Getting the Goat…
Conversation here in the office often can get a bit “sandbaggy”. This is when we tell our respective “war stroies” about things we’ve done in different jobs in the past, and I was reminded of a story that happened on a detachment back in the 1990’s.
We were over in Wittmund on a Tactical Air Meet. There were several nations of NATO countries there, UK, USA, Germany, Spain, Holland, Portugal, Denmark…and probably a few others.
Anyway, the best thing about this det was the social side of the deployment. It was actually based at Javer (where beer lovers will recognise a brewery making Javer Pils) where there was a sponsored beer tent, but our accommodation was in Wittmund. Several other nations also had stayed on that base too.
After having a few beers in the tent, we hit the town and, again in the spirt of international union and friendship several groups of different nations decended on a bar in the middle of town. Songs were sung. Beer was drank. Friendships were made.
It was a themed bar with lots of (for want of a better word) toys – dolls, nik-naks, cars and so forth – all about the building. We called it the Noddy Bar because of a small Noddy car that was one of the center-piece displays hanging from the ceiling.
And there was also a goat. A paper-mache goat. Life-size. Which stood by the door.
It would have made a great “gizzit” for our squadron bar back home.
An excellent gizzit.
The Lineys stole it. They distracted the bar staff by dropping a load of drinks and making a fuss and someone else did a runner with the goat under his arm.
And the bar went mad! The owner of the bar had a real fit. She hopped up and down and screamed and threw everyone out of the bar! We all moved on, or else drifted off home.
The goat made it back to the block we were using on base and was hidden under a bed.
Next day, the whole detachment (some 40-odd people) were called together for a briefing. The Detachment Commander – a lovely chap, who’s name I clearly remember but don’t want to use as he is still in the RAF – and in quite a senior post now – gave us a briefing.
“It’s about the goat” he began.
“I am not blaming YOU, but if anyone of you has got this bloody goat, then if you take it back nothing more will be said. The owner of the bar…her husband is something big on station here and she is not happy, and so HE is not happy. It’s got the potential to be an international incident. Each nation here has been told to breif their troops with the same message. Give the goat back.”
One of the Lineys spoke. “I saw the Yanks crowding round the goat last night.”
“No,” said another “I think they were Canadians.”
“Nooooooo, it was the Cloggies. You know the Dutch, they’re right animals when they’ve had a beer.”
“Wasn’t it the Belgians?”
And so it went on. Every other nation with aircraft there were mentioned as possible offenders for stealing the goat.
Apart from ourselves of course.
Needless to say the Goat didn’t get returned and the day we were to fly home we all sat on a bus waiting to get on the C-130. With a blanket over the goat. And when the Loadmaster signalled for us to get on board, we ran across the pan with our bags…and of course the goat under one mans arm.
It made it back to Base without incident and right away it was installed in OUR squadron bar. By the door.
Each beercall the Goat was toasted by the groundcrew, and those of us who’d been on the det were hailed as heroes. And the tradition grew that the Goat be tapped on its head as people entered the bar. BUT the only people who could actually tap the head of the goat were those who’d been on the det when it had been…errr…liberated.