Armoured Farmer - A Tankies Tale.

Okely me dokely
OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOHHHHHHHHHHHHHAAAAAAAAAAAAARRRRRRRRRRR Sorry GoodCo if you're watching......couldn't resist it!!!!!

To all my comrades old and new in the RAC thread!
My book (titled above) is getting published in about 8 weeks, priced at £9.95 + P&P it's a total snip. well, you be the judges?
I've put some snippets on the Art forum but, how could I forsake all you goodly folks. Most of (if not all) of you have followed the 3RTR thread faithfully some, have even rolled up your left trouser leg, and shaken hands with your arrrsecheeks to get passes into our stealth version. Seem's our humour is too fcukin dangerous to be let in the open!!!!LMAO!

Either way, even though it's difficult to monitor all these damned threads, I'm gonna repost some extracts from the forthcoming 3RTR VERY unofficial official history, or at least a record of some of the daft things we got upto. Okay you may not have been in 3RTR BUT, loads of you will recognise the first 2 or 3 chapters of JLR experiences? here is a small repost off the old thread where I and my Troop get our hands on Chieftain for the first time!! Hope you enjoy - pass the word - A3B's going into print, oh, and where are the bleddy orders for my Eve of Cambrai prints? PM me and part with your cash - thanks guys. :thumleft:

He slapped his hand onto the front of the vehicle, “this my lads is the glacis plate, no it hasn’t got bugger all to do with mints and polar bears, it is in fact the thickest piece of armour on the vehicle. It protects the front section of the hull, which is the name for the main body of the tank. Why, I hear you ask is it so important to protect the front? Well it’s because we, in British tanks do not, I repeat DO NOT show our ******* arses to the enemy at any time, well, other than if we’re doing a moony, but not while we’re in a tank! The hole you can see in the glacis plate is the drivers hatch”.
Well that sealed it; I would be a driver then. The safest seat in the vehicle, just my cup of tea. I mean, come on, self preservation has to be the greatest natural human instinct, hasn’t it?
“Right then, one at a time into the drivers seat and I’ll show.........”
Stupid bloke, there was no way he was ever going to finish that sentence as we stormed over him as one, all trying to get onto the tank first.
He quickly recouped, “AAAARGH, you bunch of bastards, off the tank NOW and give me fifty pushups!”
Having duly exercised our biceps, we all stood up and cautiously waited our turn to descend into the depths of the drivers cab.
At last it was my turn, I lowered my legs followed by my torso through the opening until I came to rest on the seat. As my eyes became accustomed to the gloom I realised that the drivers cab was in fact fairly cramped. The instructor’s hand came in next to my face and began pointing out various features.
“On the left is the control panel for the Generator unit engine which powers the vehicle’s electrics. On the right is the control panel for the main engine which gives us our automotive power”.
Yes, things were becoming clear, clear as mud anyway!
“Down by your knees”, the instructor continued, “That long panel shows you engine revs, speed and a variety of warning lights and gauges”.
This really was becoming confusing.... pushbike to tank was a pretty big jump for a young country lad.
“On the floor you’ll see three pedals, right is the accelerator, centre is the brake and on the left the gear change”.
“Gear change?” I said.
“Yeah, look, up a bit, in the corner, yes that’s it, looks like a motorbike pedal. You hook your toes under it and flick up to change up a gear and put your foot on top of it and push down to change down a gear”.
“Oh, I get it”, I replied, “But where’s the clutch?” My thought was that this snippet of mechanical knowledge would impress him, but of course it didn’t.
“What ******* clutch? This is a semi-automatic gearbox, so you don’t need a bloody clutch you knobhead!”.

