“Right, we will get right onto it, we will finish the tower, and you can start on the lean-too” Corporal Masterson said in reply, as they both grabbed a piece of scaffolding and began the climb up the stairs, to make up the safety rails, before they lay the top platform floor, and install the roof. “Oh, by the way, there is something in the back for the camp for you” Corporal Masterson shouted from near the top of the tower.
When I opened the back of the jeep, I smiled, when I saw a half - 44 Gallon drum there, and there was a small section of the side cut away, plus a half of the bottom was also cut away, as well as a circle cut out at the back of the bottom. Also in the back of the jeep was a 1.5 metre length of chimney piping, and I happily pulled out the new bush cooking stove, and began to set it up over the fire pit, which still had hot coals in it.
Once it was in place, I put the cooking hot plate over the stove, and placed the billy onto it, before restoking the fire, to get the heat up again for the billy. “Well that will make life a little easier for us” Angela said when she saw the new item in the campsite, having just completed washing the dishes in the spare tent. “The lad’s upstairs are the ones to thank for that, and I will be making a lean-too as a camp kitchen area, to make life a little easier” I replied, looking upwards towards the top of the tower.
Just as the corporals announced that the tower was now completed, including the roof frame, and canvas tarpaulin roof, I had finished the lean-too also with a tarpaulin roof, and the campsite was looking a lot better now that it was completed, and as we all sat down for a cup of tea, another army vehicle arrived, with this one towing a water tank trailer, with a pump attached, and Corporal Hays was driving.
“Come and have a cuppa, then we can sort out the water, then we can get the tower fully kitted out with the tables, chairs, radios and lighting” I said to the corporal, who smiled, before nodding a greeting to Angela and Tom, and he noticed that both of them were wearing their ID cards around their necks. With one table placed under the lean-too against the wall of the tower, the car fridge, was placed on this table and connected to the power board, next the two large cooler eskies were moved out of the tent, and placed under the table.
The table in the tent was taken up to the top if the tower, along with the other spare table and the three extra chairs, while the boxes of other supplies were also carried up. I suggested to Angela that we have the tents location changed so as to create side walls for the lean too, and she agreed to this idea, and so I helped her to move her and Tom’s tent, before relocating the now empty tent, which I would use as my accommodation, and that of the corporal’s when they stayed overnight, when the cadet training begins.
Leaving my vehicle at the camp, I travelled with the Corporals back to the main complex, to have a meeting with the Warrant Officer, who would be returning to the city after lunch. “I have some good news, the AFP have arrested a man, but he was not the ex-boyfriend, but some one that he had employed to follow you, to try and locate Angela and Tom. The man refused to give any more information, only confirming that he was employed to look for and locate Angela Parker and her son Tom” WO Owens informed me.
“So, what happens now?” I asked, “well, because, this is a case that covers three states, the AFP are very interested in the matter, so they had had him kept on remand until the complete their investigation” I was informed, “Well I am glad that we have been able to keep Angela and Tom safe for now, we just have to make sure that it stays that way” I replied, before we got down to business, regarding the fast approaching cadet training camp.
I reported that the command post camp was fully set up and operational, and that we are pretty much prepared for the cadet training camp. We went over all the details of the camp, including the training programme, and once this was complete, we had lunch, before Warrant Officer Owens and Corporals Hays and Masterson set off back to the city, with the two trucks and one 4WD.
Once they had gone, Corporal Gregson turned to me, “Ok Staff, what do we do now?” he asked me, “Well lets lockup here and head back to the camp, do you have your gear with you?” I replied, “Just my kit bag, but no swag, as I presumed that I would be staying at the complex” the corporal said to me, “Well go and grab a mattress from your bunkroom, and you can either use my swag, or share a tent with me” I replied.
While Corporal Gregson was getting his gear and a mattress, I went to the kitchen, where I found an empty cardboard box, and I gathered three extra plates, bowls, cups, three sets of cutlery, I also grabbed a cast iron frying pan, some extra cooking tools, and two aluminium bowls. With all the supplies I need, I locked up the kitchen & dining hall, and loaded the box into the jeep, just as Corporal Amos Gregson approached with his kit bag and a rolled-up mattress, which he loaded into the jeep, and we made our way back to the campsite.
