Love in the Army 

Chapter 18

By Mikkiwriter

In the last chapter, I made a mistake, for which I thank two people who contacted me. The helicopter that picked Robbo up from the scene of the incident was actually a Chinook and not an Apache, which of course is an assault helicopter. Thanks guys for pointing that out.


Things have started to settle down at Coldbrooke Hall after the recent up upheaval. Ben was in his office discussing Robbo’s case with Alice and it was decided that Robbo was finally fit enough to be discharged from Coldbrooke. That would mean that Robbo would then undergo an Army medical to make sure he was fit enough to return to his unit.

Ben met Robbo in his office a short time later.

“Morning Robbo,” Ben said.

“Morning Ben,” Robbo replied.

“Well, I have some great news for you mate. We had a case meeting earlier, and we are really happy to say that we feel  that your fitness is back to one hundred percent and as a result we are finally going to discharge you mate. I have spoken to Matthew earlier. He has issued a pass for two weeks, for a break, but you will need to report back to base on the 18th for an Army medical. Then you get to be a soldier again,” Ben said.

Robbo smiled and said, “Great thanks.”

“You are welcome young man. It is always great when we can help young men and women like you to get back to their units,” Ben said.

“Yeah, and I would like to thank all of the guys here for their hard work,” Robbo replied.

Ben shook Robbo’s hand and said, “You need to phone James to come and collect you.”

Robbo smiled and said, “Yeah, I will thanks Ben.”

Robbo left Bens office with a smile on his face. The first person he went and found was Shane.

Shane was really happy for Robbo and said, “Go on, get packed and call James.”

“Ok, you want rid of me that quick,” Robbo said.

“Yeah, I am sick of your face,” Shane said smiling.

Robbo laughed and said, “Well mate, I am going to miss you. It has been a laugh.”

“Yeah it has. Now promise me one thing, that you will look after yourself. Ok?” Shane said.

“I will. I promise,” Robbo said smiling.

Shane then grabbed Robbo for a hug and said, “Keep in touch.”

“You won’t get rid of me that easy,” Robbo said smiling.


James collected Robbo a few hours later and Shane was standing on the door waving as they left Coldbrooke Hall.


Colonel Nicholas Green was surprised when he was appointed as the new military Family Support Units’ commanding officer. He now oversees the Family Support Units for the Army, Royal Navy, and the RAF. He has three unit commanders who each head the different forces units. Lt. Colonel Philip Trent was appointed as head of the Army unit. Nicholas was happy. as he knew Philip well and knew he would be the best person to head that unit. The other two were headed by Vice Admiral Marcus Collins and Air Marshall David Leyton.

Alex and his wife, Lisa, have started to settle into life as guest house owners. They have had quite a few guests since they opened. Tom and Ben have booked a weekend there for a few weeks’ time. The cafe is still closed. as Alex felt that they needed time to adjust into running Lake House first before opening it. It was still winter. So Alex decided to maybe open the cafe in the spring, when the main tourist season starts.

Alex was glad he left when he did, as he didn’t think he would have liked to run the new unit.


Robbo arrived home at his Mums, with James, and was met by his brother Joe, and his best mates Gary, and Harvey, and Jason, from his unit.

He was soon sat down talking to his mates, like he had never been away. James felt out of place when Robbo was with the lads and sat talking to Joe.

Gary noticed that James wasn’t sat with Robbo. He got up and walked over and asked James, “You ok mate?”

“Yeah, I am fine why? James asked.

“Well, you haven’t been with Robbo much since he came home.”

“Well, he is with his mates. He doesn’t need me sitting there in the way,” James said.

“Hey, you are Robbo’s partner, and the lads know that, so come on get over there and join in,” Gary said.

James stood up and went and sat next to Robbo. Robbo smiled and lent in and kissed James and said, “Hey, where have you been?”

“I was talking to Joe,” James replied.

Gary re-joined the group and brought Joe over with him.

The lads were soon back to their conversation, but with both Joe and James joining in.


Robbo’s Mum Paula, and Gary’s Mum Jackie were also there and were chatting about the lads and Jackie said, “You know, Gary has been so down lately with losing Sally and Robbo getting injured I don’t know what to do for the best.”

Paula looked over at Gary who was smiling and laughing with the group and said, “Well he seems happy when he is with the lads. Maybe he just needs a little more time to get over Sally.”

“He is a damn good actor. When he is alone and he doesn’t think I can hear him, he cries,” Jackie said.

“Don’t worry. I will ask Robbo to see if he can get through to him, because we both know if anyone can get through to him, Robbo is thinking about what Jackie had said about Gary, and decided she needed to speak to Robbo about it.

Robbo was sat with James watching TV in the front room when Paula came in and said, “Robbo, can I speak to you for a minute in private please?”

“Sure Mum,” Robbo said, looking at James who shrugged.

Robbo walked into the back room and said, “what’s wrong?”

Paula sighed and said, “I was talking to Jackie earlier. She is worried about Gary.”

“Why, what’s wrong with Gary?” Robbo asked.

Paula said, “Well, he has been really down for a while, and Jackie is worried that he might be depressed and might do something stupid.”

Robbo laughed and said, “Gary is fine Mum. You saw the way he was earlier.”

“Yeah, he is a damn good actor, son. Jackie said when he is alone, he is crying all the time. He is hiding it,” Paula said.

“Damn. Well I need to speak to him Mum,” Robbo said

Paula said, “Might be a good idea, son. Let him know you are here for him.”

“Yeah, I will go and see him.”



Gary was in his bedroom, and was looking at a photograph of his wedding to Sally. Seeing Sally in her white dress, and himself and Robbo standing there, was too much and he started to cry. He threw the photo across the room and then started to hit out at his bed. He also kicked the bedside table over sending the lamp on it crashing to the floor.

Robbo arrived at Gary’s and Jackie answered the door and said, “Thank god you are here. He is in his room and I think he has lost it.”

