Armoured Farmer - A Tankies Tale

Mr Happy said:
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..

Okay, JUST before the thread degenerates into the usual Squelch circuit!! here's a bit more from the chapter!!!.....

At this point I would like to give you an example or two of how bad voice procedure could have been.
Regimental Command radio net
This net normally has people who are very angry, stressed and confused on it. But every so often the Colonel himself may get on the radio in an attempt to restore order to the chaos and calm people down, albeit he may have selected the wrong radio to speak on, I have attempted to change actual callsigns in a bid to maintain security.

“Hullo all stations this is Tango 99, today has been a massive success, you are all personally to take a pat on the back from me. . . . .”
“Hullo Tango 99 this is Ø, you have the wrong means selected over!”
Undeterred by the interruption the CO continues unabated:
“. . . . it’s been a long, arduous exercise for both you and your machines so we need our well earned rest. . . . “
“. . . . before we fall back to our hide locations tonight, I wish to congratulate you all on a spiffing performance”.
“Tango 99, this is Ø that was long winded and watch your security. Cut it out. Out!”
“. . . .today was long and we have another long day ahead of us tomorrow. Thank you for your efforts and goodnight.”

Not only Senior officers have problems with voice procedure, another example could be a young Regimental Intelligence officer while on radio watch late at night in Command Troop, the Colonel has departed on one of his vehicles, the Colonel uses different callsigns when he’s on different vehicles:
“Hallo Echo 1Ø Alpha this is Ø, what er, where and what Callsign will you . . . . er,. . .you. . . . er what Callsign are you using to . . . . um . . . . oh bollocks . . . .er,. . . wait,. . . um. . . out!”
“Hallo Echo 1Ø Alpha this is Ø, what Tank or. . um. . . . er what Callsign are you. . . . to um. . to er?”
“Echo 1Ø Alpha, I’ll be using Echo 64 Over.”
“Ah . . er. . .um. . . thank you, Roger out.”
A Squadron radio net, the OC ordering a ‘quick attack’:
“Hallo all stations this is Ø, orders. . . . I envisage a wide blitzkrieg movement cutting the enemy off from their rear echelons and reserves and blowing a huge, gaping hole in their lines. . . .”He is interrupted by an unknown Callsign thinking they are chatting on the IC;
“Ere, I thought this was meant to be a fcuking quick attack?”
“Fcuk knows! Are you managing to write all this crap down?”
The REME now interrupt the message flow:
“Hallo Tanks this is your mechanics. The tank belonging to Corporal Paul ‘Bish’ Betteridge, Third Royal Tank Regiment is broken down at grid 234594. it’ll probably take us a good two hours to sort it out, out.”
Control hearing the glaring cock up made by the REME now chirps in;
“Hallo Mike 73 Bravo this is Ø, watch your security. All grids and reports should be in code. Out!”
Another Callsign now breaks in un knowingly;
“Christ almighty, did you see the size of the tits on her by the petrol station?”
The OC is now, after all the interruptions, once more heard still giving orders!
“. . . . and turning their line of advance so that we can begin to chase the enemy away eventually achieving the final victory which we so richly deserve. . .”
Outside, the war carry’s on and on and on until, an unknown Infantry unit ‘breaks in’ on the net:
“Yankee 16 Charlie this is Ø send combat report over.”
“Hang on. . . ssssh. . . . .was that for us?” floats out across the air! There follow repeated attempts to get a combat report until Ø decides that Y16C can’t hear him so he decides to resort to checking the communications;
“Yankee 16 Charlie this is Ø Radio check over.”
“Na, no fcuking way was that for us.” the wayward station unconsciously says.
“Don’t fcuking know. Anyway Sarge, Fancy a beer?”
“Yankee 16 Charlie this is Ø NOTHING HEARD OUT!”
Okay, to keep the thread alive and to remind me that the book really is getting published, apparently next month!! here's a chapter which saw the Armoured Farmers leaving Britain.

Chapter 20

Bye Bye Tiddy.

We were informed in 1978 that we would be moving back to BAOR in 1979. We would be stationed in Paderborn situated in Nordrhein Westphalen. Suddenly things started to whirr in our routine, preparations for handover started in earnest in early 1979. Once more we found ourselves bulling Tanks and equipment like crazy. The difference was of course that, like our predecessors, the 4th/7th we found that our exercise commitments would take us nearly up to the handover. I also had to attend a Control Signallers course at Bovington. This course was my next step up the career ladder. When the Squadron leader told me of this decision I was actually dismayed. Signals? Me? Oh no! I had wished to pursue my training in the Driving and Maintenance (D&M) field. But, as I was informed, my experience thus far had mainly been as an Operator/Loader so my future lay in signals. Within our Regiment D&M and Gunnery were given a higher importance than signals. This was driven mainly by the main functions of the Tank. Most things were measured on how effectively a Tank was maintained and how accurately it could shoot. Therefore signals, being fairly unmeasurable, tended to be somewhat neglected. Consequently Control Signallers and indeed, Signals Instructors were continually in short supply. I wouldn’t have minded so much except, Signals was by far the hardest subject to learn! All the various codes, voice procedures, radio frequency theory and different types of equipment had to be learnt. The course was lengthy and all I could see before me was boredom.

