Yes I would never fish again. I had a phobia.
Most of our patrols would be quite routine, except for river crossings and returning to base at dusk before stand-to time. We would moved in single file, stopped to rest and camped for the night, covering map square to map square. Returning to base required extra care for identification and not moved into our own booby traps primed for the night.
Patrolling with the Commandos would be a bit more adventurous. The Commandos would catch fish using their bulky M36 hand grenades. The mini grenades came into service in the seventies. My FOO team also carried the M36s.
On one of my frequent patrols with the Commandos, they had expired all their M36s fishing. Ammunition accounting was never an issue. There were always abundant ammo, 7.62mm, 9mm, claymores and M36s.We either returned them the ammo dump for storage or use them. No need to explain for usage or shortage. However there would be a control factor for our 105mm ammo due to logistics. We have to keep a minimum amount of HE and smoke rounds in the gun position and request for replenishments when needed to top up. Bringing ammo up to the gun position often gave a problem to the BK. We would have to request for additional assault boats and ammo fatigue parties. Sometimes we would use the Alloutte helis for ammo replenishments.
I could not disappoint the patrol. We had to have fish for extra messing. My FOO team had six M36 between us. Yes I would use mine to fish. I had seen them do it. Just toss it into the river and call out …grenade.
We were at a shallow and narrow river with mud banks on both sides. I informed the Commandos that I was preparing to use my M36. I was near the water edge. All took reasonable distance away from me and the river. I pulled out the M36 plug pin and called out… grenade. I was actually quite excited as I had never thrown a life grenade since cadet days. But it had seems easy enough, pull the pin and toss as hard and as far as possible, look if you dare, but dive and hit the ground. We would have a long seven seconds for all that. But it was not to be in this case. You don’t throw as hard and as far. You throw into the middle of the river.
I threw my M36, called out grenade, and watched it fall into the far bank on the mud. Not into the middle of the river. My heart stopped and I literally froze, mouth opened, no sounds left I presumed. It happened so fast, seven seconds is fast I assure you. I went blank and I suppose I hit the ground for cover with my instinct. There was a loud explosion and I felt the splinters over my head and shattering the mangrove trees behind me.
My patrol did not need any enemy with me around. We were all shell shocked, but regained our composure quickly. Luckily there were no casualties. I felt bad, apologized to all and swore I would never throw another grenade again. Our Commando officer calmly said that we would like to eat fish and not frogs, so try to throw the grenade into the water next time and not on the bank. I would never want to carry another grenade again for the rest of my career.
I had learnt my lesson and this had caused a phobia until today. I never fished again. Not even using another ingenious method I had learnt from the Armoured Corp. But that’s another story for later. Lets give the fish a fighting chance, as if being blown to bits by the M36 wasn’t enough.