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10FM68

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  1. Christmas for the troops in NI should be pretty well documented. The best place to look would be "Visor" which was the monthly Op Banner magazine. It covered most of the off-duty aspects of soldiering in the province, particularly Christmas.
  2. Pleased you solved the problem. I've just bought a 04 Tdi - I'd forgotten how nice they are to drive. Thoroughly enjoying fiddling with it!
  3. I'm not sure why you think it belongs to the RAF as the trailer markings show it to belong to one of the three (a 7, an 8 and a 9 on a red square arm of service sign) infantry battalions of the Berlin Infantry Brigade. I don't think the weapons are being transported - it is more likely that they have simply been left in the trailer while the associated soldiers are doing something without them. One soldier has been left to guard them (wearing a 1960-pattern plain green combat jacket with a regimental lanyard on the left shoulder). The fact that the rifles have magazines still attached suggest that they are certainly not loaded - as they haven't been "cleared" prior to being put down. At the same time the soldiers' early pattern kidney pouches, (with the white label and no additional straps for holding them close to the yoke) and "bum rolls" have been taken off and also dumped in the trailer, leaving the troops, presumably, in "skeleton order" of ammo pouches, yoke and water bottle. Of interest are the helmets which don't look British - they appear to be deeper and more rounded - more like French ones and the rivet close to the front edge of the brim and the high gloss finish also suggest foreign. 10 68
  4. Many thanks, Fascinating reading. 10 68
  5. Don't quite know how I missed this thread, so sorry about the delay in contributing. 26 Engineer Regiment received Spartans to replace its Ferrets in 1981, or possibly early 1982. At that time the field squadrons were 5, 25 and 30 while 2 Sqn had become the field support squadron with Bridge Troop and Plant Troop - it was no longer armoured - but the G1098 still retained many of the armoured bits and pieces - the pixie suits and armoured pattern steel helmets for example. Anyway... As I recall, at that time the Spartans were allocated three per troop - one for the troop commander one for the troop staff sergeant and the third for the troop recce sergeant. I could be wrong about the troop staff sergeant - he may have had an FV432, in which case, the allocation was only two per troop - it was a long time ago. The sections, of course, retained their FV432s. All the Ferrets were parked, unused, at the back of the tank park (along with the rotting flotation screens which had been removed from all the FV432s) prior to being sorted out for backloading. 25 Fd Sqn had a rather dynamic OC, so for the first major exercise (Eternal Triangle, perhaps?) after receiving the Spartans, he ordered that the squadron would also take all its Ferrets on exercise with it as well. Of course, the Spartans soon began to appear beside the road with little yellow flags flying waiting for the arrival of the LAD (ie they had broken down) so the troop "management" were able to take over their Ferrets again and retain their independence of movement. Had they not had their Ferrets with them, their troop leadership would have had, like the other squadrons, to hitch lifts everywhere with the section 432s. Not an easy way to run a troop which constantly requires the troop management to be in different places from the sections. As the unit got more familiar with them and the vehicles were run-in, so the Spartans' reliability improved, but, when they first arrived it was shocking. Reliability, though, with complicated bits of machinery always improved the more it was used. In units with both Ferrets, for example, and Land Rovers, it was all too common to use the Land Rovers for all the domestic travel and the Ferrets would, therefore, sit on the tank park until they were required on exercise when their oil seals would fail after very few miles. If, however, they were run regularly, even when this was inconvenient, they were much better. There were problems after the winter of 1980 in BAOR when there was a moratorium on the use of fuel - once it was eased and vehicles could be used again, so many of them blew seals and hydraulic hoses, which was hugely frustrating. With tracked vehicles it was always a problem as the track-mileage was restricted anyway. This, of course, didn't apply to Ferrets, so they could be used relatively freely for "running about in" - provided you were prepared to go as a pair - you needed a driver and a commander - and were prepared to get wet and cold in inclement weather! There's nothing like a Ferret driver's lap for collecting rain water! 10 68
  6. I'm afraid that those mirrors weren't exclusive to NI. They were issued on mainland GB and in BAOR as well to occupants of married quarters which were off camp and, therefore, not within a protected perimeter. I never found them to be a lot of good, though - the mirror was a bit small and the light from the rubber torch was pretty poor in daylight, even under a car. The bigger ones on wheels were used by guardrooms for inspecting vehicles entering camps. 10 68
  7. Have you looked for copies of "Visor", the monthly paper of the Army in NI? Most of the articles in there were positive and many about ordinary aspects of army life in the Province, rather than the violence with articles about music-making, charity events, regimental occasions and visits including those from a number of page-three-girls whose pictures also graced the pages of Visor. There were also the visits from various entertainers, individually, or as part of an organised tour (were they called CSE shows? It was something like that: Combined Services Entertainment, perhaps, but I can't remember exactly) The other source would be the unit magazines which many units produced, again monthly. As for music, well, it has to be "Yes Sir, I can boogie!" It seemed to be playing in just about every chogi-wallah's shop I visited during the autumn of 77 and the spring of 78.
  8. Well, it was better than the alternative! 10 68
  9. To which you can add the, then out-of-service .38" Enfield revolver - the one with the shaven hammer comb intended for crews of AFVs. There was a shortage of Browning 9mm pistols in the 70s due to the increase in demand for pistols in NI. So, in 1977 some troops who were required to carry arms in civilian clothes were issued with .38 Enfields which had been held in war reserve. The only problem was that the ammunition was imported for the Far East and of poor quality. On initial issue there was too little ammunition available for it to be used for training. Once sufficient stocks were available, a bit of practice in the pipe range soon revealed that not every round could be guaranteed to go off! Also issued at that time were hideous black plastic shoulder holsters with very thin straps and a snap buckle which would have been impossible to open in an emergency, but, which were so slippery and unyielding that, if the weapon wasn't secured, it could be guaranteed to fall out when least welcome and most embarrassing! I don't think many people wore them, preferring to stuff their pistol in the trouser belt- also a recipe for potential disaster as trousers in those days had rather wide, flared legs and, if it slipped down, the pistol would soon fall out the bottom and bounce noisily across the floor! 10 68
  10. A really interesting article, thanks for that, Clive - my evening reading tonight! It is a shame that articles like this don't get published - as you say, most magazines want a two or three page article with 10 - 14 photos, which leaves little space for anything in depth. Again, this should be archived on this forum somewhere. Best 10 68
  11. 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
  12. 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
  13. 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
  14. 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
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