Robbo ran upstairs and walked in to see his best mate sat on the floor with his head in his hands crying. Robbo walked over pulled him up and said, “shit, what the hell.”

Gary just cried and then said, “Sorry, I am not as strong as people think. It has been too much for me lately, with Sally dying and you getting injured. I can’t go on mate.”

Robbo held Gary and kissed his forehead and said, “Listen, you need some time out mate. We have two weeks off. Why don’t we go away somewhere, just you and me?”

Gary smiled and said, “ummm maybe, but what about James?”

Robbo smiled and said, “I am sure he won’t mind. Come on, he knows we are best buddies and he also knows I love him. So he doesn’t have anything to worry about.”.

“Yeah, what about when we go back to the base? He won’t see you much, and I am sure he wants to spend some time with you before you go back,” Gary said.

“Ok, well we can go away for a week, and then I can spend a week with James. How does that sound?” Robbo said.

“Ok,” Gary said smiling.

Robbo spoke to Paula and James about the trip. They both agreed that it might be a good idea for the both of them to go away together. Jackie was also all for it, and suggested that they went to the cottage that Jackie’s sister has in the Lake District.

Robbo and Gary were soon heading up the M6 motorway for Cumbria.

Gary felt happy to be spending some time with Robbo.

 Robbo pulled his car outside the small cottage, which overlooked one of the lakes. Robbo smiled and got out of the car and looked at the view and said, “Wow, this view is fab.”

“Yeah, it is. Aunty Rose and Uncle Wayne bought this place years ago,” Gary said.         

 Gary unlocked the cottage and went in. Robbo followed behind and said, “Wow, this place is nice.”

Gary said, “Yeah it is. I have been here before actually. I came here after you went back out to Afghanistan, when I was off on compassionate leave for a week, and it really helped me to relax.”

“Well, let’s get the stuff in and get that fire going, so we can start to have some fun,” Robbo said.


Tom and Ben were pulling up outside Tom’s Mum’s building. Tom let himself into the building and headed up to his Mum’s flat.

Tom walked over and opened the door and walked in and shouted, “Mum.”

Tom walked into the kitchen and spotted Lucy on the floor and shouted, “Ben, call an ambulance!”

Tom ran over to his Mum and tried to find a pulse.

 Ben rung for the paramedics. He was trying to calm Tom, as he tried to wake his beloved Mum up.

The paramedic arrived and tried to get a pulse but after a little while he said, “sorry sir.”

Tom looked at Ben and collapsed into his arms crying and said, “No! I can’t believe she has gone babe!”

Ben was in tears and said, “She was an amazing lady.”

“Yeah, she was” Tom said.

Ben led Tom over to the settee nearby and sat him down. Ben then went out into the hall,picked up his phone, and scrolled down his list and found Rhys and hit call.

Rhys was at home getting ready to go to work, when his mobile went off. He looked at the screen and saw Ben and answered, “Hi Ben.”

“Hi Rhys mate,” Ben said.

Rhys could tell something was wrong and said, “Is everything ok mate, you sound upset?”

“No mate, it is not. Tom and I found Lucy dead in her flat, and has you can imagine we are in pieces,” Ben said.

“Oh no! Oh shit! I spoke to her yesterday. She was her usual self,” Rhys said.

“Yeah, she was. We spoke to her yesterday as well,” Ben said.

“How’s Tom?” Rhys asked.

“In pieces, mate. I don’t know how he will cope with this, to be honest.”

“Look mate, I am on my way. Ok? I need to contact work and then be down, ok?”

Ben asked ,“Yeah ok, but can you do something for me?”

“Yeah, of course, what?” Rhys said.

“Can you let Jon know? I don’t think it is something I can do on the phone,” Ben said.

“Yeah, of course.”

“Thanks Rhys.”

“Is Jon working today?” Rhys asked.

“Yeah I think so,” Ben said.

“Ok, I will go and fetch him now. You get back to Tom,” Rhys said.

Ben said, “Will do mate, and thanks again.”

“Don’t be daft. We are family,” Rhys said

As per usual, with any sudden death, the police arrived.

Ben walked back in and was speaking to the young pc. Ben walked over and sat down and put his arm round Tom and said, “Rhys is coming down.”

Tom smiled and said, “How did Jon take it?”

“I haven’t told him. I have asked Rhys to do it face to face.”

“Yeah, that would be better,” Tom said.

“Rhys was really upset.”

Tom was holding back tears, but then grabbed Ben and started to cry. Ben was holding Tom. Ben was also crying. He had loved the time they spent with Lucy over the years.

The pc spoke to the paramedics and after being satisfied that no wrong doing had taken place left, leaving Tom and Ben with the paramedic. The ambulance took Lucy to the local hospital so that a post-mortem could be carried out.

Rhys arrived at the hospital, went to ward 5, and walked in to see his nephew Jon, going into one of the side wards. Jon didn’t see Rhys. Rhys went over to see Charge Nurse Helen Barnes and said, “Hi Helen, can I speak to you for a minute please?”

“Yes sure Rhys, is everything ok?”

Rhys took a deep breath and said, “I need you to get cover for Jon. His gran has passed away,” wiping tears from his eyes.

“Oh hell, does he know?” Helen asked.

“Not yet. I have been asked to tell him, but I am struggling with the news myself. Lucy was such a rock for our family,” Rhys said.

“Well, there is no easy way to say it, but he needs to be told.”

“I know. Can you ask him to come in here?” Rhys said.

“Of course,” Helen said.


Helen left and found Jon who was with one of the young soldiers helping him back into bed. Helen walked over and said, “Jon can you come to my office please?”  Helen asked.

“Yeah sure Helen,” Jon said.

Jon walked behind Helen, thinking he had done something wrong, and walked into the door and saw the upset Rhys sat there and said, “What’s happened? Is Dad ok?”

“Yes, Dad is fine. Well not fine, but sit down Jon.”

