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Alex is an ex-Royal Australian Army APC fitter and has sent the following story.
RECRUIT COURSE AND RECRUIT RICHARDSON
There were 5 Platoons for our recruit course. Only one of them was all Field Force. The rest were the supporting arms. The training was all the normal stuff although at the end and during training every Platoon had to go through the Challenge. This consisted of a 20 kilometer forced march and an obstacle course at the end. You also had to carry a stretcher make it and carry a person on it. This was timed and a group activity where team work was required. Also there was a points system where you were asked to pull certain items out of your packs etc and everyone had to pull them out.
Due to the pack factor, the staff gave an impromptue lessons out the back under a street light on the best way to pack a pack. All 5 Platoons were gathered around in the dark and the street light gave off little more than a glow on the instructors face and the pack. Half way through the lesson one of the guys from my unit, Cameron "Darky" Mac Intosh let off a ripper of a noisy fart. The instructors head flew up and yelled who was that. Cameron stuck his hand up and said proudly, it was me. The instructor asked his name, we all thought he was a fool but Cameron answered Recruit Richardson Corporal. Hence Richardson was born.
We kept talking about Richardson, a purely ficticious character. Recruits from other Platoons kept trying to meet this "super Recruit" who could do no wrong. We spread all sorts of rumors. Where's Richardson, sorry he had to fly a chopper up to Bendigo, sorry he's driving a Leopard tank to Workshops. Our Platoon Sargeant even put him in the roll book. This new recruit that no one met was an amazing piece of work. We even gave him a serial number (from another State as it's harder to track down and it was entirely fictitious).
In every group there is always some one that is behind the 8 ball. Ours was Syd, a lovable bloke who wouldn't hurt a fly just a bit slower than the rest of us. Graduation happened and the Psychs came in and gave us a questionaire about the course. The Psych Sergeant handed out the forms and we began filling them in. She asked had everyone got one. I said to her that I didn't think Richardson had got one yet. She asked me "Where is he?" I then explained that he was a fictitious character we had everyone believing in, (this was only our Platoon) including the other staff. She said to me, it's when your own people start believing in him that you have to worry. With that comment I turned around and Syd was sitting 2 rows behind me filling in probably still his name, and I yelled to him, Hey, Syd, did Richardson get a form. Syd looked straight up and said, Yeah, where is the guy I haven't even met him yet!! With that our Psych Sergeant cracked up laughing, the tears rolling down her eyes. I asked if I should start to worry now. She couldn't answer. She couldn't believe what I had just proved. After about 10 minutes she was able to compose herself and later approached me and said that occasionally one just manages to slip through the system.
What the biggest question we had is where was Richardson's pay going?? I'll leave on that note.
My thanks yet again to Alex.
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