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BlueBelle

Libya, Tripolitania, vehicles, barracks 1950s to 1966

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As the proud custodian of 94BD67, what a find. It has put "the hairs up on my neck" to see a piece of history recorded on film, and in my back yard is that lorry, still alive and well. Kind regards,

 

The Governor.

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Edited by The Governor

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Of flags, pennants and guidions .....

The B&W photo of 94BD67 on parade with the LAD REME of 3RHA in Homs 1956 shows lots of pennants fluttering from antennae. Standards can be seen way back in the thread being held aloft from the 2RTR Nero Ferret, 'Nomad'.

 

Anyway, take a look at the REME flag flying from an antenna with a radio on the other end and, it’s my father in his Ferret, Homs 2RTR 1960. Notice the lovely REME Halftrack!

A low resolution photo for here, I’m afraid, as will all future ones be due to me being tipped off that the photos from my thread are being stolen and posted on someone’s FB site. I don’t yet know which FB site, or who's responsible nor which photos have been taken without permission/credits to photographers and, I don’t subscribe to such invasive and detestable media so searching will not be easy. Whilst it would have been naive to pretend it wouldn’t happen, it seemingly has and I’m a little miffed. I may watermark future photos, and limit even further the story board, a step I don’t want to undertake to spoil the enjoyment. I wonder if I’m ‘wrong’ in being aggrieved about this situation? (Good job the 'best' are being kept aside for 'the book'!) Ask me for a photo and if the photographer or their legal entity agree, I'll send you a hi-res one! Free! Yours for private use, not for publication, posting or financial gain and always to be used with full credit everytime to the original photographer or owner.

Photo by Wilf Harrison 2RTR-REME

 

Edited by BlueBelle

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I wonder if I’m ‘wrong’ in being aggrieved about this situation?

 

No you are not, I can quite understand. This is why I no longer post high res pictures. I don't mind people sharing & enjoying but invariable once it has been trousered up by bots or individuals reposting then the source is rarely acknowledged. Often the reposter is thanked for such an interesting picture!

 

But it doesn't stop there, I have had images lifted from my copyrighted pdfs. Even large sections of articles lifted & "copyrighted" by someone else! There is also a site selling my articles (without my permission) although I should be grateful that they are intact & still marked as my copyright, but they are posted here free for the general good.

 

As to your Dad's Ferret is that an adjudicator's white cross on the turret? Although the pennant further gives his position, might it being used to indicate he is 'hors de combat"?

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As to your Dad's Ferret is that an adjudicator's white cross on the turret? Although the pennant further gives his position, might it being used to indicate he is 'hors de combat"?

 

White markings, often crosses, do not always designate umpires, or "adjudicators". They are used widely for "neutral org", ie, those vehicles, and, indeed, personnel, in an exercise area which are not being exercised - not part of "blue" or "red" forces. So, yes, that will include umpires, but it will also include visitors, higher command or flanking units assisting - perhaps providing "bangs", probably the exercise controlling staff - EXCON - damage control units, DAMCON - such as RE troops detailed to repair damage to roads, fences, verges and so on - an absolute essential in BAOR in the Cold War period where troops exercised outside training areas, over private land. There used to be a term "NODUF" which was used on radio nets to indicate traffic which wasn't part of the exercise - so real casualties for example, genuine problems, breakdowns and so on could be passed and acted upon by neutral org elements. These would certainly include the real medical cover for the exercise (so the dedicated ambulances would have white markings), and it might also include REME units tasked with maintaining critical equipments, the loss of which might inhibit the exercise - and, of course, it could be that, for any given exercise, REME aren't being exercised, so, as they move around the exercise area they display white markings. Sometimes these were painted on - quite often white "minefield marking" tape would be used. You'll see similar worn on combat uniforms - perhaps a white arm band or, since the introduction of a combat helmet with elastics on, tied round the helmet.