Once on the course however, I discovered that the course was far from boring. Okay, so all the various subjects had to be learnt but, the Instructors tried to make it as interesting as possible. I was actually on the first ‘Con Sig.’s’ course to teach the new ‘Clansman’ range of radio equipment. We had already started to receive and use this new equipment as I had departed on course. The days of ‘Larkspur’ interference ridden communication were gone forever. These new ‘wonder sets’ were a huge improvement, now, instead of an essential item of tuning kit being a hammer, we simply dialled in a VHF frequency. Once we had tuned to the desired ‘output power’, we simply talked into a headset and boom microphone combination and messages were sent and received ‘interference free’. The messages could also be sent over vastly increased ranges compared to the old C42 sets. Our new set was the VRC 353, its only potential drawback, was its antenna tuning. As I mentioned, the antenna was tuned to a power output, the problem that could arise was, that if somebody tuned to the highest output (50 Watts) while somebody was grasping that antenna, they could light up like a Christmas tree! The 50-watt setting was ‘out of bounds’; the setting was only for use in emergency having tried unsuccessfully to contact anyone by using other, lower settings or by moving the Tank to ‘higher ground’. But it was possible to inadvertently tune to the setting, so all crews were specifically told not to climb on Tanks using the antenna base as a ‘hand hold’.

Another problem was the use of voice procedure. Suddenly here we were with a means of communication over which, individual voice characteristics could easily be identified. Previously on the C42 the static and ‘mush’ interference had helped to disguise voice patterns. The ‘Clansman’ range of sets were, however, an enemy ‘intercept operators’ dream. The operator could sit, listen and identify our voices and gradually build a picture of what and who we were and what we were doing. The Soviet bloc forces were masters at recording this information and then using it against their foes. So voice procedure suddenly became a ‘hot’ subject, we were to ensure our voices were kept at a constant pitch and tone and that when speaking we were either to use code or disguise any uncoded messages. This had always been the case but now it would be enforced with a vengeance. A member of A. Squadron found this out while on exercise. When we were on scheme we had long wondered who ‘Natasha’ was. Many were the nights when, as a Squadron we were bashing across the countryside on ‘radio silence’ (when we were strictly forbidden to talk on the radio), when from nowhere the Squadron radio net would come to life. Firstly there would be a crackle and pop then the customary hissing of the ‘mush’ interference. Suddenly a quiet voice would speak…
“Naattaasha, Naaattaaasha, ooh Naaaaattttaaaaasha”. Then silence again. This would happen on every exercise, the interference from the radio assisting in disguising the culprit’s voice. However, with the advent of ‘Clansman’, the culprit was quickly identified as a member of A. Squadron who, had tuned into our frequency in order to try and drop us in the shit for ‘breaking’ radio silence procedure.
Anyway, I passed my course with flying colours and was recommended for an Instructors course in the fullness of time. When I returned to Tidworth I was regarded as a bit of a guru as, I had also been trained in the art of test and repair of headsets etc. I could also test radios for problems but not repair them, for that we had the REME. A previously unknown piece of radio equipment was now issued. This was the infamous crewman’s helmet which we called the ‘bonedome’. This was a fibreglass helmet fitted with headsets and a boom mic’. The idea being bump protection inside the vehicle, the protection it didn’t provide however, was against the helmet itself which had an awful tendency to feel like a vice on your bloody skull. This was due to the headsets being spring loaded to maintain pressure on the ears for hearing efficiency. Of course the pressure wasn’t meant to be so great that it made us feel as though our brains were being pushed out of our eye sockets.

Before ‘Clansman’s’ arrival we had also seen the introduction of our first Chieftain Mk 3G, this was of course not a brand new Tank, rather a reworked and upgraded Mk 2xy. It went straight to SHQ and was given to my old pal Lucy as his to drive. It raised a few eyebrows in the Squadron as it was the first Tank we had seen with the new No.6 NBC system fitted to the turret. We had long since got used to the appearance of laser rangefinding equipment to replace the familiar Bop, Bop, Bop of the .50 Browning. The .50 stayed in the turret as the balance of the main armament relied on the .50’s weight so that the gun control equipment wouldn’t be thrown out of synchronisation. Eventually this much loved gun would be taken away and replaced simply by a weight to replace it. We could not understand the decision to scrap the .50, as its heavy calibre was ideal for light armour penetration instead of wasting main armament ammunition. But as I said the new NBC pack created interest as it was so much improved on the old system. The turret no longer looked as if it had a small tin attached to its back. Instead the new pack became an extension of the turret rear, creating on its top, flat surface, a new sleeping place.