How stupid of me, I should have known better. The rest of the troop clustered on the outside of the tank obviously did know better by the way they sniggered loudly at my blatant stupidity.
“Okay, on either side of you is a long stick, these are your steering levers or tillers as we call them. To go left pull the left one and vice versa for right. On the left on the floor is the handbrake”.
So far everything seemed fairly straightforward, and of course it was all new and exciting.
“As you are sat now is how the driver sits when driving ‘opened up’ he explained.
“ In battle we close all the hatches of course as we don’t want to die, now do we?” Much vigorous shaking of heads from all assembled ensued as the words ‘we’ and ‘dead’ sailed through the air.
“ The driver has to change his position so that he can close his hatch. He does this by activating these levers on his seat”. With that he reached in and pulled on a lever by my side and my backrest shot backwards at the same time as the seat dropped and I smacked the back of my head on the hatch rim as I collapsed with the seat. The result of course (apart from my sore head) was a massive guffaw from the assembled throng.
The instructor regained control of the group and continued relentlessly with his explanations.
“Look behind you monkey face, can you see a headrest flopped down behind you? Good!” Came his reply to his own question.
“ Now adjust it upwards until your head is supported by it and you can comfortably see out of the drivers sight above you.”
His words had become quite muffled now as I lay in the dark depths of the tank’s hull. I fumbled with the headrest and having grazed my head on some protuberance I managed to achieve the required position.
As I peered out of the periscopic sight in front of me, I could clearly see the instructor’s head and shoulders as he peered down into the hatch at the area now occupied by my groin.
“ Please Sarge, no blow jobs!” Came my witty remark, immediately followed by my witty scream as he punched me straight in my testicles!
“ Think you’re funny do you lad? Right lets have you out and give me a hundred push ups!”

Edited once to put the bleddy snippet in...........DOH!!!!!
Please give me loads of feedback .........don't be rude or nasty!!!!!!
And another snippet!

But, these were still the Seventies and ‘smokers’ were still fun. One night as we sat behind our vehicles in 9 Troop in a copse, ‘Switches’ disappeared from our midst. We just assumed he was going on a walk with shovel and toilet roll. But no, unbeknown to us he had ‘borrowed’ a tin of thunderflashes and was busy breaking them open in front of his Tank. He was attempting to build the biggest ‘Genie’ possible from the contents of the thunderflashes. We in the meantime were sat blissfully unaware around our small fire laughing and chatting away. Suddenly, WHOOSH! And a huge flash illuminated the wood for yards around. “Fcuk me, what was…” the exclamation didn’t finish as from round the front of his Tank ‘Switches’ rushed into view clutching his arm and running like the wind. “OOOOOOOOOOOWWWWWWWW FFUUUUCCCCKKKKIIIINNNNGGGGG OUCH” He howled in pain as he ran straight through our small fire and off into the dark through the trees. I quickly found myself caught up in the chase to catch and control ‘Switches’. Once caught it transpired that, having made his mountain of gunpowder, ‘Switches’, using a box of matches had attempted to ignite the ‘Genie’. A major setback to the task was the breeze, which kept blowing out the match. Without thinking ‘Switches’ had used his hand to shield the flame and had inserted the match in the pile. Bad move because he had left his hand still attached to the match. So when the explosive ignited so did the best part of ‘Switches’ forearm, result? Oh yes, he was evacuated to Tidworth Military hospital where he became the nurses’ worst nightmare.
I'm on a roll now!!!!!

This may whet your appetites?