 

10 68

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White markings, often crosses, do not always designate umpires, or "adjudicators". They are used widely for "neutral org", ie, those vehicles, and, indeed, personnel, in an exercise area which are not being exercised - not part of "blue" or "red" forces. So, yes, that will include umpires, but it will also include visitors, higher command or flanking units assisting - perhaps providing "bangs", probably the exercise controlling staff - EXCON - damage control units, DAMCON - such as RE troops detailed to repair damage to roads, fences, verges and so on - an absolute essential in BAOR in the Cold War period where troops exercised outside training areas, over private land. There used to be a term "NODUF" which was used on radio nets to indicate traffic which wasn't part of the exercise - so real casualties for example, genuine problems, breakdowns and so on could be passed and acted upon by neutral org elements. These would certainly include the real medical cover for the exercise (so the dedicated ambulances would have white markings), and it might also include REME units tasked with maintaining critical equipments, the loss of which might inhibit the exercise - and, of course, it could be that, for any given exercise, REME aren't being exercised, so, as they move around the exercise area they display white markings. Sometimes these were painted on - quite often white "minefield marking" tape would be used. You'll see similar worn on combat uniforms - perhaps a white arm band or, since the introduction of a combat helmet with elastics on, tied round the helmet.

 

10 68

Spot on, 10 68! I wasn't going to say as much (or anything at all as I'm sulking (with reference to my last about 'giving to much away') and being 'Neutral'. :laugh: A sundowner's G&T later will put me right!

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I can empathise with a good sulk but even they are interesting sometimes. When you come out of it we need more please. Do not let them grind you down.

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Centurion in the desert.

On p45 of ‘Images of war special –The Centurion Tank’ by Pat Ware there is a photo of a Centurion (it is a MK7 at least, by my reasoning) trundling along in the desert. The photo is replicated below.

Photo by Warehouse Collection.

 

Edited by BlueBelle

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Centurion in the desert.

On p45 of ‘Images of war special –The Centurion Tank’ by Pat Ware there is a photo of a Centurion (it is a MK7 at least, by my reasoning) trundling along in the desert. The photo is replicated below.

Photo by Warehouse Collection.

 

The book caption reads:

”This Centurion is travelling across fresh desert scrub at about 10-15mph and is raising something of a dust cloud. The engine covers seem to be raised, perhaps to improve cooling, and the three men seated on the turret are certainly not regular crew members, which may indicate that the tank is undertaking some sort of trial". (Warehouse Collection)

 

In referring to the book, one assumes (nothing more) that the author has some expertise on the subject of Centurions. I am astonished that the author doesn’t seem to know what he’s looking at in stating that the engine decks are raised, seemingly! The tank of course is a MK7 or later development of the marque. Can you see the rear hull fuel tank and filler cap? Yes you can. Do you know where the engine decks are on any marque of Centurion? Of course we Centurion ‘experts’ know, and those are not engine decks as stated, not least because they open the other way and can’t be open with the turret in that position. Could we be looking at raised transmission decks? No, no, no, surely not, they’re too short aren’t they, with the outer edges hanging over the exhaust covers, and I’m not sure that the decks could be opened like that without having to have them all opened in sequence. Those ‘deck things’ appear to be rectangular plates of metal or wood, leaning on a frame, with another frame (grab/hold on rails on both rear hull sides for personnel, perhaps?).

So, dear viewer, dear real Centurion experts who I hope look in, what are we looking at here in this photo? What, where and when? What year did the MK7 appear, as all the author Centurion experts seem to ignore telling us the years different marques were introduced as prototypes, production and ‘in-service’. Why am I so intrigued, I hear you all ask in unison? Well, it’s a ‘Libya’ thing, a ‘Tripolitania’ thing as part of my research as I’m convinced ‘that’ Centurion is in Tripolitania and its VRN is 43BA03 and that it bears a red triangular GHQ Trials flash on the front wing! I also think the tank is operating out of a barracks in Tripoli and that the year is 1957! Maybe though, there were more tanks so configured? There’s more to come, in a while.

 

I would like to write to Pat Ware but it seems impossible to find an address to do so; if you’ve a pointer then please don’t hold back or, if you know him or of his whereabouts, please put him in touch with me.

If you notice the second photo on p45 of the book, it states the Centurion is a MK3 when, clearly it is not a MK3 but is a MK7 or subsequent development of that marque (long hull, solid hull rear plate, rear hull fuel tank – yes, I can even see the rear hull fuel filler cap and, what about that gun barrel?). Same basic mistake on p51 with the second photo; it’s not a MK3 at all but it very definitely is a Mk8/2 or Mk9 (clue: hull rear, fuel tank, fuel filler, gun mantlet and just look, possibly a split cupola!). There’s more. I just wonder if there is a real, trusted source or authority on the Centurion tank?