But this sleeping place was used only if we were unable to erect a shelter over the warm engine decks at night as we were in a ‘battle hide’. Tanks at night move into ‘hides’, a reserve hide is normally a wood to the rear of the Troop or Squadron battle positions. Safely tucked away in our wood, we would put the main armament squarely over the engine decks and, then strap a tarpaulin along the top length of the barrel and tie its sides down to both sides of the Tank. The crew would then curl up in their sleeping bags on the decks, their armour staying warm all night. A ‘battle hide’ was a wooded overnight position where we were concealed in our actual firing position. Our main armament would remain ‘gun front’, ready for immediate action. Normally we would sleep in our crew positions but, we may have permission to sleep outside on the turret or available engine deck space. If this was the case, crewmen could be found sleeping in all manner of strange positions. Sleeping in crew positions was a particularly unpleasant chore. Imagine the gunner being squashed in his seat taking on the form of a Chinese puzzle. The driver would of course, have the best nights sleep, fully reclined in his sealed cab. The commander would order the gun to be elevated, allowing him to sit upright but stretch his legs on top of the main armaments breech. The operator? I can clearly remember many a night, curled around the turret ring on top of the ammo charge bins, with a jacket rolled up as a pillow. The main problem with vehicle sleeping was the overnight drop in temperature, I mean it was ******* cold. Our warm breath would circulate creating condensation on the turret roof, this in turn would drip on our slumbering bodies creating more misery.

Upon waking , when in a reserve hide, our routine would normally be to get up, stow all our equipment and the camouflage nets. The previous night before retiring, the operator would have gathered the compo tins for breakfast, and placed them in the BV ready to go. Having ensured our stowage was secure and that nothing would be left behind, we would depart from the hide ensuring that the BV was switched on. This way, by the time we reached our new location and had erected the awful ‘cam nets’ the BV would have finished heating our food. There was nothing quite like a Bacon burger buttie and cup of tea for our groaning stomachs. This ritual of up, stow, move and get to a new location was really a survival exercise. Its aim was to remove us from the danger of an enemy who had been watching us overnight, preparing to attack us at dawn. So before ‘first light’ it was up and get out. I suppose you could liken it to the Infantry ritual of ‘stand to’ at dawn, where they all man their foxholes ready to fight off any aggressors who’d ‘fancy their chances’ as daylight approached.

As the year rolled on so the tempo of our handover preparations increased until, they were at fever pitch. Along the way many of our pals departed the army, choosing to pursue civilian jobs and stay in the UK. This was always a trade mark of postings in Britain, manpower tended to turnover at an increased speed. I think it was because the temptation of seeing jobs in the vicinity of home and family that did it. Also, soldiers formed relationships with partners and decided to forgo the trauma of separation through long periods in Germany. We, for example were destined to stay in Paderborn for nine years. Armoured units always received long postings I believe, due to the fact that the bulk of our armour was in Germany facing the Cold war threat of communism.

Some of the faces who departed were Gary ‘Monklet’ , Phil ‘ollie’O, ‘Rabbit’ and to my surprise ‘Stan Janner’. When, over a beer I discussed his logic in leaving, his answer was simply “Malc, its getting so that the fun of Tanking is going down the tube, people are taking this army lark far too fcuking seriously!” This shocked me but, never the less Stan departed to become a policeman in Bristol. And so it was that a good proportion of experienced crewmembers left the Regiment.
Also, during our stay at Tidworth the RTR said farewell to the ‘Hackle’ a plume of feathers in the RTR colours which fitted behind the cap badge of our parade ‘No 1’ beret which, unlike the hackle itself, nobody missed when it too, disappeared!!

We that remained had our farewell parties including a night in a marquee. This night was C. Squadrons farewell to Tidworth and a cracking good night it was too.
‘Switches’ was actually found availing a young lady of his sexual charms behind a stack of straw bales in the marquee we’d set up for a farewell party. Found………….during the bloody festivities as we all drank and made merry.
In due course having said our farewells and handed our tanks over, we departed for Germany in late 1979. Next stop, Germany.
I feel like I've been neglecting all who've PM'd me about progress, here's the latest update!!!

To answer the PM's I've been getting, I should have the proof copy in my hands within the next week. Then, having had it proof read by my - hidden contact - It should be published by mid June - thank god, I was getting a little worried.
Just to keep a 'few warmers into the bank' going here's a skit from the Tank Park, Fallingbostel 1976.

