On the occasion of his twenty third birthday, Lieutenant James Conrad was dispatched with his Royal SAS unit to fly into a small country called Vietnam. The operation was entitled BRIAM, or British Advisory Mission to South Vietnam. The purpose was to train the South Vietnamese in combat strategies. James considered this new assignment to be as good as a present. Best of all, he was placed in charge of a small division of officers who did the actual training! The problem was, every one of the men in the group were at least a decade older than him.
When the transport plane landed, James met his men and briefed them. He could see that a few of them would be a problem. He stepped near enough to one man to overhear him.
“No worries lads. If he gets too stroppy I’ll offer him a chocolate bar.” The other men laughed at the remark and James, who had heard every word, laughed with them.
“It may take more than one.” He interjected as he stepped up to the group. The men immediately sobered and stood at attention. James waved them down and they relaxed. “You need not worry about me chaps. As long as we get the job done I doubt I’ll be getting stroppy.” He smiled at them, immediately setting them at their ease. “I know I’m a bit young for the job but I hope I can earn your respect as we go along.” This easy going attitude was the perfect first impression and James found as the mission progressed that it served him well. Many of the men remarked on how mature the young officer was and that he was well respected by the unit. He was friendly, but he expected the men to perform their duties. He quickly earned the reputation for being fair minded and efficient. He also earned their respect.
James had prepared for his trip to Vietnam by being debriefed about the burgeoning war between the North and the South. He had also been given a full physical and was declared fit to go. He had been administered several injections to protect him from various diseases. One of those injections had been in his backside, which he had taken with great difficulty. What he hadn’t prepared for was malaria.
Mosquitoes where a way of life for British soldiers. They were frequently dispatched to tropical climates and had long ago become familiar with malaria. James, being of a tender age and having never dealt with this issue, neglected to carry mosquito repellent or anti malarial tablets. When the North Vietnamese Army decided to engage the young Lieutenant’s unit James was already showing signs of illness.
James’ men had noticed that the young officer was pale and sweaty. He smiled and reassured them that he had a hard time with tropical climates. When he was found vomiting behind the barracks, his commanding officer ordered him to the infirmary. He was confined to bed by the medical officer and given medications to combat the illness. The C.O. came to his bed side and scolded him roundly for attempting to fight while ill.
“Young man, if I catch you out of that bed I am going to personally give you a thrashing!”
“Yes sir, I understand.” The shivering, pale faced young officer said weakly. A few of his men came by to visit him and lifted his spirits.
His unit fought the NVA bravely, incurring no losses as they drove them back. James lay desperately ill, a drip in his arm and nurses tending him round the clock. Fortunately, with the combination of good medical care and a fit, strong young body he managed to fight the illness off and survive, having learned his lesson about preparedness.
* * * *
Before being released to active duty, James was called into the Major General’s office. He stood ramrod straight, at attention before the elderly authority figure.
“Well, it’s good to see you on your feet again, Lieutenant Conrad.” He smiled as he walked in a circle around the young officer.
“Yes sir.” James replied crisply.
“The doctor tells me we very nearly lost you.”
“He also told me that, had you come in for treatment when you first realized that you were ill, the risk to your health would have been negligible.”
“Yes sir.” James could see where this was going and his guts began to twist.
“So you knew you were ill and decided to carry on as though nothing were wrong.”
“As a result you nearly died!” The man’s tone was becoming increasingly angry. James gulped.
“How old are you, Conrad?”
“I just turned twenty three sir.”
“Twenty three.” The man repeated, walking in a slow circle around James. “How unfortunate it would have been to lose a capable young officer like you to utter stupidity!” The last bit was an angry growl. James felt his spine stiffen.
“Yes sir.” He replied, growing more and more nervous by the moment. He prayed the man would stop at scolding him.
“This sort of thing cannot be tolerated, Conrad.”
“No sir.” The Major General stopped directly in front of James. He was at least four inches taller and loomed over the young officer menacingly.
“What have you to say for yourself, young man?” There it was. Whenever he heard ‘young man’ he instinctively knew he was for it!
“Speak up, boy!” The man growled angrily.
“I have no excuse sir!” James replied, his voice tight with fear. The older man nodded at him.