I have Mr Dunstan’s/Haynes new Centurion manual. It appears to be very good, his best yet (?) though doesn’t have what I was looking for and has only drawn material from a very limited number of sources (regiments other than 2RTR operated Centurions, Mr Dunstan) including my very good friend, the delightful Trevor Dady 2RTR ( provided Dunstan with a great write-up on life on the tanks in the 50s in BAOR) whose entire 2RTR photographic collection 50s and 60s is with me! Lucky me, thanks Trevor.

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Oops, it happened again! A week gone by with over 1,500 views of the latest 'Centurion in the desert' post and no further forward. I shall park the topic after the next two photos.

Two photos of what I believe is the same tank 'trundling in the desert' and these are provided by John Newton REME who served at 10 Base Ord Depot Geneifa Egypt until its closure very early 1956 and was posted to 'a workshop' in Tripoli. The photos are not marked and, like most of my 'living and willing' contributors, there is no desire from them to communicate and illucidate on the photos, hence the 'clever' guesswork (hardwork).

So, these two photos, I claim, were taken in Tripoli in 1956 or 57 and show a MK7. Proper headlights (wrapped and covered with Harry Black masking tape as per an un-issued vehicle), longer hull and just look at that little disc on the bazooka plate. I know what its for and all I'll say about it is that there isn't one on the other side and was not a feature of earlier marques! What I see of the mantlet tells me that the tank is not a higher marque than a 7. The front LH wing bears the triangular GHQ Trials flash.

Again, look at the slanting two board-things at the rear of the tank, leaning against railings and, the railings around the rear sides for... people to hang on to?

I say it's Tripoli too, as the style of the sheds, the hangars are peculiar to those built by the Italians in Tripolitania and used by the British (an exception to this would be sheds and hangars at Gurgi barracks which are of a style not seen in other Tripolitanian barracks), a style not seen in Egypt as the Italians never extended their 4th shore into Egypt. The tents were 'standard' accomodation for troops and stores until at least the end of 1958 when thousands of British troops departed and barracks began to be handed over to the Libyans.

Photos by John Newton REME.

 

 

Edited by BlueBelle

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I'm sorry you have had no response but I'm not greatly into tanks & have no idea about the validity of the photo captions.

 

Is this the same John Newton who was the driver for Col Ian Baker in the Clycops Malkara era? If so I have have some pictures of him in his Rover 8. These came from slides I copied that Col Baker (RIP) lent me some years ago.

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I'm sorry you have had no response but I'm not greatly into tanks & have no idea about the validity of the photo captions.

 

Is this the same John Newton who was the driver for Col Ian Baker in the Clycops Malkara era? If so I have have some pictures of him in his Rover 8. These came from slides I copied that Col Baker (RIP) lent me some years ago.

Thanks for your commiserations. I 'must be right', there are no Centurion 'experts'... or are they keeping schtum!

No, Malkara John Newton is not the same person. 'My' John Newton was a Feb 1955 National Serviceman, trained as a Recovery Mechanic REME.

Edited by BlueBelle
Oops, I did it again! :)

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I'm not really sure what it is you want us to say. You have offered some very interesting photos and have described them as accurately as you can with the advantage of the originals and considerable research and study. There isn't much we can add, particularly as the low resolution prevents enlarging the photos to any effect, unless we happen to know what those rails were for and, as they clearly weren't a feature of regular "in service" Centurions, we must presume, as you have, that they were there for some sort of trial - and this theory is, of course, supported by the presence of apparent civilian crew members.

 

As for the bits sticking up over the back of the transmission deck, it is very difficult to tell what they are or what they are made of - but, in the '50s and '60s they were certainly conducting trials, including in the Persian Gulf, with Centurions wading and they had yet to "seal" the pattern for the design of the wading air intakes, so perhaps they are something to do with that - perhaps support brackets for ducting... But, perhaps they are also something to do with developing sand filters... And, it could be that the trial required the presence of people on the rear decks while the vehicle was travelling (at speed?), in which case, some sort of safety rail might be appropriate, particularly if they weren't military personnel.

