An SAS recruit tabbing in the Beacons…mid 1970s.

Tabbing is a British Army colloquialism for walk/running or marching with a bergen or full kit. With that, as much as I have always liked running, playing rugby etc…for me there is nothing quite like tabbing.

It makes me feel free, out there in the elements, sunshine, rain, snow, heat, cold, thick fog, day, night…no difference, it’s awesome for the mind and soul.

I loved the challenge of SAS selection back in the mid 70s, pitting myself against the system of pass or failure, and of course against one another. I’ve loved it ever since.

For the last few years, I’ve tabbed ten miles with a 30lb bergen every November 11th just to remember my way on this great day of Remembrance. Remember those who never came back. Those from the two world wars, those who I served with, and those from conflicts in between, even those youngsters today who continue to give their all.

It helps me with my own wee demons, it helps me with remembering, it helps me.

When I’m tabbing, I’m not alone…I’m tabbing with those great mates who are no longer with us. I’m tabbing with the help of their energy…I feel it all around me…I’m tabbing with ghosts.

Today I had an awesome tab. We’ve had a mild season so far in New York, an almost endless summer. So much so that the “Fall” has only just caught hold almost a month late.

Today it was mild, sunny, good air quality…and the scenery around the streets of where I tab was just beautiful. The colours of the trees at their very best, light flooding through the various canopies…reds, orange, green, brown…deep, deep colours. I’m asking my ghosts if they can see them through me…what a delight, what privilege…tabbing, seeing, smelling, listening…all together enjoying nature at it’s finest. Two years ago on the same day, it was 13 degrees below freezing, it took me half the tab to warm up, but even then it was awesome, just watching my breath leave my mouth and nose…I must have looked like a steam train…an old slow steam train, ha ha.

As I write this just a couple of hours later, with a hot sweet brew that I would have had back in the old days post tabbing, I look forward to doing the very same next year…I can’t wait.

To those who can no longer tab…my thoughts are with you all.

Published by: bobshepherdauthor

Bestselling author Bob Shepherd has spent nearly forty years operating in conflict areas around the world. A twenty year veteran of Britain’s elite 22 SAS Regiment with nearly two decades of private security work to his credit, Bob has successfully negotiated some of the most dangerous places on earth as a special forces soldier and a private citizen. Bob comments regularly on security issues and has appeared on CNN International, BBC, SKY News, and BBC Radio. He has also authored numerous articles and books including the Sunday Times Top Ten bestseller The Circuit. In addition to writing and lecturing, Bob continues to advise individuals operating in hostile environments. For more of his insights on security and geopolitics visit

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2 thoughts on “TABBING WITH GHOSTS”

  1. Well done Bob, always a pleasure to tab and i feel to alone with your own thoughts as well as enjoying the geography of the terrain while tabbing. Enjoyed so many across the Brecons while on II Sqn even as an individual over a weekend. Only last year enjoying a slow 5-day tab across the Scottish Highlands enjoying the beauty of the landscape and the torrential rain of course, but wonderful to experience. Keep on tabbing Bob, NQNP

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