Op GRANBY - 25 Years Ago

A couple more dits...

Radio Procedure:

As my unit was one of the very first to arrive and we all sat in Baldrick Lines ‘waiting for the boat’ our higher-ups decided it would be a great idea if we could help our American allies by taking up some of the slack, which is why we ended up with the responsibility of manning two sangers at the end of Al Jubayl docks with callsigns of Grey Cat One and Grey Cat Two.
With two of us allocated to each and pulling a 12 hour shift we scanned the waters around the harbour, roasted in the sun and got very bored.


Grey Cat Two Sangar, Al Jubayl, Oct 90​

After a week or so doing these the admin finally got sorted and we ended up with meals brought to us and brew kit issued (water to be boiled on a hexi stove).
I was during this time that on one shift my sangar (Grey Cat Two) ran out of milk.
So I did the only thing I could do and got on the radio to ask the other sangar if they had any spare.
Now this is where I realise I’d been a little foolish. The radio was provided by the Americans and on their net.
I was promptly told off by whoever was monitoring the net. It was also at this point I realised that our coy commander, an A&SH Aden veteran came on the net to berate me as he’d managed to get a set in his office.
Then he decided that wasn’t enough and came for a visit.
I was royally dragged over the coals and, quite rightfully, put in my place for making us Brits look unprofessional.

A week later we found ourselves in an identical position with no milk at our sangar with hours to go before our relief decided that I should try something different.

‘Hello Grey Cat One, this is Grey Cat Two, over’

‘This is Grey Cat One, send over’

‘Do you have any bovine mammary fluid in your location, over’

‘Roger, over…’

And I got away with it that time. I shudder to think of the trouble I would have been in had I been rumbled!
As an afternote, our OC turned out to be an utterly top bloke. He was the 2 i/c HQ Regt 1(BR) Corps (my parent unit) and he did a hell of a lot for us without our realising until much, much later. From acquiring lots of US parkas to help with stagging on once we’d gone into the desert, to buying lots of thermos flasks and allowing local sellers to setup stalls once or twice week in Baldrick Lines who would sell you camp beds, blankets and other such things to make life a little easier.
Maj Ca*****l-Ba****n I salute you (and apologies for being a PITA that day!).

Don’t say a f*****g word!:

During the air war I was at Log Base Alpha at the HQ FFMA. We’d alternate between there (stagging on) and the HQ FMA back in Al Jubayl doing my main role as driver.
Jubayl was nice as we’d have access to decent beds and showers, however, during the air war we’d frequently be woken up several times a night for scud and air raid alerts and sleep was hard to come by. Up in the desert however it was a different matter, once 7pm had come around there was very, very little to do, and by 8pm everyone not on duty or the night shift was generally asleep.
With no sirens going off we were generally assured of a good nights sleep until the following morning when we had to stand too in the freezing cold and wet. I found out much later that most UK units in theatre had abandoned this practice as being pointless unless at the front.

It was during one of these nights that at around 2am we were all woken by a terrific BANG! and we could hear the sound roll off away across the northern Saudi desert.
A voice towards the back of the tent, which I think belonged to one of the RE Corps Lighting Troop corporals attached to us, suddenly said, or rather whispered, ‘Nobody say a f*****g word…’ as we led there in the dark waiting for the inevitable shouts of ‘GAS! GAS! GAS!’ or ‘Stand to!’.
Bu there was nothing, no one from any of the tents said a word and after a few mins we drifted back off to sleep.
We found out the next day it was a sonic boom from an allied aircraft returning from Kuwait or Iraq.
If someone had shouted out a warning, we’d have at least an hour of faffing around in the dark to do. I’m still not sure if this was bad drills or a sensible decision taken by everyone without saying a word.

Someone a few posts back asked if anyone has any copies of The Sandy Times. I do have one produced just after the libertion of Kuwait (possibly the last one). I'll try and scan or photograph it this weekend and get it posted up here.
The ST was a very good publication and well read by the trops with it's light hearted take on almost everything, it really was essential reading.
Apart from participating in a pre BATUS training package at Soltau in early 1992 and going out to BATUS in May/June 1992 then we’re withdrawn from the ORBAT on 1 Aug 1992.
News to me - I was working from the story as I got it from Bn 2IC 3RRF on Granby, as retold to me when I was his Trg Maj a few years later, and I stand corrected.


I was in Ballykelly and watched it kick off after an evening at The Scottish Horse (our little sqn boozer).
We were told that we may well be the first AAC BCR’s, but it came to nothing.

I recall being half relieved and half disappointed.