 

You mention earlier that one tank is almost certainly a Mk 8/2 or a 9. According to Simon D, (his 1980 book has very few 2RTR photos in it, you'll be pleased to know) the Mk 8/2 didn't really exist as, by the time the Mk 8s were up-gunned with L7s, they had already been up-armoured - ie were 8/1s, thus advanced straight to Mk10. And, yes, the Mk7 was the first to have the ammn loading port on the LHS, but it was also fitted to the AVRE and they were on Mk5 chassis, though, I grant you, they were developed after the Mk7 gun tank. Of course, your photo of Mk7s has to be an early one as the bazooka plates were modified during the Mk7 run to incorporate three rows of more-closely spaced staples (or Footman loops as you may call them in North America) to hold camouflage garnish.

 

I very much enjoy this thread, it is always the first I open when it is up and running, but, forgive me for the observation which may well not be shared by others, but, if you know the answers to questions, please do say so, as the "I know, do you?" format, is a touch wearing! Probably, the best way of guaranteeing a response is to say something which is clearly wrong - that'll have everyone on to it straight away! Keep the thread going, it is fascinating and I look forward to your eventual book (with the perfect proof-reading!)

 

10 68

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Perfect! A perfect response from you, 10 98. See, so much added value to my meagre efforts. Thank you for your comments and for making the effort. My hanging questions are designed to engage, sometimes they work and then..... they don't.

Book references. Hmmm, one book tells me that the hulls for the MK5 AVRE were new MK7s, yet the colour plate drawings clearly shows an un-lengthened Mk3 or 5 with no rear hull extentions and fuel tank and so on. Another says they were MK5 hulls, modified. Another says early Mk5 AVREs were built on standard MK5 hulls, unmodified save for frontal interior ones to accomodate the extra crewman. One other says only one was built on a MK7 hull! ARGH!!! What a minefield information is; one needs a good rake through with a Pearson on a MK12 105 AVRE ....and still won't arrive with safe, sound facts. Facts and verifiable information is all I need and is why I ask questions, in the hope that someone looking in has those answers to my questions. I don't want to learn how to become a Centurion 'Expert' (though I could be on the way, ha ha); I have other things to do and get right for 'the book'!

Those bazooka plates with all the extra scrim hoops do not appear on many of the plates worn by any of the Marques, 7+. Nor were they 'just for AVREs' as there are photos of gun tanks with them.

I wonder if (oh no, another question) the ammunition loading hole in the LH hull was the same size diammeter for both the 105mm armed MK12 AVRE (and gun tank) and the 165mm armed MK5 AVRE?

Quite right about the MK8/2 etc. I didn't want to get into the depths about marques, derivations, uparmouring etc. but I'm glad you've gone into it someway ...... thus enhancing what I wrote (great stuff!).

I must confess those other two Centurion photos are rather small to the point of being next to useless; forgive me please as I got carried away in reducing the big photos into something not worth stealing (I think that I'm still affected by the theft revelation a few posts back, though I've got over my sulking now, can't you tell?) and I'll look at popping two bigger ones on.

Now I'm going to think of a whopper to tell on here and see if someone spots it and says something! Be alert! :-)

Edited by BlueBelle
Pearson appeared as Pearman-I need a proof reader!

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I hadn't considered the "105 AVREs" - in my book they weren't proper AVREs, just cheap copies and they may well have been, I'm sure they were, constructed on later hulls than Mk5s, I'm sure they were as they would have been built on the best of remaining gun tank hulls!

 

Of course, bazooka plates from early (pre-Mk7) vehicles would have remained in service long after the Mk7s arrived in service, being on all Mk 11s for example and, I am sure, as they were frequently removed and stored, that early ones found their way onto later-build vehicles and vice versa. I hope I didn't imply that the "three-row" plates were for AVREs only as, yes, indeed, they were primarily for gun tanks. Regarding the ammunition-loading port, I couldn't say whether the size was the same for 165 and 105mm, but, looking at photos, the holes in the bazooka plates seem to be the same, but I haven't looked at the port itself.

10 68

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Thanks, 10 98. I'll leave AVREs alone now, more so that I have no evidence that any were deployed to the sandy shores of Tripolitania, nor it seems were Centurion Bridgelayers. Bazooka plates? Hmmm, I wonder if those 'many extra scrim hooped' bazooka plates for MK7+ tanks were interchangable with earlier marques, and vice-versa? These Centurion MK7 photos, as noted, don't have the extra hoops but do have the ammunition loading point cover. Am I going to search and sift for photographic evidence? No.

