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on 3 November 2011
Warrant Officer T Halliday (Retd)
Royal Air Force Regiment 1959-1983

The book is pleasant and easy to read with no boring name dropping,
endless acknowledgements or technical jargon.

The story starts at the beginning with a young man joining the Royal Air
force where he learns the ropes at RAF Swinderby. He moves on to join
the RAF Regiment at Catterick. Some of the hilarious single minded
escapades carried out by him during his basic training leaves the reader
to wonder how he ever managed to pass out. The powers that be must have
seen the funny side.
He tells the true story of the of an airman called Matt (in reality the
author). The written detail explaining where he is in Singapore,
Butterworth, Hong Kong, Germany, Northern Ireland and other places in
the world makes the reader feel as though they are actually there. The
chapters tempt you to move on, turning the pages to see where Matt is
off to next.
This book will appeal both to the military, and non-military readers. It
is a great read with its share of dangerous situations, sadness but
mainly pleasant stories.
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on 28 October 2011
Through the 290 pages, John C Harriss has done an intriguing job of
describing the life of a professional soldier (Matt) which in reality
is the author's story of his own 24 years in the Royal Air Force
Regiment. The book takes the reader from his entry into Her Majesty's
service right through four of five theatres of operations, which
includes the Far East and Northern Ireland. The author provides a
detailed account of military activities in these theatres and an
in-depth analysis of their successes and failures. Woven throughout
are many humorous anecdotes of the author's personal military
experiences. It provides the reader with an insight into the workings
of one of Britain's finest fighting forces, the Royal Air Force
Regiment. This book will appeal both to the military, and
non-military reader. It is an easy read and relatively free of
military or technical jargon - a real page turner!
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on 29 October 2011
Couldn't put the book down! A gripping read from start to finish following the adventures of a young man through a career of laughter, joy and sadness serving his country in the face of danger. I laughed throughout the book and on reflection I thought there must be thousands of "Matt's" who have contributed to make our country safe... the unsung hero's!
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on 29 February 2012
I am an ex-serviceman myself (R.N. & R.A.O.C.) and only had a vague idea of what the RAF Regiment or "Rock Apes" actually did.
Now I know.

The authors career is presented in an interesting and easy to follow manner.
He covers from joining up to his release 22 years later, and avoids the temptaion to become bogged down in matters outside of his career ( e.g. his obviously bitter divorce).
His style is simple, open and modest.

There are amusing and sad bits, but it is all in bite sized portions that aids the mental digestion of this good book.
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on 19 March 2012
Let's get the interest declared and out of the way. I am recently married to the author's half sister, and we know each other, but met only in the last couple of years. He is a man I instinctively like and respect.
His character shows up well in this book: he is one of those the armed forces are built around. Quite why his bosses allowed his resignation to come about perhaps demonstrates a weakness of the military mind in some cases. Their loss, but also a loss for the taxpayer.
My military involvement has been minimal, thanks to Duncan Sandys, who convinced me there was no future for manned aircraft in the armed forces over 50 years ago. I was in the OTC at University, and enjoyed it. So references to the Lee Enfield IV strike a chord (we thought it was obsolete in 1958!!!), as do various other subtleties. To someone of my generation the book rings lots of bells, and I simply did not want to stop reading it.
However its appeal is surely wider than that: my wife, a South African Boerer Meisie with all the inherited dislike of the UK armed forces (think concentration camps) was fascinated by it, and I had to wait some time to get my hands on it, as we were moving house.
I don't think the personal angle is the only reason for the fascination of this book. I think that it is written in such a way that you feel you are getting to know and like the author as you progress, and also that you are getting an inside story of serious events from someone who was there and was thinking about what he was doing and why he was doing it. We oldies often think that the youngsters have lost the art of balanced perfectionism, of attention to detail, of getting things right because they need to be right, and that they have all too often lost a sense of duty. This book provides some reassurance.
I wish I too had joined up.
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on 17 December 2014
Just finished the book and a very enjoyable book it was. Having passed through Swinderby and St Athans many years after the author I can still relate to some of stories of Basic Training. It's nice to read about a unit like the Regiment and about time they got some well deserved recognition. Great book...
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on 27 May 2013
I knew the author of this book many years ago when I was serving in the WRAF, stationed at RAF St.Athan in 1965. Fascinating to kmow the life and adventures which he had as a rock ape. It was a great read, with some exciting adventures , funny and tragic at times. I wonder what happened to my anorak the author borrowed all those years ago !
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on 22 June 2013
This distinctive style of writing is very different to any I've come across and possibly the way that the author speaks in conversation.
I found it unusual but not detracting from the "adventures"
It is,an amusing and interesting glimpse into real life in the forces.
I didn't want it to end. There should have been more.
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on 27 March 2012
being a woman and knowing nothing about the life in the forces i was pleased i gave the book a go it was interesting to see the life of a young man starting a life in the R A F parts of it were so funny and the scrapes he and his collegues found themselfs in well worth a read
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on 25 January 2013
Having served briefly as a "Rock Ape" but much longer as Royal Artillery Air Defence Gunner I loved this book. It has been great to read about the Bofors 40/70 Gun, about Matador gun tractors et al. It's a pity it is available only on Kindle. I'd love a copy on my bookshelf.
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