We had less than a week left from that four very long months in Castelnaudary.
The platoon organized more and more drinking parties as we approached to the end of our journey. I think I was the less fit during my whole career during those days. No sport, but lots of alcohol.
We finished to clean the last radios, arranged everything correctly back in the store and got the whole afternoon to do our bags. Except that we didn’t need at all 4 hours to prepare for leaving, so guess what the next step was.
We started to drink
around 4PM and the biggest part of the platoon got drunk until dinner. While you are in Castel on a training, you have to eat in the canteen if your platoon chief subscribed you (or you asked to be subscribed in a normal case). I don’t know why, but we always had to go and eat there or sign the paper at least in Castel’s Michelin starred restaurant.
The problem was, that some guys couldn’t even have gone downstairs on their own. Nott to speak about marching 500 meters and singing in the same time. The German corporal arrived to the assembly area with a 2 meters long pile that he used to empty beer cans while lying in his bed. We were marching and singing (as catastrophically as probably nobody else before) through the regiment in formation.
Our only chance was
that the sergeant who led us left the Legion a few weeks later and didn’t care about anything. We arrived to the canteen, but went directly to the snack bar. During the basic trainings we weren’t allowed to eat there. We could order pizza two times, if I remember well, but once you finished you do whatever you want. The food isn’t the best, but the beer is cheap, so it compensates a bit.
I don’t remember very well how we managed to go back in time for the “appel”. The next day I was in a very bad shape, so I was just nodding when the platoon chief communicated my appreciation. He told me that at the beginning he didn’t think that I’m gonna finish the training, but at the end I became much better.
Much better, I don’t know
but I already understood almost everything when somebody was talking to me in French. At the end of each long training in Castel, the chief of the Operations and Instructions Office (Bureau d’Opérations et d’Instruction – BOI) gives the results on the regimental assembly area. For my biggest surprise, I finished 6th of 24.
I even overtook some French speakers
so I was satisfied. Some legionnaires will say, that your final score doesn’t count anywhere, but it wasn’t my case…
We arrived back to the 5th companies building, the platoon chief said goodbye and wished that next time we’ll see each other somewhere abroad. We went up to the room to pick up our stuff when a friend of mine discovered that somebody stole his brand new phone from the table… The problem is that you can’t do anything in a situation like this. You are about to leave and your chiefs are no longer interested in your trouble.
So we left Castel with a bitter taste than we thought, but I was still happy to be able to leave and that I won’t come back for a while. I discovered a week later, that “for a while” meant 4 weeks…