So, I wrote that I'd pop 2 larger photos on here of the 'on trials' Centurion MK7. I'll spoil you, dear viewer, with 3 of them. You might even make out that GHQ Trials flash on the front mudguard.

All 3 photos by John Newton REME

 

 

 

Edited by BlueBelle

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Thanks, 10 98. I'll leave AVREs alone now, more so that I have no evidence that any were deployed to the sandy shores of Tripolitania, nor it seems were Centurion Bridgelayers. Bazooka plates? Hmmm, I wonder if those 'many extra scrim hooped' bazooka plates for MK7+ tanks were interchangable with earlier marques, and vice-versa? These Centurion MK7 photos, as noted, don't have the extra hoops but do have the ammunition loading point cover. Am I going to search and sift for photographic evidence? No.

So, I wrote that I'd pop 2 larger photos on here of the 'on trials' Centurion MK7. I'll spoil you, dear viewer, with 3 of them. You might even make out that GHQ Trials flash on the front mudguard.

All 3 photos by John Newton REME

 

Hi Lizzie,

the two photos in this post show what you thought were boards angled up behind the silencers. They look like boxes or panels due to thickness and what appear to be straps on them, possibly housing monitoring instruments. I was working on an ex-FVRDE (or earlier) armoured vehicle recently and it had about twelve temperature sensors on it, in all sorts of places. This could be why there are 'hand rails' on there and I guess these panels/boards are located as they are so as not to get in the way of engine decks.

Another point on one of these photos is that there is a Bedford QL and Morris MRA1, but next truck along appears to be fitted with a house body which goes over the cab, but not enough to see what it is, any ideas?

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Hi Lizzie,

the two photos in this post show what you thought were boards angled up behind the silencers. They look like boxes or panels due to thickness and what appear to be straps on them, possibly housing monitoring instruments. I was working on an ex-FVRDE (or earlier) armoured vehicle recently and it had about twelve temperature sensors on it, in all sorts of places. This could be why there are 'hand rails' on there and I guess these panels/boards are located as they are so as not to get in the way of engine decks.

Another point on one of these photos is that there is a Bedford QL and Morris MRA1, but next truck along appears to be fitted with a house body which goes over the cab, but not enough to see what it is, any ideas?

Hello Richard,

Boxes, panels even pallets I thought I saw! Over the exhaust/catwalks and placed so as not to get in the way of the transmission decks. Monitoring panels? Could well be. If the photos are as I believe them to be, taken in Tripoli then the date would be between post-Mar 1956 when Egypt had been evacuated and Feb 1957 when John Newton completed his time, assuming he didn't extend his NS. The MK7 started to come off the production line towards the end of 1953, if the one source I've read can be believed though it seems to have taken around another five years before they started to be seen in BAOR regiments (judging again, by books read, photos seen and accounts of regiments such as 2 and 6RTR, who even in 1959 were operating Mk3s and 5s). Heat trials could have been performed in Egypt as regiments and Ord Depots there had Centurions, even in the late 1940s so I wonder why more heat trials say, 10 years later. Couldn't be waterproofing/wading work, could it? No, surely not! Though the timing was right in 1956 for waterproofing/wading work with a return to Egypt by sea on the horizon! I know the practical waterproofing and prep work for the Suez invasion was wholly carried out in Malta by 6RTR as were practice beach assaults.

Hmmm, a mystery.

Yes, you spotted the other vehicles but did you spot the D Battery 3RHA Sexton? I have developed some new swear words as I have failed to be able to sufficiently blow up the large scans sent to me to enable vision and interpretation of formation and arm-of-service signs, not even the VRN on that Sexton superstructure side! I have no idea really about the trucks (REME perhaps, and no H marks) or the house-bodied thing though it could have been an officers caravan (whoops, I meant ops room!).

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And a Sexton by the look of it.

 

10 68

 

Yes! Well spotted 10 68, with your sighting posted here as I was writing to Richard to ask if he'd seen what else there was besides the trucks!