Jon sat down and went to say something but Rhys stopped him and said, “sorry mate, but your gran has died. Tom and Ben found her this morning.”

Jon looked at Rhys and broke down and said, “Why does this always happen to me?”

Rhys grabbed Jon and said, “Come on. We need to be strong for your Dad.”

Just then, Greg ran through the door and grabbed Jon and said, “I am so sorry babe. Your gran was such a nice lady.”

“Yeah, I know she wasn’t my real gran, but she was to me and I will miss her,” Jon said.

Rhys said, “Shit. I need to let Matthew know.”

Shaun, who had arrived with Greg said, “Don’t worry, I will do it.”


Matthew was in his office at the base, when his assistant, Darren, walked in and said, “Shaun on the phone for you.”

“Thanks mate,” Matthew replied.

Matthew said, “Morning Dad.”

“Hi son,” Shaun replied smiling.

“Is everything ok? You sound upset.”

“There is no easy way to say this, but granny Lucy has died son ,” Shaun said with tears rolling down his face.

“Oh hell no. When did that happen?” Matthew asked.

“Overnight, we think son. Dad and I, and Jon and Greg are going to go down to give Tom and Ben some support,” Shaun said.

“Well, give them my love. I will try and get away for a visit as well,” Matthew said.

“Ok son,” Shaun said.

“See you soon, Dad” Matthew said wiping the tears away.

“Ok bye,” Shaun said ringing off.


Matthew felt the tears rolling down his face and sat there thinking of all the help Lucy had given him over the years, even though she wasn’t his actual gran, she was the nearest thing he had to a grandmother. Matthew sat there for a few minutes and then picked up the phone and rung home. Jess Taylor had just arrived home from her shift at the local hospice, and was in the kitchen cooking dinner for her and Matt, when the phone rang.

“Hello,” Jess answered.

“Hi gorgeous,” Matthew said.

Jess asked, “You sound upset what’s wrong?

“Just had Dad Shaun on the phone, granny Lucy has died” Matthew said.

“Oh hell, she was such a nice woman. You ok babe?” jess asked.

“Yeah, I am arranging myself some time off, so that I can go and give Tom some support,” Matthew said.


A few days later


The whole community ground to a halt, as the funeral of long standing member, Lucy Rees, took place at the local parish church, St Pauls. Tom had Ben at his side as he walked down the small village high street, behind the hearse. Behind them was Rhys and Shaun, and they were followed by Matthew in his Army uniform, and Jon and Greg. Bens parents, Joe and Sarah, and Matthew’s wife, Jess, were in a car following.

Alice Bonner, Daffyd, and Brad joined the mourners at the church. Tom was also surprised to see Lady Jayne Dobson, and Jon Dunnet, and Andrew Thompson there.


The local women’s institute had done the flowers in the church, and Tom was happy that they had used his Mum’s favourite flowers, daffodils, in the bouquets.

The Reverend Dominic Allison stood up and said, “Ladies and gentlemen, we are here today to say goodbye to a long standing friend, Lucy Rees. Lucy moved to the village when she married her late husband Daniel, and set up home, where she brought up her much loved son Thomas. Over the years, she has told us all on how proud she was of her son when he was in the Army, and recently with his work with the Royal British Legion”.

“Lucy was a well-known member of the local women’s institute, and was always the first person to volunteer to help at their events, and will be missed by all who knew her.”

Rhys went up and read a reading and then said, “Lucy has been a rock for me. She was there for me when my Mum died, and has helped me through many issues since. She might not have been my real Mum, but in recent years I have looked upon her as my adopted Mum, and my son Matthew looks to her as his gran. Rest in peace, Mum Lucy, and say hi to Dan and Mum for me. Now I ask you all to join us in singing Lucy’s favourite song, “Morning Has Broken.” [click for song]

Tom was in tears as he sang the song.

Tom walked up to the front and said, “I want to thank you all for coming, and saying goodbye to my Mum. Mum has always been there for me, whether through bad times or through good times, I always knew she was there. The proudest moment for me was when we met The Queen for my MBE, and Mum bought a new outfit to go. Two years later, I was awarded the OBE, and when we went back to the palace to collect that, she had a different outfit. When I said to her about it she said, “Well you can’t wear the same outfit twice, when you meet the Queen.”

The mourners laughed


“I will never forget my Mum. She was my rock, like Rhys said, she was always there to tell you straight, if you needed to be told. And heaven help you if you got on the wrong side of her, she soon put you in your place. Now I ask you to listen to a song that my Mum always loved, and would regularly play at her flat, “The Green Green Grass of Home,” by Tom Jones.

Tom walked over to the coffin and placed his hand on top and said, “Love you, Mum.”

Tom stood by Ben, and listened as Tom Jones started to sing.

The reverend stood back up and carried on with the service.


“Now, at the request of the family, we sing a song that was very much Lucy’s favourite hymn, number 27 in the book, “Cwm Rhondda

Ben struggled to sing the song but watched Tom as he sang it perfectly.

Tom was in tears, as the congregation finished singing.

Ben walked forward and said, “I met Lucy many years ago, when I first started to go out with her loving son, Tom, and she and her late husband, Daniel, took me in and treated me not as a son in law, but as another son. Lucy always saw good in people, and liked a quiet life; however, she was very active in local groups, as demonstrated here today. Lucy will never be forgotten in the local area, and will always be my second Mum”

The lads from the local rugby team walked forward and lifted the coffin, and headed out, followed by Tom and Ben, who were closely followed by Jon, Greg, Rhys, Shaun, Matthew, Jess and Ben’s parents. The remaining mourners followed behind.

Tom looked over towards Matthew’s grave, as they walked past headed towards the plot where his Dad was buried a few years earlier.

The whole family, and friends, gathered round as the coffin was lowered into the grave. Tom walked over and dropped some earth, and the red rose he was carrying into the grave and said, “Bye Mum, love you always.”

Rhys walked over next and dropped the rose he was carrying in and said, “Bye Lucy, miss you.”

Jon and Ben then walked over together, and each followed, dropping in some earth and a rose in. Matthew, Shaun, and Greg walked over last and dropped their roses in.

Tom stood there as the mourners all walked round the grave some dropping flowers in. Ben stood by the side of Tom and said, “come on.”

Tom broke down and started to cry, Ben wrapped his arms round his husband and said, “I am here for you babe.”

Tom and Ben walked away from the graveside and both stopped at Matt’s grave. Rhys and Shaun joined them standing there. Matthew and his wife Jess, walked down and walked straight into his mother walking away. She had already spotted Matthew, dressed in his uniform, and was surprised that Rhys had let him join the Army.

Matthew and Jess got into the black car, joining Joe and Sarah, and the car pulled off leaving Susan standing there. Matthew noticed his mother and said to Jess, “Oh, that is my mother, by the way.”

Jess smiled and said, “I was wondering why she was looking at us.”

“Well, she lost her right for me to be civil to her, when she tried to kidnap me when I was 15,” Matt said.

Sarah smiled and said, “Yes, she is a right one.”

Jess smiled and said, “Wow, there is definitely bad blood between you.”

“Yeah, well, she walked out on my life when I was young. And ever since then, she has tried to muscle back into my life, but it isn’t going to happen.”

Tom, Ben, Shaun, and Rhys walked towards the church and Susan stormed over to Rhys and shouted, “Hey, I want a word with you.”

Rhys just looked at her and said, “What you want?”

“What the hell do you think you are doing, allowing my son to join the Army?” Susan asked.

“Well, it wasn’t my first choice, but Matt wanted to join up, and as much as I tried to stop him, he still went to join up,” Rhys said.

“Well, you should have stopped him,” Susan said.

“He is an adult. I can’t stop him doing what he wants to do, and being that he was picked straight away for officer training, I think he has made the right choice,” Rhys said.

“Well, I always knew I should have fought harder for him. He wouldn’t have joined up if I had him,” Susan said.

“Well, he chose not to have contact with you, and then you kidnapped him. So I think you are deluded, if you think Matt would have ever wanted to live with you. Now, if you don’t mind, I need to go. Tom needs me,” Rhys said.

Rhys walked over and got into the other black car, and they headed away back to the local rugby club, where Tom had paid for food to be put on.


Jon and Greg were already there, and were sat with Joe and Sarah, and Greg’s Mum Alice. Matthew and Jess were talking to Lucy’s friends from the flats. Tom and Ben walked in, and Tom sat down next to Jon. Ben sat next to Tom. As the day moved on, Ben could tell it was taking its toll on Tom and said, “You ok babe?”

“Yeah, I am ok babe. But I might go for a walk,” Tom said.

“Yeah, you want me to come?” Ben asked.

“No, I want to be alone for a while,” Tom said.

“Ok, but don’t go too far,” Ben said.

“No, I won’t. I’ll probably go to my usual place,” Tom said.

“Ok babe,” Ben said leaning over and kissing Tom on the cheek.

Tom walked out of the rugby club and headed up the road to his old street. He looked up towards his old family home, and smiled as he saw a young family going into the house. He walked up the path and up the steps towards to the hillside behind.


Tom walked along the path and made it to his usual spot, overlooking the village. He then shouted “Bye Mum! I will always love you!”

He stood there for a while, and then spotted someone walking towards him. He then noticed it was his son Jon.

Jon walked over to his Dad and said, “You ok, Dad?”

“Yeah, I will be son,” Tom said.

Jon hugged his Dad and said,“I will miss her so much.”

“Yeah, I will miss her smile.” Tom said.

“You know, Dad, you have me and Ben, and Ben is really worried about you,” Jon said.

Tom said, “I want you to promise me that when I go, that you will bring me here to be buried with Matthew.”

Jon looked at his Dad and said, “I don’t want to think of that Dad, but I promise you if you want to be buried here, then that will happen.”

“Thanks son,” Tom replied hugging Jon.

Tom said, “Come on, let’s get back.”

Jon and Tom walked back to the flat where Ben was waiting impatiently for his husband.


“You ok, babe?” Ben asked as Tom walked through the door.

“Yeah, I am ok. Thanks babe. I just needed some time to think.” Tom said smiling.

Ben kissed Tom and said, “So what are we doing? Are we going to stay here tonight or are we going home?”

“Well, I thought we would stay here tonight. I don’t fancy driving home,” Tom said.

“Yeah, good idea,” Ben said.

Jon said, “Well Dad, Greg and I are going to stay in the hotel down the road.”

“Ok son. Have Rhys and Shaun gone home?”

“No, they have gone to see Shaun’s Mum, and will stay there tonight. Matt and Jess have gone home, as Matt has got to be back at base tomorrow,” Jon said.

“Ok son, well we will see you in morning. Why don’t we all meet up for breakfast somewhere?” Tom said.

“Ok Dad, we can have breakfast at the hotel,” Jon said.

“Ok, well book us a table for breakfast, but not too early.”

“Ok Dad, I will let you know what time,” Jon said.

“Ok son.” Tom said and leant over and kissed Jon. Ben also gave his son a kiss and said, “See you in morning.”

“Ok Dad,” Jon said, as he left the flat and met up with Greg. The two men headed on foot to the nearby hotel. Jon went to reception and said, “Hi, I have a reservation in the name of Taylor Bonner?”

The receptionist said, “Ok sir, just sign here please?”

“Ok, thank you.” Jon said, signing where indicated and then said, “Oh yeah, nearly forgot. Can I book a table for four for breakfast in the morning? My Dad and his partner will be joining us.”

The receptionist smiled and said, “Ok, that won’t be a problem. What time?”

“Umm, what about 9am?”

“No, that not a problem. A table for four at 9am in the restaurant,” the receptionist confirmed.

