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Commer Water Cannon


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What happened to these? I think there was one in the RCT museum at one time. When I worked the pump it belong to 17th/21st Lancers and was used in Belfast and Londonderry. Photographs taken 1970 Girdwood Park Belfast. The brick marks after a night on the town can be seen all over the front. I remember from another forum the comment that the pump exhaust put fumes into the fighting compartment and that the crew had to wear respirators. I don’t remember that problem and we only wore respirators to combat the CS gas that was about. Of course a respirator will be of little use when trying to overcome exhaust fumes. We took these from the RUC when we got rid of the Mercedes Water Cannons that we had used for some time. The decision being made because the Mercedes were not armoured. As a water cannon the Commer was way inferior to the German vehicle but the bad guys had started firing bullets.





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There is one in private ownership in NI, one restored by the RUC Historical Society, there was one at Beverley & some ended up at Otterburn.


PS I have in the past referred to the comment about the pump operator having to wear a respirator. That was from a SITREP that was clearly slanted against the design of the vehicle.


Did you get the 17/21 Lancers Triton tie? I once saw someone with one who was working for Anchor must have been 10-15 years ago.

Edited by fv1609
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No didn't get the tie I had moved on to Cyprus by the time the tie was organized. I only served on the Mercedes and the Commer. I would agree that the design of the Commer was not great and, as I said, the water cannon role was not very well fulfilled. It was slow and handled like a lump of jelly. Bullet proof though, well sort of.

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At one stage they seemed to be painted brown with disruptive black (poss DBG). Was that during your time? Seemed an odd scheme for an urban vehicle.


Thank you for posting the pictures. Do you have any more or of the Mercedes? I have the EMER but the picture is not very good.

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As far as I can remember they were painted camouflage when we got them from the RUC. Was a bit odd using that camouflage in urban areas but the rest of the Regiments vehicles were also that scheme, although better painted. I remember being told that the stripes in the Cam were to be not less than 18 inches and not any wider than 24 inches. The things you remember.

There was only two Mercedes Water Cannon used by the Army, we went to Bonn to be trained by the German police, brought them back in the dead of night in a Shorts Belfast. Think one of them was written of being driven by the RCT, they tried a sharp maneuver whilst the water tank was half full. A little uncontrollable when not full or empty at speed.The fourth picture is a practice riot with some obliging infantry. I have more but it will take time to locate them, I will post them when I have them. Photographs were taken on the New Lodge Road and Girdwood Park 1970






Edited by challenger
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Thank you, those are super. I have seen very few pictures of the Mercedes, perhaps a reflection of how short a time they were in service? Although the EMER I have is dated July 1974, this seems rather late but the Servicing Schedule is dated Jan 1971.


Yes charging around with a half-full tank would make for an interesting ride.


The RUC Commers although some were grey, towards the end of their RUC use most were in a sort olive drab. After they were withdrawn from RUC use & stored at Thorburn Road photos, although B&W, show Commers in both colours although no disruptive pattern.



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  • 3 years later...

Did you get the tie? I have only seen one of the ties so far.


What was your take on the brown with disruptive DBG, both appear to be gloss. Seemed very curious for an urban situation. There are some pictures of Pigs in urban duties painted in that scheme, as they were Mk 1 this would be pre Sept 1972 to June 1973 at the latest.

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  • 7 years later...

Many years ago at the War & Peace Show there were some Claribel units for sale with Anchor Surplus. I now regret not buying any of the bits, but whilst discussing various devices used in NI I noticed that the member of staff had a tie that incorporated a reference to Triton. I wish I had taken a picture but in those days phones didn't have cameras. I think he was pleased that someone had recognised the background history to his commemorative tie.

So did you have to wear a respirator when pumping? A while back I went through all the REME SITREPS from NI & noted a comment among the lines that the Commers had been so poorly designed that the pump operator could easily be overcome by fumes from the pump so had to wear a respirator. Not sure that it would have protected against carbon monoxide. 

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