Armoured Farmer - A Tankies Tale

Okay, seeing as you, Mr Happy, are a MOD and I don't want to p*ss you off's the end of the Troop Training bit, remember, we are bearing down at full speed on the 2i/c's Landrover. Hope you all enjoy?

Then, below us, the back of ‘Jud’s’ head came into view. Two burning questions were immediately answered. Firstly the reason we’d received no response was that ‘Jud’ had shoved his headset on to the back of his head. Secondly this was because he was wrestling with a can opener and a can of ‘compo chocolate and sweets’ which he had stashed in his cab along with other various supplies of food. No wonder we had nothing to eat, he had it all in his cab. Frank on seeing this, grabbed his signal flare pistol and launched it at the back of ‘Jud’s’ bonce. The result being that the Tank suddenly lurched to a halt accompanied by a chorus of abuse from the crew. As we sat arguing inside our Tank Frank decided in his excitement to kick ‘Pep’ neatly in his kidneys. Although this was unintentional, ‘Pep’s’ reaction was devastating. A hammer appeared as if by magic in his hand and he turned as best he could in the gunners seat and smacked Frank on the knee with the hammer. I then sat back in stunned silence and watched the resulting maelstrom as chaos ensued on that side of the turret. Here I was locked in a steel box with a bunch of certifiable lunatics.
Eventually calm prevailed, we received no points for this stand and we waited for a radio message to give us our next instructions. The next instruction was not long in coming across the airwaves encoded using the code of the era known as ‘Mapco’. As operator I dutifully sat and wrote down the message and then decoded the content. Frank was getting impatient by now. Never the less once I’d finished it I passed the message to Frank. He read it, transferred the map reference to his map, studied the map and then said;” this is utter boll*cks! It doesn’t make sense, I know where we’re meant to be going and it isn’t here!” He then got ‘Pep’ to try and confirm my decoding as I was a ‘nig’ and when ‘Pep’ agreed with my decode Frank continued;” I’ve got inside information, this is a fcuking red herring, so we’ll go where we should be going and not where this piece of crap says!” I never did really find out whether the piece of crap was me or the message because Frank ordered ‘Jud’ to move off, which of course ‘Jud’ did with great aplomb nearly causing us all to sustain whiplash injuries. So off we trundled in search of Franks ‘inside information’. It obviously didn’t occur to Frank that the person who had so ‘generously’ given him the info was actually misleading him. Eleven miles later we had not found the stand, and we were now late on the time given to us. This was bad, very bad. This stage of the test was strictly timed to test Franks map reading ability. The stand we were seeking was the replen stand, during replens timings are critical because during the time taken to refuel, grab fresh supplies of ammo, water, rations and mail etc. our vehicles were at there most vulnerable. Therefore an SQMS would be at a certain place at a certain time and stay there only for a limited duration. During this period his vehicles are laid out nose to tail so that as each Tank in turn ‘rolls’ through the replen it takes the minimum amount of time for each crew to gather what it needs. This then was what was known as a ‘rolling replen’, at this time replens where the SQMS dragged his vehicles through ‘hides’ in woods to each individual Tank were not favoured. Therefore when our Tank eventually arrived at the replen the SQMS in charge was very much less than amused.
“Frank you fcuker, where the fcuk have you been?” He loudly enquired. “Don’t you ever come the fcuk through one of my replens for real will you?” He continued. Franks only reaction to this tirade was an inane grin sat on top of a large shrug of his shoulders.
Needless to say, 11 Troop didn’t win Troop Tests that year. But, on the last night, Frank mysteriously came down with the ‘shi*s’. Did it have anything to do with laxative laced food? Who knows?
Mr Happy said:
Arthur3bums said:
This was known as CEFO (Central European fighting Order) and was designed for speed and mobility.

That would be Combat Equipment Fighting Order

Typical, Tank Regiments - we were always given a bum steer, never the less that's what we were told it was!!LMAO.
Extract from a chapter all about FTX where I was loaned to a Troop to command a new crew and strange tank.

