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10FM68

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  1. I have just finished reading "Big Week" by James Holland. In a nutshell, it tells the story of the contribution made to defeating Nazi Germany by the USAAF flying from their bases in the UK. Quite honestly, it is humbling. Mention is made of the finest B17 navigator in one of the squadrons. He was just 17 years old. Most of the bomber pilots were 20 or so; they held the lives of nine other airmen in their youthful and inexperienced hands. It is difficult to imagine just how these young men were able to keep going when faced repeatedly with the ordeal of flying in the face of the flak, the Luftwaffe and, quite simply, the generally atrocious European weather to carry out missions, often at the very limits of their aircraft's range, knowing that the chances of completing the required 25 combat sorties was remote. And to come "home" after each flight to nothing more than a damp, chilly Nissen hut on a muddy, windswept field in East Anglia where it was a half-hour walk just to get fed. Extraordinary men, extraordinary times. 10 68
  2. Some of these survived in service until at least 1980. I was at Gibraltar Bks then and we received a small number of them for issue to RE(V) units deploying to BAOR on Ex CRUSADER. I remember looking at the vehicle docs of one and seeing that it had been in storage pretty much since build - with only flashing indicators having been fitted at some time. In the event, they remained at Minley and the Volunteers deployed with Militants taken from our own stock while we used the Hippos in their place - the Hippos were thought to be simply too slow. As I recall they were accompanied by some fixed-fork motorcycles (Triumphs, perhaps?) but, not being interested then in motorcycles, I didn't pay enough attention. Incidentally, at the same time there were Lister towed generators dated 1937 issued to the Movement Light Squadron which still retained "Micky Mouse Ear" camouflage - though faded - on their tilts. They were at Minley for the RE Musical Extravaganza of that year for which the finale was either the 1812 or The Royal Fireworks (I can't remember which now) and they provided the lighting. Those were the days when the Sappers still had two staff bands - Aldershot and Chatham! 10 68
  3. I have looked at all the old pamphlets and so I which I have and, again, can't find anything written down - though there are references to shellscrapes in some of them - which then go on to describe how to construct fire and shelter trenches. I can remember making them in the 70s. Their purpose was to provide basic cover from shell bursts in temporary field positions where fire trenches were not going to be constructed. They were built to protect just one man rather than two and were in the "stand-to" positions around, for example, a platoon harbour area. The dimensions were, as you say, large enough to hold a man wearing full kit - and perhaps 9" deep with a parapet at the front of about 12". While some may well have been constructed with a camouflaged poncho over the top, they weren't all - the idea being, of course, that, if you came under shell fire you could dive into them rather than have to crawl in from the bottom. Their advantage being their speed of construction over proper trenches and their lack of a requirement for defence stores or tools larger than the small shovels or picks carried on the webbing. 10 68
  4. Well, the photos look to be of two different vehicles anyway or are they one vehicle taken at different periods after some restoration? The glacis plates are certainly different in different photos. Under the British post-war markings there seem to be markings of the 1st US Armd Div. An interesting project, but not cheap! 10 68
  5. The trouble with trying to make a list such as this is that it is so variable - over time, from unit to unit and in degree of popularity. In the 70s, for example, there was still some second world war slang among, for example, old veterans in the TA or cadet instructors, while the young were inventing their own from their own experiences in Northern Ireland and elsewhere. And not all of it was either polite or appropriate for modern ears. And it comes in and out of fashion - much doesn't endure at all, while, here and there, expressions linger on or become reinvented. Bundook (spelling varies), was certainly used by my elderly cadet instructors in the early 70s, for a rifle while "gat" was then more common in the Regular Army. The cuds, was a generic term used by some for what the Americans called the boondocks - or the countryside, as in, "out in the cuds". The Falklands conflict produced its own vocabulary which enjoyed popularity for a while - it saw the rise of tabbing among Paras and yomping among the