“C’mon Mun….it will be an internet sensation!” said 16- year old Brecon Farmer Kane Boddy.
His older brother Abel wasn’t so sure.
He preferred to trust his own judgement rather than his brothers.
The pair sat astride their skidoos on the peak of Pen Y Fan, the highest mountain in the Brecon Beacons National Park.
Kane had his mobile phone out ready to film the stunt- if only he could persuade his brother to do it.
“It’s only 886 metres Mun…straight down from the ‘Col’ to Cribyn…it will be Hell of a ride!” said Kane trying to cajole his Brother.
As most people know, when you have a pair of identical twins – one is born usually good and the other evil.
Or as in this case Evel.
The brothers had been out helping feed their Father’s sheep, on the side of the mountains in the worse snowfall in Wales since 1958.
After a week of blizzards, which had swept in from across the Atlantic and down from the Arctic Circle- the highest points of the Welsh Valleys had been covered in nearly six feet or snow and in some places the drifts were as high as ten feet.
Cars were completely buried, with snow ploughs having to be employed for the first time for a number of years.
Once again, the Local Authorities at Powys & Merthyr were caught napping - although in their defence it WAS Early May.
The sight of the Brecon Beacons covered in a white blanket, was the money shot that sold postcards in the nearby Towns of Brecon and Merthyr- but to trainee hill farmers it was a nightmare, as they had to get feed to inaccessible places, so that their sheep would not starve.
Their flock were more like family members than livestock, Kane & Abel saw them more like pets than commodities- each one having a distinctive name and cry.
The brothers having spent all their young lives around the sheep had become very attached to them- in more ways than one.
To be a sheep farmer in the valleys you have to be resilient, strong and resourceful.
Neither Kane nor Abel possessed such wisdom or acumen and their father feared for the future of his farm, as the boys could best be described in farming terminology as a little ‘twp’.
Who else would ride their heavy skidoos so close to the edge of the mountain ridge when the snow had been drifting.
Unbeknown to Abel, whilst he had decided to take the moral high ground from his Brother, he was in fact parked above him on three foot of frozen ice and soft snow which hung perilously over into the Col of the second highest mountain in Wales.
Perhaps, if he had taken the advice of Heavy Rock band Steppenwolf and kept the motor running, he might had stood a chance, but suddenly the floor collapsed below him, the combined weight of one man and his skidoo and of course gravity, sent him flying through the air, like the cartoon character Wily Coyote on a floating rock above a canyon drop.
Abel’s face went a whiter shade of pale and his underpants merged with the skidoo.
Kane suddenly realised what was happening and a look of horror shot across his face, as his chemical sheep- dip damaged brain processed the fact that his brother was in serious trouble- but even so like all youngsters who do not see danger, he kept filming the episode on his camera-phone- then his thoughts turned to his own safety, as the white snow drift he was perched on started to collapse over the edge too.
Luckily for him, he made it back to firmer ground- but only by a matter of inches and he suddenly realised that he needed to send his leather biker trousers to the dry cleaners.
In what seemed like slow motion- his Brother still sat astride his skidoo, disappeared out of sight in a snow cloud and white spray.
Kane was frantic- his Father would kill him-if he found out about his dare.
It was almost like it had been written down somewhere that he would kill his brother.
What did he do?
Go for help or join in his brother’s fate by leaping over the side after him?
As much as Kane loved his Brother- he wasn’t as brave as he thought he was, and staring into the Abergavenny facing abyss- his courage had deserted him.
He decided that discretion was the better part of valour and set off down the Storey Arms side of the Mountain, towards the A470 and civilisation, in the hope that someone could get hold of the Brecon Beacons Mountain Rescue Team and an air ambulance.
Falling through the air at nearly 100MPH, Abel’s short sixteen year old life flashed before his eyes.
He always wanted to get a ton-up on his vehicle but not like this.
Everything around seemed to slow down and blur- with a second feeling like an hour, as he and his skidoo plummeted off the top of Pen Y Fan , partially obscured by a white snow cloud.
Was it his brain preparing him for impact?
Or was there really a God?
Abel ‘s mind raced almost as fast as the skidoo, as he tried to think of a survival technique.
