GUNNERS TOO ARE HUMAN – PART V

I have recounted to you many tales about Gunners; an endless topic of mirth and bewilderment with me.

Tha Gunner’s world in the Indian Navy is shaken sometimes whilst trying to keep pace with the technological changes; eg, when the Gunners shifted focus from guns to missiles and stole the thunder from the ASW (Anti Submarine Warfare) guys.

The Army guys already know that we, in the Navy, don’t stomp our feet in the Navy; we are convinced that banging feet would sink the ships and leave nothing to work for with our enemies. Whilst saluting too, we don’t take our right hand in a wide arc away from the body, up to the eyebrow; but we take it through the shortest path along the upper body. There is not adequate space on the ships for the army styled wide arc.

Another earth-shaking (or not so earth shaking really) in the Gunner’s world was brought about to ensure that whilst in savdhan (attention) and marching, we would have fingers clenched from second knuckle. Now, this took enormous time to implement since the natural way to clench the fist is from the main knuckles.

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We were Acting Sub Lieuts when this was implemented. We were in Gunnery School and we dreaded being there because fierce looking GIs (Gunnery Instructors) (all of them, without doubt, the descendants of Genghiz Khan) could check you any time including during stand easy (tea-break) periods. At one time, the GIs were marching in a squad and still kept on correcting us, “Sir, ensure fingers clenched from second knuckle, tummy in, chest out, look straight, look smart” etc.

The repeated instructions about fingers clenched from second knuckle made us have nightmares; some of us who were corrected often, even slept with fingers so clenched.

One such person was my course mate PC. The regular screaming of the GIs had profound effect on him. He even put his hands in his pocket with fingers clenched from second knuckle and had enormous difficulty in taking out change, for example, for his bus fare.

One day, he was walking from South Wardroom to Gunnery School and he encountered Master Chief GI Yadav, his bete noire. Yadav saluted him. PC was so ruffled by Yadav’s presence and smartly executed salute that he saluted back with fingers clenched from second knuckle!

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