Marines, for example. Both these terms lingered and are sometimes still used. Ally hadn't appeared and, as far as I can remember, didn't until the Gulf War of 1991. Gucci was more common. KFS were gobbling rods, or fighting irons. Ladies lingerie, particularly if it included suspenders, would have been webbing or fighting order, of course, while, if coupled with a corset, it became full marching order! Kilometres were clicks, and probably still are and binoculars binos, rather than bins which is what they are to birdwatchers! With food there were babies heads - steak and kidney pudding and abortions - tinned tomatoes - while Jack enjoyed chicken on a raft (fried egg on fried bread). Lance Corporals were Lance Jacks and corporals full screws. Boots CWW were hobbly cobblies, DMS boots - dem's ma shoes. There were hairy Marys - shirts KF and woolly pullies. Crap hats were both No1 Dress caps and a generic for non-Paras. And, of course, there were the slang terms for the various regiments and corps which were always used, but which change over time. In books written between the wars and earlier, these terms are usually included, but I don't think any of the old ones remain apart from Sappers and Gunners. In the 70s we talked of Scaleys for Royal Signals, Reems, for the REME, Dropshorts for the Gunners, and, in salute to It ain't 'Arf 'Ot Mum, the Ladidah Gunner Grahams - for the HAC! But I don't think that stuck! There were Devon and Doughnuts, the Duke of Boots and so on. And, of course, there was the extensive collection of nicknames for people - the Dusty Millers, Dinger Bells and so on some of which have very traditional roots. But, to make a full list would be impossible and, to be honest, rather contrived, as some slang just didn't endure while some has been in circulation for decades and longer and will remain so. My favourite, though, is from Kipling's era and rarely still heard: "Pick up your parrots and monkeys and turn to face the boat". 10 68
  6. I don't know what the arrangement is with the petition, it was passed to me by a friend. But, I grant you, it does seem to need a bit of an additional impetus if it is to make the cut. Need to find these "Russian Bots" which seem to do so well with petitions! 10 68
  7. Again, my thanks to you all - for the signatures, for the forwarding elsewhere and for your kind thoughts. I'm sorry the petition can be signed only by UK-residents: but it is comforting to know that, at least the original evacuation - Operation DYNAMO - didn't recognise such national limitations. For example, the Polish warship, ORP BLYSKAWICA, (Lightning) which is now the Polish Navy's museum ship, was one of many Allied vessels involved and was working in concert with HMS GREYHOUND the ship which brought my own grandfather off the beach at La Panne. As an aside, the BLYSKAWICA's name was so difficult for the RN to pronounce (it's something like Bweeskaveetza) that she was generally referred to as the "Bottle of Whisky". She was built at Cowes. (A further aside, the Estonian submarine LEMBIT, now in their maritime museum in Tallinn, was also British-built, by Vickers Armstrong, in 1936). Both vessels are well worth a visit if your in that part of the world. 10 68
  8. Please do sign if you can - the numbers are needed. https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/242090 The numbers who survive are very small and all will be in their late nineties at least and this would be a nice gesture of gratitude to those who gave so much. Thanks 10 68
  9. https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/242090 The link above is to a petition being raised with the Government to specifically recognise service with the British Expeditionary Force in France and Belgium from Sep 39 to Jun 40 with the award of a clasp to the 1938-45 Star. If you are a UK resident or citizen, you are eligible to add your name to the petition should you so wish. 10 68
  10. Richard, I really am losing it! Of course it was SEDIST! Glad one of us still has all his faculties! Now... I must try and remember... pants THEN trousers! 10 68
  11. Sorry Richard, the mistake was mine. I meant Rowcroft! It was late at night. We've talked about this before - I knew it well from running my BFT round the place some years back! And, as you know, EC was Eastern Command, latterly Eastern District. Now, of course, it is all gone, though the manor remains among a lot of new houses. 10 68
  12. I believe they were the Directorate Support Systems (Combat Support Vehicles) - now something entirely different in DE&S MoD possibly Director Land Support, (Vehicle Support), (OSVs) Operational Support Vehicles or somesuch. Here's another one, of similar design, on a Land Rover 2286cc engine refurbished at Rycroft Bks, Ashford, Kent (EC02) in the mid-80s
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