I made a quick call to the caretakers, to let them know that the main complex was locked up and that we were camping out near the north boundary for a few weeks, exaggerating our location a little so as to keep the truth to just a few, and I suggested that the gates be closed and locked, as no Army personnel are due to arrive until Saturday. When we arrived back at the camp, I heard the generator softly operating in the background, and I could smell freshly baked bread or something similar.
I noticed that my swag had been relocated, as it was not under my vehicles canopy, with the vehicle now behind the relocated tent, that I would be occupying, and I pointed out to Corporal Gregson, the tent that he would be sharing with me, and I left him to get settled in, while I retrieved the cardboard box and placed it on the table, where I saw a freshly baked Damper loaf.
“That smells very nice, Angela, when do we get to sample some of it” I said to Angela with a smile, as she pulled out all the items in the box, “In an hour when it is time for afternoon tea, and thank you for the extra cooking supplies, this will make life a little easier” Angela replied with a smile. I head up to the top of the tower, and with the binoculars, I did a scan of the property, and I saw that most of the main buildings at the main complex and the northern complex, were not fully visible, due to the terrain and the vegetation.
The airfield was fully out of sight, due to hills being in the way, but the caretaker’s buildings and front entry gate are in a direct line of sight due to a valley, with no hills in the way, which I was pleased about. I heard footsteps coming up the tower. “Permission to come up” I heard Tom announce, and I smiled.
“Permission granted Private Tom” I replied, and I saw a big grin on Tom’s face when he arrived. When he looked around he looked stunned at the view, Tom’s grin grew bigger. “Wow this is totally awesome” Tom said and I handed him the binoculars, so he could look around the property. “Uncle Mitch, what is that metal triangle thingy on a tree?” Tom asked me a few minutes later.
“That is a navigation marker, let me show you the map of the property… this is called a topographical map, which means that it shows all the contours, or hills on the property. See these lines with numbers on the line, that means that it is a hill that is 300 metres above sea level. This hill that we are on now, is this one on the map, see the clearing on top, and the track leading down the hill.
See the little red dots on the map, they are the locations of those markers, one of which you spotted in the binoculars, there are a total of four navigation paths on the property, and each path has a total of 6 of those markers, and each one has a difference number and letter code” I explained, “Do you mean like orienteering?” Tom asked me, “Yes, exactly like that” I said pleased that Tom understood.
I rolled up the map and placed it on the protective tube, and I suggested to Tom that we go back downstairs again, and he followed me down. “Afternoon tea is ready” Angela announced, as she passed us a cup of tea, and we grabbed a slice of damper, from the plate on the table, which had butter and jam on each slice, and half of the loaf was gone very quickly.
After we had eaten and helped to clean up, I asked Corporal Gregson, to grab the chainsaw, so we could get some wood to build some bush furniture. For the next three hours, we found enough fallen trees, and cut them to the required sizes, before carrying it all back to the camp site at the top of the hill, which was quite a challenge on its own. After a short break, we began to construct some furniture, near the fire stove.
Digging four holes in the ground, we buried half of two 800 mm long posts into the ground, at 900 mm apart, next we buried two 1800 mm long posts, 600 mm back from the first two posts, next using the chainsaw, we cut slots on the inside of each post, at 400 mm above the ground for the front two posts, and at 300 mm on the back two posts. After some trimming, two side beams were slotted into place, and nailed to keep it there.
The next stage was trimming 1 metre length thick logs into 50 mm thick planks, which were nailed into place, to form the backing of the chair, and the same was done with the planks, for the seat, to complete the bush two-seater chair. As we stepped back to look at our work, Tom appeared and on seeing the new chair, he raced to it and sat down on the chair, and declared it as being awesome.
Once Tom had returned to the tent to continue his studies, Corporal Gregson, got to work on building another two-seater bush chair, opposite to the other one, also on an angle facing the stove, at two metres away, and we had the second chair completed just before dusk, and while Angela was busy preparing dinner, with the stove now roaring hot, and when Corporal Gregson and I were seated on the chairs, the warmth of the stove could be felt easily, as we relaxed and chatted about the coming cadet camp.
“You know Staff, it would be better if we could get the cadet officers come a bit earlier, so we can give them some extra training, that would be beneficial to all the units in the long term”, “It’s Mitchell after business hours, if that is ok with you Amos” I replied, and there was a pause before I saw him smile, “Sure Mitch, that is fine by me” he replied. “Regarding your suggestion, I have been thinking the same thing, it may be a bit late, to make any changes, but let’s call the boss and see if he can make the changes” I commented, as pulled out my phone.