“Ok, you are in room 7 sir, just up on the first floor out of the lift, and turn left first door on your right. I hope you enjoy your stay,” the receptionist said.

“Thanks,” Jon said.


Matthew returned to base the next morning and soon was joined by his unit members. Gary had enjoyed his holiday with Robbo, but had come to a big decision. He had already told Robbo, who said he would support Gary in the decision. Matthew was in his office preparing some paperwork, when Gary knocked on the door.

“Hi Gary, come in what can I do for you?” Matt asked.

“Well, I have been thinking about my future a lot recently, and after having a near breakdown recently, I have decided to leave the Army,” Gary said.

“Oh, that is bad news mate. But I do understand, with all the upheaval in your personal life recently, that you need to maybe move on, and maybe that is outside the military, but from my point of view, you will be missed mate. However, at your request, I will start the ball rolling for your terminal leave, mate,” Matt said.

“Thank you, Matt. I just can’t go on kidding myself that I am happy, when I am not. I think leaving and moving on with my life, away from the  Army, is medicine I need,” Gary said.

“So, I can take it that you have told Robbo about this plan?” Matt asked.

“Yeah, he knows. He wasn’t happy at first and tried hard to persuade me to change my mind, but once I told him the reason, he understood and has told me to move on with my life and that he would support me in whatever decisions I make,” Gary said, with a smile on his face.

Matt smiled and said, “Well, he is a good friend and that’s what good friends do mate.”

“Yeah, he is one in a million. He gave up a week of our leave to go away with me, and left James at home,” Gary said.

“That’s our Robbo, putting others first,” Matt said.

“Yeah, but I told him to start looking after himself for a change,” Gary said.

“I can’t see that happening, to be honest,” Matt said smiling.

“No, you know him so well.”

Matt laughed and said, “sure do.”

“Ok Matt, I will leave you get on.”

“Ok mate, I will start the ball rolling straight away. I will let you know when I have the forms ready,”

“Ok Matt” Gary said


Robbo was sat with Jason and Harvey, when Gary walked in, he smiled and said, “So, did you speak to Matt?”

“Yeah, he is going to start the ball rolling. I’m not sure when, but it will be soon,” Gary said.

“Robbo just told us mate, we will miss you around here but it is your life, and you make your own decisions. But promise me one thing, you will stay in touch and join us when we go out on the piss,” Harvey said smiling.

Gary laughed and said, “You try and stop me mate.”

Jason said, “I think you are making the right decision, mate. If your heart isn’t in this job, you have to get out.”

“Yeah, but I am going to miss all of you guys,” Gary said.

Robbo laughed and said, “We’re not planning on going anywhere soon mate, and like I said in Cumbria, you might be a shit, but you are my shit.”

The lads all laughed and Robbo grabbed Gary for a hug.


A week later


Gary was sat in Matt’s office as he signed his terminal leave paperwork.

Gary was now officially a civilian again.

Matt said, “Well Gary, good luck with the future mate.”

“Thank you for all your support, Matt. I don’t think I would have got through Sally’s death without the support of the guys, and for your understanding on how much I needed Robbo with me,” Gary said.

“Hey, only doing my job mate, and as for Robbo, I know you needed the support of your best mate, so it was obvious to me that he needed to be with you,” Matt said.

Gary shook Matt’s hand and then stood and saluted as he left the room.

Matt had organised Harvey to have all the lads on parade as Gary walked out, Harvey called “Attention!”

Matt walked out behind Gary and said, “The lads wanted to say goodbye properly, mate.”

Gary marched to the front of his mates and said, “Guys, goodbye and promise me you’ll look after Robbo and Matthew here. They are two special people I will so miss.”

Robbo had tears in his eyes and walked up front and said, “All I can say is that we may be saying goodbye to Lance Corporal Gary Monk today, but Gary Monk will always be part of my life, and don’t you forget it.”

Matthew stood up in front and said, “Ok, lads lets have three cheers for former Lance Corporal Gary Monk.”

The unit gave three big cheers.

Harvey then shouted, “unit dismissed.”

Gary left the barracks a short time later.


Gary didn’t go home to Birmingham, but straight up to Cumbria. Gary and Robbo had visited an outdoor pursuit centre, when they were up there and Gary had loved the rock climbing and mountain walks he had taken part in. While he was there, he had made friends with the owners and they had told him that they were struggling to get people to work there, as it was remote. This was another reason Gary had decided to quit, as he loved the outdoors and knew this was an ideal new career for him. Gary had taken part in a mountain climbing expedition in Snowdon, for the Army, a couple of years ago and loved it.

Gary arrived at the outdoor centre and walked through the door. He saw a sign saying that due to staff shortages, that the planned mountain walk had to be cancelled. He walked to the desk and rung the bell.

Anthony Green and his partner Jake Downey, had bought the old manor pursuit centre five years ago, after they both left the RAF. They were struggling to keep the business going because it is so remote and a lot of people won’t work so far out. Anthony was a keen horse rider, so he tended to do the pony trekking and trail rides, and Jake is a keen rock climber, so he was kept busy with that side of the business. But the mountain walks side is suffering because more and more people want to use the centres climbing wall, and go rock climbing. Recently several mountain walks have had to be cancelled because there wasn’t anyone to do them.

Jake had hoped that a young Army guy they had spoken to recently might come through, after he told them that he wanted to get out of the Army and that he would love to do something like this. They hadn’t heard anything from him since, so they thought that he had decided to go somewhere else.


Jake was preparing for another session with a group of inexperienced rock climbers. The group were from London, and were staying in a nearby hostel. Jake was in his office, decided on which climbing wall to use, as they have three, and he decided to use the easier one. He was just about to head out to get the ropes sorted, when the desk bell rang.

Jake walked through the door and was surprised to see the young Army guy standing there.

Jake smiled and said, “Hey mate, didn’t think I would see you again.”

