RE Demonstration to Staff College


Many older (and some bolder!) will remember the RE demonstrations at Hawley, staged to familiarise Staff College students with Corps capabilities and equipments. I believe they were discontinued around 1989/90.
Those who were actively involved will remember the seemingly endless rehearsals and the deep sigh of relief when their (perfect?) contribution was completed. I know from personal experience that there were plenty of incidents and funny stories, most thankfully behind the scenes.

Memory fails regarding part of the demo where a bridge (either single-storey MGB or No.11/12) was lifted and flown out underslung on a helicopter (Puma? Chinook might have been overkill!). A fin was fitted to the bridge for in-flight stability. Can anyone confirm the bridge type and aircraft?
Unable to help with the bridge, but reading this brought back memories of a funny incident.

Around the 90's there was a conference of NATO members hosted at Gib Barracks. There was also going to be a demo for them at Hawley.

A small MGB was built across one of the fingers of the lake and the scenario was that women in civvy clothes would represent eastern europeans being pursued by baddies. They would run over the bridge and the tannoy would broadcast the message who will help us.

With that there would be a roar of engines as some QRF vehicles came over the bridge to rescue the women from the baddies.

A few of my unit were helping out and after performing the same scenario several times, one of them was persuaded to do something different. He was told that the people of many nations watching were as bored as those who had performed it many times. (he did not reailse that there were a number of groups)

Some black bags, black nasty and polystyrene cups were found and an unwitting victim was transformed into Batman. He was dressed in ron hills combat boots, a black bag cape and poly cups covered in black nasty for ears.

The show began and the women ran across the bridge and the inevitable cue came - who will help us. With that he jumped out of the bushes shouting Batman!!!!

The audience were as impressed as those in the episode of only fools and horses when Del boy goes to the wake as batman.

from 2.30


Glad to hear the famous Sapper ingenuity isn't only exercised on serious matters!
Robin would have been a greater challenge on the day - not just in sourcing the costume materials, but also in finding a second gullible Sapper in the same unit.
All in a day's soldiering, Taffnp.
Was part of a Sapper demo for NATO officers in early 70s.When Giant Viper was fired,the rocket separated from its coil of explosive(at Chattenden) and I had to go to a place near Gravesend to recover the rocket remains,from a startled lady's garden.The firing was not repeated on the second day of the demo!


Wary of anything rocket powered! I remember a then CO 12 RSME Regt describing how one of his bright ideas backfired when he was a subaltern doing troop trials on the rocket-propelled anchor.
After consistent success for recoveries, he had the idea of increasing (doubling?) the number of rockets and using the increased range to turn the anchor into a gap-crossing aid. All went well in his first practical tests, but apparently the importance of line layout configuration for in-flight stability wasn't fully understood. The decision to demonstrate to a brass-studded collection of observers was premature, to say the least. When fired, the anchor started on line, but soon transitted through a vertical climb to reversing its direction in a loop directly towards the spectator stand.
Scattered showers hadn't featured in the weather forecast (and I'd be the last to refer to senior officers as a shower) but I believe the idea was shelved as a result.
Was that the effort I heard about in Hameln where a 432 was fitted with rockets,to help it out of the mud,when 'swimming' the Weser? I believe some guys from a Jock regiment were part of the trial.The Jocks were pretty shocked when the rockets were fired,and the 432 did not get very far.Mud everywhere,inc over the Jocks,who were observing from the mortar hatch!
Ah, Rocket Propelled Anchors and CET's bring memories flashing back. We were on Exercise in Otterburn late 80's about a week in, one of the troop bedfords had sunk so deep that the mud was half way up the cab windscreen during a mine laying exercise; a CET was called in to 'recover' said very sorry for itself Bedford; the CET in turn got bogged in and even it's recovery anchor was of no use so another CET was brought in with the final result being 1 x Bedford and 2 x CET's (both having fired their anchors!) well and truly bogged in!

Anyone who may remember the event have any idea how they were eventually recovered?! it was the same exercise that a 12 Bay MGB had also to be recovered by a bridge being constructed parallel to it!!! 8O
So many happy memories of Demos.This includes assisting the Gunners on a fire power demo,when a 105mm gun stopped firing,when a wheel fell off! However the target continued to be 'engaged'. Hurrah for the CRE!
I remember going to Upner and the RSME way back in the early 60's for the Sapper demos when I think they had a Mother tank outside the camp gate, Dad was an instructor and as a brat I got to salvage the bits - life before the I have no live rounds or empty cases in my possesion sir!

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