Calling your Merchiston Anecdotes - George Cockburn (58-63)
Fellow Merchistonians

Earlier this year I devised and dispatched a trivia quiz to those of you who were at school between 1956 and 1965, entitled “The antidote to self-isolation and COVID - 19”, which turned out to be a remarkable source for linking up with school friends, some of whom I had not spoken to, for over 50 years.

In many cases we were able to share stories from times gone by, which got me thinking that there has to be scope for a small book of amusing anecdotes which, with your help, I plan to publish in time for Christmas 2020! As a small illustration of what I believe is going to be a success here are two true stories about one particular Master.

CORPS CAMP Circa 1957

The Master In Charge of the Combined Cadet Force had taken a number of cadets to the infamous Cultybraggan Corps Camp near Crieff Perthshire, and one of the particular manoeuvres was a carefully planned all night exercise , which required the cadets to be deposited somewhere in the deep wilds of Perthshire, where they would spend the night under canvas, before finding their  way back to camp the following day.

Leading up to the hour of departure the Master In Charge of the Combined Cadet Force , asked everyone to gather round and ,very much in the style of General Montgomery,[who also could not pronounce his ”R’s!”], he proceeded to give a talk to the cadets all about the final details of the plan, and the benefits of using practical survival skills at night. Needless to say, every minute detail had been carefully thought out, down to the very last detail, including what would happen, if in the most unlikely event, some emergency arose or if something should go wrong.
He assured everyone present that if such an emergency arose, he would fire a flare cartridge from his Verey pistol into the night sky to signal that the exercise would have to be aborted. Then having assured again everyone of how extremely unlikely this was, the cadets climb into arose, the Army wagons to begin their night exercise deep in the wilds of Perthshire.
One cadet vividly recollects that having disembarked from his Army wagon, the first thing his patrol did was to find somewhere to pitch their tent, he had no sooner got the tent out of its cover, when the sky was brilliantly lit by a flare! Signalling the abortion of the exercise! They returned to camp in the wagon, and were back at base within one hour of their original departure time!
Most unfortunately, it transpired that the Master in Charge of the Combined Cadet Force had been climbing over a style when, in the dark he lost his swagger stick, and in the subsequent panic trying to find it, he had in advertently set off his Verey pistol, successfully bringing the night exercise to an unscheduled, abortive and very embarrassing end!

The above Master also taught geography. and to emphasise a point he was heard to say....

“I was reading a book the other day, A very interesting book written by Daniel Defoe called Gullivers Travels" 
Knowing that he had the wrong author, a pupil put up his hand..
“Please sir “he said confidently
“Gulliver’s Travels was written by Dean Jonathan Swift; Daniel Defoe wrote Robinson Crusoe” 
After a considerable pause .....
He said...“Cockburn does it really matter who wrote the book, it’s what’s in the book that counts.!” 
NOTE: Names will not be included without the express agreement of the Author.
Please ensure that  your contribution reaches me no later than 31 October.

Many Thanks 

George Cockburn (58-63)
Mobile 07768877625


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