Gary smiled and said, “Umm, I was wondering if that offer of a job still stands?”

Jake smiled and said, “Sure does. Why, have you got out then?”

“Yeah, I am finally former lance corporal Gary Monk,” Gary said smiling.

“Well, welcome aboard mate. Boy, don’t we need you,” Jake said.

“Yeah, I saw the notice about mountain walks. Why have you had to cancel them?” Gary asked.

“You remember Andy, the guy that took you out on your walk?” Jake said.

“Yeah, he was a good guy, why?” Gary asked.

“Well, he went out for a walk with his mates and fell, and was badly injured, so we haven’t got anyone else to do the walks,” Jake said.

“Thought you did them as well though?” Gary asked.

“Yeah, I do but the climbing season is in full swing, and I am busy with that and Tony is busy with the horse riding side, so mountain walks has had to be stopped,” Jake said.

“Well, not now. I can do some of the walks, but I will need to be shown the best ones, so I know where to take people,” Gary said.

“Sounds like a plan. So when can you start?”

“Well, how about now?” Gary said

“Well ok. Let me contact Tony and we will sort out your paperwork mate,” Jake said.


A few weeks later


Gary was now settled into life in Cumbria. He was living fulltime at the cottage, and loving taking people up the mountains on walks. The centre was getting really busy, and Andy had finally returned to work but wasn’t taking the mountain walks, for the time being, but was helping Jake with the climbing wall work.

Gary’s Mum, Jackie, has visited him, and was really happy to see her son was getting back to his old self. Gary was missing Robbo, but they stayed in touch with regular emails and Skype. The lads were out in Cyprus, for a training exercise at the moment, so they haven’t been able to visit.

Tom returned to work at the Legion, and was now in the thick of it again. As one case was sorted, more and more came in. The Legion still haven’t found a suitable replacement for Jon Dunnet yet, so Tom’s workload was getting bigger and bigger.

Tom was sat at his desk, when Andrew Thompson came in and said, “Lady Jayne on line one for you.”

“Thanks Andrew,” Tom said.

“Morning, Jayne.”

“Morning, Tom. I have some good news for you,” Lady Jayne said.

“Oh, what’s that?”

“We finally got a replacement for Jon Dunnet,” Lady Jayne replied.

“About time too. So who we getting and when are they starting?” Tom asked.

“Someone you know well, and we have been trying to persuade to join us for a while,” Lady Jayne replied.

“Oh ok, so who is it?” Tom asked.

“Retired Colonel Paul Dexter,” Lady Jayne said.

“Oh wow, now that is a shock. I didn’t even know he had left the Army,” Tom said.

“Well, he hasn’t yet, but he has put in to leave,” Lady Jayne said.

“Oh, Paul is a great guy, and what will be strange is that he was my first boss when I joined the Army FSU,” Tom said.

“Yeah, I knew that, and he knows you will be his boss,” Jayne said.

“So, when will Paul be here?” Tom asked.

“In about three weeks, if that ok,” Jayne replied.

“Oh, I am sure Andrew and I can cope until then,” Tom said.

“Oh, by the way, we also have a new recruit coming, someone else you know, I believe,” Jayne said.

“Oh, who?” Tom asked.

“Former Corporal Todd Matthews,” Jayne said.

“Wait. Todd? Why has he left the Army?” Tom asked.

“Well, it is not out of choice. He is one of the people they are making redundant, and he is devastated. It was Nick Green who contacted me directly to see if we had a place for him, and I knew on how well you rated him, so I jumped at the chance,” Jayne said.

“I bet Nick is not happy. Todd is the best administrator I ever worked with, and will be a great addition to our team,” Tom said.

“He will be there tomorrow morning. He left the Army last week,” Jayne said .

“It will be great to have the old team back together,” Tom said smiling.

“He will be taking cases on just like all the operatives; however, maybe he can help you with your admin as well,” Jayne said.

“Yeah, I hate admin.”

“You telling me? I have seen your filing system,” Jayne said laughing.

“Ok, I take the hint,” Tom said laughing.

“Anyway Tom, I will let you get on and I will be there to see you on Friday,” Jayne said.

“Ok Jayne, I will see you then,” Tom said.


The next morning


Tom arrived at the Royal British Legion headquarters early, and went up to his office and started to go through the huge backlog of paperwork on his desk. Andrew had taken some of the paperwork over while Tom was off, but a lot of it was just filed onto Tom’s desk until he returned.

Tom started to make a small headway into the backlog, when over the Tannoy came a call, “Tom Rees to reception please.”

Tom went down to the reception and spotted Todd standing there.

“Hi Todd, welcome to the Royal British Legion military support unit,” Tom said.

“Thanks Tom,” Todd replied.

“Right, let’s show you where your office is,” Tom said.

Todd followed Tom around to the main office. Tom said, “Right Todd, that’s your desk there mate, you will share this room with Andrew Thompson, my number two, and our other new recruit, Paul Dexter, when he joins us in a couple of weeks.”

“What? THE Paul Dexter??” Todd asked.

“Yeah, he is going to be here in about three weeks,” Tom said.

“So, what duties will I have?”

“Well, you will be assisting on cases. I don’t know if you heard, but my Mum died recently, and I have been off on leave for a while, so I have come back to a ton of paperwork, and I need someone to help me with some admin,” Tom said.

Todd laughed and said, “so, I take it your admin is a bad as it used to be then.”

“You know me so well,” Tom said laughing.

“Ok well, you know me and admin. I love it,” Todd said smiling.

Todd was soon making headway through the files on Tom’s desk. He sorted out the stuff that needed Tom to sign, and filled the rest into the filling cabinet. Todd also tidied the cabinet up, and removed a lot of older files from it and said, “Is there anywhere we can store these?”

Tom said, “Umm, there is a room down the hall which we are supposed to keep the older files, but that is a tip, and it will take months to sort out.”

Todd smiled and said, “Ok, show it to me.”

Tom laughed and said, “This way.”

Todd spotted the sign, “Files authorised personnel only,” on the door.

Tom opened the door and switched the light on. Todd gasped, as he saw piles and piles of files, just piled up on the floor. “Oh my god,” Todd said.

“I did tell you,” Tom said.

“Why has this been allowed to get in this mess? What if you needed an old file for something?” Todd asked.

“Beats me, this room has been like this since I have been here, and as you could tell, I have never put anything in here.”

Just as Todd and Tom were speaking, Lady Jayne walked past and said, “What the hell?”

“I was just showing Todd the filling room,” Tom said.

“Yeah, I can see that, but what is all this mess?” Jayne asked

“Well, to be honest Jayne, this room has been in this state since I came here. I know Jon and myself don’t use it,” Tom said.

“Well, it will need to be sorted. We have top brass from the Legion coming here next week, and they definitely cannot see this room in this mess,” Jayne said.

Todd looked at Jayne and said, “Well, if you get someone to give me a hand, I am sure by next week I will soon have this room in shipshape.”

“Well, I am sure if Tom can spare you, and maybe Jon lets you have his new recruit, Shane, for a couple of days, you two should be able to sort it. But when it is done, it mustn’t be allowed to get in this mess again,” Jayne said.

“Believe me, it won’t,” Todd said smiling.

Tom laughed and said, “The head administrator as spoken.”


Todd and Shane Willis soon were in the thick of it. Some of the files in the room went back years, and Todd basically used a conference room next door to dump and the stuff from the floor, while he sorted out the drawers and cabinets. Shane was enjoying the work, going through the files and placing them in new blue covers, with the name rank and year on them, while Todd sorted through the junk in the room.

Todd had bought a shredder, to shred anything that wasn’t needed, and also got a friend of his to put up some shelving units.

It took a few days, but finally the files were all back in the room, neatly filed in date order and the cabinets were colour coded. Blue files for completed cases and red for on-going and yellow for current cases.

Todd also had a lock put on the door, and put a notice on the door to get access, please see Todd Matthews.

Gavin and Dean were at Heathrow airport, awaiting their flight to Sydney via Singapore. Both lads were really nervous about the flight. Gavin’s younger brother, Richie, was with them. Their flight was called and the three lads headed towards the gate. They were soon on their plane and were nervously waiting for the plane to take off. It was the first time either of them on been on a plane since coming home injured from Afghanistan. Richie, however, was taking it all in his stride. He had recently come back from a lads holiday to Magaluff, but this was his first time on a long haul flight.

The flight took off without a hitch, and soon Gavin and Dean were relaxing. The flight landed a few hours later in Singapore, and the lads got off. They were staying overnight and joining another flight onward to Sydney tomorrow morning. They arrived at their hotel and checked in. Richie had his own room, and Gavin and Dean shared. They went out later and enjoyed the sights of Singapore and headed back to their hotel.

The next morning, the lads arrived at the airport and joined their connection to Sydney. This time the lads were more relaxed and sat there chatting, while the aircraft taxied onto the runway. Gavin was reflecting on how much his life has changed, since he met Tom, and was really looking forward to seeing his older brother and his nephew again.

A couple of hours later, and the flight landed at Sydney airport. After clearing immigration, the lads walked through the door and heard, “Uncle Gavin, Uncle Richie,” and spotted an excited three year old waving at them. Gareth was smiling, and ran over and hugged his brothers and hugged Dean and said, “It is great to see you guys.”

Gavin had picked up Dylan and was ruffling his hair and said, “God, you have grown since I last saw you.”

Gavin carried Dylan, as the four men left the terminal and headed to Gareth’s car. They all piled into his suv, and headed towards the house that Gavin and his wife Hannah owned.

Gavin was looking around as Gareth drove down a small drive and stopped outside a nice house. “Wow, you live here?” Gavin said smiling.

“Yeah, my in-laws bought it for us as a wedding present,” Gareth said smiling.

A weary Gavin, Dean, and Richie walked through the door to see a smiling Hannah standing there. “Hi lads. You ok?” Hannah asked.

“It’s been a long day,” Gavin said.

“Why don’t you guys go and freshen up, while we get the grill fired up?” Gareth said.

“Sounds like a plan. Where are we staying?” Gavin asked.

“Well, you and Dean are through here,” Gareth said showing Gavin and Dean a room on its own, in what looked like an old garage. “Richie, you are staying in the second guest room upstairs, mate. The second door off the landing, mate. The bathroom is the next door,” Gareth said smiling.

“Ok bro, thanks,” Richie replied and carried his suitcase upstairs.


The lads soon freshened up and Dean and Gavin were in their room. Gavin heard voices coming from the patio. Gavin looked out and saw a group of people all standing there talking. Gavin spotted Richie was already out there an said, “Come on. We better go and join them, or they will come looking for us.”

“Yeah,” Dean said.

Gavin and Dean went out through the patio door, off their bedroom, out onto the patio, and Gareth smiled and said, “Here they are.”

“This is my brother, Gavin, and his partner Dean,” Gareth said smiling.

“Guys, this is my father in law Jeff, and his wife Laura,” Gareth said.

“Hi, pleased to meet you,” Gavin said.

“Yes, you too, young man. We have heard a lot about you from your brother,” Laura said smiling.

Hannah walked over, with a young man with shaggy blonde hair, dressed in a yellow t-shirt and black board shorts and said, “Guys, this is my younger brother, Brad.”

“Hi, pleased to meet you, mate,” Gavin said.

“Yeah, you too mate,” Brad replied.

Richie was talking to another lad and Gavin said, “Who is Richie talking to?”

Hannah smiled and said, “That’s my nephew, Jaden.”

“Jaden lives with us. He is in university, here in Sydney, and my brother and his wife live out in the bush,” Hannah said.

“Oh, so you have two brothers then?” Dean asked.

