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Tankfest Ferret mishap


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  • 3 months later...
This could happen to anybody, you can't see much from the drivers hatch in any case, just bad luck on the day.

 

I saw it live and felt for him. Below is not entirely related, but neither is it entirely off-topic.

 

In 1978 I drove a Mark 1, Command Troop 15/19H, Rebro Ferret 1 callsign 98A commanded by the troop sergeant. There was a Divisional exercise (unusual but necessary as 3 Armd Div was newly-deployed) which started (as did so many) with an Active Edge crash-out in the middle of the night.

 

This time was different. Somebody thought it would be a good thing to include in the four hours from standing start to crash-out locations a trip to the Sennelager ammo point and bomb up the CVR(T)s as for war. This all went over me, being in Command Troop: all we ever needed was rounds for the Three-Oh.

 

So then the division snaked off eastward through the night and when we (everybody bar Command Troop) got where we were going, reboxed all the 76mm war stock and returned it and an awful lot of 1B1T 7.62mm link for the coaxes to be put back where it belonged, then for a week exercised eastward.

 

End of the first week there was then a long drive westward. The RSM had offered a crate to the first crew to spot the T62 which had been acquired and brought on exercise for a bit of realism and familiarisation. The Ferret was a free-runner, not in a packet. We overtook long lines of CVR(T)s. Then, over the brow of a hill I saw the T62 on a transporter. Big Lou refused to pay out the crate on our claim.

 

We spent the weekend (no track movement at weekends) in the grounds of a Schloss at Wewelsburg (which only many years later did I realise was "the spiritual home of the SS." (http://www.spiegel.de/international/germany/confronting-the-nazi-perpetrators-new-exhibition-explodes-myth-of-ss-castle-wewelsburg-a-687435.html). Explains why we were under strict instructions not to enter the castle and to behave. While we were there, Pope John Paul I was elected.

 

Then we continued to exercise ever further westward away from Paderborn.

 

Wednesday morning was bright. I was awoken for radio stag at 0400 after the usual four hours' sleep. When I finished, I was in such a good mood that exceptionally I cooked breakfast for both rebro Ferrets and the RSM and his driver. Took a long, lingering breakfast, washed up and was just about to get back into my scratcher for a few hours' more sleep (unaware that it would be lunchtime Saturday before I had that pleasure) when our Ferret was tasked to deliver what must have been a non-exercise message to 16/5 Lancers who must have been Orange Forces (cos they were not in 3 Div). Nice day driving about the Westfalian countryside. That night we were kept busy with location moves and time for sleep was not available. Thursday was more hard exercising. The part in the standard scenario had come where we had beaten Orange Forces to a standstill and as EndEx approached, we went on the offensive. That night, we were informed, the engineers would put in a bridge over the River Mosel and by first light, we were to be "heading for Moscow".

 

Getting an armoured division across a single temporary bridge tactically is no easy matter when an armoured division on the move occupies ten miles of road. (To be fair, there was probably more than one bridge.) At last light Thursday everybody packed up and moved to waiting areas. When the bridge opened, stuff started to cross and the queue of units started to shuffle forward. No time for sleep: everyone stayed in his vehicle, engine running, at minutes' notice to move. The occasional closure of eyes and rest head on steering wheel was as good as it got. Lights were set to convoy and the horn cover was on in case you slid forward and your knee rested on the horn, telling half of Nordrhein-Westfalen where you were. Happened to me once, but not this night. Because the other bank was bridgehead, we made sure all our pyro was hot to trot: Schermulies, smoke flares, thunderflashes etc.

 

"What has this got to do with the thread?" you are asking by now.

 

We shuffled into a small town on the south bank of the Mosel and found ourselves at the bridge. We were still tactical. We were lucky right now to have some street lighting, but otherwise it was black as ... well, night. It came to our turn. Troop sergeant talked me very slowly and blindly down a ramp to the river where I presumed the bridge was. It was steep and black. I found the nose of the Ferret start to rise steeply, then level off. I presumed we were now on the bridge. I was told to select neutral, apply handbrake and stamp on the footbrake hard as I might. When the street lights upstream started to move, I was convinced we were somehow slipping off the bridge and there was the first hint of panic. It was only when I felt a clunk at the front after a few seconds that I realised that what I had assumed in the blackness to be a bridge was in fact a ferry.

 

Off the ferry, up the far bank and get away in a hurry, ready to support the advance in the dawn in not a long time at all, it being mid-summer.

 

In that few seconds, I felt what the Tankfest driver was going to feel all those years later.

 

By dawn (Friday) we were off in a race reminiscent of the regiment's charge from the Rhine to the Baltic in 1945. Unusually, even Command Troop was sharp instead of several miles behind the sabre squadrons.