A friend of mine was a Chinook loady, and states that it was his cab, that took B20 in to their drop off point.
I have no reason to disbelieve him.
I was hanging out the backend of a lass in the Britannia hotel Manchester when she causally told me she had worked in the naffi shop in Scarborough barracks a couple of years before.
Many,many of you might remember her. Black hair bobbed and a massive stranglers fan,there by hangs another tale.
Strange to think back then of Brig Cordingley gathering us together and giving us a sombre pre departure briefing with talk of casualty percentages, warning of chaos, noise and stress ahead, then finishing with an excerpt from Kipling's 'If'... girding your loins and all that... memorable and stirring stuff.....

Meanwhile... back in the MQs in Germany my wife along with all the other wives in our block of flats was beside herself with stress and worry as she'd had weeks on her own with the kids being fed a constant stream of Sky News and impending disaster and high casualty rate predictions (I think SSVC got free broadcasts of Sky or something, they certainly showed almost too much rolling news for the worried wives... ) and I do give her a hug every now and then and thank her for what she had to put up with when in fact for us on the ground we ended up having a bit of a fast drive in a tank across the desert with some occasional bangs to keep us excited.. Bless her cotton socks...


Kit Reviewer
thanks for posting that, most of the ground footage was mine, and I haven't laid eyes on it since I shot it back then, Col Kershaw there, speaking about the oil fire, he's a successful author now, he wrote Tank men.
He was doing well as an author while he was still in the army. He wrote 'It Never Snows In September.' The German side of the Battle of Arnhem in 1989.
Green???! In the desert??!! Are you mad??!!

ETA.. when I say 'tank' that's journo talk for a knackered 432 that was probably older than I was at the time..
Same here - but most of them ran pretty well in my experience. For various reasons, armour serviceability seemed way better than on exercise. One non-expert explanation for this was that they ran on straight lines most of the time...


Book Reviewer
He was doing well as an author while he was still in the army. He wrote 'It Never Snows In September.' The German side of the Battle of Arnhem in 1989.
Also 'War without Garlands' - a massive undertaking considering the scale of Op Barbarossa, skilfully done without avoiding many of the moralities avoided by other authors.
Hard to believe I was a young 21 year old CVRT driver in Engineer recce attached to the 14/20th Hussars. Tonight started 4 days of madness with about 3 hours sleep, then 2 more months of clearing Iraqi positions of any booby traps so recce mechs could be called in to tow all the dead Iraqi armour and to stockpile all the munitions to detonate it.
It could have been, and we thought it would be, so much worse.
He wrote 'It Never Snows In September.' The German side of the Battle of Arnhem in 1989.
He (along with several veterans) was a guide when my Staff College course toured the battlefieldin that year.

I have posted MP3 recordings of all of them bar one* on the web (try the Pegasus Archive for links)

He was a very good speaker.

His written style, however, left much to be desired. I seriously hope he's improved with time.

* I still have not found the cassette on which I recorded the stories told by a bloke who was a Pl Comd at the bridge, to my lasting regret.
Same here - but most of them ran pretty well in my experience. For various reasons, armour serviceability seemed way better than on exercise. One non-expert explanation for this was that they ran on straight lines most of the time...
For the panzers, one reason was the Vickers presence in theatre, led by two former RTR Colonels, Brian Trueman and John Slade.
By their own accounts, they visited units during the build up, with a maint team, ensured all maintenance was being conducted as per for desert conditions. They forcefully impressed on the troops that this was not an exercise and if tasks weren’t completed properly and at the correct intervals, lives were seriously at risk.
The Vickers presence was deliberate. On the eve of her decision to commit 7 Armd Bde, Maggie called in CDS, DRAC and the MD of Vickers Defence.
She explained she was a tad concerned about reliability and availability of Challenger which, she had been briefed, were not of the highest order.
She said she would only commit 7 Armd if she had an assurance the tanks would prove their worth.
All three gents were invited to retire and consider their response.
They subsequently replied there would be no untoward problems and that all best efforts would be made to ensure the highest availability.
On hearing this, Maggie thanked them, said 7 Armd would be going based on their assurances, then invited all three to sign prepared letters to that effect, adding she was sure she did not have to emphasise the import on their future careers of their signatures, if things went mammaries up with reliability.
When I first heard that tale, very shortly after the decision to send 7 Armd had been announced, my reaction was to put it down to a touch of urban myth.
However, a few months after Granby, when MoD signed the contract for Chall 2 with Vickers, I was at the celebratory Vickers drinkies and had a chat with Gerry Boxall, MD - an old friend.
‘I bet you’re hoping she tore up those letters before she went,’ I commented.
‘Too bloody right I am,’ came his reply. Thus confirming what I had heard.