Title: Playing Soldiers
Author: Peter Cooper
Size: 230mm x 160mm, 340 pages
ISBN: 978-0-620-60162-7 (print)
One man’s humorous account of service life in a now forgotten era.
Playing Soldiers is Major Cooper’s personal reminiscence of military life, spread over more than forty years and recounting the author’s experiences in four different armies. Written in a light-hearted, humorous style it recalls some of the now long forgotten aims and ideals strived for and the conditions experienced in times now past.
The author begins his story as a raw teenager who underwent tough recruit training in the Brigade of Guards, living in Dickensian conditions in an age long before political correctness was conceived and describes this experience in a series of amusing anecdotes. He subsequently found himself on ceremonial Public Duties in London; character-building stuff for an eighteen-year old.
After service in Libya and Egypt during the Suez crisis, plus a short posting back to the “mad house” at Caterham as an instructor, he eventually left the Grenadiers with the rank of sergeant. These formative years were to stand him in good stead for a later military career.
His next move was to Central Africa where he served in the Federal and later Rhodesian armies. The following twenty-four years brought their share of comical situations and ultimately included the period of UDI and the “Bush War”. Moving up through the ranks to RSM and later commissioned officer he was appointed Training Officer of the highly experienced and operationally successful Rhodesian Light Infantry, finding himself as a novice parachutist at the age of forty-six!
Major Cooper’s military journey ends with a stint in the South African Defence Force where he served in the S.A.Infantry and later commanded a Commando Force unit. These appointments produced more funny and embarrassing situations.
Playing Soldiers is not the more usual account of military actions but rather attempts to record one man’s humorous look at service life as he experienced it.
Concurrent with his Commando service the author worked for African Explosives and Chemical Industries in Natal, RSA from where he retired as Security Manager of its Umbogintwini Complex in 1999 and now lives at Kommetjie on the Cape Peninsula.
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