‘Twas on a misty mountain

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‘Twas on a misty mountain

Category : Articles , Bush War

The radar station that I was posted at was set high up on a mountain, 2000 metres above the ground. It was divided into 2 main areas; the accommodation and mess area which was lower down and the actual radar station itself, right at the top. The top area was also divided into 2 areas, one of which was the Microwave and UHF aerial array, in a place known as Ebbehout (Ebony).
The UHF aerial was easily 150-200 feet up in the air and it was one of our ‘roof’ challenges to see who was too scared to climb it. The really brave (and stupid ones) climbed it at night. However, the view from there, on a rare clear night, was incredible.
Due to its height and location, the Kop was usually enshrouded in cloud (we called it mist but it was cloud!) and being posted to guard duty at night at Ebbehout was a scary event for the nervous. One of the nervous was a young Airman called Dye. One night, the Duty Officer decided he was going to try and catch one of the guys guarding Ebbehout sleeping on duty so he drove up the mountain and along the road, very quietly and stealthily. He stopped short of the gate, turned off the car lights and got out of the car, walking to the gate but the gates were locked from the inside during the night and the guard on duty had the key so the only way in was to try to climb the security fence.
Now, the Duty Officer was a BIG guy, 6’4” tall when kneeling down and just as wide and while he was quite fit, climbing a heavy gauge wire fence in the dark was quite difficult and he made more noise than he had intended. The guy on duty was, of course, Dye and he probably had been sleeping (it was probably difficult not to when all alone, at night and probably about 02h00) but the noise of someone climbing the outer fence galvanized Dye into action. He grabbed his rifle, cocked it, hit the selector switch, yelled something like “HaltwhogoestherestoporIwillshoot”……. And pulled the trigger…. All in one rapid, constant motion. Now Dye was issued with what we called an R2 (yes, I know, WE called it an R2) which was an old Heckler & Koch G3 rifle in 7.62 (none of this nancy 5.56mm for us brave boys!) and Dye had hit the firing selector in a panic so, of course, he emptied a 20 round magazine in one trigger pull!
Fortunately for Dye (and the Duty Officer), every round went high and missed the ‘intruder’ but it scared t D.O. sufficiently that he jumped off the fence, RAN back to the car, jumped in, SCREAMED back down the mountain to the Duty Room and demanded to know who was on duty and he wanted him arrested etc . Needless to say, Dye was klaared aan, initially for trying to shoot an officer but eventually for failing to follow procedure. When he (and the Duty Officer) where paraded in front of the CO and the Colonel heard the whole story, he told the D.O. that he was lucky to be alive and that HE should be klaared aan for trying to break in to a secure area, irrespective of the reasons.

The case was (generally) dismissed although Dye suffered a bit under the RSM for a while as he had to be reminded what the proper challenge and counter procedures where when standing guard but after that the Duty Officer always checked to see who was on duty at Ebbehout and if it was Dye, never went anywhere near him!

 

Or at least, that the story I heard!

Andrew Williams


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