Napoleon said that an army marches on its stomach. Well I'm here to tell it marches on its feet - and it hurts.
Many years ago I was drafted into the infantry. I actually chose a number of other options, but in those days if you were A1 fit as they say, you went into the infantry.
Essentially the infantry is the army. Everything else is there to support the infantry. Any other department you can name is there to support the infantry. The infantry, also known as foot-sloggers, are, in the last resort able to walk to, and into battle. Therefore, walking, or more correctly marching, is an integral part of infantry training.
This training takes the form of frequent, very long walks in the country, or as they like to call them, route marches. They vary in length but after a few warming up exercises, settle down to regular 20 mile stints.
I well remember my first 20 mile route march. The day was hot, and my feet were hotter. We stopped from time to time to drink from a water bottle we carried with us but when it was all gone - no more than small sips was the order of the day. My feet cried out to be let out for air, but I knew that once they were out, I wouldn't be able to get them back.
Finally we staggered back to camp, and took part in a weird ritual where we dangled our bear feet over the end of our beds so an officer could inspect them. As I said, the infantry take feet very seriously.
When the young 2nd Lt., reached my bed, he almost fainted. My feet were one large blister with no space in between. Before he threw-up he gasped that I should go 'Special Sick'.
Special sick meant one could present at the medical center without going through the ritual of collecting up your kit etc., as one does at a normal sick parade. You still have to walk the two miles, but you don't have to run.
I hobbled to the medical center which seemed deserted. Eventually I stumbled upon a doctor who asked me what I wanted. I explained that I had been sent special sick because of the state of my feet. He spat out "excused boots for a week", and walked away. I suggested that it might be a good idea to look at them. He thought me impertinent, and was about remonstrate with me as if he was a proper officer, until I suggested that my feet might be infected.
That got his attention and he told me to remove my boots. As he looked at them I thought he went a little pale. He soon took a grip on himself and said in his best doctors voice that I must go to hospital. Not for me a two hour wait in the rain: a thee ton ambulance whisked me off to a Royal Military Hospital where beautiful people did painful things to my poor old feet.
This experience was a lesson very well learnt, and ever since I have made a point of ensuring that my car is never further away than six and a half strides - or less.