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Libya, Tripolitania, vehicles, barracks 1950s to 1966

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Smashed car on vehicle park Tripoli Libya 1961-2 small.jpgI know you're all as keen as Richard to see 'those' Libya vehicle photos that I wrote about, so lets start with this: (All photos belong to me unless otherwise indicated/accredited, and where this is the case, I have express written permission to show them. so please, no copying).

 

The year is 1959/60 or summer 1961. The car photographed is parked up at a barracks in Tripoli, Tripoli it is as (I know it’s not Homs Barracks or D’Aosta Barracks, Benghazi) I can see the Tripolitania Dhow flash on the Bedford RL and on the Landrover (can you?). There’s also a Ferret Mk? and a couple of 1ton trailers (Brockhouse or Sankey – I can’t make out the panel x ribbing?). I’m guessing this was the Tripoli Station Workshop? I also know who the car belonged to (a 2RTR officer) and that it did end up in Tripoli Station Workshop. In which Tripoli barracks though, were the workshops located? The workshops were known in the early 50s as 1 Base Wksp, then 1st Infantry Wksp, then 5 Medium Wksp, then Station Wksp and finally, from 1960 to 1966 and withdrawal of British forces from Tripolitania by March 1966, as 61 Station Wksp though trying to find ‘official’ corroboration is not easy or as yet, complete. The question also is, were the workshops always in the same barracks? Don't be shy in coming forward as I don't know and can't find the answer anywhere, yet. Besides, the REME Museum don’t want to play as they’re busy reorganising their furniture and polishing exhibits having recently moved from Arborfield to Lyneham.

 

An accredited critic once said of this car that it was the most ineffective bit of engineering since the Maginot Line. The metal was so thin and rickety that you could hear rusting taking place. Its most salient feature was its slowness, a rate of acceleration you could measure with a calendar, frequently losing in drag races with vintage farm equipment. The car was made world-wide and over 2 million of them were sold, thus proving how desperately people wanted cars. Any cars. The car is, of course the Renault Dauphine.

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Bedford RL wreck Welch Regt Benghazi Libya 1958-1960-ish small.jpgNow for .....another photo. Here’s an RL that’s come a cropper shewn as belonging to The Welch Regiment who were based over at Benghazi 1958-60. Either the truck was visiting Tripoli for the photo to be taken or, the truck was actually in Benghazi and ‘our’ intrepid photographer, whoever he may have been (suspect a REME bod), was there as well as being in Tripoli where most of the other photos were taken (proven by being able to see Tripolitania vehicle flashes and not those of Cyrenaica District. Who knows? Getting closer though to Scammells all the time....

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I was in Tripoli at the end of that era and lived near to the REME workshops on the Azizia road, to the South-East of the city (well away from the other barracks). I'm fairly sure it was the only workshop then.

 

I was a pupil at the Army Children's School and on Wednesday afternoons (I think) a few of us were taken to the workshops where, under the watchful eye of 'Q' Hayward (fading memory but I think that was his name) we were allowed to play with all sorts of lovely stuff. It was the first place I drove a car - an Alfa Romeo 2600 straight six (probably worth a fortune now) which one of the school teachers had rolled and we (with much help) stripped to the chassis to drive around in/on.

 

Happy days.

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Best place for a Dauphine. Cross ply tyres, rear engine and drive, safer to drive backwards in the rain.

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Richard, Austin and Phil,

Thanks for commenting, you drive me on to post more.

Austin K9s? None in current tranche but the stuff I’m presently posting, wait for it, should be eye candy enough to overcome the K9 shortages! Besides, this is history, isn’t it? :-D

The barracks you’re geographically alluding to Phil, is I suspect Prinn Barracks. Going north, north west on the Azizia road, from the bottom end of Tripoli (outskirts, very rural in 50s/60s) there was a smallish barracks called Miani Barracks (so named after an Italian Colonel Antonio Miani) on the right hand side of the road, immediately followed by the much larger Prinn Barracks (Muaskar Birin in Arabic) to the left (another arabic word for ‘Barracks’ seen on maps is ‘Hamiyat’). Prinn housed, it seems, a multitude of units though if that included 61 Station Wksps or not I don’t know, yet.

