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M5Clive

An excellent pre D-Day convoy photograph in England

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Just take a good look at this amazing photograph that came into my posession last year. If the OPERATION BOLERO convoy looks anything as good as this I will be very happy :-)

 

But look at the detail in the picture. Look at the cargo - M-10 tank destroyers with ply-wood covers and a vision hole for the driver? Notice how far into the distance the convoy stretches!

 

Whats more I know exactly where this picture was taken. How you ask? Well both Neil and I were born and rasied in the town in the background. In-fact, our grandparents house is even in the picture. When this photograph came into our posession is blew our minds away because for years we had heard local people tell of the convoys that lasted all day during the build-up to D-Day. That image long stayed in my mind, but I never thought that one day, thanks to the forethought of a US army photographer, that image would magnificently re-appear 60 odd years later.

 

Sadly the picture is really not given justice reproduced so small on here, but blown up to an A4 sized print, the detail is stunning.

 

Just a fantastic photogaph :bow:

Enjoy!

 

Postern_Hill_Convoy1.jpg

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Hi Clive,

what exactly do you think is happening in the photograph ?? as the first vehicle seems to be towing the convoy leader and load watched by several convoy members !! and the second trailer has no prime mover?

 

Is this a case of steep hill ahead or do you think three has been a breakdown ??

 

Ashley

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The exact location of this photgraph is Postern Hill, Marlborough, Wiltshire. What the photograph doesn't demonstrate is the steepness of the hill. If you leave Marlborough on the South route to Tidworth, this is the hill you climb as you lead up to Savernake Forest with Marlborough behind you.

 

As a young child I used to look out of the front room window of my grandparents house (shown on the top left of the pic) as the artic lorries went down the gears to climb the hill. It was not uncommon for the lorries to miss there gears or simply grind to a halt before reaching the top. They would then have to back all the way to the bottom and start there run-up again - And this wasn't the 1940's, this was the early to mid 1980's!

 

Todays trucks of course are so powerful I don't think there has been a truck not able to crest the hill for years. In the photo the first M19 combination has ground to a halt, and the second ballast tractor has been enlisted to help out. Of course what the photo doesn't tell is how many vehicles of the convoy have already trundled past the photographer already.

 

With a magnifiying glass, I can tell on the original photo that the trucks at the bottom of the hill are GMC and Dodges. More interestingly these trucks and troops shown are US Army soldiers and the photo is US Army also. It was also a common belief that the US were never issued with the Diamond-T 980 or 981 ballast tractors and it was only the British/Commonwealth that used them.

 

Just like I tell so many vehicle owners, you can pretty much get away with so many things that the preserved MV rulebook says is incorrect, because all manner of situations happened in wartime when needs must. Here is unquestionably a US Army Diamond-T convoy, painted in US Army markings with US crews. Ok, so they may have only been a delivery crew, driving the trucks from arrival at Liverpool docks, down the country, for parking up on Salisbury Plain, prior to Normandy and their British unit assignment, but what a great picture!

 

cds

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Thanks for this info! It truly is an amazing photo!

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And what would people say if you turned up at a show with a ply-wood box over the top of your tank :-o :-o

 

I would like HMVF's members opinion as to what exactly they think these wooden boxes were for. The only assumption we could come up with is that from above, enemy aircraft might think the convoy was only carrying boxes of supplies and not tank destroyers.

 

What do you tanky types think ??

 

cds

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Maybe I should have posted this thread in Tracked vehicles :dunno:

 

cds

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They are most likely the shipping covers. M10s, being open topped, are harder to seal up than a gun tank and a large box takes care of several things at once. You can see what looks like sealant between the box and the hull.

 

The intention was presumably to allow them to be driven short distances like this, hence to opening in front of the driver.

 

Regarding the Diamond Ts, (no hyphen) they were originally designed to a British contract. The US Army also bought some due to a lack of supply of the M25 transporter. DTs in US service are quite common.

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Clive, can you make a comparison shot of the current situation?

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Great photo!!!

The structures being shipping covers sounds logical to me.

A bonus could be that enemy aircraft can't identify them easily.

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I guess the covers work as both weather protection and a means of deception. However, having just read 'The German Army at D-Day - fighting the invasion' which is a series of transcripts from intelligence interviews of captured German officers, it seems the Germans had no air reconnaissance capability over the south coast of England in 1944 that was worth mentioning.

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We have a road leading into our small town that is like a patchwork quilt when it comes to road repairs. Apparently its that bad because they kept tanks along that bit of road waiting to get shipped down to the south. I point out that we used to have a major rail works, workshops here. (The Royal train is kept here!) . The main walls of the rail works still retained their camouflage until a few years ago but it has mostly weathered away now. Wolverton, in North Bucks if anyone is interested. :-)

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Hi,

don't you think that the troops in the left foreground are actually British troops judging by the wear of the side hat (almost thought it was a beret !) and the chap to the extreme left looks to be a civilian ?

 

I agree a great picture.

 

Ashley

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Wolverton Works is where Albert French was an apprentice. He was killed at Ploegsteert Wood, aged 16, in 1915. His grave is opposite the memorial at Berks Corner on the Armentieres to Ypres road. I digress.....but he is always worth a mention.

