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Dave 892

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  1. Well i have no reason to doubt the accounts of those who were there at the time. They are all online on the websites I have mentioned for anyone to read and make their own conclusions. I cant post links as i am currently away from home and my desktop where I researched this. I'm actually working at the DNV site within RAF Spadeadam ranges and am surrounded by redundant Soviet armour awaiting a similar fate as our tank In Teesdale! thanks again Dave
  2. As far as I can tell, Barford was RAC but only for armoured cars such as Dingos, Humbers and Staghounds etc. The vehicle park was opposite on the corner where the nissen sheds were recently demolished. There is an amusing anecdote of Barford crews under instruction having to stop on the Abbey Bridge, whilst instructors removed their headsets and climbed awkwardly out in order to pay the 4d toll - doubtless while Germany trembled at our sense of fair play! The memoirs of the station master clearly detail the unloading of a variety of tanks at Barney goods station and the damage they caused to the surrounding properties. Its all reprinted verbatim in the Mercury.
  3. Hi Ruxy There may be a bit of an update from someone who worked on the Cotherstone Moor ranges appearing in the Echo this Saturday. The consensus is that this tank was eventually dragged here as an infantry target for small arms/piat/bazooka/mortar/rpg etc. Dave
  4. Tanks were offloaded at Barnard Castle goods station and this is well recorded in detail by the station master of the day. His recollections were published in local press in 1946 but not before due to restrictions which prevented any such publication of written or photographic information by wartime emergency legislation. Even Churchill’s visit to Barnard Castle’s new Infantry Battle School (IBS) in Dec 1942 was only reported weeks after the event - in the national press and with no location details. Local press had not been invited and the army took its own photos. The station master’s memoirs were reprinted in a booklet published by the district council in the 90s and by the Teesdale Mercury on at least 2 occasions. Only Barnard Castle and Warcop had facilities to load and offload tanks despite Broomielaw, Lartington, Cotherstone and Bowes Stations being closer to training camps and areas. Warcop still has its ramp to this day. You are right about Redmire and it is by no means easy to load or unload oversized tracked vehicles even with special ramps and flat trucks which i witnessed with much lighter and versatile Warrior IFVs back in the 90s. Shermans were oversized in height and needed troughed flats. Churchills were oversized in width and needed a clear run with no oncoming rail traffic. As for Coldberry. The memoir states that at least two Cromwells were based here for a period. This may be to give some realism to Anti- tank training but I really dont know. Other sources mention machine gun training at some point here but i dont know if this was RAC or IBS or indeed if any vehicles - tanks or otherwise - were involved. Bren gun carrier training took place in Lunedale quarries and there is no reason to doubt that with 6 camps in the area, some form of training probably took place at many places throughout the area on a formal and ad-hoc basis - after 80 years long since forgotten. Wartime training involved the compulsory purchase of 6 million acres of land compared to 1 million held in 1939. I have no reason to doubt these open-source accounts from those who were there at the time but how you interpret them is of course entirely down to you and i do value your remarks and interest. Cheers Dave
  5. The Coldberry mine info i got was from the recorded memoirs of a ww2 trooper was actually from Teesdale and found himself back at Barny for RAC training. He gives perhaps the most detailed account available of tank training here because he knows (or knew) the area well. I know the Coldberry complex well as have often visited here and have accessed the buildings, workings and some levels (safely) of most surviving Lead, Barytes and Flourspar complexes in the northern dales as Industrial Archaeology is my main passion. I also read that there was indeed a timber and tented camp in the grounds of Raby Castle called 30VR (Vehicle Repair) depot. This may or may not have been called ‘Staindrop Camp’. The years have since clouded the memories of those who were temporarily stationed in the area and never had any cause to come back. Stainton, Streatlam, Barford and Staindrop all seem to get mixed up in their recollections. Dave
  6. Thanks Ruxy. The buildings opposite the Butter Stone comprised a water works facility linked to the reservoirs - part of the Lartington works. I remember them well. It was demolished only in the last few years - somewhat surprisingly given its age. I am aware of tank hulls being used as dozers at quarries and open cast sites throughout UK and beyond from the late 1940s. A company called Rotinov made use of the post war excess of Shermans - one of which was regularly seen working at Winston on the A67 down the road. However I dont personally think an A9 or even a Valentine would have fallen into civilian hands for such use - given their post war rarity, comparative unreliability and the ready availability of much better tracked vehicles. Still - who knows??
