Alan Mills – Passing Out Parade

Conscription – The  Road  to  Palestine –  Passing Out Parade

Alan Mills finally found himself approaching the final days of training at the Palestine Police training college at Mount Scopus Jerusalem
As the end of our twelve weeks training approached, the regime relaxed a little and we were issued with new uniforms for our passing out parade. Anything that didn’t fit correctly we had to take to a Greek tailor who was situated at the far end corner of the parade ground. I’d needed my tunic neck altering and had to go collect it after our evening meal.

    Now the parade ground was about half the size of a football pitch and I was in a bit of a hurry as I wanted to join in our last card school together with the lads. So I casually walked diagonally over the parade ground towards the Greek Tailors hut. As I approached I could hear someone bawling and shouting and thought to myself, someone’s letting off a bit of steam round here. One of the lads bobbed his head out of the tailors hut and beckoned towards me gesturing maniacally with his head and eyes, “It’s you who he’s shouting at.” I looked to my right and had to squint a little due to the low sun, in the door of the next hut stood the Head Constable, an ex Regimental Sergeant Major and a formidable giant of a man.
   He beckoned me towards him and gave me one hell of a verbal lashing, emphasising every word with venom. The neb of his cap shielded his eyes but sometimes when he moved his head back I caught a glimpse of malice in them and I could see he was keen to exalt the power of his rank over me.
“How long have you been training here. When did it become okay to take a short cut over the parade ground, I must have missed it. This parade ground is Holy Ground – H-O-L-Y- G-R-O-U-N-D..” .he spelt it out. I thought for a split second there was plenty of holy ground in Jerusalem but it was probably better left unsaid. He barked at me to go fetch my rifle, change into khaki battle-dress and boots and report back to him immediately.
  On arrival back to his office, I found a Desk Sergeant busy shuffling paper, ‘So your the unfortunate one,’ he said before letting me stand at ease with strict instructions to spring smartly to attention when the head constable came back in. I heard him barking at someone else as he approached and right on cue sprang to attention. He looked me up and down with revulsion on his face and indicated to an old army back-pack in the corner which was filled with logs.
“Pick it up, put it on, adopt port arms and jog round the parade ground until I tell you to stop. Maybe you’ll realise there are no short cuts to  be had.”  The Desk Sergeant mouthed at me one hour which was at least some small consolation.  I adopted port arms which meant I had to have my rifle butt close to my elbow and began my jog round the parade ground. It was a lonely jog,  I could see the heads of the lads playing cards every time I passed the NAAFI window.

Eventually, after about an hour, the Head Constable came back and told me to put the pack back into the office and dismissed me. I joined in our last game of cards and we all got an early night as our big day loomed.
The next morning a saluting base (a small stage) appeared and soon we were joined by the police band, who had amongst it’s ranks some very accomplished musicians. Generally when I heard the National Anthem, it signified the end of a cinema performance, I don’t think it’s done these days but the idea was to stand up for it before filing out, nobody ever did, instead bolting for the exits before the drum roll finished.
But today was our big day, all the orders, the studying the running, the combat, the spit and the polish was all worthwhile as we became fully fledged members of the Palestine Police Force. We’d had to write and specify for a permanent posting and I’d asked for and got Haifa Central Police Station, for no other reason than I thought it might be a bit cooler by the coast. And that was that at Mount Scopus, we all went our separate ways and apart from a couple of others who had also requested Haifa,  I don’t think I ever saw my fellow trainees again.


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One Comment

  1. F.Townley says:

    Poor Alan, he never seemed to do things the easy way!

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