“I thought not.” The man sat down on the edge of his desk. “Conrad, I should throw you in the brig for your carelessness but I will refrain from that. It would go on your otherwise spotless record and I don’t want that for you. I am however, inclined to administer a bit of well deserved military discipline.”
“Sir?” James squeaked, unable to get his voice to work.
“ Since I can’t seem to get through that thick skull of yours, I plan to try the other end. I intend to give you a damned good tanning, my boy.”
“A t..tanning sir?”
“That’s right. I’m going to give you a punishment meant to fit your age.” The man stood up and pointed to his desk. “Bend over this desk and grab the opposite edge.” James swallowed hard and obeyed the man. He bent over the desk and stretched his arms out, grabbing the opposite edge of the desk. His bottom was in the perfect position for whatever manner of punishment the elderly soldier planned to administer. The Major General walked to the cabinet and opened it, retrieving a vicious looking rubber soled slipper. James steeled himself, swearing he was not going to cry, no matter how badly it hurt.
“Now hold still and remain in position son. I will make this quick.” That statement by no means comforted James. It only meant that his punishment would be fast and hard! The man took a position behind the young officer and lay one hand on his lower back. James sucked in a lungful of air and braced himself. The man hauled off and began whacking his bottom with the slipper. The swats were rapid fire and stung like blazes! James yelped despite himself. He had to force himself to stay in position as the man spanked him. The sting was so acute it nearly took his breath away!
Ten whacks in, tears sprang from James’ eyes and he found himself crying and yelping like a small child. The rubber sole of the slipper laid thin fire across his bottom and erased every shred of adulthood. It made a hideous popping sound as it was applied.
POP! “OW!” POP! “OW!” POP! “OW!” POP! “OW!” It carried on like this through thirty licks. James’ voice rose to a falsetto squeak. Finally it was over and the young officer lay across the desk, sweating and sobbing, his bottom on fire!
“There, all finished lad.” The man declared, wiping sweat from his own brow. “You may rise.” James slowly stood, holding his wounded backside with both hands, trying desperately to stop crying. This had been and still was, pure hell! His face was red with embarrassment and his bottom felt as though it were still being paddled. He remembered a spanking like this his step father had once delivered. He had been ten years old and this walloping had taken him straight back to that moment.
“There, there. It’s over now.” The man said, offering James a tissue. He took it and dried his eyes. The man gave him another and he blew his nose, trying to straighten up. To his utter astonishment, the man drew him in for a surprisingly warm hug! He stood there, in the arms of his commanding officer, being comforted after a proper hiding. It was all too humiliating for a young man of twenty three! Still, it felt good and he found himself relaxing into the hug. “There, there, young Conrad. There’s a good lad.” The man patted his back and broke the embrace, smiling down at him. “Better?” he asked.
“Ye…Yes sir.” James stuttered, clearing his throat. “I’m sorry sir.”
“You are forgiven my boy. Just learn your lesson. You are a valuable member of this service and you must never take dangerous risks with your health.”
“Yes sir. I will remember.” He said sheepishly, rubbing his burning bottom.
“You are dismissed. I suggest a bit of ice for that stinging backside.” James blushed and smiled.
“Yes sir, Thank you sir.” He said as he left.
James limped back to his barracks, stopping at the latrine on his way. He took the shaving mirror down and dropped his trousers, using the mirror to get a good look at the damage. His bottom was bright reddish purple. He could see the odd pattern of waffle grids from the slipper on his skin. He touched them and hissed. There was no question about sitting down. The Major General had spanked his sit spots raw. He felt tears returning to his eyes and quickly pushed them down. He’s be damned if any of his men saw him crying over a sore bottom from a spanking! He carefully righted his trousers and limped on to his bunk.
No sooner had he eased himself down onto his stomach, the door came open and a handful of men came in.
“Ya alreet then, lad?” Corporal Robson Drawled in his thick Geordy accent. James tried to rise but the pain forbad it.
“Don’t try to get up, Jamie. You’ll only make it worse.” Sergeant Phelps added. James looked at them, blushing.
“It’s alright lad. We heard what the old man did to you. James groaned and flopped back down, wishing he could crawl into a hole somewhere, never to be seen again.