  7. Im since told it is in fact an A9 Cruiser
  8. Ok cheers. What's the difference? I thought they were pretty much the same from the top of the hull downover.
  9. And my mates dad who died recently always used to tell the tale about the Germans bombing Cockfield on a bright sunny day. Everyone initially came out in the streets to jeer as the RAF engaged the bombers - then the bombs started to fall!!!!! We always used to joke that Hitler specified neutralising the threat of Cockfield before taking on Russia!!
  10. Thats great. When i can i’ll cycle up and speak to them. I know all the places to which you refer as I used to work up the dale myself for a while and i still get up there (in the normal world) regularly. I had planned to speak to the landowner but for some strange reason i find myself spending all my time at home these days!! Was the family at Clove Lodge called Purvis?
  11. Thanks again Ruxy. Yes ive found the same problem in that despite the huge amount of training and the many thousands who attended, there is so little actually recorded about RAC at Barney. In comparison there is a load more stuff available about the infantry battle school including many record office online photos and even films. There are some good recollections recorded on the StaintonGrove website and also on the BBC Forgotten Voices site - but those that allude to tank training are rather vague or non specific in terms of details. There’s no substitute for speaking to those who were around at the time but unfortunately they are sadly getting thin on the ground. Shame no one sought to document it all 20 years ago when more people remembered. Theres probably no story to this particular relic really - its probably been just dumped, shot up, blown up and forgotten about 60 years ago!! Dave
  12. Do tell. Im open to views. From all my research im told the first tanks to train here were Valentines and Covaneters. Am i missing something?
  13. Thanks for that Ruxy. I have done a bit of digging about general tank training in the area. The only actual live firing by tanks was across at Warcop but thats not to say smoke shells werent used in Teesdale. Creeping artllery barrages ahead of infantry advances also occurred here together with some ground attack practice from RAF Catterick - but only near Battle Hill which is where this tank lies. The Hude Valley (ie Snaisgill) was certainly used by RAC regiments for training. Cromwell tanks were kept at Coldberry lead mine here under guard in the later war years and there were machine gun ranges high up here on the fell sides for tanks and infantry. Inert shells have been found regularly in this valley - as recently as 2018 so there must have been some drills taking place here also. You obviously know the area and im really surprised that it has lain here for so long without anyone apparently knowing or bothering about it (or remembering it!). My mate - an ex cop - vaguely recalled stumbling across it about 40 years ago while recovering the body of a murder victim!! And yes that is my article in the Echo! (albeit much shortened). The paper calls it a ‘Mk3 Valentine’ - but these are not my words. All I know is that it is an ‘Infantry Tank Mk3’ in War Dept terms and a Valentine in Vickers/Armstrong terms. What actual model/mk it is - I have no idea. Cheers. Dave
  14. Hi All. Pre- lockdown I blundered across a wrecked Valentine on open access moorland in Teesdale west of Barnard Castle. As well as being famous for it’s eyesight curing qualities, the town was host to 3 training regiments of RAC during the war and this area was widely used. The army camps are long gone with only a small MOD rifle range left nearby run by Catterick but rarely used. Does anyone know anything about this tank? Its existence is barely known even locally due to its isolated and almost hidden location. More photos in Gallery. Cheers Dave
  15. Hi everyone. I found this wrecked Valentine on the Durham moors west of Barnard Castle a few weeks ago. Its miles from any road or path and cannot be seen until you more or less stumble on it in the heather and scrub. The area was used during WW2 for training by Armoured Corps and Infantry Battle School troops stationed at the 6 camps in the area. The army are all long gone and the camps mostly demolished. Apart from one small surviving rifle range, the whole training area has long since reverted to civilian ownership - mostly sheep grazing or grouse shooting. As such this tank lies on public access land - although remote and well hidden. I couldnt add this explanation when i uploaded the photos as i was joining at the same time so sorry about the delays. Anyone know anything about it please? Thanks. Dave.
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