Did my Mortar NCO's course in 1971, having flown back from Hong Kong ... in December!!! Froze to death for the first half of the course. OG ain't much good on the Plain.
I had a Gurkha driver on one exercise. Approaching a roundabout on the A345 the instruction was "Straight on" ... so he did!!!! Right over th island, bouncing like sh1t!! Took us half an hour to pick up the 130 rounds of HE and WP which had originally been in the trailer!!!
Seriously SWW was a great place.. the old huts were actually great to live in. Being that far from the head shed at Warminster wasn't bad either!!
But I still loved 'em all - particularly on one Med Man where the gunners threw their teddies out of the cot because the mortars were consistently faster - with greater accuracy - at getting rounds on the ground...
My how the drop shorts whinged that they must have been cutting safety corners - but they weren't, they were just really rather good...
Was anyone around whe INLA Bombed the place? I was a kid at the time, but i remember the explosions and my Dad and elder brother tuned into the Police radio on short wave. I got a day off school for that i was chuffed to buggery. The old fellah had a mate there at the time (Duke of Boots i think) who was de-kitting (last six months and that) and he had been down the Dog and Gun ( and probably the Fox too) on the lash that night. he gets back to his block at SWW and goes for a lagg (separate from his block) when his block catches fire (due to the explosion). He is chuffed to Fcuk due to the fact that half his kit is diffy but A certain Ghukha keeps insisting on retrieving his kit as fast as matey can throw it back in!!
I had a great time there in 1972, learning the intricacies of ATGW/VIGILANT...
If ever there was a wish and a prayer weapon (apart from the 94 Energa) it was that one!
It was quite beautifully made; lots of wonderfully named bits, like the 'eight segment commutator' (it controlled the position of the control surfaces as the missile rotated in flight), and the gyroscopes (dismounted for demo) would run for ages with just the flick of a finger! Played with it for ages!!!
However, and it was big 'however', you needed the reflexes of Garth to fly the b*gger , plus a triple jointed thumb!
They had a monstrous simulator with endless panoramic views of Salisbury Plain and we spent hours sweating in there, trying to beat the dreaded 'Ding-Quicker'; ie: it went 'ding' signalling a grounded shot, rather than a 'bong' when you hit the projected target...
'Back off! Back off! Oh, feck, you've grounded the b*stard again! Cnut!'
Finally we got to shoot a whole load of real missiles; £1,400 a time or the equivalent of a brand new Cortina (my dream car at the time) every time I fired one.
Legend has it that someone was doing some pre-firing tests on the lower sports field and forgot to pull out the gyroscope snatch plug...
Apparently the Vigilant can still fly, even when it's still inside its container and this one made it right across the river and bounced merrily across Netheravon airfield to the discomfort of the AAC... I'd like to think it was true story.
Does anyone remember Old Knuckle? He was a regular at the Wheatsheaf in Fighledean, just a short walk down the road and across the river (sometimes through it on the way home ).
Knuckle trimmed the hedgerows and cleaned out the ditches around the parish and his idea of 'foreign travel' was his one and only visit abroad... to Salisbury. The traditional 'Parochial Yokel' he may have been, but it didn't do to underestimate Knuckle, especially in a darts match. He lulled countless bumptious young squaddies into betting on the outcome of a game and then wiped the floor with 'em and hobbled off, cackling, to count his winnings.
We had a lot of fun at SWW Netheravon; I'm just glad we never had to take VIGILANT to war- the Sovs would have p*ssed themselves laughing!
Spent 2 years there as demo Company with Milan platoon, The CountryClub we were known as , the rest of the Bn were getting shafted up in Warminster. There was a republican unit scooped at stonehenge then recceing larkhill, N, avon etc. Security was crap. Accomadation was crap. Huts date back to the Boer War, mice everywere. Squirrels falling through the roof.
A night out in Amesbury, (crap) Bonus was only an hour or so to Poole in Dorset.
All in all not a bad 2 years.