off for more drinks.

By the time he'd returned with the glasses the officer had well and truly planted the seed of a career in the army, better recruiting than all of the people I'd met at Freshers' fairs and numerous leaflets around the place.

That was that.

I was celibate at Sandhurst and then once into the army a few fumbles with some other officers, but army life wasn't conducive to relationships and it was a small world full of small people. Small people that talked and bitched, and I hated the idea of everyone discussing what was going on with you and someone else that I heard so much of at school, college and Uni' the second one of the girls looked differently at one of the boys - and of course those odd occasions when one of the girls looked at one of the girls.

And the general male dominance of Army life meant that you could almost never be sure that the brother officer you'd escorted back to his room wasn't just getting you back there because he'd had a bet with the rest of his friends in the Officers Mess that he could.

It infuriated me that such a thing could still happen in a modern army and I'd been aware of it happening, occasionally watching those risk taking, high performing young officers as they set their sights on someone, or worse someone else's wife or daughter and then it would get nasty. I was far too clever to fall for that shit of course...

I had my turn in Germany some three years into my career when I fell into what I thought was a relationship with a Brigade Intelligence Officer from one of the Light Cavalry Regiments on the same attachment as me.

Roger was a Captain, very handsome and dashing, and a total man's man, and a wiry lightweight man as befitted his Regiment and about an inch shorter than me. He'd completed the parachute course and wore the wings, wore the dagger on his arm below it having completed the commando course and had even done the United States Army 'Ranger' course and wore that badge as well. 'Ranger Roger' was a genuine go-getter and hero-type while I was an Intelligence Corps Lieutenant.

We were both on brigade staff and I thought I'd had the most wonderful 'summer of love' with him, in fact it was a little over six weeks. I met him on a long eight day exercise where we were in a large planning cell controlling fictional soldiers doing battle with a fictional enemy and we just clicked. Eight hours on, eight hours off and by the end of the exercise we were good mates.

After the exercise he insisted that he take me to dinner, in 'the cutest little restaurant' he knew of in Cologne. He had a small flat that he rented on the outskirts of Rheindahlen, and the next night I joined him there and we petted heavily due to the fact that I wasn't on the pill and we had no condoms. The last thing I wanted to do was get pregnant even though he assured me that he would pull out before anything happened.


Over lunch in the mess a couple of days later he asked me if I'd taken my leave that summer; I hadn't so he said if I was up for an adventure and some fun I should pack a fortnights worth of clothes and be ready to leave the next Sunday morning. I booked my leave and found my passport, and went on the pill.

He couldn't meet me the next night or the next as he had 'a bit of thing going on' in his Regiment's Officers Mess, but I duly packed my bag and met him in the car park as instructed Sunday morning. He looked bleary eyed from the nights before so I said I would drive until he felt better.

We drove south down through the Black Forest to our first hotel stop and we had a really romantic first night, and second and third and so on. It was all quite new to me and I threw myself into the experience and I was so energetic that he called me his little strumpet and smacked my arse - it really turned me on. It was really exciting and at the time and due to my limited experience I thought he was just the best lover ever, although I was to learn he was 'OK' at best; he never brought me to orgasm, not once, and I thought that was just what sex was like.

After Germany was Austria then a rather circuitous route into Italy. We made love every night and I kept on taking the contraceptive pills, happy that I was protected.

Roger was the first man to 'charm the pants off of me' and I was beginning to think that there might just be a future with this guy. After our wonderful fortnight we went back to the Rhineland and I fully expected to start packing my bags from the barracks in Düsseldorf and move into his place near the Joint Headquarters for all British Forces in Germany.

I met him for lunch on the fifth day back from our holiday and almost a month into our 'relationship'. I was a bit grumpy because he hadn't answered any of my phone calls or emails, and I thought that we had something going on and we might start to get serious. I was days away from contacting Mum for our fortnightly phone call and telling her about the new boy in fact.

"I went back to the UK," he said, sipping his coffee like he was the hero in a Bond Film, and looking around the room being inscrutable.

"Oh," I said with some suspicion at his new 'distance', "You never mentioned it, just for work?"

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