 

Late afternoon EndEx was called. I can still vividly see Jackie Broon popping an orange smoke flare (well you'd only have to hand them in when you got home) and dropping it under the open back doors of Zero Bravo Command Saracen. The day was hot with next to no breeze apart from the breeze blowing through the Saracen. We heard the adjutant's voice. "Hello all stations this is Zero stand by for orders for the move to the railhead. Cough, cough. Splutter. What the ...?" then the operator flew out of the commander's hatch and coughed his lungs up. Oh what great japes we had back in the day.

 

Friday evening we, the RSM and rebro Ferrets, stood at the nearby railhead and watched CVR(T)s load through the night. Yet another night with no sleep. RSM blagged a lift back to Paderborn in comfort while the three Ferrets along with those of the Squadron Sergeants Major of B and C Squadrons (who also blagged lifts in comfort) drove back to Paderborn on Saturday morning. As lead vehicle I was first person back in camp, did the bare minimum of post-exercise admin and headed off to see girlfriend, who took one look at the bags under my eyes and sent me to bed. By the time the regiment got to the Paderborn Nord loading ramps, unloaded and returned to camp, I was asleep until well into Sunday.

 

Sorry. Carry on now.

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  • 4 months later...
Now before anyone says anything, I am just as human as anyone else and have my fair share of screw ups.

 

Wonder what the intercom back and forth was like on this one?

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eLQ4S6zrL4Q&feature=related

 

If either the driver or commander are on here, my commiserations gents

 

R

 

Naw I have a better one This Saladin has its full complement of ammunition inside, Aden 1964/5. It would have made a big bang if it had fallen into the Wadi and the ammo exploded.

 

Pete

xrh_ap_13.jpg

xrh_ap_14.jpg

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Naw I have a better one This Saladin has its full complement of ammunition inside, Aden 1964/5. It would have made a big bang if it had fallen into the Wadi and the ammo exploded.

 

Pete

 

Wouldn't have been much left to pick up if it had fallen in.... brown trousers all round

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  • 1 month later...

Coming off the bridge was terribly unfortunate but incidents like this happen all the time, to prevent this happening these days you are guided across all tank bridges by a Sapper carrying his 2 fluorescent marker sticks, drivers and commanders are also closed down in case the driver decides to do his own thing and fall off the bridge. If it wasn't for drivers having lapses in concentration through lack of sleep or otherwise then us recovery mechanics would be out of a job, so my reaction has and always will be, never mind mate sh!t happens that's why we're here, and to those that like to make the smug comments try and do better yourself.

 

I actually think it added a spot of realism to the day as that's what happens in the real world so the driver shouldn't feel to bad, shame he's stopped displaying though. Oh and AlienFM, great story I love to read about the Cold War years, you should start a thread of stories for us current serving blokes to see how it was done back then. :D

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Im just glad no one was killed or seriously injured as the outcome could have been much worse if it had not been for the reactions of the driver turning the vehicle inside, it is to easy to panic in that situation.

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The Commander should have got down soon as it started to drop, that bridge could have acted like a guillotine, lucky it didn't drop to far. My biggest fear was turning over in a sabre/simitar in the drivers seat but the worst thing that happened to me was sliding sideways down a track in otterburn . Some people need to be a bit more respectful in there comments this guy could have many hours in the seat of a ferret. Even formula 1 drivers get it wrong now and then.

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We all make mistakes spelling and grammar being just one of them. I've always said that if you haven't made a mistake in this life you haven't lived. Experience comes from the mistakes and knowing how to correct them before you do them!

 

Happy New year to you all

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We all make mistakes spelling and grammar being just one of them. I've always said that if you haven't made a mistake in this life you haven't lived. Experience comes from the mistakes and knowing how to correct them before you do them!

 

Happy New year to you all

 

If you have a problem with my grammar please feel free to come and see me to discuss it.

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If you have a problem with my grammar please feel free to come and see me to discuss it.

 

No thanks I am one of the worst offenders spellcheck on google chrome is a wonderful thing it just doesn't do grammar !

 

Plus I've been there all four wheels spinning on my Ferret after trying the tank off road course, this was the last bit that we did we had to be winched out :red: It was made worse by the fact everyone else was ready to go home and all the vehicles had been cleaned up.

 

This wasn't last year either (the sun gives it away) I've been hiding this one one Face/book so I think I am unhappily qualified to comment.

 

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Nice Ferret (that sounds wrong ;)) this could be the start of a whole new thread, 'admitting/posting photos of our cock ups'.

 

It took me more than twelve months to admit that one and it ain't that bad supposedly there is supposed to be a video of it as well, lets hope that doesn't surface!

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It took me more than twelve months to admit that one and it ain't that bad supposedly there is supposed to be a video of it as well, lets hope that doesn't surface!

 

Yes it was me who had to go and winch Andy out, I do believe Eddy8men who gave the encouraging words "it'll get through there no problem".

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