“Now, now. Don’t be embarrassed. It happened to every one of us when we were young.” James smiled up at them.
“Thank you, gents. It was awful.” He groaned.
“Aye. We brung ya a little summit for the pain.” Robson shoved a bag of ice into his hands. Phelps took it from him.
“Shall I do the honours?” He laid the bag of ice carefully across James’ scalded backside. He winced and sucked in a breath, then relaxed.
“Poor bairn.” Robson said, tousling his hair.
“Oooooh!” James moaned.
“Now you’re really one of us.” Gibbs piped in.
“Now you lay still and let that ice work. Oh! And sip this slowly.” Phillips handed James a pint of scotch!
Thank you all.” They took it in turn walking past him and patting him on the back as they left.
In the wake of his discipline, James was given a three day leave to recover. He was also informed that his mother was given a telegram, informing her of his infraction and resulting punishment. Presumably because it was a physical punishment and all physical punishments were reported to the parents of young soldiers. James stood at the Quartermaster’s desk, talking to his mother on the telephone.
“Jamie? Are you alright son?” His mother asked worriedly.
“Hello mum. Yes, I’m fine.” He looked at the Quartermaster, who made a discreet exit.
“All they told me was that you were disciplined. What did they do to you?”
“I was slippered, mum. They spanked me. I’m fine though.”
“Oh, my poor darling! Was it very bad?”
“Not really.” He lied. “I had a sore bum but I’m alright now.”
“Poor baby! They also told me you were ill.”
“I had malaria, mum. I’ll have to take medicine for it from now on.”
“Oh my god!” She cried. “I’m very worried about you!”
“I’m fine mum. Please believe me.”
The conversation lasted a few more minutes then to his profound relief the Quartermaster called time. He left the office and walked to the mess tent for tea. His bottom still smarted and he felt very self conscious. He knew all of the men were aware of his punishment. He felt their eyes on him everywhere he walked.
“Conrad!” The Major General called out as James queued up for his meal.
“Sir!” James replied, snapping to attention.
“At ease, Lieutenant. Join me for tea?”
“Yes sir.” James replied. He picked up his tray and mug of tea and followed the older officer to the Officer’s table. He waited for his superior officer to sit and eased himself down slowly, carefully. The older man looked on with compassion when the young officer winced as his sore bottom made contact with the chair.
“Well done, lad. I want you to know that I have recommended your unit for commendation. They did themselves proud. You can credit yourself for that. You’ve done a very good job of running this unit and I am recommending you for commendation for it.
“What about the…disciplinary notation, sir?”
“That wasn’t included in your record. You were punished as all of our young officers are. The only difference was I didn’t use a cane on your bottom.” James’ eyes grew wide at this.
“Th…thank you sir.” He stuttered, grateful that he hadn’t been whipped with a cane.
“How is it by the way?” The Major asked. James blanched and looked left and right.
“It’s red sir, and very sore.”
“Well, you’re young and it will heal quickly.”
“Yes sir.” James replied, looking down.
“You know I was eighteen when I joined the Army and only twenty two when I was inducted into the SAS.” The man said. I received two bare bottomed, over the knee spankings by my superior officer in front of my whole battalion.” James looked up at him, his eyes growing wide.
“That must have been awful sir.”
“Yes, it was. I would never do that to a young officer. That’s why I slippered you in my office over my desk. I did not discipline you to embarrass you son. I did it to benefit you.”
“Yes sir, I know.” James replied respectfully.
“We don’t stay young forever, Jamie. One day you will look back on this and smile. There were days during my career when I longed for the days when a simple spanking would solve my problems. You are a fine young man and well respected by your men. Cherish these days, because they pass far too quickly. And never think that being paddled on your bottom reduces you in the least. You still command the respect of your men. It’s your decency and sense of fair play your men will remember about you. Your skill as a soldier. No trip over an officer’s desk will diminish that in the least.” James smiled at the elderly man, grateful for his words.
“Thank you sir. I’ll remember that.” James smiled and indeed felt much better. His bottom was sore for days but his morale was lifted greatly. He never forgot the Major General’s words and carried them with him throughout his career. The older officer was correct about another thing. As years passed he remembered his paddling that day with a smile!