Monday 18 July 2011

The Battle Of Sandbanks

Pictured. 'Red' Rob, 'Bespoke' Taylor, myself, Captain Lindsay.

Today marks the anniversary of the Battle of Sandbanks, when young and foolish we signed up at Bournemouth pier and set forth as members of the 23rd Wallisdown Pedalo Partisan, the still notorious ‘Tea Shirts’. Not for us White Hawk’s green, nor most certainly Mosley’s black, we were proud and our knees were shiny, and we drank tea. Or I did. Mostly and my fellow Tea Shirts rather preferred coffee. But beverages notwithstanding and it was for us to pedal to Sandbanks and there like pirates storm ashore. So not like pirates at all, who notoriously would actually storm in quite the opposite direction.
Most of you won’t remember the politically charged days of the 30s. I being then so young could hardly have claimed to understand them myself. I just liked the cricket and the wizard that was the wheeze as then when singing and larking we grounded our corporation pedalos and rushed ashore, caught here atop Sandbank’s only dune. There we paused whilst not possibly knowing of Frank Herbert, we said ‘muad'dib’ in a variety of funny voices. Most of us anyway, but not Robert (who did not then nor does now, do voices). Indeed it was Red Rob that urged us on after only pausing for the best of the photographs, and a comparison amongst ourselves of our broom-handle mausers.
Before lunch we had taken Silvester Hall. Before tea we had been expelled. But not downhearted we laughed as pursued by an inaccurate Lewis gun we hastened back to Bournemouth, and the Gander On The Green where despite my powder-flecked face and revolutionary zeal people had to sneak me pints of cider as I was terribly, terribly underage.


  1. I have a photograph of that actual moment where I stand proudly on the wind swept Sandbanks sand, having taken the time to inscribe three giant letters in the sand that spell out 'ELP'. Many people understandably thought I was paying homage to the great Emerson Lake and Palmer, but those who were there probably remember that we were under heavy artillery fire from the fascists at the time and I was desperately trying to write 'HELP' for the benefit of our air support. Rarely has the lack of one single letter made such a difference to a military campaign... The ensuing coastal retreat under withering machine gun fire still haunts me to this day and I regret the loss of Pete England who was somehow decapitated on three individual occasions by flying shrapnel. Luckily Alan was too short to be in any danger himself.

  2. It's why I was such a crack shot. When everyone else was whining about the lack of tin helmets nature had enabled me to be naturally ducked.