First parade completed, we would ‘fall out to our duties’ and head for the tank park. Quite a feat of endurance in its own right as it involved a lengthy walk across scrubland to reach the hangars.
The tank parks were laid out, each squadron’s hangars running parallel to each other with a concrete yard between them for working on. The hangars started with A sqn at the top, B sqn in the middle and ours at the bottom. The respective hangars did not face each other, so we could not watch the activity in front of B squadrons sheds and likewise they couldn’t watch us at work. The same obviously applied for A sqn.

As the warm summer days drew on to be replaced by the cooler pre- autumnal climate our preparations for ‘handover’ and our move to Tidworth became more hectic. Each day brought us a fresh batch of problems to play with. Somehow through the mayhem our sense of humour prevailed.
One day as we toiled on the tank park we suddenly heard muffled explosions echoing from the far side of B sqns hangars. Then, three steel helmets came falling from the sky crashing and rattling across the concrete. One however, made no noise whatsoever, this was because it hit Jack on the shoulder and knocked him from the top of a turret where he was working, to the ground. The cursing that ensued was surpassed only by the speed with which Jack disappeared off towards B Sqns Park. We could hear him ranting about how he’d “Stick my fcuking boot so far up some barrstard's arse he’ll be able to undo my fcuking laces with his fcuking teeth!” for some time.

Meanwhile, with a shout of ‘mortar attack’ we were all galvanised into action. From nowhere bricks appeared, these were laid out in pairs across our park, about thirty helmets were produced from the hangar and placed with the rim of the helmet balanced on the bricks so that the helmet was effectively ‘aimed’ towards B sqn over the top of their hangar. Then loads of ‘thunderflashes’ (oversize bangers) were mysteriously produced and bound together in threes. A count down was then bawled across to us, as “one” was shouted we all simultaneously ignited our explosives and thrust them under the helmet in our charge. Suddenly the tank park erupted as a ragged volley of explosions thundered out and the helmets all took off and flew through the air and disappeared beyond B sqns roof. There followed an angry roar as a hail of steel helmets swamped B sqns men. Shortly after, Jack appeared at the end of our park looking pretty dishevelled as of course his own sqn had now also had a go at prematurely ending his career. The helmet salvoes continued until we all ran out of ‘thunderflashes’. B sqn came off worse of course because A sqn joined in the melee and B got caught in the middle of two barrages.
That night, naturally we had to celebrate our victory in the squadron bar amid much laughter, even Jack was seen enjoying himself. We worked out that he had in fact found the ‘helmet culprit’ and attempted to rearrange the wretched individuals internal organs. A strange man indeed our Jack, as hard as nails but not as hard as the helmet, which had hurled him from the tank. He found the next day that he’d fractured his arm during the fall.


But as C Sqn was firing you were quite safe - unless you had taken shelter in a portaloo 8)
HE wasn't probably bringing the name of C Sqn down by that encounter - - -was he???
A note to all of you, my erstwhile chums and chumsesses.
The book
This book, will be out sometime in June. So many people have already said they want it that I am extremely flattered but, all the requests have come at different times and by different means.
I have now an administrative nightmare trying to find all the requests through my pm inbox etc. The ARRSE servers though magnificent, cannot cope with this deluge I'm sure and I'm probably not going to win many friends in admin with the size of my inbox (I run the risk of losing orders too having to continually thin my pm's. So I have a please!!
Could you all place your orders (even though you may have already asked) onto my personal email address at malcycee @
Please subject title your message with name and qty of books as per this example: A.Name 1 book.
In your mail, please make sure you give me your full address that way I won't have to keep mailing back and forth wasting your valuable time.
Then I can place these orders directly into an appropriate folder to save order/payment confusion. I do apologise for asking this but, quite frankly I wasn't sure the response would be this big. I only really want to offer this service to ARRSE users. 'Outsiders' may use the publisher's service direct from their website which I'll post in due course.

All of you, I'll sign your books if you order direct from me - that's included in the price - just ask for me to sign. There is no need to offer money for my signature. I can't stop anyone paying 'over the odds' but, it's because of soldiers that I wrote this book.

WRITTEN SPECIFICALLY TO 3RTRBut repeated to you all as a thankyou.
It was a pleasure serving alongside each and every one of you and, even those younger members I don't know, I'm sure I would have enjoyed being with you. I'm not here to rip anyone off, I've put down some of my experiences and laughs to help us all remember what we once were and in almost all cases still are!!!
I owe this book to one thing - all of YOU.
This is about continuation of all most of us have left - memories. I just pray that, when you have it - you enjoy it!
I remain ever a friend to all of you (just don't ask for too many beers!)
Arthur (only ever had piles twice on FTX) 3 Bums.
Just a quick update:
I've received the first 'proof copy' today and it looks pretty good if I say so myself. The publishing is, at this moment still on track for June release.

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