Last year I read Jungle Soldier Brian Moynihan’s fascinating biography of Freddie Spencer-Chapman, which I enjoyed, although I am still slightly perturbed by the sudden demise of the subject. He was a remarkable man.

I have been reading a few jungle-based adventures lately and so acquired a copy of Spencer-Chapman’s book The Jungle Is Neutral which I was reminded of by an article in Bushcraft and Survival magazine by SAS Handbook legend Lofty Wiseman, where it was referenced after the following statement:
“Survival is easy in the jungle and if you have a chance out of all the environments, sea, temperate, desert, arctic or jungle – choose the jungle.”

As an aside I also coincidentally stumbled across a site of the same name, which is interesting, but alas appears to have been discontinued.
The Jungle Is Neutral blog.

Now that is a small coincidence, and I have mentioned such things in previous posts, especially where they appear somewhat uncanny. And here is another.

Just as I started reading the Spencer-Chapman book I also started researching some of the background of Captain Gurowski who I posted about a short while.

Imagine my surprise then when just after I had learned that Captain Gurowski was apparently in France in early 1940 as part of a Scots Guards battalion that was learning to ski, I discovered, whilst reading the first few pages of his book, that Freddie Spencer-Chapman was one of the instructors brought in to train those troops at Chamonix, in Haute Savoie. He would therefore presumably have known Captain Gurowski.

This has inspired me to discover more about the Captain.

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Another adventure book and another fire-lighting technique. This time from Ed Stafford’s Walking The Amazon (no need to explain what it’s about, although he was the first man to do so – an amazing feat).

So this is the technique used by one of his South American companions in the very wet Peruvian jungle. Splitting wet wood to get a a dry core, producing shavings and building a platform are all fairly common techniques, but this still seems quite remarkable given the sodden environment. My thoughts are that there are possibly two key factors at play here. Firstly using tree resin as an accelerant. Ed doesn’t say what size of piece was used, but a biggish lump would certainly burn well for some time. Secondly I wonder whether the type of wood was a factor. For instance in the UK I would use Ash if I wanted to be sure of a good fire, probably with softwood for kindling.

Whatever the case here is the described method:

“Jaun’s firelighting technique was different from most as he didn’t use ant sticks at all. He found dry wood that was two to three inches thick and he made a base to raise the fire off the wet ground by splitting the logs in half and laying the inside side face up. Next, he shaved one of the logs repeatedly to produce dry shavings that he piled up on the platform. Then he just arranged the large logs around the outside of the shavings like the spokes of a wheel and lit the fire using a lump of resin that he’d chipped off a tree with his macheteThe result was a roaring fire in about ten minutes even though it had been raining for days.”