Just a quick one to see if I can shake a few memories amongst those of us who remember the 'never arriving' bus load of nurses from BMH Rinteln. As a JNCO in Minden, I very often, along with the many others who found themselves in an equal state of denial, spent many a night at the Cpls Mess awaiting the arrival of that bus load of QA's from Rinteln who, we were promised, were to attend whatever function we were attending at that time. Needless to say, their driver must have been a new lad who got lost every time they set off from the BMH enroute Minden, Paderborn, Hameln, etc.
Having remained sober for the best part of the night, we eventually conceded that the crimp in our nuts wasn't going anywhere fast, so the next best thing was to face up to the laughing pads (who were responsible for most of the 'sightings') and get as many beers down our necks before last orders....which gave us about a quarter of an hour. I reckon that I saw more SOXMIS cars than QA laden 52 seater coaches during my entire service in Germany, which spanned over a decade. In fact, I believe that there was even a special card issued to single soldiers which instructed you to ring Herford Mil 2223, in the event that you saw such a vehicle.
I often wonder if they are still out there, travelling the autobahns in search of a good time. They'll all have aged by now. The image of a coach load of middle aged former nurses doesn't quite have the same appeal as that 'promised' to us in the 80's, but if you are out there ladies, there's still one or two of us who are quite prepared not to wait until we are tanked up at the end of the night before asking you for a dance, with the promise of a lift home the following morning! I reckon that in about 30 years, there will be reports of spooky single decker white busses, gliding silently through the ground mist outside however many British Army barracks will be left in existence in Germany around that time, with a fat lass sticking two fingers up at the gate guard from the back window, as she finishes off her 'Ginsters' breakfast. We lived in hope, JT.
Can I add another 'famous' issue to the list. 'The man, that is the legend, that is (or perhaps was).....Wolfgang', the Soltau Red Shield van driver. How did he know, despite your best track discipline....exactly what part of the area you were 'hidden' in? Did he really work for the Salvation Army....or was it 3 Shock Army? Should his van have been displaying those black and white BFG plates or should it have had SOXMIS plates? Does anyone know how far back he started his 'surveillance' mission? My first recollection is circa 1979. Can anyone top that? Does anyone know where he is today? Is he still alive or, is it a case of on the quieter nights in Soltau, if you listen really carefully.....you can hear the faint sound of a Wolfgang's bell......followed by the much repeated order of "Sergeant Major!!... get those bloody men back under cover!"
I have it on reliable authority that he has passed on to that great bratty wagon in the sky. One thing that you may not have known is that the bell on the front of his wagon was nicked by my mob (C Sqn 17/21 Lancers) during troop training on Soltau in 1986. We spun the nut (I remember it was a 9/16ths from the tank tool roll) while he was serving up to a bunch of guys from our squadron. Needless to say he had quite the sense of humour failure when he went on to the next unit's hide and tried to ring it. We had a little brass plaque made and put it on the bell. We then placed it on the wall of our squadron bar in Block 16, Swinton Barracks. For all I know, it may still be in the position of some sqn bar with the Queen's Royal Lancers.