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Hang on, yes, I do know about the housebodied thing. Look at this, though I don't know whether it's Tripoli or Eqypt. Many vehicles that John Newton seems to have photographed whilst based at 10 Ord Depot Geneifa appear again in Tripoli where he was posted to from Geneifa. 3RHA, less J Battery, were also based in different camps in Eqypt and their BLR vehicles ended up in 10 Ord Depot workshop and were shipped back to workshops in Tripoli for repair/scrapping and thence to Homs to where J Battery were awaiting the return of the rest of 3RHA from Egypt. Some Scammells and DTs photod by John in Egypt appear in his Tripoli photos too! Every unit evacuated Egypt in a hurry with many of them finding themselves sent to Libya or Cyprus, again, and some into premature disbandonment prior to being hurriedly reconstituted again for Suez.

Photo by John Newton REME

 

Edited by BlueBelle

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Hang on, yes, I do know about the housebodied thing. Look at this, though I don't know whether it's Tripoli or Eqypt. Many vehicles that John Newton seems to have photographed whilst based at 10 Ord Depot Geneifa appear again in Tripoli where he was posted to from Geneifa. 3RHA, less J Battery, were also based in different camps in Eqypt and their BLR vehicles ended up in 10 Ord Depot workshop and were shipped back to workshops in Tripoli for repair/scrapping and thence to Homs to where J Battery were awaiting the return of the rest of 3RHA from Egypt. Some Scammells and DTs photod by John in Egypt appear in his Tripoli photos too! Every unit evacuated Egypt in a hurry with many of them finding themselves sent to Libya or Cyprus, again, and some into premature disbandonment prior to being hurriedly reconstituted again for Suez.

Photo by John Newton REME

 

Thanks Lizzie, I did wonder if it was on a Bedford OY, and it was! I think it is what is sometimes referred to as a 'gin palace' !

 

No I did not see the Sexton

 

cheers Richard

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LIZZIE two bits for you CENTURION MK V11 43 BA 03 took part in extreme temperature trails returning back to

LUDGERSHALL 19/5/59 its FVRDE wing number was 5012

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LIZZIE two bits for you CENTURION MK V11 43 BA 03 took part in extreme temperature trails returning back to

LUDGERSHALL 19/5/59 its FVRDE wing number was 5012

 

:yay::yay::yay:

 

See, see I told you there was sound reasoning behind my push for an explanation! Dear Wally, you are the bees knees and I can't thank you enough for that priceless piece of information. Where did you look to get it (no, don't say it's a secret!). Got any more info on it?

 

Well, it didn't go back to Ludgershall from Egypt as that had shut down years before but it doesn't mean that it went back from Tripoli either. I still need to prove the location for the photos.

During Malkara/Hornet 'heat' trials, the report suggested the Libyan desert was not hot enough and so other 'hotter' venues were sought. I wonder if this Centurion went elsewhere too, for 'hotter' extremes? 3 years on heat trials. Hmmm, fascinating stuff.

 

In another thread on here last week, a revelation (in my opinion as I knew no different) was made (if I remember correctly) that The Tank museum had told the poster that the armoured vehicle record card system was non-existent prior to 1968. If so, would it be the same for B-vehicles and thus explain why my 'bought from the RLC archive' record card for Scammell Explorer 94BD17 (Libya) was blank from its 1955 date-into-service until it was listed in 1968 at a Malta VSD?

How did Wally track down his wonderful information then and, what happened to this tank post-Ludgershall?

First Class, Five Star research material result! And sand-coloured stuff too!

:):):)

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LIZZIE

I would like to deal with the vehicle cards first I cannot speak about the armoured cards but the 419B CARDs for B vehicles

came in to use in 1950 the first series been 00 BC 01 for contract number 6/v/3659 truck quarter ton GS 4 X 4 MK1

ROVER. Some of the early vehicle history cards did survive about 25 thousand history cards were disposed of in the clean

up in 1980 ish the ones at THE RLC were collected by the museum of army transport from 1985 till its close

34 BA 03 THE details came from the FVRDE ESTABLISHMENT LISTS which l saved when it closed down as yet again no one wanted them so along with trails reports hundreds of photographs they came home with me as to 34 BA 03 it seems it came back to FVRDE after a short stay at LUDGERSHALL until 28/8/62 when it went to the RAC BOVINGTON

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Wally, do your records state when the tank went out on extreme temperature trials? A date might help narrow down where the tank went on its trials and when. Fingers crossed!

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