I have a series of 1943 (some updated around 1962) Royal Engineer/US Army large scale maps of Tripoli (and Homs, Misurata etc.) that show barracks everywhere! Some old Turkish, the remainder, Italian and all occupied by the British Forces, primarily the army. I can see (the outlines) of all but two or three of the Tripoli barracks on Google maps and satellite view. I’m not going to ‘guess’ which Tripoli units occupied which barracks until I am able to corroborate the ‘fogged’ memories that are to be found on the web with facts..... may take more effort than I have the strength and willpower to proceed with! There, set everyone on a ‘barracks hunt’ in Tripoli now! :cheesy:

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REME and civvy mechanics Bedford RL Tripoli Libya 1962-ish small.jpg

Here's another Bedford RL, this time in Tripoli as I can see two Tripolitania vehicle flashes. A REME chap and some, I take it, locally employed civilians, one who seems infamously familiar. No, surely not?

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Here's another Bedford RL, this time in Tripoli as I can see two Tripolitania vehicle flashes. A REME chap and some, I take it, locally employed civilians, one who seems infamously familiar. No, surely not?

 

Could that be a Morris Commercial MRA1 in the background? Pretty sure it is not a K9

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I was in Tripoli at the end of that era and lived near to the REME workshops on the Azizia road, to the South-East of the city (well away from the other barracks). I'm fairly sure it was the only workshop then.

 

I was a pupil at the Army Children's School and on Wednesday afternoons (I think) a few of us were taken to the workshops where, under the watchful eye of 'Q' Hayward (fading memory but I think that was his name) we were allowed to play with all sorts of lovely stuff. It was the first place I drove a car - an Alfa Romeo 2600 straight six (probably worth a fortune now) which one of the school teachers had rolled and we (with much help) stripped to the chassis to drive around in/on.

 

Happy days.

 

Phil,

The army school in Tripoli used to be in Azizia Barracks until the barracks were handed back to the Libyan army (under terms of the Treaty of Friendship 1953, the British Army had to remove themselves from the centre of Tripoli to outside a 5 mile radius by 1958) and moved to, I believe, Miani and the location also it seems, of BFBS radio. So you wouldn’t have had to go far for your day with REME. Interestingly, the car you mention may have been ‘liberated’ by the British Army REME in 1942/3 who occupied the ‘near to Miani Barracks’ Lancia and Alfa Romeo car factories (assemby plants and workshops) for some time afterwards.

I went to the Army School, a regimental one for children of all ages, in Homs, 80 miles or so East of Tripoli on the coast. 1959 to 61. The regiment there were the 2nd Royal Tank Regiment where my Father was the WO1 (ASM) REME. 2nd RTR vacated Homs in Oct 61, with Cyclops going to Medenine Barracks, Tripoli and the remainder from Homs and D’Aosta Barracks, Benghazi to Wavell Barracks, Benghazi.

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Could that be a Morris Commercial MRA1 in the background? Pretty sure it is not a K9

 

Yes, it could be, even the welding truck version though the plant generator can’t be seen! The tilt ‘looks’ more MRA1 ton than it does K9 and I’m sure that looks like the prominent body strake rail of the MRA1 Ton.

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Yes, it could be, even the welding truck version though the plant generator can’t be seen! The tilt ‘looks’ more MRA1 ton than it does K9 and I’m sure that looks like the prominent body strake rail of the MRA1 Ton.

 

I'm impressed Lizzie, you have an eye for detail !

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Oops, I mislead you. I meant the other East, the West - sorry. The workshops were on the Azizia road, heading West out of the city. I remember Prinn too, lots of on-base quarters there.