Then one morning the radio silence was broken and we found ourselves driving forward to our fire position. We could see the German push assembling at the bottom of the valley before us. Then, without warning our ‘Jenny’ coughed, spluttered, lowered its rev’s sounding very sick indeed and cut out! “Fcuking hell Paddy! What’s up?” I inquired over the IC. “Fcuk knows! It seemed alright, but it’s just died!” He replied. “It smells bloody hot back there!” said Moose sniffing the air. Paddy now interjected, “could have overheated, I wouldn’t know as the temperature gauge is buggered!” We were now sat, effectively as dead ducks in front of an enemy force. “Start the Main engine and rev at over 1000rpm, bring the generator on line!” I instructed Paddy. “Aw shite.” Came the reply, as this was a horrific experience for drivers, as they had to sit with their foot stationary on the accelerator. It wouldn’t take long for cramp to set in. I meanwhile encoded a message explaining our predicament. SHQ eventually replied telling us to wait for the REME to contact us. In due course the REME told us to drive to a grid reference where we would meet a field workshop. Here they would remove our stricken Jenny and give us a new unit. I now got us to put the gun rear and put it in its travelling clamp. Now I would have to stand in my hatch looking over the front of the vehicle as we moved off. Moose would face the rear to control the traffic as they tried to overtake our Tank. As we pulled out through the town Mr Dixon waved at us, while eating a Bratwurst. Typical, here we were about to go into battle and then, breakdown. Sod’s law! Flashed through my disenchanted mind.

The journey proved quite eventful. We forced a car off the road into a ditch when it lost a game of ‘chicken’ against us. The car had been full of ‘green people’ who were spending the duration of our exercise protesting against war and NATO. Fine if that’s what they wanted to do! But they were not forcing ME off the road. Later we entered a town through which we had to travel, as we trundled through the outskirts, a strange phenomena occurred. Suddenly with a roar, all I could hear in my headsets was the roar of the engine. Moose meanwhile had started shaking my shoulder and was pointing frantically at the engine decks. I turned and, there behind us was a ten foot long flame belching from our exhausts like the Knight Rider car of the 80’s. This I had seen before, it was the prelude to our main engine ‘running away’. If this happened it would be the end of our main engine. I had once seen an engine ‘run away’ it simply kept running no matter how the driver attempted to switch it off. Gradually the engine revs would increase until they reached their maximum limit. At this point the engine would keep going until, BANG! It would internally explode, sometimes putting parts of the engine out through the armoured decking that covered it.
In light of this, my action was immediate, “Paddy pull over NOW, and switch the fcuking engine off, come on, get on with it!” The Tank suddenly veered right into the kerb and ground to a halt. Paddy threw his switch and the engine spluttered but then died. I breathed a sigh of relief; we had just caught it in time! Then I realised that the exhausts still had flames rising from them. Also there were flames crackling out through the engine deck’s louvers, this was obviously due to the wasted oil and debris in the engine compartment igniting under the extreme heat! “Right we’re on fire, so everyone out, Paddy pull the extinguishers!" We evacuated the Tank and I walked to the back to survey the damage, suddenly there was a huge cracking sound as the bottom of the engine split apart under the heat. Oil spewed from under the Tank. Paddy had left a ‘belly plate’ off for ease of maintenance. We now had gallons of engine oil spilling onto the road! I then noticed where we were; we had stopped at the kerbside between the entrance and exit of, a petrol station. The forecourt was a mass of drivers rushing to get their cars out of danger as our flames were getting higher! I walked to the front to find a red face Paddy fighting to pull the fire extinguishers into action. “Moose!” I shouted, “Get in this fcuking cab and pull the knobs, NOW!” I continued. Moose was a strapping lad of great strength, the problem was, the fire extinguisher knobs couldn’t be tested to find out if they were serviceable without setting them off! Therefore in instances like this it could be hit or miss whether they worked! Moose climbed into the cab, shortly after came a twanging sound. Moose grinned and held up a red handle attached to an inch of cable! The metal cable had deteriorated and snapped under pressure. ‘TWANG!’ The other handle broke free without any cable at all! Okay we tried the two external handles! Same effect, and no extinguishers going off. By now the fire had increased in intensity, catching light to our rubbish bag, which we dragged from the decks and stamped out. We now got the rubberised engine sheet, and threw it across the decks in an attempt to smother the flames, result? It melted in the heat! Things were now serious; I was stood on the turret removing pyrotechnic charges from the gunfire simulator before the heat set them off. I then radioed SHQ to report our predicament.

