Celtic Illumination, part 205, Cimbrertyren
We understood why we had been told to stay away from the three hundred and fifty American Marines on the far side of the airfield. The odds of ten to one, as there were only thirty five of us, were not very favourable, but we had no intention of causing trouble so they were quite safe really. The three hundred and fifty American Marines had been called in and told that there were thirty five 92 Squadron chaps on the far side of the airfield and they should stay away from them. I think the Marines were a little bit confused. I wasn’t confused, well; no more than normal, I was in pain.
I have to admit that I had a few interesting days as the mixture of pain killers and booze had the cold hard north of Denmark become rather mellow. Someone had arranged a trip to the local Carlsberg brewery and they were more than generous. We were given the ‘quick’ tour of the brewery and then led in to a reception room. Crates of beer were wheeled in and boxes of gimmicky stuff. Bottle openers, pens, note pads, more beer. After the brewery trip we were all feeling mighty fine so decided to have a look around Alborg town itself. We had been told that one of Denmark’s most famous sculptures was situated in one of the town’s squares.
It was the Cimbrian Bull and all we knew was that it represented their love of life and was paid for by the breweries. The group I was with managed to find the statue and were quite amazed to discover that some other group, from the squadron, had beaten us to it. The other group were not still around photographing or sketching the bull they had long gone. But the squadron had left its mark as stuck to the rather impressive pair of testicles on the bull was a squadron zap. I later learned that they had used Araldite to stick the zap on which would take the towns cleaning department rather a long time to remove.
As a sort of public relations exercise we had to field a rugby team to play against Alborg town. This was rather unfair as Alborg had their regular full team and we could only choose fifteen men from our small detachment of thirty five. I do remember one scrum as we engaged I heard someone being sick. As the scrum broke, probably so that we could compose ourselves and stop laughing, I noticed the referee. Under one arm he had a box of fifty King Edward cigars and he was smoking one, while in his other hand he held a bottle of Glayva liqueur from which he occasionally took a slug.
It has to have been the most ridiculous game of rugby I have ever participated in. Afterwards the party was totally mental. Despite the language barrier the Danes joined in with the singing. These ditties could be quite funny, depending on your sense of humour. We would start one like a normal decent Sunday hymn. ♫ There is a green hill far away without a city wall. ♫ As you can imagine we are laying it on thick, hands clasped together, eyes raised to heaven. ♫ Where our dear Lord was crucified he died to save us all. Two. Three. Four. For he’s a jolly good fellow, for he’s a jolly good fellow….. ♫
Nobody was safe as far as squadron songs were concerned, especially God and Jesus. One popular song went ♫ Holes in hands, holes in feet, carries crosses down the street, has anybody seen J C? Schubydoo, schubydoo, schubydoo. ♫ That was the first verse, I shall not tell you what the second verse said, but the third verse was. ♫ Four of bread, five of fish, feeds ten thousand piece of pish, has anybody seen J C? Schubydoo, schubydoo, schubydoo. ♫ We would probably then move on to the popular rugby song ♫ Swing low sweet chariot, ♫ which would be sung with hand gestures and then repeated without words and hand gestures only. Another popular song was ‘The alphabet’ which had us sing the alphabet, except we would have a swear word for each letter of the alphabet and a rhyme surrounding that word with each word connected to the next.
Not the sort of stuff you would sing in church. The Danes would have rewarded our efforts with rugby songs and ditties of their own however we discovered that the Americans did not have this tradition. All they would do is shout “Hoo Rah!” which didn’t rhyme, didn’t last very long and wasn’t that funny. We ended up in some sort of night club, supposedly dancing the night away but the Danes do not seem to know how to jive, neither did I come to think of it as the combination of pain killers and drink had given me rubber feet. We did seem to be very popular which may have been something to do with the amount of whiskey we were pulling from our kit bags.
I remember that I had split my trousers and had to take off my jumper and tie it around my waist to cover the tear. We had been told that the nightclub closed at six o clock in the morning and most of us were determined to make it to closing time. I began to flag and decided to make my way back to camp for a rest. I had switched on my internal radar, that most drunks seem to have, and was wandering along. I had crossed a long bridge and had left the city; it was dawn and quite a pleasant morning. A taxi pulled up alongside me and asked where I was going. I explained that I was going to the air base and the driver insisted that I get in and he would drop me by the gates as he was passing the air base.
He wouldn’t take any money and I was quiet impressed with the civility of the locals. I managed to find our accommodation and hit the sack hoping that my pillow would be gentle with me. That evening we all had to pull our best uniforms on and attend the formal function with the Americans. The Americans looked like Christmas trees with all the gold and medals they wore. We were quite drab compared to them. I was standing chatting with two Marines; I think they were Master Sergeants. Both of them carried about twenty medals each on their tunic. We were laughing and joking with them about the collection of medals and suggested that they probably got them for eating cornflakes. One medal I noticed had the number seven attached to the ribbon bar.
I asked what this meant and was told that he had been shot down, while in a helicopter, seven times. As you may imagine we scoffed at him and insisted that it was probably the number of times he had gone to the shops on his own. He was quite upset with our mockery and ripped off his tunic and shirt. This was not the old drunken preparation for a bar room brawl. He asked us to inspect his torso which was criss crossed with scars which he insisted were the proof of his numerous encounters. I know that I woke up the following morning in a tent with twenty American Marines. That was the least of my problems because I wasn’t in my uniform; I was dressed as an American Marine.