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Measure Twice Cut Once…. Lives Under Threat | by Dominus Owen Markham | Oct, 2023

Lives Under Threat

Photo by Miles Burke on Unsplash

Back in the day, I am talking about the ’80s, whilst serving in the Royal Air Force Police in Germany, my duties encompassed a 500 square kilometre patch of both military homes and civil roads (incidentally I am now classed as the “new 40’s” so don’t get hung up on how old I am or the reality of how young I feel lol).

This was a period of time when the IRA Terrorist threat was high and part of our everyday lives. We had special military-issue mirrors to check under our vehicles for potential bombs, something we did every time we entered a vehicle, much like you would ensure your seat belt was on.

Incidents related to terrorist activity, or raised suspicion of such, were very common back then.

Getting calls to suspect IED’s (Improvised Explosive Devices) was part of an average day on duty. Times when someone placed their briefcase down whilst they checked their car and then set off for work forgetting the briefcase…naturally a solitary package, container or briefcase in the vicinity of military dwellings was treated as a concern.

One night, whilst on duty patrolling our patch, my oppo and I were tasked with checking out a vehicle parked not far from the perimeter fence of the main base.

What we saw was a VW Camper van, with no lights and no immediate evidence of any occupants.

On running a vehicle plate check, which went through the German Police network, they responded that it was a plate for a red Toyota. At this point, you start to be a little edgy about things.

We communicated back to the German Police what we were actually looking at, it being a green VW Camper…they immediately sent a procession of officers, with a deal of additional firepower on board (much like us, at that time, the police were always “live armed” anyway).

So, this dormant vehicle became surrounded by our highly trained and intensely focused array of armed up-to-gunnel operatives, all with licences to apply “reasonable force” should the incident require.

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