Monday, November 14, 2005
Official Australian Army Correspondence...
Makes one so proud to read the truth
Letter to his CO from a Captain answering his CO’s “Request for further information.”
In your icy, indeed hostile, telephone call of yesterday, you requested a report about the alleged proceedings involving my soldiers. As the reports from the local authorities and the head of the Australian legation were undoubtedly a complete fabrication, I welcome the opportunity to put the truth of the matter forward.
Your kind offer to “buy a round of drinks” for the troops at the end of the deployment was taken and the CSM ensured that appropriate quantities of libation and food were purchased against your credit card, with festivities being held in my hotel suite. An enjoyable evening ensued but insufficient supplies had been obtained, so several members of the company left for further purchases at a local bar.
In a truly magnanimous gesture, ten bar girls from that establishment helped carry the beer back to the hotel. To demonstrate our appreciation of their assistance, we served them some cool drink. They then offered to show us some local culture, and, in order not to offend, we allowed them to dance.
The banging on the walls of my room had, by now, quite honestly, become invasive, and it was disturbing the dancers, so we arranged an amusing little deterrent. LT Brown’s impersonation of a Police Officer was quite clever as he goose-stepped to each room and harangued the occupants with a very witty diatribe about disturbing hotel guests. I personally heard nothing of his alleged threats to life or limb in as claimed by the sister of the local Police Chief whose room was, unluckily, next door.
I suspect that this woman was the sneak who called security and hotel management but I absolutely refute that the shout “Stand To, enemy approaching!” was made. The simple coincidence of security arriving just as we stood the double bed on its side across the door to make the dance floor bigger is obvious. The major damage to the room occurred when a group of gatecrashers, whom we could not know were hotel security, forced their way in just as most of us happened to be leaning against the bed watching the dancing.
The subsequent events in the foyer of the hotel are an equally vicious distortion of the facts. I was explaining the importance of the post activity celebrations to the General Manager of the hotel, and stating that other guests were obviously fabricating their stories of the noise and drinking, when CPL Smith and several others from HQ Coy (in keeping with their pursuit of physical fitness) organized the race up the drapes which hang along the foyer wall. It says little for the workmanship that the fittings were torn from the wall before most of the company was even halfway up.
At this stage SGT Williams, our Orderly Room SGT attempted to rescue the situation with her depth of knowledge of local culture. Her rendition of the Fertility Dancing Maiden in the foyer’s ‘Pool of Remembrance’ was nothing short of breathtaking. Normally this dance is performed wearing just a sarong skirt but SGT Williams’ extra step to “ Au Natural” was a bold step forward. Unfortunately, during one intricate step, SGT Williams slipped and fell beneath the fountain, but we were lucky that SSGT Johnson had the great presence of mind to strip to avoid getting his uniform wet, leapt in to help.
The tiles of the pool were very slippery and it took nearly ten minutes of threshing about before he could actually complete his rescue. Such concern was there for these two exemplary member’s safety, that the many of company jumped in to assist, and I deny that this massed rescue attempt could be construed as a ‘Water Polo’ game!
Order had nearly been restored when the fire started. I prefer CPL White’s version of events that the drapes had caught fire from being against a light fitting, and that he dropped his cigarette lighter whilst trying to escape the flames. Had hotel management fulfilled their responsibilities and used fire retardant material instead of velvet, the fire would not have spread to the rest of the hotel.
The responsible attitude shown by my soldiers in assisting the bar staff to carry out drinks from the cocktail party is to be commended, not condemned, and the attempt by many male members to extinguish pockets of fire using natural means has been totally misrepresented in some quarters.
I made an official protest about these matters when the head of the Australian Legation visited us at the Police Station the next morning. However, not only did Ambassador Downey not attempt to refute the preposterous allegations made against me and my soldiers crew, but also failed to secure our release immediately.
I trust that now I have outlined the correct version of events, we may allow ourselves a discreet smile as to the lack of social sophistication of some of these developing nations and put all this behind us. In my opinion my soldiers behaved in accordance with the finest Australian Army traditions.