Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Facts and Figures

It's getting on for midnight here in London. For some reason my family wanted to see me before I boarded anything owned by Uzbekistan Airways. Strange.

(Boeing from Heathrow, for those interested, though they fly Antonovs and Tupolevs and Illyushins back home).

It was splendid to see everyone. Everyone is now asleep. Mum and dad are next door; my brother has gone back to his partner and child, and I'm sitting on a pile of cushions on the floor of the front room with an abandoned Telegraph crossword and a glass of water. It's a rainy old Pimlico night out there. I've been counting passing taxis (you can tell from the engine tone) to try and sleep.

Guess who had a martini glass full to the brim with espresso and icecream, just before coming back to her dad's apartment to sleep?

Guess who can't sleep?

Guess who's reading a copy of the Field Service Pocket Book 1932?

It is the kind of thing one finds lying around my dad's apartment.

I have learned some interesting things:

40. Care of Transport Camels and Cattle
Whenever possible, camels and cattle should be given 5-6 hours a day to graze and ruminate. Immediately after the morning march is the best time for this. The young shoots of the Camel Thorn are the best grazing for camels. Grain should be given at night mixed with some chaff or hay, and a good man will get up once or twice during the night and give his cattle a small feed. Nothing helps so much to keep them in condition. Desert camels are the best for fast work. Camels bred in districts where water is plentiful require to be watered daily, but desert camels will usually not drink more than once in three days. Water should be given in the morning, before grazing, and with desert camels no marching should be done for several hours afterwards.

43. Provision must be made for the protection of animals from attack by aircraft.


1. It may be taken that all troops, mounted or dismounted, move to the starting point at the rate of 100 yards a minute.

i. The average rate of marching for a large body of troops composed of all arms is 21/2 miles an hour, including short baits.

ii. The rates of marching of transport on a level road are:
Horsed transport: 2 1/2 miles an hour
Mule or pony cart: 2 1/2 miles an hour
Bullock cart: 1 1/2 miles an hour
Camel 2 miles an hour
Pack mule or pony: 3 miles an hour
Pack bullock: 2 miles an hour
Pack donkey: 1 1/2 miles an hour
Coolie: 2 miles an hour
Motor lorries (solid-tyred): 10 miles an hour
Motor lorries (pneumatic-tyred): 15 miles an hour
(These rates include short baits only)

20. The following spaces are required for animals, vehicles and tents
Horse, mule, pony or bullock: 8' x 15'
Camel: 9' x 15'
Elephant: 9' x 21'
13-pr. or 18-pr. gun or 4.5" how. and limber: 7' x 28'
Ammunition wagon and limber: 7' x 23'
Dragons: 10' x 18'
Medium tanks: 11' x 23'
Armoured cars: 9' x 22'
Circular tent, single or double 10' radius

21. With circular tents accommodation is allowed as follows:
Generals, officers and C.Os. 1 to a tent
Other officers 3 to a tent
Warrant officers 5 to a tent
Serjeants 7 to a tent
Men 15 to a tent

Tonnage Calculations
Example: 1 ton avoirdupois of cheese measures 70 cubic feet, so that its shipping measurement, or freight tonnage, would be 1 ton (of 40 cubic feet) and 30 cubic feet, or 1 30/40 tons shipping.

There's lots more, but the letterpress type on these tiny cream pages is near hallmark size, and the light is low, so these facts and figures, however compelling, are wonderfully soporific.

I can't wait to test everyone. Altogether now: how many warrant officers are allowed to sleep together in a circular tent?

No comments: