Snakes & High Explosives

eo-with-johan

Taken from my book, The Chronicles of the Mexican Horse Thief I – Angola. The place, Rio Longa, the date, 1991/2

Another funny incident was at the battalion’s ammo dump. They kept a 40 ft container filled with all sorts of toys: grenades, mines, RPG rockets, Claymores and the like. The soldiers that guarded the container had a lean-to attached to the thing, and inside was a shebeen-come-harem. Most of the time the soldiers were smoked- or drugged-up. One fine morning we went to collect ammo for the day’s training. The ammo dump was off to one side of the training ground and about two kilometers from our camp. As we approached the dump we saw black smoke but did not think much about it as there were always fires burning round the FAA camp.

As we turned around the last bush and could see the container, we saw the smoke was coming from underneath the thing! A soldier was running round pushing burning bits of tire tube under it on purpose. Black smoke and oily flames were everywhere. Now this was not good; even with First World ammo, that is pretty stable, one can’t superheat it and not expect problems. The stuff in the container was far from stable at the best of times. We very nervously tried to find out what the hell was going on; as usual our “talk” had disappeared. (We called our interpreters talks.) All the soldier would do is shout, “Cobra, cobra!”

Apparently a snake, ‘cobra’ in Portuguese, had been in their tent and they had chased it under the container. Now they were trying to kill it with fire. I told the guys to get back on the truck and drove off at speed. We cancelled the day’s training and went back to our camp as it was considerably lower than the surrounding area so should have been safe from the explosion that we were sure would follow. By some miracle it did not, but we were happy to have an excuse to sit around and do nothing but drink anyway.

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One Response to “Snakes & High Explosives”

  1. Wayne Bisset Says:

    Reblogged this on Section Eight Solutions.

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