What if he was to time it just right and push his legs up off the skidoo, a split second before impact?…just like the Roadrunner in the Warner Brothers cartoon managed to do?
Abel felt like he was riding a white comet bound for Earth as he pushed with all his might and tried to jump sideways.
He wished he had paid less attention to cartoons as a kid and listened more in his school physics lessons about the effect of centrifugal force, as he was unable to move.
Skidoo and Youth just made a massive seven foot impact crater which was soon covered by falling snow from above.
Abel was knocked unconscious by his own knees and when he awoke in serious pain, he realised he was now in the yoga position of dwi pada sirsasana or ‘the silent frog.
Both his legs had become lodged behind his shoulders and he looked like a lady-boy contortionist on it’s Honeymoon.
He was trapped in a snow prison of his own making, surrounded by soft snow that very quickly would turn to ice.
Whilst Abel was in constant pain and aware that he had broken several bones in the fall, he was surprised to find that like his pet Jack Russell terrier at home, he was now capable of licking his own balls.
He was still Abel Boddy but no longer able bodied.
He looked around him at the air pocket that had luckily formed around him and his bike and tried to think rationally.
What would Bear Grylls do in this situation?
After he had finished panicking- he decided that he must try and reach the roof of the ice ‘cave’ to drill a hole for oxygen to pass in.
He estimated he had a maximum of twenty minutes before the snow solidified into ice and around ten more before the oxygen ran out and he would be found dead by the rescue services.
He needed something to punch a hole in the ceiling with but it was difficult, as he had been concertina'd and looked like a tin can crushed on a road by the weight of a passing car.
The only thing he had in his pocket was a silent whistle that he used to call up the sheep with.
A high pitched frequency only audible by animals- given to him by an award winner Sheepdog Trainer at the Royal Welsh Show- who had warned him to use it sparingly.
He reached it and blew it as hard as his punctured lungs would allow.
Kane skidded to a halt outside the ‘Gnat Free Lodge’ and rushed in to use the telephone.
He was picked up by his lapels and booted out.
His ‘sort’ wasn’t welcome at this five star establishment.
His protestations were ignored by the bar staff.
It was an absolute rule- no person was allowed in the building in the afternoon without a cravat.
No one in working clothes or especially Wellington boots were allowed in EVER.
Kane was beside himself with worry – until he remembered that there was a special call box near the Storey Arms for the Rescue Team.
He kick-started his skidoo and made his way back up the A470 towards Brecon.
His young brain was puzzled by one odd event.
Why were there so many dogs heading in the same direction?
Abel sat hunched on own partially collapsed ribcage.
He was trying to make peace with God- in the belief he was going to die.
He knew that if he slipped back into unconsciousness he would not survive his ordeal.
He tried to think positively despite the fact he had a bird’s eye view of his own bollocks.
He tried desperately to relive the games of snooker in his mind, that he had played out with his brother in an effort to stay conscious and not slip off into eternity.
Suddenly, he thought he heard a sound from above him.
Was it his imagination running riot caused by the lack of oxygen?
He HAD been talking to his own nuts for the last thirty seconds after all.
The scraping sound came again.
It got louder and louder until finally a small hole appeared above him in his ice prison.
A tiny amount of oxygen filtered in and Abel’s damaged lungs let out a sigh of relief.
It was followed by a small piece of woolly tubing.
It was only an inch in diameter but it acted like a chimney.
It looked like a ‘Ewe Tube’.
“Praise be to the Lamb of God!” said Abel suddenly rediscovering his religion.
His teenage mind tried to rationalize events.
Who the Hell could be on the mountain in this weather?
A second hole which appeared above him answered his question.
He looked up and saw a glazed sheep eye staring back at him.
His pet sheep Dolly must have come to his rescue in true ‘Lassie’ fashion.
The hole got bigger as the ovine tried desperately to claw at the ground with her hooves.
Who ever said sheep were stupid animals had clearly never met the indomitable, resourceful Dolly he thought.
“ Well Hello Dolly!” shouted Abel trying to keep himself focused.
He was sure that she answered him back in a human voice muffled by the six inch solid frozen igloo roof.