As we motored down the road I sensed that Nick was having problems with the steering. This was easy to sense as every time we approached a bend the Tank started to jolt and lurch in an alarming manner. This was caused by nick ‘pumping’ the steering tillers in an attempt to get a response from the steering. ‘Charlie’ had adopted his ‘usual’ commanders position of pumping the commanders seat into the fully raised position, effectively jamming him into the commanders ‘head out’ position. So all you could see was ‘Charlie’s’ head and shoulders with his arms outside the hatch. This combined with his heavy parka to ward off the early morning cold meant that he was immobilised from the armpits upwards. He could move his head and put his microphone to his mouth, and just about read his map but nothing more. I thought this strange, as we had no gunner to control the turret with the gun over the front of the Tank as we motored along. Still he was the commander so who was I to question the sanity of this?
Realising that Nick was having problems I spoke to him on the IC;
“What the fcuk’s up Nick?” I inquired.
A muffled crackling reply came back;
“Fuc......’s fcuk.... gone!”
Right, okay the steering’s up the creek I surmised from the broken message I’d received. I then said to Nick;
“Pull over mate, I’ll have a look in the decks and see what’s up.” ‘Charlie’ was nodding in agreement. By the way the Tank stopped suddenly I assumed that Nick had understood. I released the ‘snap’ connector on my radio gear and clambered onto the engine decks, joined shortly after by Nick. We opened the decks covering the gearbox and, using a torch (it was still four in the morning) inspected the gearbox for damage. It was immediately clear what our problem was, everything was covered in a thick coating of gearbox oil. The steering was achieved by the tillers, when pulled applying hydraulic pressure to brake pads which pushed onto a large disc each side of the gearbox. This braked the disc forcing the sprocket wheel driving the track on that side to slow down, the other side going faster effectively made the Tank corner. I can’t really explain it any simpler than that. Now, as everything was covered in oil, the pads weren’t able to bring enough pressure to bear on either steering disc, hence Nick’s problem. By now the rest of the Squadron had long overtaken us, so we would have to catch them up! My last advice to Nick as a relatively inexperienced driver was;
“Right mate, seen it before, if you stay in a lower gear and keep your revs up then pump like fcuk on the tiller the pads will apply more pressure, and ‘burn’ themselves into the disc!”
“Righty fcuking ho!” Came Nicks reply.
I wasn’t unduly worried as I clambered back in the turret and plugged myself into the radio system. I lifted a headset on ‘Charlie’s’ head and bellowed the result of our investigation in his ear. ‘Charlie’ nodded and gave me the thumbs up.
“Okay Nick clear to pull out,” I said into my mic’ and promptly nearly fell down into the turret with the force of Nicks lightning acceleration. I listened with horror as the Tank burbled, clanked and roared its way up through the gearbox into sixth(top) gear. Had Nick understood my advice I wondered, or did he have some sort of death wish? No, Nick was just an enthusiastic, mad, speed demon in a Tank who thought he knew better than everyone else. So here we were at four thirty in the morning, hammering down a quiet main road through the German countryside. Little did the poor village before us suspect of the carnage that was about to befall it.
As we entered the outskirts of the village I could see a long sweeping bend to the right, my immediate thought being one of fear. Nick was still in sixth gear bearing down hard on the street before him. I looked across at ‘Charlie’ and noticed in the light from the passing street lamps that his eyebrows were raised way above the rims of his spectacles. By now I was screaming down my mic’;
“Stop Nick, you fcuking Looney!” But to no avail, Nick quite obviously had the bit between his teeth.
We then hit the bend which by now had taken on its true form which was considerably sharper than it had at first seemed.
As we entered the bend a whole myriad of things happened at once.
I could see that we weren’t going to corner, as our gun was looming towards the houses on the opposite side of the street. I looked at ‘Charlie’ to find he had obviously identified the danger because his head and shoulders were frantically bobbing about as he tried, unsuccessfully to un-jam himself from the hatch so he could operate his turret controls.
Tank design? What the fcuk is that?

Throughout WW2 the design leaders remained, the Germans with their vast industrial might. The Russians though, had surprised the Germans when, the Blitzkrieg had run into the outstanding Soviet T34 Tank. This was designed to incorporate all the best features of the Tank. It was fast, well armoured and packed a sufficiently potent punch to be able to stop the average German Panzer in its tracks. What’s more, it was simple to build and operate, cheap to build and very reliable. When one considers the vast logistical problems involved with the size of Russia, the Tank was ideal. The Germans quickly realised that they now faced a problem large enough to make them think again. The answer? Capture a T34, ship it to Germany and let the boffins take a look. One day at the Krupps factory, stood two scientists, Jan and Friederich, at a urinal. “ Shite, but ze T34 ve haf ist damn goot!” Exclaimed Jan. “Ja, but ve vill make somethink tvice as gut!” retorted Friedrich. He continued; “It cannot be so very difficult as, ze T34 vas built by stupid communistisch scum!” “But, it can be crewed by ze vomen!” explained Jan. “Ha, who needs ze fcuking vomen!” Sneered Friedrich as he did up his trousers. Jan immediately said; “Ja, I agree, who needs ze fcuking vomen, Friedrich I zink I luf you!” But as he turned it was too late, Friedrich had left, the toilets swinging door already settling in the doorjamb. “Shiiiit!” Was Jan’s only comment.

But in due course the Germans produced the ‘Panther’ and its big brother ‘King Tiger’ to beat the crap out of anything that got in the way, thereby joining the already successful ‘Tiger 1’. Industrial attrition would eventually bring Germany to its knees. It was great having the best Tanks in the world but, you need steel and an economy to build them, and oil, fuel and ammunition to run them. So even though they were the best Tanks of their era, hammering forth and conquering all, there were, in the end, simply not enough of them to alter the course of the war. This was also combined with the Germans knack of ‘over engineering’ everything they touched. They had missed the fact that the T34 was simplicity itself. Consequently both the Panther and King Tiger were slow and expensive to build. I would argue that without doubt, Panther was the outstanding Tank of WW2. Had it been built alone and without a confused Hitler prevaricating about also building King Tiger, it could possibly have turned the war around, if produced in large enough quantities! But it was not to be, and the war’s outcome is confined to the history books. And thank god it ended in our favour!
Blimey someone must's had enough views!!!
Troop Training.....always a laugh.