Our last resort was the five small hand held extinguishers, we came, we saw, we tried, we pissed in the wind! The flames had now started to subside of their own accord. There was now quite a crowd gathering to inspect our stunning example of British engineering. A rather attractive girl came up and, having discovered I speak German, volunteered that her brother drove a Leopard 2 and ‘this never happened!’ I at that point could have knocked her down on the pavement and stood on her throat! How dare she? At that moment our Squadron ARV turned up. It overtook us and pulled into position ready to tow us to the workshops. Then with a ‘glug’ the ARV emptied part of its hydraulic system on the road. This had turned into a mess. Some ‘greens’ had tried hauling ‘clutch’ into their car in a kidnap attempt while he was directing traffic. ‘Clutch’ narrowly avoided causing two buses to collide when he got ‘confused’ controlling the traffic. And now here we sat with the ARV, both broken down and all of us looking shame faced! Either way, eventually we were sorted and the exercise continued.
Wow........what's happened to all me text? It's gone wonky!!!!! I assume it's some sort of enhancement banged in while the site was down for maint???
Geordie_Blerk said:
Is the book just about training exercises in Der Boxheadland?

No indeed, the first couple of chapters are all about JLR RAC in 1975 then it progresses to Adult Tanking in 3RTR both at Tidworth,UNFICYP, BATUS and in Deutschland Deutschland Ueber Alles.

here's one I did earlier abour BATUS.
Remember those maintenance days? Hope you like this memory?

During the exercise we would be given maintenance days where we would remain leaguered to carry out essential tasks to keep the vehicles in order. Also on these days we would be offered the chance of a shower. Sometimes we would be ferried to the ‘mobile shower unit’, this was a tent with a heated water supply fed to showerheads inside. If for whatever reason that wasn’t available such as on our first visit to BATUS, it would be ‘all aboard the Crowfoot express’. This was our MT troop with old American ‘Deuce and a halve’ trucks ready to shuttle back to camp. Dirty we were on departure, dirty we were upon our return. All due to the dust thrown up on the journey. I remember on one occasion our OC’s operator; ‘Mad’ George Palframan went on a shower run. He and a couple others managed to stay in Crowfoot all day, eventually returning late that evening, drunk of course. The OC had retired early to the bivvie that evening. Somehow George, who was now strangely naked apart from his boots, appeared on top of his turret with a sandwich in one hand and a bottle of Labbatts ‘blue’ beer in the other. His naked expanse gleamed in the reflected glow from our lights, which, as we were ‘non-tactical’, shone everywhere. Then he proclaimed from his lofty perch; “ I CAN FCUKING FLY! I CAN FCUKING FLY!” And launched himself from the turret in a magnificent belly flop on to the bivvie below. The resulting eruption was hilarious, the OC awoke and immediately exclaimed; “I say, what the fcuk was that?” He was now waking the gunner Ian Jones who had also just retired after drinking. “Jones, Jones, wake up, what the hell’s happening? Someone just fell on the bivvie, where’s my bottle of scotch? Come on! Get up I want to know what’s happening!” By now George’s inane cackling had come to the OC’s ears.
“Corporal P’ what the fcuk are you doing?” The OC received only a loud;
“Fcuk off!” For an answer. The OC was now fighting to get out of the bivvie to grab his assailant, still shouting for his bottle of scotch. George, on the other hand, had different ideas. Quick as a flash he was up and running, departing the leaguer, his white arse disappearing from view as he reached the end of our lights’ glow. Apparently there was a stony silence in that turret for a couple of days.
A snippet about adventure training while at JLR.