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Oops, I mislead you. I meant the other East, the West - sorry. The workshops were on the Azizia road, heading West out of the city. I remember Prinn too, lots of on-base quarters there.

 

Ah, did 'we' ever pass an army Map Reading course, Class One? :-D Let's try GURGI Barracks as 'home' for 5 Medium Wksps which became 61 Staition Wksps. Ring any bells, anyone? The next photo and lots more to come, could have been taken by our unknown REME photographer in Gurgi Barracks?

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Here's ANOTHER Bedford RL with 13 armed and extremely dangerous REME personnel. Has to be a Station Workshops, Tripoli or Benghazi outing, given the number of them together all at once. I don't think it could be an Ordnance Field Park 'jolly' as they tended to have more RAOC Veh Specialists than they did REME.

 

REME personnel armed and dangerous Libya somewhere 1956-1962-ish small.jpg

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Stuart M5A1 Gun Tractor_Dingos_Halftrack Libya 1956-1962 small.jpg

 

An Ordnance Field Park, possibly 595 at Kassala Barracks, Tripoli and here’s a feast for your eyes, if you’re looking! No, no Scammells yet, but just look at the line ups here! M5A1 Stuart Gun Tractors (for 17 pdr Field Guns), M5 and/or M9 Halftracks and Daimler Dingos. No, you are not looking at a WW2 vehicle park though all the vehicles are of that vintage. Lined up is some of the ‘military might’ for Operation H, no, not ‘Hamilcar’ (or Humiliation) as was the original name for the Suez Debacle of 1956, but for Musketeer (thus representative of the 3 ‘allied’ nations that took part – UK, France and Israel). The vehicles that were prepped for/landed at Suez wore the H mark, not an M mark as no one could be bothered to change the markings. Libya based units, whilst prepped, were 'not allowed to go' on the invasion. I'll let you look up for the reason (I know :-D).

(The French for ‘Hamilicar’ is ‘Amilcar’ and therefore the French perceived ‘confusion’, hence too, the ‘main’ reason for changing the operation name).

The vehicles in this photograph (and those shown on other sites showing UK unit vehicles in Libya between 1957 - 1959) continued to wear the Suez invasion H mark for several years after 1956, including those in-service by British units in Libya though especially those left on disposal and Ordnance Field Parks. I’m therefore suggesting that as we know ‘our’ intrepid photographer was busy with his camera between 1959 and 1962 that the vehicles shown here were surplus stocks in an OFP (probably Tripoli – maybe Kassala Barracks as there was an OFP there) and that the photo was taken there between those years. Hard targets on the Tarhuna ranges, for Malkara in 1962? Oh yes, I can confirm that some Dingos certainly became shrapnel, thanks to Cyclops 2RTR and of course, I surmise, the RAC Para Sqdn in 1964 with former Cyclops personnel. The Malkara trials team would have had some nice Dingo targets too.

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Mobat 120mm Gun Park Libya 1956-1962-ish small.jpg

 

Mobat 120mm somewhere in Libya 1956-1962-ish small.jpg

 

Mobats! Still on an OFP somewhere, methinks, and possibly at Kassala camp on the NE outskirts of Tripoli, were some 1954-vintage Mobat L4 Anti-Tank Guns. Two photos of the same gun from different angles. Can you see the spotting gun mount for the Bren Gun? I can (on the side, not the top).

You may wish to challenge that we’re looking at M40 106mm Recoilless Rifles, or L2 BAT Guns, or L6 Wombat Guns or even L7 Conbat Guns.... but we’re not!

BER/CAST/Surplus unwanted, left to the elements and the clue to that reasoning is the gun barrel left in the air (plugged or unplugged they would never be parked like that in service) and polythene/Harry Black wrapped around the what I think may be the elevation/traverse block assembly.

Initially, the Mobat was towed by the Austin Champ, more latterly, by Landrovers.

Any further enlightenment on these guns and their location, Kassala camp and the units therein will be most graciously received.