When I arrived I reported to my crew who were Frank, the Troop Sergeant, ‘Jud’, the driver and ‘Pep’ the gunner. My first task was to prepare a meal so I went to the storage bin where all crews keep their rations known as the ‘compo bin’ as the tinned composite rations were simply known as ‘compo’, it was only logical to name this storage space as the ‘compo bin’. Every individual Tank has a common storage plan so that when, as in my case a fresh crewman joins the crew he can easily identify where everything is stowed. Having opened the bin I was dismayed to find nothing in it except an opened ******* packet of mashed potato powder. Apparently Frank’s crew weren’t very good at regulating their eating habits. An empty bin and we wouldn’t be replenished (replened) until the next evening. I did however breathe a sigh of relief as quite frankly I didn’t yet know if I could cook for a crew. I returned to where the crew were seated and reported to Frank that we had no rations.
“Fcuking what” he seethed. His beady eyes glared from behind his spectacles, he looked at ‘Jud’, then ‘pep’ and then proceeded to shout at them.
“Begger me, I thought we’d been eating well, what have you two been doing with the bloody rations?” Silence was all he received in return to this question. Luckily next day we managed to beg some extra rations from the SQMS.

I quickly found out about my new crew. Frank it seemed, was a bit inept at most of the tasks that a Tank Commander should find simple. ‘Jud’ was a large chap who while loving driving, found it quite difficult to accept orders from Frank. ‘Pep’ was a quiet lad who befriended me but had an almost schizophrenic tendency to violence when provoked. So this then was my crew and I was their buttie and brew maker, loader and radio operator.

And so it was that 11 Troop with us in Callsign 33A sallied forth into the actual Troop Tests. As we started the tests we found that each test would, this year be marked only by individual crew. The results would be totalled by Troop, but each crew would be tested on its own merits. I vividly remember the tactics stand that year. We were required to advance up a hill and adopt a ‘hull down’ position which meant that the ‘enemy’ on the far side of said hill would only be able to see top of our turret above the crest. The ‘enemy’ in this case was the Regimental 2ic in his Landrover. As we neared the top of the hill Frank announced on the intercom (IC) that control of ‘Jud’ was now in ‘Peps’ hands. The idea of this was that when the gunner, looking through his sight, could observe the target he would tell the driver to halt, the Tank now being in the perfect ‘hull down’ firing position.
As I sat in the gloom of the operator’s position I could clearly hear ‘Pep’ passing instructions to ‘Jud’ over the IC.
“OK Jud just a bit more, slow down or we’ll go too far” the Tank continued its advance not seeming to slow down at all. Suddenly ‘Pep’ started bellowing.
“Jud you fat fcuking twat, where the fcuk are you going?” There was still no reply from the cab or automotive systems and suddenly I could sense that we had gone over the top of the hill and were if anything, picking up speed. So here we were like the Light Brigade at Balaclava running headlong into the muzzles of the enemy guns.
Frank now stopped studying his map and attempted to take control of the situation.
“ Shite, fcuk, begger” crackled in my headset, followed rapidly by,
“ Jud you fcuking goon, what the fcuk are you doing?” these words were becoming drowned now by the wail of the engine as the vehicles tempo increased. Still nothing from the cab, Frank shouted “traverse left” to ‘Pep’ who duly started to turn the turret to the left. As the turret rotated Frank pointed and waved to me, indicating that I should look down into the back of the cab as it appeared below the turret. We were now quite literally hammering down towards the 2ic who could be seen frantically trying to move his Landrover out of the way.


It's looking good so far, i'm enjoying your tales and will very likely buy your book when it comes out.

Keep up the good work mate



I'm in 'three bums' when is the book finally out?
Unless the publisher is a lieing weasel, which, having spoken to him, paid my £500 contribution and signed the 10 year contract, I don't think he is....................6 to 8 weeks. The details of how to buy it........well there's 2 ways direct from them or via me........more as and when, fair to say I guess I can make a bit more money if I do it myself, a question, should I charge a bit more for signed copies? even if people buy from the publisher if they wanted it signed I would do that at this years reunion.....for free............except the odd beer perhaps? The only thing I'm not doing here is putting on all the photo's, cartoons and illustrations as it'd be too time consuming!!
Thanks all for the positive feedback.
I posted this last year on the original Armoured Farmers thread. It's a complete shortish chapter, see what you think.

Picking our Winkles.