“No, three brothers and a sister,” Hannah said.

“Darren, Jaden’s Dad, lives with his wife out in the bush, where he is a doctor,” Hannah said.

“Oh ok,” Gavin said.

“My other brother, Jamie, lives with his partner Sam, in Adelaide. My sister Kathryn, lives with her husband and children in New York,” Hannah said.

“So, you have a big family then?” Dean said.

“Yeah, and spread around as well,” Gavin said.

“We don’t get to see each other much,” Hannah said.

“So how about you, Brad. What do you do?” Gavin asked.

Brad smiled and said, “I am in college, and I surf and help out as a lifeguard at the local beach.”

“Cool, I haven’t surfed in a long time,” Dean said.

“What, you surf?” Gavin asked.

“Yeah, I used to all the time, but since the incident, I haven’t” Dean replied.

“Well, maybe we can go surfing tomorrow?” Brad said.

“That would be so cool,” Dean said.

Hannah laughed and said, “Looks like Brad and Jaden have a new recruit to the surfers.”

Gavin laughed and said, “Well, Richie and Jaden seem to be hitting it off.”

“Yeah, I am glad. Jaden is a bit of a loner and maybe someone his own age might get him out of his shell,” Hannah said.

“Yeah maybe,” Dean said.

The lads were enjoying the BBQ and soon watched as the sun started to set.



Back in the UK


Jess and Matt came home from the local doctor’s surgery, and were ecstatic with the news they had just had. Jess was pregnant with their first child. Matt picked up the phone and tapped in Rhys’s number.

Rhys and Shaun were  enjoying a rare day off together. It doesn’t happen very often, and when it does, they usually make the most of it. Today they had been in their garden, sorting out the weeds. Rhys was out in the garden when his phone rang.

“Hi son,” Rhys said.

“Hi Dad. I have some news for you,” Matt said.

“You sound happy son,” Rhys said.

“Yeah, I am granddad,” Matt said.

Rhys said, “Wait a minute. What?”

“Just had the news I am going to be a Dad,” Matt said.

“Oh wow. Oh my god. That is great news, son” Rhys said.

Shaun walked out of the patio door and saw his husband with a huge smile on his face.

“So, when is she due son?” Rhys asked.

“Umm, October,” Matt said.

Shaun walked over and said, “When’s who due?”

Rhys smiled and handed the phone to Shaun

“Hello,” Shaun said.

“Hi Dad,” Matt said.

“Oh shit. I am too young to be a grandfather,” Shaun said laughing.

Matt laughed and said, “Well you better get used to it.”

Shaun said, “Congratulations son. You will be a great Dad.”

“Thanks Dad,” Matt said.

Shaun handed the phone back to Rhys who then said, “You need to tell a certain adopted uncle.”

“Yeah, I will ring Tom next Dad,” Matt said.


Tom was at his office when the phone rang. Todd answered it and said, “Good morning, Captain. How are you?”

“I am fine, Todd. How are you mate? Enjoying being a civilian?” Matt asked.

“Well, it wasn’t out of choic. But yeah I am now. I love this job, so it isn’t as bad as it could have been,” Todd replied.

“That’s good, is Tom available?” Matthew asked.

“Yes of course he is. I will put you through,” Todd said.

Todd walked into Tom’s office and said, “Captain Taylor on the phone for you, Tom.”

“Thanks Todd,” Tom said.

“Afternoon Matthew. What do I owe this pleasure of my favourite nephew ringing me?” Tom asked.

Matthew laughed and said, “You silly sod. Actually, it’s a social call. I thought you like to know that you’re going to be a grand uncle.”

“Oh wow, congratulations. I bet your Dad is ecstatic,” Tom said.

“Well, yeah he is. Shaun reckons he is too young to be a granddad,” Matthew said laughing.

“Well, he is going to be, so he hasn’t got a choice. I just wish my Mum was alive. She would have been over the moon like I am,” Tom said.

“Yeah she would have been knitting for months.”

“That, she would have,” Tom said.

“So, when’s the baby due?” Tom asked.

“October,” Matthew replied.

“So, you’ve a little while to prepare then,” Tom said.

“Yeah, but we are due to be redeployed to Afghanistan by then. I just hope I am home for the birth,” Matthew said.

“Well, that can be difficult, but I am sure you will be fine mate,” Tom said.

“Yeah I hope so,” Matthew said.

“Well, I will let you get back to it, Tom. I wanted to let you know before the bush telegraph,” Matthew said laughing.

“Yeah, thanks and congratulations again,” Tom said.

“Thanks Tom,” Matthew said.

Tom put the phone down on Matthew, and started to tap in Coldbrooke Halls number.

Alice picked the phone up and said, “Good afternoon, Royal British Legion Coldbrooke Hall, Alice Bonner speaking.”

“Hi, Alice. Is Ben available please?” Tom asked.

“Umm, he is with a client. Can I get him to phone you back, Tom?” Alice asked.

“Yeah sure. Tell him to ring me at work, but tell him nothing is wrong,” Tom said.

“Will do,” Alice said.


Ben rang back around half an hour later

“Hi babe,” Ben said.

“Hey gorgeous,” Tom said smiling.

“Alice said you rang?”Ben asked.

“Yeah. I have some news.  Rhys is going to be a grandfather,” Tom said.

“Oh that’s great news. I bet they are happy,” Ben said.

“Well, I haven’t actually spoken to them, but Matthew said that Shaun told him he was too young to be a granddad,” Tom said laughing.

“I  bet he did,” Ben said.

“Matt will be a fantastic Dad,” Ben said.

“Yeah, he sure will. I wonder if he will tell his mother?” Tom asked.

“Doubt it,” Ben said.

 “Anyway, I have to let Jon know. I’ll see you later babe,” Tom said.

“Yeah, should be home around 6,” Ben said.

“Ok babe,” Tom said.




  So we end this chapter on some good news.......


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