In our third term we spent our two weeks split between Renney and in some tin shacks at Willsworthy Down on Dartmoor near Okehampton. I say tin shacks and that was exactly what they were. Constructed of tin sheeting on concrete slabbed floors. The first couple of days passed fairly uneventfully as we did run after run between various moorland features. However it was bitterly cold, and one evening as dusk drew in, our troop sergeant gazed at the sky murmuring to himself. His murmuring resulted in a loud “fcuking snow” and with that we all went to our sleeping bags and thought no more of it. Not until we woke up next morning anyway. Then as I awoke I glanced at the far end of the hut and pondered as to why I could see daylight through the roof. Through the roof? Fcuking hell!! Where was the fcuking roof? I was in fact staring at a gaping hole where that end of the roof had been the previous evening. Beneath the hole lay a massive pile of snow, and surprise, surprise the mound could move of its own volition, fcuking hell! it even had two pairs of eyes and could swear most violently!
“Fcuk me what’s this s***?” it said.
Then it quite violently erupted, and two of my chums appeared still zipped up in their sleeping bags, they proceeded to hop around trying to escape their predicament looking for the entire world like some crazed sack race.
Eventually they escaped their duck down lined prisons and headed, like the rest of us, for the door. This was no panic driven exodus; it was merely our newly awoken bodies expressing the need for early morning bladder release. A need made more desperate by the bitter cold that beset us upon waking.
Shock, dismay, desperation and generally p*ssed off were the expressions on our faces as we attempted to open the door. ‘Piggy’ Humphries was trying to open the door unsuccessfully and only when five other lads joined in did the door eventually open, but only then because it was kicked down. We then discovered the reason was that a huge snowdrift was blown up along that entire side of the building.

Having got our ablutions finished, and attired ourselves in more kit than an Eskimo sees in an entire lifetime, we paraded.
As we stood shivering in three ranks our sergeants told us that our situation was... “No gas, water or communications, so we’re up sh*t* creek in a leaky canoe with no paddles. We’ll just sit tight and wait for help”.
We soon found out that ‘sit tight’ actually meant ‘run four miles in full kit with weapons!’ I cannot begin to explain how difficult this was in deep snow. Eventually we came to a small hamlet where, to our surprise we found a teashop open. So in we tramped and proceeded to thaw all over the carpets. I don’t think the staff minded as sales rocketed, and ‘off season’ too.
Either way the day ended with a rescue mission which removed us from the wilds of Dartmoor and deposited us back in a snowy but relatively safe Renney Lentney.

My last recollection of adventure training is that one fresh morning we were loaded onto trucks and driven to an outward-bound centre near Ashburton in Devon. There we were thrown across the mother of all assault courses known as the ‘Ashburton high ropes’. This ‘confidence’ course was a cunningly designed course of ropes, which peaked at around fifty feet up in the treetops. Fifty feet? It may as well have been five hundred feet for a lad nervous of heights like me. Never the less, we all completed this trip of terror without incident.
Having just calmed the adrenalin surge I had just experienced, I realised with dismay that there was more fun instore for us. We didn’t know what lay ahead as we marched single file off down a lane.
Our destination, it turned out, was Holne Chase Bridge. We were halted out of sight of the bridge and a Sergeant came up the line numbering us. Number fifteen, or me as I was known, received the number and a slap on the shoulder. We were then informed that we were to jump from the bridge into the swirling dark waters of the river below. I glanced nervously around but was met with other eyes all displaying alarm and fear. The questions flashing through my mind were why? What for? And me! Die?
Obviously the concepts of character and confidence building still hadn’t penetrated the quivering grey matter in my skull.
Then came the briefing.
“Right chaps, the technique is to jump feet first as if you’re standing to attention. If you flap your arms, you won’t fly, you’ll fcuking belly flop! And from about 40 feet that’ll hurt!”
Thanks a bloody bunch! Thought I, that’s me done for! As I visualised my ungainly entry to the black depths of the river.
“As you touch the water open your legs wide and put your arms out to the sides, this will slow your descent!”
I could imagine this action doing more than slowing my descent, in fact my testicles were already somewhere in my throat as they fought for self preservation.
“When you surface, shout your number and name so we know you’re okay”.
You fatherless, keep talking, I’m not ready yet, I thought. But no, that was it; Number one was escorted from our sight to the bridge.
There followed screams and shouting amidst splashing as the poor soul launched himself into the abyss.