As the temperature like Dolly dipped suddenly, the snow turned to ice and making the hole larger proved to be difficult for the ovine rescuer.
“ Are you in it?” the sheep bleated.
This was interpreted by Abel as questioning whether he was of Eskimo stock.
“ Inuit?....no… I’m from Brecon mun!” he asked talking to his blue testes.
“ Am I going nuts…nuts?”
He thought the lack of oxygen and the acute pain of his injury was making him hallucinate and hear things too.
Above the warm confines of his igloo, the wind had picked up and was howling like a wolf around the bleak landscape of the Brecon Beacons.
From below Abel could with a squint make out Dolly looking around nervously at the sound, but like Nipper the HMV dog , the Sheep doggedly refused to leave his side or Her Masters Voice.
What Abel didn’t know was that Dolly wasn’t Dolly at all but a lost SAS applicant, that had lost his bearings in the blizzards and subsequent avalanche of snow whilst doing the military version of the ‘Fan Dance’- an Army exercise to determine the physical quality and mental resolve of recruits.
He had witnessed the accident and decided that the life of the young farmer was more important than any Army examination.
His Regiment had decided that rather than risk fatal dehydration again in the Summer Months for squaddies on Penyfan, Cribbyn and Corn Du they would use the Spring and Winter Months instead.
They still had to carry an 18 kilogram Bergen backpack, rifle and water bottle but as an added weight – a proper sheepskin as camouflage.
SAS now stood for Soldiers As Sheep.
Their unofficial slogan to get one up on the Royal Navy was – ‘Be the Beast- and beat the best’
There was much competition between the different arms of the Armed Forces.
It was a handy drill too, as preparation for the soldiers for those long nights in the Northern Iraqi desert, when the temperatures dipped way below zero and with no wife back home in Wales to cuddle up to - it was an essential to slip into a woolly jumper and stay out of sight of the enemy.
The 21 year old hopeful, Monty Redcapp, sighed knowing his act of heroism would be interpreted and punished as a sign of weakness.
Whilst his Drill Sergeant’s may wear the words ‘Help is for Heroes’ on their chests- for this act of individualism -his reward would be peeling more spuds than the Busy Bee Chip Shop in Merthyr did in a year- or cleaning the Officers Mess- which had been interpreted by Army Regulations in Brecon -as licking out with his tongue the Captain’s toilet bowl once again.
The rest of his Unit had carried on regardless- despite the three months of brainwashing – the remainder of his Civvy Street conscience would not let him forget the parable of the ‘Good Samaritan’.
He would not leave an avalanche victim die of asphyxiation or exposure- even if his own life or future career depended upon it.
In the distance, he could hear much barking and howling he could make out black shapes heading at speed towards him.
Now Private Redcapp wasn’t scared of anything in Civvy Street- except dogs that is.
He had developed ‘Cynophobia’ after his Mother had read him a tale from the Mabinogion about Gelert the dog when he was only five years of age.
His soldier Father had died in a football hooligan attack by Blackburn ROVERS at the Wolverhampton Wanderers Ground –Molyneux- in the bad old terrace days of the 1980’s and he had suffered flashbacks ever since.
His psychiatrist had cured him for a while – until his squaddie mates had rented comedy horror film ‘Dog Soldiers’ which had brought back all his night terrors.
The barking got louder as over the snow covered hill like Zulus at Rorke’s ‘Drift ‘- the pack of dogs headed toward the fleece- covered soldier.
It seemed like every dog within ten miles wanted in on the act.
Down in the ice prison, in an effort to stay awake, Abel blew his dog whistle as loud as he could.
It was silent to humans, but was of such a high pitch it was irresistible to canines.
The power of the patented ‘Wolf Whistle’ was not lost on its Merthyr inventor, but had not been a commercial success, as it turned Man’s best friend into Man’s worst enemy, as the frequency sent dogs rabid with desire to stop the sound .
They acted like moths mesmerised but compelled to put out a naked flame.
In the Cefn Coed Simbec laboratory, the test subjects had been known to kill to stop it.
In addition, seeing a solitary sheep lost on the hillside was too big a temptation for the pack of animals.