 

I guess most the OFP stuff we’ve seen would have ‘gone down the range’ as my 2RTR contact ‘who was there’ advised, further saying that most ‘armour’ not sent down the range was stripped/stolen by thieving non-British, or was taken on to LSTs for dumping overboard (not as uncommon as you may think) with very little taken all the way back to Ministry disposals sites in the UK. Can’t imagine there would have been any demand from anywhere in the World for turretless Stuarts though if you know something I don't, then please say so!

So glad that you and one or two others are looking and doing the important bit here, commenting. You’re allowed to embellish with ‘epic tales’ and memories of those times for all to read. :cheesy:

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Can’t imagine there would have been any demand from anywhere in the World for turretless Stuarts though if you know something I don't, then please say so!

 

 

Hi Lizzie,

A friend had 5 of the Stuart gun tractors, as left the army, all with 'ZR' registrations as I recall. They all got sold and I think most were converted back to gun tanks. No idea how and when he got them though.

 

Keep the photos coming!

 

regards, Richard

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Here we go, the moment, that you’ve all been waiting for .......

Three photos of Scammell Explorer 35BC13 ‘recovering’ a dodgy Dingo, a scrapped one in use as a training aid. Perhaps an ‘open day’ demo for families, or school children, given the audience. Location: Tripoli (see the Tripolitania dhow flash on the Scammell and you’ll also see the word ‘Tripoli’ stencilled on the Dingo superstructure). But where in Tripoli? Station Workshops REME no doubt but where was the workshop located? Gurgi barracks? Kassala barracks? Prinn barracks? Medenine barracks, perhaps not. Not quite hitting the right spot here in the Research forum, am I? Maybe everyone who ‘knows’ or was there, is deceased, parked-up in the sky tank park? Anyway viewer (I know there’s more than one of you, really I do), enjoy the photos.

 

Scammel Explorer 35BC13 Dingo training aid recovery 2 Tripoli Libya 1960-ish small.jpg

Scammell Explorer 35BC13 Dingo recovery demo maybe-Tripoli Libya 1960 ish small.jpg

Scammell Explorer 35BC13 Dingo training aid recovery Tripoli Libya 1960-ish small.jpg

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Here we go, the moment, that you’ve all been waiting for .......

Three photos of Scammell Explorer 35BC13 ‘recovering’ a dodgy Dingo, a scrapped one in use as a training aid. Perhaps an ‘open day’ demo for families, or school children, given the audience. Location: Tripoli (see the Tripolitania dhow flash on the Scammell and you’ll also see the word ‘Tripoli’ stencilled on the Dingo superstructure). But where in Tripoli? Station Workshops REME no doubt but where was the workshop located? Gurgi barracks? Kassala barracks? Prinn barracks? Medenine barracks, perhaps not. Not quite hitting the right spot here in the Research forum, am I? Maybe everyone who ‘knows’ or was there, is deceased, parked-up in the sky tank park? Anyway viewer (I know there’s more than one of you, really I do), enjoy the photos.

 

 

 

 

Two of my favourite vehicles!

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Scammell Explorer 94BD17, Halftrack 13ZA37 and Trailer 20BD57

The Scammell Explorer 94BD17 is popular, popping up on the web with in-service Libya photos (not just mine) if you know where to look, at shows of late as this vehicle has survived and even elsewhere on this forum with photos and where the son of a previous ‘in Libya’ army driver has made inquiries about it! I shall post something there too on this forum as his father may be the subject in my photos of the vehicle! Isn’t that great, connecting family to their forbears, possibly.

You will be presented with more of this splendid vehicle, 94BD17, only later on as I don’t want you over-indulging in a Scammell Explorer fest. :-D

 

Station Workshops or an OFP in Tripoli? Anyone recognise the working area layout or sheds or type of activity from visits to those locations? We could then name the place!

