I’ve been away from my blog for a while and have only just read the recent comments to my essay on Frank Gardner. On Dec 2 an 'Adrian' wrote:
Sorry to rain on your parade - he was a TA officer in the Green Jackets.
Between 1989 and 1991 he was a territorial army officer in the 4th Battalion the Royal Green Jackets. 
Thanks for the info, Adrian, but it doesn’t rain on my parade; it still rains on Frank’s and the BBC's. (Well, on mine too, a bit, for not having found that reference when I wrote the piece.)
(Turns out ‘Adrian’ is Adrian Monck, Professor of Journalism at City Uni. Hey, I get journalism professors reading this blog! Sunshine! And he’s got a blog at the Telegraph that he updates even less frequently than I update Shaphan.)
This is the relevant part of the BBC report that Adrian linked to from Wiki, dated 7 June 2004:
Chris Cheshire, 41, from Ealing, West London was a neighbour of Simon Cumbers, who was shot dead in the attack, and an ex-army colleague of security correspondent Frank Gardner, who remains in hospital.
"I was shocked to hear of the attack," he told BBC News Online. "Simon was a real affable, outgoing kind of guy. A good neighbour."
"I would have never thought this kind of thing could happen to him."
Mr Cheshire and Gardner served together in the Royal Green Jackets in London from 1989 to 1991.
"I had been concerned for some time whether Frank had been putting himself in the line of fire by reporting in such an in-depth manner on al-Qaeda.
I would submit, M’lud, that this info about Frank’s military career only came out, in the early post-shooting chaos, because Cumbers’ neighbour, quite fortuitously, happened to have had a prior connection to Gardner as well.
The BBC report didn’t mention that it was the TA wing of the Royal Green Jackets that they served in – it reads as if Frank were a regular in the RGJs. (So the reference provided by the professor on Wiki did not support what he was writing – having known a few profs in my time, I’m not surprised by such behaviour.) Nor, for that matter, does the report say that Frank’s RGJ career ended in 1991, only that Cheshire knew him there during those years.
A societal announcement in the Times newspaper of 17 Oct 2003, months prior to the shooting, does clear things up a bit.
Former officers of the 4th Battalion the Royal Green Jackets held a reunion dinner last night at the Royal Green Jackets London Club, Davies Street, London W1.
Lieutenant-Colonel S.T. Hill, club chairman, presided and the other speakers were Brigadier P.J. Lyddon, Colonel Sir Geoffrey Pattie and Major the Rev C.G. Fox.
Among those attending were Colonel Lord Nicholas Gordon-Lennox, His Honour Judge Pitman, Brigadier A.E, Berry, Colonel M.J.C. Robertson, Colonel N.A. Johnson, Colonel J.A. Daniell, Colonel S.A.G. Abrahams, Colonel J.B. Howell-Pryce, Major J.G. Griffith-Jones, and Mr Frank Gardner.
The 4RGJ is a TA battalion. (Note that we don’t learn Frank’s rank – he’s just plain mister. Why, if he’s a former officer like the others? State secret? Anyone, any ideas?)
Remember – Frank doesn’t mention his TA career at all in his autobiography (unless I’ve missed it, which is possible – if anyone’s read it and can find a reference to it, I’d be grateful.) So finding out that he was in a TA regiment between ‘89 and ‘91 only confirms, for me, that Blood and Sand was, mostly, an exercise in obfuscation and it lends weight to the underlying hypothesis of my essay. But what is still unknown is whether Frank left the Army in ‘91 or not – he may have stayed with 4RGJ for several more years or, given his known skills, he may have been headhunted into one of the more elite voluntary regiments, which may account for all the secrecy.
So I would say to the good professor – thank you for sharing the useful information; read Frank’s book; consider the gaps in the narrative, especially of his TA service; think about the potential relevance of Frank’s military career, of whatever stripe it was, to his story and ask yourself why he would omit it from his narrative; re-read my first essay; and then you might see how you’ve actually helped shine some light upon the parade of the mystery of (Lt., Capt., Maj.(?)) Frank Gardner, not piss upon it.
PS: I've just noticed that Adrian Monck has his own blog, which he updates far more regularly than I do mine.