Legally speaking, the dog pack was banned from hunting animals on private land but the animals themselves didn’t know or care.
But they were a big ‘worry’ for the SAS soldier.
The big question for Private Redcapp was could he stop enough of the ‘Charge of the Bite Brigade’ before they ripped out his throat?.
He didn’t want to see his own version of ‘pink mist’.
He lowered his rifle and took aim.
He pretended he was back on the firing range at Sennybridge shooting at the enemy insurgent targets, as a burst of semi- automatic rifle fire took out the Dalmatian at the front, adding red spots to his black ones.
Another burst and the leading whippet took a fatal bullet in between its ribs.
The greyhound at the front was moving way too fast, so he concentrated on laying down cover fire at the body of the pack- who collapsed with yelps and squeals, as they ate more lead than a swan on Cyfarthfa Park lake.
As long as the pack stayed together, Private Redcapp had a chance.
Unfortunately for him, the more brighter dogs- the Lurchers and Golden Retrievers- being used to gunfire , as they were GUN dogs -broke from the pack in separate directions to outflank the Ovine Officer Material.
The Jack Russell’s had gone down on their bellies crawling- like they were on the local army assault course- to keep low and minimise the target.
Above the din of the battle, Private Redcapp could hear the distinctive sound of an incoming chopper.
He just hoped that his air support would arrive in time to save him.
The Air Ambulance dispatched from the Queen Camilla Hospital had not witnessed such carnage before.
There was more blood on the ice than a Canadian Seal Pup Clubbing convention.
From above, the helicopter crew was shocked at what was going on.
US Army veteran , Pilot Hawke Downe was stunned at the scene below.
He was a veteran of the Somali conflict and had seen some real action.
They thought they had seen everything in the Valleys, but this was their first sheep with an automatic rifle gunning down a pack of mad dogs.
It was Apawcalpyse Now, as ‘Lambo’ sprayed the howling dogs with lead.
They were expecting to aid the search for an injured farmer, not witness the killing fields of Caninebodia.
From the air- they could make out the shape of a Red Setter wearing a blood stained second placed rosette from Crufts Dog Show, no longer moving ‘like Jagger’.
The pack had now completely encircled the sheep who was firing at the closest dog to him.
He kept wheeling in a circle frightened that he would leapt upon and tore to pieces from behind.
The pile of dead Afghans and Russian Borzois grew until the moment the pack had been waiting for.
The click of empty bullet chamber on the rifle.
Private Redcapp now knew he was as good as dead.
“ C’mon land will you….relieve me like in South Africa…or I Mafeking dead!” he said to the Helicopter Pilot under his breath.
Down below in his ice cave, Abel heard the gunfire and the sound of the helicopter overhead but was still unable to move…all he could do was blow hard on his whistle to try and attract attention.
Little did he know that his rescuer needed rescuing.
The Pilot and paramedic were too frightened to land, it was against the rules of their NHS Health & Safety Manual-so decided the best course of action was to film it on their mobile camera-phones and upload it to the internet instead.
The short film ‘Ewe Tube’ had over 100 hits in seconds- as did Private Redcapp.
Ironically, it was the badly named German Shephard, that lunged at the brave squaddie and tore out his throat and the rest of the frenzied bunch ripped him apart like an unlucky fox in the Taf Fechan Boxing Day Hunt.
Normally battle scene bravery is confined to secrecy, but thanks to the action of the Pilot, the bravery of the Private in his last stand was recorded on film on the internet for posterity.
For his gallant actions, Private Redcapp was awarded by the Army not only the Victoria Cross and the Distinguished Service Medal but also Royal Welsh Best in Show.
Unfortunately, the British Government received writs and legal claims from compensation from the dog owners so ‘cruelly’ killed by Private Redcapp.
The redtop newspapers had named Redcapp -as the ‘bone gunman’.
As for poor Abel Boddy, his remains were never found.
His brother Kane inherited the Farm and his Brothers Birth-right.
The Helicopter Pilot made two million pounds from the video and is now working as a Director in Hollywood, California.
Scene of the action - Pen Y Fan in snow by Oakfield Photography