Dialling the CO’s mobile number, it rang just once before it was answered, “Good evening Staff, how are things up your way? the Lt Colonel said, “Good thanks sir, the tower is completed, and secured, we made it 1.5 metres shorter, so we could have a lean-too, for a camp kitchen area, and Corporal Gregson and I have just finished building two bush chairs from fallen logs, which we are sitting on now” I replied.
“Very good, now what was the purpose of your call?” the CO asked, “Sir, the corporal and I are in the view that if we can get the cadet officers to the facility a day earlier, that we would be able to give them some more training, that will be beneficial for all of the cadet units” I said to the CO, “I agree with you on that, and I will do my best to get the cadet officers to you by 1100 hours on Saturday, instead of the same time on Sunday, good night” the CO said and he ended the call.
After some minutes of silence, as we listened to the sounds of the bush, as well as the campsite, with Angela in kitchen, and Tom singing, while he was having a shower, which made me chuckle, Amos cleared his throat. “Staff, I mean Mitch, I was thinking, if this works out well, and the CO decides on making this site a more permanent Command post, it would be good to have a more solid roof shelter over the tents, to protect them from falling tree branches, heavy rain and from the heat of the sun, in summer” Amos said to me.
“So how do you think we should do that, just 4 posts, with slight sloping outwards, cross beams and a wooden plank roof” I asked, “Yes, that sounds about right, we can probably build them over the top of the tents, without having to pull them down” Amos replied, “Very good, we can get started in the morning” I responded with a smile.
After dinner, which we ate sitting on the new chairs, Amos and I did the cleaning up, while Angela relaxed in the seat while enjoying a cup of tea. Once we were done, I let Angela know that Amos and I were going for a walk, and we set off down the track to the bottom of the hill, and we walked in silence for the whole way. “So, what is this all about” Amos asked me as we neared the bottom of the hill.
“Sorry, I just needed to chat with you, without them being in hearing range” I started to say, as I stopped and looked around, “I just have this nasty feeling, that this issue with Angela and Tom, is far from being over, so I just wanted you to stay alert at all times, and I wanted ask you if you can help me keep a constant watch on them, with shared night watch duties” I said.
“Sure Staff, all you have to do is ask, I am happy to help you at any time, I can do the first watch till 0100” Amos replied, “thanks mate, I appreciate your help, and let’s keep this just between the two of us for now” I said with a smile, pleased to have the help, and we began the hike back up the hill to the camp site, and when we arrived Angela was stepping out of the shower room, dressed in fresh clothes.
“You go and have a shower, I will go upstairs and do a scan with the night vision binoculars” I said to Amos, and he went into the tent, while I headed up the tower steps, and for the next few minutes I scanned the property for any heat sources and movement, and I saw one person moving near the front of the caretaker’s residence, and I was going to let that pass as the caretaker taking a walk, but decided to check anyway, as I retrieved my phone.
“Bindoon Training Facility, caretaker speaking” came the answer to my call, “Benning here sir, are you inside your residence, I can see movement outside” I said quietly, “We are in the lounge watching television, where is the movement?” came a concerned reply, front northern corner” the caretaker said. “I suggest you stay indoors, turn on your outside lights, and call the police, for your safety, do not go outside”, I responded.
“Copy that Staff Sergeant, will you call Lt Colonel Harding?” the caretaker asked, “Yes, I will, and he may send up a squad of MP’s, to boost up security on the facility, I will let you know about that” I responded and ended the call, before dialling the CO’s number again. “Sorry to disturb you sir, but we have unauthorised activity at the caretaker’s residence, I have just spoken to him, he has turned on the outside lights, as my suggestion.
I see two men, dressed in dark clothing, they took off for cover, as soon as the outside lights came on, I can’t see them at the moment, wait, I see them now, they are heading further into the facility, now they are out of sight due to terrain, what are your orders sir” I said to the CO, “I will call the caretaker, and let him know, that I want him to remain indoors, until the all clear is given, do you have any weapons with you?” the CO said to me.
Copyright July 2017 Preston Wigglesworth All Rights Reserved