So, here we were, number fifteen was called forward and with trembling legs I walked forward to the bridge parapet.
The instructor slapped me on the shoulder, winked and then shouted, “GO!”
To my amazement I reacted automatically and jumped.
The sensation of flying was great, everything suddenly seemed to slow down and I realised I was actually enjoying myself.
Then... the shock of cold water. The freezing water quite literally suspended my breathing. Cold? That’s an understatement! I sank down and, due to the rivers low level in autumn, hit the riverbed. As I pushed off towards the surface my only thought was AIR.
As my head appeared out of the bubbling torrent all thoughts of “fifteen” and “Okay sir” were long gone.
“Fcuk me, that’s fcuking freezing” shot from my mouth.
“I take it you’re okay then number fifteen?” Came a shout from the riverbank.
One man of course had to do it wrong. Trooper Mason flew like a bird but entered the water head first damaging his teeth in the process. This resulted in false teeth and earned him the nickname of ‘chopper’. So then are military nicknames born?
Just a quick update
The publisher says all is still on target for juneish - The Tank Museum at Bovington is now interested - mind you they've not read any of it yet!!!????? Thanks all for your kind comments.
Now, on the back of a Tank is the Infantry Tank Telephone here's a snippet about it.

The infantry were always a source of amusement to us. They had an unnerving knack at doing something that made us laugh. For example, a constant source of amusement was their use of the ‘infantry tank telephone’ (ITT). This was a telephone handset in an armoured box on the back of the Tank, which connected into the vehicles crew intercom. In principle it was a clever device for increasing infantry/armour co-operation. In reality it was just another excuse for us to ‘take the piss’ out of the ‘Grunts’. On one occasion we were sat ‘closed down’ in a fire position ‘supporting’ an infantry attack in front of us, then, in our headsets Stan and I could hear a bleating buzz. The buzz was from the ITT ‘call button’; Stan turned his head to look out of his cupola episcopes to see if he could identify who was calling. Now, the ITT handset was connected to about thirty feet of spring loaded cable so that the Infanteer could pull out the handset enabling the Tank crew to see him. Invariably the ‘grunts’ didn’t know this and would hunch down below the rear of the Tank. This was highly dangerous of course, and not wishing to disappoint we often enjoyed engaging reverse gear thereby caused the Tank to ‘jump’ without moving. It was normally enough to send the average ‘grunt’ running for his life while we sat howling with laughter. The down side being that he would drag the handset out when he ran then let go sending it whizzing back into its box, the spring tension smashing the handset to pieces on the armoured cover, yet another repair job!
So as Stan peered outside to see who was calling us he could see nobody. We selected to speak on the ITT and were immediately confronted with a little voice saying,
“Hullo, hullo, (puffing sounds as he blew in the mouthpiece), fcuk me Jim, I know the buggers are in there ‘cos the engines are going!” this was shouted to his unseen mate while he still had the handset pressed to speak. Once again, he attempted to make contact.
“Hullo you in the Tank, this is me out here?” He went on, “(puffing sounds again) Hullo, hullo, hullo, hullo can anybody hear me?”
Inside the Tank I had switched the radio control box so we could all hear this guy going on, the result was that we were all splitting our sides at the grunt’s efforts. Stan even had tears rolling down his face. At last Stan regained control and picking up his mic’, spoke to the poor chap,
“Hello, and who the fcuk are you?” asked Stan promptly falling about with laughter.
“Er, er, er Mike three three alpha, over”. Came the little voice from below.
“What the fcuk is that? Your name or your Callsign?” Stan nearly lost control of his laughing again before he could stop talking. But the grunt was persistent;
“My Callsign, over!” he informed us. Stan was now on a roll,
“Well Mike what the fcuk do you want?” Asked Stan. The grunt’s reply came,
“Reference that tree over there, there’s an enemy MG post two fingers to its right, dug in, please destroy, over!” Well, that was it, we had now all collapsed in absolute agony at this conversation. Stan was saying between guffaws;
“Who the fcuk is this? Who’s put him up to using the ITT? I know they have to practice but, this is fcuking ridiculous!” He promptly collapsed in convulsions again. The point was, here was a grunt crouched behind 56tons of steel, through which we couldn’t see him. And yet he was pointing at a tree, somewhere, assuming we could see him and the tree. The problem being that we were surrounded by trees, whole woods of them. Stan now gave up, opening his hatch and disconnecting his headsets from his breastplate he climbed out. He then jumped onto the engine decks and cupping his hands to his mouth, shouted at the grunt.
“Oi, Mike or whatever your fcuking name is, what the hell do you want?” He yelled. This went on for some time because the grunt and his sidekick who Stan found crouched beside him had, their heads next to the exhausts. This meant of course that their hearing ability was severely impaired. Stan bent down and retrieved a spare track pin from where it lay on the engine decks. Quite a weight a track pin, the grunt found this out as Stan dropped it onto his shoulder to attract his attention. For the first time I saw the fellows face, covered in camouflage cream, appear over the top of the exhaust box. Stan and his opposite number then had a conversation with much pointing and flailing arms. Finally satisfied Stan returned , chuckling to himself, dropping into his commanders seat. It transpired that Stan now knew what the Infanteer had wanted and we motored off and ‘suppressed the enemy position’.
Okay as it's Easter here's a cheery little snippet on how to remain tactical!!
Anyway - who needs war?..........