When serving in BAOR, for us the mere mention of ‘Winklepicker’ could fill our hearts with dread. Earlier I mentioned escape and evasion exercises during my Cadre course. Well, ‘Exercise Winklepicker’ was normally an annual event, if other regimental commitments didn’t prohibit its execution. Our Regiment deemed survival as a high priority for its crews and the great idea of ‘Winklepicker’ was born.

With the early 80’s swing in tactical doctrine towards armour-spearheaded thrusts, this increased the chances of Tank units becoming ‘marooned’ behind enemy lines. I believe it was always calculated that the ‘Eastern bloc’ could rapidly roll through Western Europe, albeit they may not be able to effectively ‘hold’ ground. This would mean encirclement of any pockets of NATO forces while the main thrust continued. It would be fair to surmise that they wouldn’t have it all their own way as, all bridges in their way would be demolished in what would amount to a ‘scorched earth’ policy by us. Therefore the Russians developed a massive amphibious and engineering capability to counteract this threat. Many of their vehicles from utility to armour were fitted with schnorkelling devices. Our own Chieftains were also supposedly ‘amphibious capable’ but I wouldn’t have liked to risk it, at least not by the way that rain poured in through every orifice.

So as the Russians advanced, the likelihood of our becoming detached from friendly forces would increase. Therefore the art of escaping from, and evading the enemy would be very important. Part of a Tank crewman’s life was always ‘Baleout’ drill. This was normally always trained and tested on Troop training. It would involve evacuating the crew in the quickest time possible, including any casualties. The casualty was invariably the gunner, buried in the depths of the turret. As the crew baled out of the Tank, the gunner’s job would be to dismount the commander’s machine gun and the box of ammo to take with us. The operator would in the meantime be, passing out the turret crews SMG’s, magazines of 9mm ammo, the ground conversion MG butt for the commanders MG and maybe spare ammo for that, then wrestling the webbing equipment from the exterior turret basket for the crew, only then jumping from the Tank to escape. The driver meanwhile would grab his gear and gun and exit the cab. The Commander would grab any maps and coding documents, the signal flare pistol and then stand on the turret top. In the time all this had just taken he would now only have time to grab his SMG, beat off the advancing Mongolian tribesmen from the turret top, and protect the operator who, would still be wrestling with the overcrowded turret basket. Or at least this was my vision of baling out; it was a lengthy process if done ‘by the book’. Our experience taught us short cuts; such as the webbing harnesses were stored on the exterior of the turret, hooked onto projecting bin work. Therefore as the crew departed they simply snatched their equipment and jumped. SMG magazines were in fact stored in their pouches clipped to the webbing. Webbing consisted of a belt and body harness, attached to which were your Field dressing, respirator, ammo and back pouches and your waterbottle. This was known as CEFO (Central European fighting Order) and was designed for speed and mobility. In our uniform pockets we would carry our ‘home made’ survival packs contained normally in tobacco tins. In here would be wet and dry matches, fishing hook with line, plasters, pins, a garrotting wire (for snaring animal and human life forms) and anything else that was of use and could fit.

