Exercise "Mayflower" Tidworth 1978.

Anyone remember this one? The whole of 3 RTR's Chieftains, motored from Tidworth, up the A303 to Swindon and back, finishing with buggering about on exercise! I am lead to believe, that only 35%, of the Regiments tanks, made the round trip, without some form of mechanical assistance! My tank, 31A, passed umpteen broken down tanks on the way, before finally, bursting my gearbox, on the M4 motorway bridge, just outside Swindon! My mate Dai Marsh, has a pewter chally and Chieftain on top of his telly. When I visit him, I always put the Chieftains gun, gun rear in it's crutch. He gets realy mad! :x :wink:
God, yes! Many memories of that scheme. Loads of preparation, ensuring that bridges (esp. over the railway lines) were cleared for the passage of the behemoths. Every panzer had to be fitted with new trackpads. By the time we got round to mine, the electric spanner had failed, so it all had to be done by hand. Net result, relatively early on, before Marlborough, any way, Steve P., my loader/op at the time, and therefore looking aft, said "Did you see that? Bloody trackpad just came off, went straight up in the air, and is currently sitting on the back seat of that soft-top car behind us." How we laughed.., until after the exercise when the CO called me in and asked if I was missing a trackpad on my vehicle. Apparently the lady driver of the vehicle had spotted his helo in a field just before a tricky railway bridge crossing, and had gone to complain about this object that had penetrated her car roof. As I heard it, he was all sympathetic until he asked the reg number of the tank concerned. Apparently, she replied that she hadn't been able to take the number as the tank shot off at high speed! It wasn't thought to be a terribly diplomatic idea to go round and ask her for it back, as it was MoD property after all.


Book Reviewer
Do you also by any chance remember Exercise Bugle Call two years previously?

Every RAC "A" vehicle in UKLF was assembled in the Driving Training Area at the back of Aliwal Barracks and formed up to represent a single Soviet Mechanised Brigade (and ISTR we were one vehicle represents three), then filmed for a week for a training film. ISTR our troop's callsigns were 126, 127 and 128 (cos IKTUGWEFA wasn't going to work). I think our three Scorpions represented a company of BMPs.

Being in Aliwal, we drove out of camp early Monday morning straight into our FUP whereas the reast of the exercise had assembled over the weekend.

Couple of incidents come back to me. One day found us racing across Larkhill Impact Area. There was long grass. Parallel with us, 128's driver found a crater that couldn't be seen in the grass. His Scorpion rocked into the crater as one track went in, then when it came back out, the Scorpion leapt up and travelled about 100 yards on its left track. Everyone below the rank of Half Colonel was on radio silence, cos the net was so immense. Then our CO's voice boomed in that way only Half Colonels can, "128, I'll see you back in camp."

Later that day our "Mechanised Brigade" stormed across a minefield. I am sure I remember seeing what I can only assume were training AT mines the size of Teller Mines and when you went over one, it triggered a smoke flare. We had to stop halfway across when we couldn't see five meters to our front. Ultimately we (126) were one of only about five vehicles to get across the minefield and even so, things were smouldering.

And at the FUP for another shoot (it might even have been the first day and my first ever close-up with a Chieftain in the field), the reverse slope of a hill was packed solid with vehicles formed up ready to go but having one last quick brew. A Chieftain in the row in front of us and maybe 20m to our right suddenly decided it didn't like its handbrake and shot off backwards down the hill, empty. Luckily we were near the back and amazingly it missed everything. Probably about the fastest any Chieftain ever went.

Edited: typo

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