That particular troop training had got off to a ropey start anyway. It was dark when we’d set off from Rheinsehlen, I’d assumed we’d be moving tactically. Nosher had said, “This’ll test your map reading Malcy, you lead”. I, on the other hand, realised it would have probably been more of a test of his map reading! But seriously his, like all Tank commanders, standard of navigation was above average. It was just that nobody enjoyed it at night. So I instructed ‘Tommo’ to switch off all his cab lights, inside and out, my gunner and operator dimmed the interior turret lights and off we went. Quite quickly I realised we may as well have not bothered without lights. As we bumped and banged across the area I cursed Tommo for the rough ride.
“Not my fcuking fault, can’t make out the bumps properly!” came his reply over the IC. I stood up in my hatch and looked at where the ground should have been in the moonlight. Instead all I could see were shadows jumping around, as the light seemed to flicker. I turned and, there behind us were Nosher and Bert’s Tanks lumbering along with their headlights on main beam!
“Fcuking hell, its like Blackpool fcuking illuminations up here!” I exclaimed, “Fcuk it, put your lights on Tommo, you’ll never be able to see with this bloody circus following!” Tommo did as I asked and we trundled onward to our wooded ‘hide’ for the night. Once we had reversed into the trees, my crew and I set about ‘camming up’ and getting ready for our night routine, as silently as possible.