Of course Exercise Winklepicker was ‘by the book’ so, we had all the equipment to carry and to top it off, our backpacks and ‘slugs’. Were we to try removing our sleeping bags from the Tank ‘for real’, it would have been very difficult. We used to stow our ‘slugs’ in the rear bins next to the engine decks. This used to dry them out with the engines heat and keep them warm for the following night. But, fitting them into the bins was hard work; so getting them out was no fast job. The reality of baling out would have probably been our guns, our webbing, little more and us. But ‘for the purposes of this exercise’ it was everything but the kitchen sink. So there we were with more equipment to carry than the comic character ‘Union Jack Jackson’ with the prospect of normally sixty or so miles to walk. We would normally be dropped off from vehicles without knowing where we were, simulating the sudden ‘knocking out’ of our Tanks. We would then make our way through a series of checkpoints (simulating a resistance or special forces network) on our way back to friendly lines. We were only given the map grid reference of the first checkpoint. When we reached the checkpoint we would then be given the ‘grid’ for the next checkpoint and so on. The allotted time limit to complete the exercise varied but was normally three days. The ‘enemy’ was provided by either; non-involved members of our regiment or by other units of Infantry. The Army Air Corps also provided helicopters for spotting our poor escapees. The exercise was usually run by Tank crew but in a couple of cases we acted as entire Troops. In the following sections this will become apparent. The ‘teams’ were also marked on a point’s basis. ‘Enemy’ capture being rewarded by point’s deductions; a memorable occasion was ‘Nosher’ Cadman’s team who were found asleep in a wooden ‘hut’ bus shelter. The ‘enemy’ simply found a note pinned on the front saying;
Fair cop mates!
Please deduct points from below!
Luv Nosher.
Or at least words to that effect. I think he had had enough on that occasion! I remember that exercise well because the weather was dreadful. At that time I was in Command Troop and we were participating as enemy. A mate of mine Kim Telfer and I ‘volunteered’ early that morning to ascend in a Gazelle helicopter of the AAC to act as spotters. As we climbed into the rear seats of this Perspex bubbled contraption the pilot was already firing up the engine. Once it had reached the required engine speed and, Kim and I were shaking in a suitably aviator fashion, the pilot engaged the rotors. As they increased speed the whole aircraft started to vibrate in a quite alarming manner. Outside the woodland surrounding us was difficult to see because of the weather conditions. However we could see the trees bending in the high wind. The rain that was beating down on our Perspex shell was being blown into tiny droplets as it was forced down by the rotors’ down draught. Our headsets which we had been given, were buzzing with life as the two figures in front cackled through the pre flight checks. The pilot then said;
“* weather’s murder, oh well let’s see if we can get her up!”
With that we lurched off the ground suddenly swinging violently to one side. My stomach didn’t know which way to go, one second down the next, off in the opposite direction to our swing.
“Ho ho, there she goes!” came the response from our pilot.
“Fecking hell!” chorused Kim and I.
Then with an increase in noise we rose upwards, and then the nose dipped and away we went out of the hover, gaining forward momentum. I looked at Kim and he was already looking green, I’m sure he saw a reflection in my face.
So we grimaced sickly and experienced the most uncomfortable helicopter ride of our lives. At one point we were skimming along when Kim suddenly announced;
“I could have sworn I saw a team down there”
“Where?” queried the pilot.
“Back there on the right” explained Kim.
I suddenly felt as though my torso had been removed from my limbs as, we executed a gut wrenching turn towards where Kim was pointing. My response to this was grabbing Kim’s arm and shouting above the noise with the mic’ turned off.
“DO NOT EVER FECKING DO THAT AGAIN!” I could instantly see by the look of horror and sickness on his face that Kim wouldn’t!
Later we found ourselves hovering high above a village, trying in vain to spot our prey through the rain. With an air of resignation the pilot said, “not a * chance of seeing anything in this” and the helicopter dipped forward to get moving again. Dipped? I looked over the shoulder of the navigator in front of me, and still remember the vision I saw. Chimney pots! And we were diving straight down them. Suddenly, just as it seemed we’d reached the point of no return, the pilot yanked on his stick and we frisbee’d across the roof tops of the houses below. Just as I was about to say, “screw this for a laugh, can we go back?” The pilot announced that this was now his plan of action. It was with joy and relief that we greeted our return to the ground, thankful that we weren’t being removed in carrier bags from some ones chimney.

On another ‘Winklepicker’ I was part of a 12-troop crew with my friend Sergeant ‘Gorgeous’ George Brighty as commander, me as operator and ‘Zippy’ Wellington (unfortunate, that long scar down the back of his neck!). We were also joined by ‘Babbsy’ Babbs from the SQMS’ stores. This was because we were short one man to make up the crew. ‘Babbsy’ turned up with a massive display of knives strapped to his legs and the little ‘Action’ war comics you could buy. One of the titles was quite apt, ‘Fighting to live’ it read. Well, bugger me, we thought this was a little extreme. We were escaping and evading our ‘enemy’ the Green Jackets, not, fighting the fecking Afrika Korps for Tobruk! Anyway having been lumbered with the GPMG because of, ‘Zippy’s’ scar and ‘Babbsy’ being hardly able to walk due to his iron mongery, George nominated me. By the end of the third day my neck had a ridge across the back, from the guns weight on the sling.