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Ok Joris,

 

It has taken me all morning to locate the photos and then ages to figure out how to get the photo off a CD, but here is the exact location in the summer of 2006.

 

Its disappointing that the trees have grown up so tall and so little of the distance detail can be seen from the exact same spot from where the photographer was positioned in 1944.

 

IMG_0004.jpg

2 mins after I put the camera away a British Army Foden came past the same spot. What a pity I had to settle for the B&Q truck!

 

Postern_Hill_Convoy1.jpg

See the White House top left, buy the telegraph pole? You can see the same house below!

 

IMG_0002-1.jpg

The White House in the middle distance in this photo can be seen on the original photo. It is in fact on the Northern side of Marlborough on the Green. This picture was acheived by venturing into the field just West of the road where the original pic was taken. Dad tells me that in the 1960's the road was built-up to try and take some of the steepness out of it. This is why the road doesn't seem to be in such a deep cutting as the 1944 shot.

IMG_0006.jpg

Ike stands guard at Orchard Road, Marlborough, Wiltshire. These are the houses shown in the original photo, where my grandparents lived and I spent many wonderful hours playing on my BMX bicycle along this road, trying to immitate Bo Duke off the Dukes of Hazzard and making jumps for our bikes. They were great days and its not until you look back to your childhood you realise just how good they were. I know its not that long ago, but time has a habit of passing you by when your not looking.........

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Excellent Clive, truly amazing to see the same location but years later. Thank you very much!

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Just worth mentioning that if you look closely, you can see both Marlborough High and Low Level Railway stations, long since disappeared thanks to Dr. Beeching back in the 1960's.

 

You can see what looks like a Pannier Tank 0-6-0 steam engine sat in the station, with what appears to be the Donkey. The Donkey was the nick-name given to the short branch line train that went between Marlborough and Savernake Junction, 5 miles to the South where the Midland and South Western Junction Railway met up with the Berks and Hants mainline, which still runs to this day from Reading to Westbury and onto Plymouth.

 

Sadly there are now modern houses built upon the old railway line track bed and a mentally handicaped residence on the site of the goods depo and sidings.

 

When you consider that Savernake Forest which borders Marlborough's southern boundary was the site of the largest open-air ammunition dump in Western Europe during WWII and Tidworth, Ludgershall, Chiseldon and Ogbourne Army Camps all had railway stations on this same railway line within 12 miles of Marlborough, one cannot imagine the sheer amount of military transport traffic both on the roads and on the railway that trundled through Marlborough town.

 

Ever since the late 1980's both Neil and I had heard local's tell of the convoys that lasted all through the day and on into the night that passed through Marlborough. For years and years we could only imagine at what the site of this specticle would have looked like. In July last year this photograph dropped into my lap and I was asked to guess its location. Of course I recognised it instantly. I had walked that hill a million times and both Neil and I were literally blown away by the picture - I can't stop looking at it - call me sad I know!!

 

I keep trying to imagine what it must have been like to have been an onlooker sat on that steep hill during the lead-up to D-Day watching those kinds of convoy trundle through day after day after day. "Got any Gum Yank??"

 

cds

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I've seen that picture or one VERY similar to it in one of my books and I remember the caption they offer makes no sense - something about testing vehicles' towing capacities. I'm away at the moment but when I get back next week I'll try and find it.

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Would you believe that the picture has the original caption typed onto the back of the photo, but my original is away in Yorkshire at the moment with the poster design team for Bolero. When I get it back, i'll type tha caption exactly as it appears on the back of the official photograph. Something along the lines of a wet road and loss of traction!

 

I'm really glad the picture has generated so much interest!

 

cds

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And thank you for posting it. By the way it's not just the photo but it's all the extra information you provided.

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Jim Clark (HMVF member and owner & restorer of Sherman Tank - Sloppy But Save) called me last night to say that he had a set of the Stuart Tank Bearings I was looking for on the HMVF Classified thread - Excellent news!

 

Whiltst chatting he told me how much he had enjoyed this thread and did I have any pictures of the recreation we did of the original photograph at the MVT National Show at Kemble last year? Well, yes I have and here they are Jim :-)

 

Ok so its not an M-10 and its not in Marlborough - But we are working on that ;-)

 

Enjoy!

 

IMG_0087.jpg

Jim Clark loads the Sherman aboard Andrew Blackford's M19 Combination!

 

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"Keep her straight and power-on" Martin Hammond guides Jim up the trailer bed.

 

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All aboard!

 

IMG_0100.jpg

Jason Jefferies joins in the fun and couples-up his Diamond T 981 to Andrew Blackford's Diamond T 980.

 

IMG_0095.jpg

Off we go! - As we were only doing a couple of laps of the Arena the rear trailer ramps were not secured particularly well - as can be seen :-( ?

 

IMG_0092.jpg

What a sight - Inspired by the original photograph!

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Fantastic Clive, you are good :-D

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Thanks for the pictures Clive, you cant beat a little "double heading" especially in public. Best regards Jim.

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