The Halftrack is an extremely poorly (look closely) IHC M9A1, designed as a prime mover for artillery pieces and typically towed a 17pdr gun. It’s not the troop-carrying IHC M5/M5A1 as the internal layout arrangement differs. Britain had a few thousand of these two types during WW2 which carried on in service in ever depleting numbers up until the very late 70s, usually by then converted to REME LAD variants (17 BVD Monchengladbach in 1978 had at least a dozen ‘runners’ of these, some with different types of folding jibs and raised superstructures, parked up for disposal). Notice here the one extended headlamp, on a stalk, what’s that about? What is the bracket-thing sticking up in the air just behind the cab door? Poor paint job too. In fact, the paint finish on army vehicles in Libya always seems to have been of questionable quality, 'washing' off easily, to expose the previous or original green (deep bronze?) livery. An exception of course to the tatty appearance would have been for annual reviews, parades etc. Towards the end of British military presence in Libya, vehicles were extremely tatty and battered, taking on appearences that would not have earlier in time, been permitted (I have some photos to prove this). Oh, this Halftrack here is also not a White M3 Halftrack as the type had very evident differentiating features (if you know what you’re looking for) is another story and probably none were ever in Libya post-war, unless you know different (oh, to be THE world-wide acknowledged expert on these matters!).

Is the trailer a Cranes/Tasker 20 ton low-loader? What was the correct FV number for it, when did it come into service and when did it go out? Where can I find more information about the type, dimensions, drawings, layout, operation, photos etc.? Ah, a User Handbook perhaps; has anyone got one I could peek at? What about VRN range of numbers. Poor trailers, they are so over-looked! Notice how ‘they’ are just dragging the casualty of the side of the trailer, rather than taking the wheels off the trailer and pulling it down the ‘ramp’ on it’s wheels and tracks with dignity. Now I remember what the REME letters really represented .....

 

Scammell Explorer 94BD17 lifting Halftrack 13ZA37 M9A1 vrn off Trailer 20BD57 Tripoli Libya 1960.jpg

Scammell Explorer 94BD17 lifting Halftrack 13ZA37 M9A1 vrn off Trailer 20BD57 Tripoli Libya 1960.jpg

Scammell Explorer 94BD17 lifting Halftrack M9A1 vrn 13ZA37 off Trailer 20BD57 Tripoli Libya 1960.jpgI can see three other Halftracks, can you? ;)

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Hi Lizzie,

I had to check the number of that Scammell, and nearest one to it that I worked on when it was in service (early 80's) was 94BD41 .... not close enough!

That trailer, there was one of these on the Recovery Section of the Command Wksp, when I started there in early 70's, not a very practical trailer for carrying lorries as the bed was a bit short, mainly meant for RE plant. I think that would be a FV3621(A) Trailer 20 ton Low Loading, the FVRDE book for 1956 shows it being made by Taskers, Hands and British Trailers.

 

Richard

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Now I remember what the REME letters really represented .....

 

The Australian equivalent RAEME is colloquially refereed to as Royal Australian Easy Money Earners

 

I went from RAA to RAEME and there was a distinct difference :-D

 

Great pictures, thanks for sharing

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This is a list of BD allocated numbers for the trailer fv3621 {A}

08 BD 86 to 09 BD 50 CONTRACT NUMBER 6/V/5592 made by British Trailer

12 BD 30 to 12 BD 73 contract number 6/V/5948 made by HANDS

20 BD 43 to 20 BD 98 contract number 6/V/5947 made by TASKER yours is in this batch

31 BD 90 to 31 BD 99 contract number5592 made by British Trailer

This all there is in the BD range

As to the Scammell Explorer the RANGE of VRNs in BD ran from 11 BD 51 to 94 BD 17 contact number 6/V/7443

The series of BD numbers came in 1950/51

as to a drawing of this type of trailer l do have a builders drawing dated 1951 which measures three feet by four

3621.jpg

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This could be the same group of vehicles? photo taken by my late father (REME) about 61-62.

IMG_0300.jpg

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