The first night found us somewhat lost due to thick dense fog. Never the less we found some concrete by the light of a dim street lamp, and settled down for some sleep. Next morning we were woken by a short fellow wearing a trilby and farm workers clothes. I had a conversation with him in German and yes, he was a farmer. In fact the farmer who’s barn door we were blocking. He had however, parked a tractor in front of us making us nigh on invisible to
passers-by. His wife appeared and brought us a platter full of cold meats, bread rolls and butter. She also carried a large flask of steaming, sweet coffee. We proceeded to gorge ourselves, thankfully, on this feast. Meanwhile George was trying to find out on his map where we were. The farmer suddenly grabbed the map in his enthusiasm to be of assistance. He started stabbing his grubby fore digit at the map and then at the ground. I translated that to mean that this point was where we were. Later he even loaded us into his tractor, trailer ‘combo’ and took us to the top of a hill. Having said our farewells, we trudged off, only shortly afterwards to be spotted by an ‘enemy’ detachment.
“balls, lets get out of here, fecking move it!” Shouted George as he heard the grunts running towards us. We ran like the wind, all except ‘Babbsy’ when one of his knives worked loose and promptly impaled his fore leg. We were now vaulting low, wire fences like Springboks in our desperation to get away. The grunts were gaining as they carried only guns. We on the other hand, must have looked like lumbering great lumps of camouflaged rags and equipment as we evaded capture. Luckily we made it to a nearby tree line and slipped away into its depths. The grunts for some reason didn’t follow.
Later that day the rain absolutely thrashed down on us, the only wet gear we had was the issued poncho. I must have resembled the sail on a clipper, with my poncho stuck out each side due to the length of the GPMG. But undeterred I bashed on until, having tried to negotiate an extremely high anti-deer fence, I managed to catch my foot in the top wire and found myself hanging upside down with the GPMG and sling like a noose around my neck. The other lads managed to free me and, after some deep breathing exercises, I found myself underway again. Georges only comment was “fecking hell Arthur, all the noise you were making, wonder we weren’t caught!” yeah, thanks a lot George.
That night we were walking down a woodland track when suddenly, from the darkness a voice said, “Wer da?” We all stopped short. George switched on his torch, and swung it into my face, effectively blinding me with its light. “Are you taking the p*ss with your German?” he enquired. “Am I feck as like!” I replied. George swung back round shining his torch to see if he could identify where the noise may have emanated from. As he did so he nearly smashed it into the face of a German paratrooper sentry. I quickly explained who we were and what we were doing, and we were allowed to pass. We had walked straight into the middle of a German exercise. We then spent the rest of our journey leaping off the road for cover. This was because the Germans were using little Quad bikes, which sounded like Landrover engines. One over enthusiastic leap took me some fifteen feet, headfirst down a bank, as I was towed by the weight of the GPMG.

My last recollection of ‘Winklepicker’ was when I was nominated as 9 troops Sergeant. On this occasion we were dropped as a troop from a Chinook helicopter, at night, from ten feet up as the crew had misjudged their height in the dark. Having picked ourselves up, we headed for a light we could see through some trees. The troop leader, an officer, led us into a woodland restaurant and, covered in mud we lay his map out in the reception area. Having identified where we were, he promptly rang a cab company to pick us up. Long story cut short, we found ourselves in a nightclub. Disaster, as the German speaker people bought me way too many beers. Result, next morning I found myself lying under a propane tank nearby. The troop had laid me there that night. Troop? Where the feck was the troop? Nowhere in fecking sight was where the troop was. Having waited for an hour, and deciding I had been deserted, I removed the ‘just in case’ map from my pocket and set off. The next two days were a nightmare. I walked some 100 kms back to the base camp which was the final destination, there being no checkpoints on this occasion. But, I decided to play it by the book and avoid capture. (I did manage to hitch a lift with a passing 13/18th replen packet, for about 800 yards, travelling in the front of a pod MK which, ran into the back of the SQMS' landrover no less than 4 times in that short distance. This was mainly to do with the fact that the RCT driver was bladdered on scotch!)It must have been a strange sight, a lone soldier dashing about the German countryside, diving for cover at the faintest sound of a ‘chopper’ or Landrover. When I came to cross the river Weser I opted to avoid bridges. Instead I made my way to a ferry shown on the map, once aboard, I stood in the middle of an empty deck, legs splayed and hands on hips. I reminded myself of a picture of a General as he crossed the Rhine in WW2. I eventually made it to my destination, there sat the troop asking where I’d been? Where I’d been? What about where they’d fecking been? But that’s another story. So endeth the ‘Winklepicker’ lesson.


Some very familiar chords struck there! I'll be glad to buy the book when it comes out too. Good one! :thumleft:
Frightened of flying? Na, no need for that at all.............................