Nosher and Bert’s Tanks reversed noisily into the tree line crashing through the undergrowth. Once halted Nosher’s ‘jenny’ ran for ages, I presumed Nick Allen; his operator was using the BV. Noshers voice rang through the night, “Come on Nick, ain’t tea ready yet?” A wartime vision of Russian Special Forces, knives clasped in teeth, running towards our location flashed through my mind. Then, echoing through the trees came; “Bertie! Malcy! O group my Tank now!” an ‘O’ group is; collect in a group to receive ‘Orders’. I really can’t explain it more simply than that. I made my way in darkness to where Noshers Tank obviously was, I say obviously as the flashing of torches and general noise that emanated from it was wondrous to behold. I met Bert on the way who was also astounded at the display from our troop leader. We found Nosher sat on the back decks tucking into a plate of stewed steak and mash, a steaming cup of tea next to him. His Tank’s ‘Jenny’ ran down and switched off as we drew near. “Fcukin’ smashin’ this Nick” he bawled at the turret. Nicks head appeared, his face highlighted by the glow from the interior lights, “Ssssh,” intoned Nick, who was also obviously confused by Nosher’s relaxed attitude. “Ssssh fcuking what?” replied Nosher seemingly unaware that this was meant to be war. As Bert and I appeared out of the gloom, Nosher saw us and waved us up onto his sweltering engine deck throne. Once we’d clambered up Nosher said; “Right then boys, tonight is the last time we do this, from now on we’s tactical”. “Okay Nosh”, chorused Bert and I. Next night, Bert and I led our move into another wood as silently as, on a 56 ton monster, we could. Noshers arrival took down a tree, followed ten minutes later by, ringing through the night air; “Bertie, Malcy, O group, my Tank now!” It did get better I promise you because; at the end of troop tests we’d won. 12 ‘Cock’ Troop was the best. I put it down to, not only being the best skilled troop but, also having the best morale because Nosher was, one in a million.
Okay guys and guysesses

I've confirmed that the proof copy of the book should be with me in a bout 4 weeks so we're still on Track. Hopefully nobody's lost interest but, just in's a bit more but not, as usual a full chapter.

Chapter 35
“Wilco, out!”

Oh dear, this could I fear, become a long chapter as, signals was my bread and butter trade, eventually I would end up at The Royal armoured Corps Signal School in Bovington having qualified as a Signals Instructor. But that story is not for this book, you’ll be glad to hear! I shall endeavour not to make this chapter too long, but it may be difficult as I have so many experiences as an operator and loader.
From very nearly, the start of my adult Tanking career I was an operator more than any other job on a Tank. I explained earlier in the book how I was ‘Stan Janner's’ operator. My baptism was fairly rough; I had to quickly learn from ‘Stan’ that a vital part of the C42 radio’s tuning drill was a hammer or, other fairly heavy object. This fact had been omitted during my training but to finally tune in the frequency required, you had to get a needle to ‘swing’ and centre on a spot on a dial. This was notoriously difficult, turning knobs, watching intently as the needle swung to and fro, resolutely refusing to stop on the bloody spot! ‘Stan’ quickly explained; “Malc, get the needle near the spot, pick up the hammer and smack the radio hard just above the dial!” This he demonstrated to me and, my tuning difficulties were over as, the needle miraculously dropped, as if dead, onto the spot!
Of course, tuning a radio was not even half the battle for an operator. Voice procedure, this title was for many operators and commanders enough to bring them out in a cold sweat! How do you speak on a radio? It appeared that for some people this was extremely difficult. You are not allowed to refer to anything in clear speech. A concept that, especially for officers, was very hard to comprehend. If I were to try writing and explaining the vocabulary used in the signals ‘dictionary’ it would easily take up a whole book on it’s own! But I shall attempt to explain messages as I go. For example all letters are sent as per the ‘Phonetic alphabet’ e.g. A is ‘Alpha’, B, ‘Bravo’ and C, ‘Charlie’ etc. Numbers are said as they are, Zero, one, two and three and so on. Zero is however written thus; Ø. Therefore a radio Callsign e.g. T4Ø would be read and spoken as; Tango four zero, not, Tango forty. So from now on, for the uninitiated, please try and read any messages as I’ve explained. I will endeavour to be careful in what I explain as, many of the terms and phrases I use may be in use today and I would not like to compromise any security aspects of the modern soldier’s security.
As the years progressed it became increasingly difficult to speak in ‘clear speech’, more and more information requiring ‘encoding’. When I started my career the codes in use were known as ‘Slidex’ for worded messages of standard format, and ‘Mapco’ for encoding map references. These codes were eventually superseded by a single code known as ‘Batco’. This is all I am, for obvious reasons, prepared to explain about codes used by the Army. But the reluctance of some people to use codes due to the speed required for action to take place in response to an order could lead to hilarity. For example we never referred to a Tank on the radio as ‘Tank’. Instead all references to vehicle types were made in ‘veiled’ speech. For example a vehicle was simply known as a ‘Callsign’, why then would officers try and categorise them further. The favourite when operating in a mixed battle group was ‘Heavy’ and ‘Light’ Callsigns. Christ, it wouldn’t take the brains of an Archbishop to work out that ‘Heavy’ probably meant a Tank! So trained enemy ‘intercept’ operators who scanned the frequencies ‘information gathering’ could easily start to build up a picture of what they were facing!
All forms of Order giving are placed into standardised format, thus facilitating the ease with which they can be encoded. To the enemy this would then appear as a meaningless mass of numbers and letters. Slang is severely frowned upon as, if it’s used by a particular unit to refer to certain objects or occurrences; this would be used by the intercept station to identify certain units by this method. People however used names and words in the false impression that they were legal! A good example would be the word for radio, ‘means’. As I explained in a previous chapter ‘means’ was accepted as a word shortening the phrase ‘means of communication’, in other words a radio! This was in fact not necessarily an ‘illegal’ word but, I never really understood why it should be used. If you wanted to get someone to communicate with another Tank we were hardly using bloody ‘pigeon post’ were we?

