Tuesday 1 January 1991
Not the happiest New Year I have spent. Mum and Dad went home yesterday; Mum wanted to avoid the final “goodbye” to me and also wanted to avoid seeing me saying “goodbye” to the children. I guess that she also wanted to avoid the tears and greetings of Hogmanay. I returned home from the Ponniahs’ to find a very tearful Debbie lying reading on the settee. I made it just in time for ‘the bells’. The day was spent packing my equipment and deciding finally what I could and could not take with me. I can see that Debbie finds it all very hard to take. She is getting the roughest deal by far. I look at the children, William in particular, with intense interest. He looks into my eyes to see if they are filling with tears. Hannah wishes I “didn't be in the soldiers”. All I can say is “bless her” and ask her to be a “big girl!” while I am away. We had a trip over the
. I think that Willie liked that. The children were very good in the car. Rosemary and Andrew ‘phoned as did
Martin. Martin is a good friend
indeed. We spent the evening at Ali’s
with various people there. Ali and
Nabeel came down with us and have offered to do all they can to ease Debbie’s
obvious burden while I am away. Hardly
wanted to go to sleep since I knew that on waking up, I’d be off to the Gulf. Forth Bridge
Notes: 'Rosemary and Andrew' are my wife's aunt and uncle; 'Martin' is Martin Kuhn with whom I worked in the NHS before joining The University of Edinburgh, a fellow Catholic and remains a friend. 'Ali and Nabeel' were, respectively, one of my Assistant Wardens from Afghanistan and a Saudi PhD student. At the time of being mobilised I had recently taken up the position of Warden of Grant House at Pollock Halls in The University of Edinburgh.
I felt a bit like a condemned man when I woke this morning. Not that I suspect that will the outcome of my time in the Gulf; just the finality and the centrality of my separation from Debbie and the children plus the uncertainty about when we will be together again. I could hardly bear to look at the children; William looked into my eyes again, searching for tears. The taxi came too early and I was off before I knew it with nothing but a kiss for all of the children and a hug for Debbie. The taxi took me to
Gilmore Place too
quickly. We paraded; hung around and
loaded the buses before marching out of the unit as our predecessors had done
50 years before when they were going to war.
There were many tears and last minute farewells as we boarded the
buses. I was too choked up myself to
speak for quite a while. A reasonable
journey down; met Padre Jim Duddy, who will be coming with us to the Gulf,
never been so glad to see him. Arrived
at Saighton in the dark and wasted much time queuing for information which could
have been given to us XXXX*. No
activities at all in the evening so settled down in Block 37 Room 4 with a
dentist; and an anaesthetist and a dentist.
Quite a good ‘bunch of lads’.
Sought out a few others from 205 and met a couple of officers from
212. Not the only person to be sorry to
have left his family behind. Ian
Gouldbourne seems very keen to get over there.
I would put Sam Rawlinson and Dave Clough in the same category. Amused myself in the evening by starting this
diary, playing with my new radio and reading about the Middle
East in the book which Ali gave to me. Orders for the next day were delivered to our
rooms for a start and
8.30 parade. Slept very well. Sorry that I couldn’t `phone Debbie. Only 1 `phone for 700 people.
Notes: * - indecipherable writing; possibly 'beforehand'; 'Gilmore Place' was then the Edinburgh HQ of 205 Scottish General Hospital RAMC (v); Ian Gouldbourne, Sam Rawlinson and Dave Clough were medical officers Sam Rawlinson - who did a great deal to ease my transition into the TA - is now deceased; the anaesthrtist with whom I shared the roon was John Hughes who remains a good friend and with whom I am in regular contact. I make reference to officers from 212 (Notthingham and Sheffield based) as I had done a placement at Saighton Camp - now long closed - with them prior to the Gulf War.