Article Human Ice Cube


Mi Sergeant
MI.Net Member
Apr 22, 2011
In Jan 1998 i'd been with the TA just over 6 months, and was on a Battalion Training Weekend on that most fun of places, Sailsbury Plain. We'd arrived on Friday night and bivvi'd down under our poncho's. We'd just been issued the new sleeping bags which actually kept us warm, unlike the old '58 ones that were designed to make you freeze, and my god did the air turn blue when we had to creep out of them at 0530 the next day! We spent the day practising patroling and the evening playing around with pen-flares. At 0000 something nasty hours, I was kicked out of my lovely warm pit and told that it was my turn on 'stag' (sentry duty). I'd prepared for this by wearing as many warm clothes as I could under my combats, so I thought i'd be ok as i'd only be out there for 4 wrong I was.

As anyone who's ever spent any amount of time on the 'Plain will tell you, it's f***ing freezing at the best of times! The whole country could be in the grip of a heatwave, but I guarantee there's a group of squaddies somewhere out there who are freezing their tits off. And the wind! It literally goes straight through you, to the point where, about 10mins after i'd relieved the other bloke (and repositioned the snow a bit to act as a windbreak), I was shivering faster than the grass skirt on a fat Hawaiian hula-hoop champion. But no matter how cold I was I HAD to stay there (the old line "Hold until relieved" was running round my head). So there I am, in a damp hole in the snow, middle of winter, waiting to be relieved. 4 hours go by...and no-one comes. To be honest i'd only looked at my watch twice, and my mind was starting to wander somewhat, due to the cold, but i'd stay there until someone relieved me...

Meanwhile, back in the bivvy area...everyone was up and had PT'd, eaten breakfast and they were going through the days activities and assigning us various "things" to do. They called my name...I didn't answer. The guy who i'd relieved said that he last saw me as I relieved him from stag...the penny finally drops when a Lance Jack (forever known to me as "that bastard") jumps up and shouts "****, I was meant to relive him at 0400! He's still out there!". Cue a stampede consisting of both medics, my Platoon Sgt, the QMS, the OC, Joey and our RSM (both ex-2Para, Falklands), all heading towards me. They arrive but I hear nothing, as i'm so damn cold my brain has almost switched off-i'm conscious but i'm not there! I remember very little of that morning, I vaguely remember being thrown in my sleeping bag and being force-fed endless cups of tea, and eventually cigarettes when I could hold them (I was later told that it took 4 of them to lift me off the floor as I was practically frozen to it, and that they had to physically prise my hands off of my rifle).On the way home that night I still wasn't too good, so I was taken to the local hospital and they confirmed our medics diagnosis of Hypothermia. It wasn't the full-blown version, but it was severe enough to give me 2 nights in hospital and a further 2 weeks off of work. According to the hospital if i'd been moving around that night i'd have been screwed, but because I stayed in one place and didn't move my organs were able to keep working, albeit at a very reduced rate (I think my testicles finally returned a week afterwards!)

When I went back I took half a dozen boxes of Cadburys Roses ("Thank you very much" etc) for the guys, to say thanks, and was given something in return-typical squaddie humour, it was an ice-cube mould! I've still got it, and perversely I now enjoy the cold! Especially in the middle of Dartmoor in the middle of November...lovely!
While medical Sgt at The School of Infantry we covered the plains and I’ve retrieved some bad cases the following being one of them.

A tank had crossed a ridge and descended into the hollow. As the tracks hit the ice at the bottom the ice which was saucer shaped, shot forward up the opposite bank. Gravity doing its job stopped it and the block of ice weighing a ton or more now came back down the hill. It mounted the tank where the driver had his head out of the opening. When I arrived I was expecting the worst, but after climbing into the tank I found the driver still to be alive, though the top of his head was badly damaged. I got the REME to get some Landover jacks to life the ice of the driver so that we could remove him from the vehicle. A helicopter took him to BMH Tidworth and six weeks later he walked into the medical centre and thanked me of saving his life. I told him that it was the ice block that had saved his live as the coldness had stopped a lot of the bleeding
Making feel cold just reading this.
I watched a program yesterday I think it was called front line medics or medicine.
They actually looked at the medical art of cooling the body by pumping chilled Saline through the veins, I think it was in relation to head trauma.
Clever stuff really and the procedure has increased the percentage of lives saved without major brain damage.

I remember the cold days on the ranges and on exercise in Germany, dont wish to repeat them but they were memorable days for sure.

Yeah, I too remember freezing my butt off in GRAF, Germany. The coldest I've ever been though, was Febuary of 1978 at Fort Sill, Oklahoma. We were doing night firing with M16A1 rifles on full auto, with a gusting 45mph wind and a whopping 13' F. The wind chill was something like 30 below zero. The worst part was that our cold weather arctic mittens had no trigger finger, so we had to take them off. The damn rifles would jam after two or three rounds, so the armorer would hand you another weapon, which would also jam after a couple of shots. This went on and on, over and over, for almost 10 minutes. That was, until my hands actually froze to the weapon.
I had actually achieved reaching the second stage of frostbite. Loads of fun!!!
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