Mr Happy

As I explained in a previous chapter ‘means’ was accepted as a word shortening the phrase ‘means of communication’, in other words a radio! This was in fact not necessarily an ‘illegal’ word but, I never really understood why it should be used. If you wanted to get someone to communicate with another Tank we were hardly using bloody ‘pigeon post’ were we?

thats 'cos you were never an infanteer,

CO to OC B

"hullo C20, report to me over"
B Coy rad op goes to find the OC and tell him he's got to go and stamp his heels in.

"Hullo C20, report to me on these means over"
B Coy rad op goes to find the OC to tell him that he's wanted on the radio...

Forgive me for forgetting the correct call signs for OC B etc but you get the picture..


Mr Happy said:
CO to OC B

"hullo C20, report to me over"
B Coy rad op goes to find the OC and tell him he's got to go and stamp his heels in.

"Hullo C20, report to me on these means over"
B Coy rad op goes to find the OC to tell him that he's wanted on the radio...

Forgive me for forgetting the correct call signs for OC B etc but you get the picture..

Radio's - next you'll be trying to tell us tankies you had maps :wink:


Book Reviewer

A serious offer for you. Have you got anyone lined up to proof read your proof copies?

A mate of mine has had three books published and I am his pet editor. (They weren't military but that's neither here nor there.)

As you know, I was cav recce but I was an RAC Con Sig so I do spikka da lingo. Since I left I have done a lot of extra-curricular work regarding document proof-reading both for my current multinational IT megacorporation, my former miltary-favourite ISP 9000-leading IT consultancy and their blue-chip clients in the City.

If yer interested, get back to me when you have a proof copy available. Actually I find I can work just as well if not better with a soft copy of the original.

Serious offer, marra. And don't be put off by the Pitmatic accent, I can write grammatically and syntactically perfect English for you when the need arises (not to mention being a German Linguist).


ps When "A Tracked Armoured Car" gets to the same stage in its life cycle, I promise you a proof copy.

Mr Happy

elovabloke said:
Mr Happy said:
CO to OC B

"hullo C20, report to me over"
B Coy rad op goes to find the OC and tell him he's got to go and stamp his heels in.

"Hullo C20, report to me on these means over"
B Coy rad op goes to find the OC to tell him that he's wanted on the radio...

Forgive me for forgetting the correct call signs for OC B etc but you get the picture..

Radio's - next you'll be trying to tell us tankies you had maps :wink:

We made our own whilst on patrol using rabbit droppings soaked in screech..

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