The flights could be quite eventful, flying out to Canada; I mentioned the refuelling at Iceland. When approaching the island, we always seemed to approach from the wrong direction this then involved a fairly low level fly past out to sea followed by a gut wrenching 180 degree turn to come back in to land. On one occasion we arrived at Iceland in a gale force storm. Undeterred the pilot swept out to sea and performed his usual ‘stand the ‘kite’ on its wingtips’ manoeuvre, leaving our stomachs miles behind us in the slipstream. We all swore later that the breakers from the stormy waves below were touching the wing tip. As he quickly descended on our approach, the chaps on one side realised that the crosswind was so severe that they could clearly see the fast ascending runway in front of their eyes. An instant before touchdown the pilot straightened the aircraft and with a bang followed by bouncing thuds, we arrived at our destination. Without exception, we all rushed from the plane to the bar and rapidly had a drink. As we watched the standing area through muggy, damp lounge windows we saw the aircrew come towards us. I assumed the one with
the handlebar moustache and glint in his eye was the pilot. ‘Fcuk me, he looks like he’s come straight from the ‘Dambusters’ raid!” I exclaimed. This only resulted in more frantic drinking from all present. As we waited to be called back on board our ‘flight to hell’ we all thought that we might be grounded. The weather had deteriorated to a truly alarming level. But no, we were called out to the plane only minutes later. We all sat down and pulled our seatbelts as tight as was humanly possible, “after all”, thought I, “the RAF have never lost a VC10 yet!” As if reading my thoughts, Lucy, sitting next to me said, “Ha fcuking Ha there’s always a first time for everything!” Oh how very fcuking comforting. Anyway we got under way and before long, were soaring above the weather front that had so very nearly brought me to tears.

On another occasion we were on a flight home, we had all fallen asleep as we’d left at night, and after about two hours of the flight had passed, we were awoken by a bell ringing. We all assumed that, for some obscure reason, someone had packed an alarm clock in his hand baggage. Much shouting ensued with people verbally assaulting the culprit with;
“Shut that fcuking alarm clock off!”
A steward went forward and the bell was silenced. We relaxed again and fell back into our slumber. Around an hour later we were roused once more, this time by the captain announcing that;
“ We’ll be landing at Calgary international airport in approximately one hour”.
“Fcuking ‘ey? We left there three hours ago!” exclaimed I to my neighbour.
Our questions of; “what the fcuk is going on?” Were dealt with quickly by the stewards, who answered simply that we had ‘ a slight technical problem’. Later after landing we found that the ‘slight technical problem’ had in fact been an engine with sixteen feet of flame shooting out the back. Due to safety regulations, we were not allowed to fly over the sea with less than full engine power! Oh, how comforting. We had now assumed we would simply arrive, be put in a terminal and await the next flight out. But no, we were put on buses and driven back to BATUS, once there we were told to rest until the next flight. This we did... for about twenty-five minutes, then with an announcement that the next flight was awaiting us, we got back on the buses and away we went to the airport. Upon arrival at the airport, we waited on the bus until called to the plane. We sat and watched the ministering of the engineers as they prepared the ‘Vicky 10’ for its return journey.
“What the hell are they doing?” Someone said. The attention of everyone was now drawn to a team of blue overall clad workers on top of a wing. They were stamping on something with their feet.
“Oh my fcuking god, they’re sticking something down!” Someone said. And so they were, they were in fact using thick adhesive tape and sticking it over the air brake flaps on top of the wing surface. An RAF ‘Bod’ came to the bus and informed us;
“We’ve had a fault with the airbrakes on the port wing and we’re unable to fix it here. So we’ve disconnected both wings and are sticking the flaps down to secure them, no need to panic guys, we’ll be perfectly safe”. With that he quickly departed to rejoin his colleagues ‘Morris dancing’ on the wing. I wasn’t sure that I liked his suggestion that ‘we’ would all be safe as, he quite clearly was ground crew so wouldn’t in fact be on the plane. As we climbed the steps to the planes door, we looked at the wing with a Tankies eye, as if we could assure ourselves that the ‘bodge’ had been carried out to the best of ‘our’ ability not the RAF’s. The wing simply looked as if it had been ‘band aided’ all across the wings surface. In due course we took off and by the time we reached our cruising altitude of thirty two thousand feet, the tape was quite happily flapping in the wind with the brake flaps threatening to break free. To say the flight wasn’t comfortable would be an understatement. But, after another quick first aid repair at Iceland we duly arrived safely in Europe.
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.
Someone on another thread asked if it was all about Germany?
This is about Maint days in BATUS 1970's.

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 P 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 shit?” 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 bastard, 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 to keep you up to speed, publishing still on track for june-ish, the Tank Museum now want copies to sell too!!!!
Cheers guys.
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’.
Cheer up all It's Easter and i wish you all a good one, hopefully those of you overseas will have got home to be with your beloved ones.

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.

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