My Memories 1966
In January the squadron went to Hohne for demolition training. We had a French made digger to bore holes for explosive charges. The ground was frozen and it was difficult to penetrate the ground. I’m not sure if this machine was on trial or not, but I never saw it again after this exercise. There was snow on the ground and it was very cold.
Me with my 3 tonner 09EL92 at Hohne Jan 1966
I don’t remember all the schemes we did, though we did many small schemes and non-tactical exercises like practicing bridge demolitions on the local canal bridges.
This was the year we were issued our FV432 APCs, and many of the drivers had to go on a 6 week FV432 APC driving course prior to their arrival. There were fittings and auxiliary equipment to learn about as well as an intensive maintenance program required to keep the vehicle serviceable. After a scheme it would take many hours to get it cleaned and maintained to a minimum standard of inspection.
Part of the training included swimming the vehicle across rivers, which we called ‘floatation’ training. This involved at the waters edge, raising the floatation screen which was permanently fixed and folded away at the top of the vehicle. To raise the screen, several struts were placed in set positions to hold the screen upright. We had to ensure that all the drainage bungs were in position and put silicon or grease around the lights to make them watertight. A buoyancy tank had to be opened at the front of the vehicle to aid buoyancy. There was also an upright extension to be fitted on the exhaust. Looking at these vehicles, it was amazing how they managed to swim. They were big chunks of steel loaded with men and equipment. When we received the new APCs the sqn went to Petershagen for a few days for floatation training on the river Weser. This was a complete novelty to everyone in the sqn, the drivers, commanders and combat engineers.
I did my APC course within the Squadron in the summer. The first drivers and instructors to train on FV432s went to do their course in the UK earlier in the year.
Soltau & Bridge Camp
In July the squadron were on exercise at Soltau for about 7-10 days then moved directly to Hameln for our annual Bridge Camp. We arrived at Hameln on the day of the 1966 world cup football final. It was a nice sunny day and most of us packed into the NAAFI marquee to watch the final on TV. I managed to have a night out in the town on at least 1 occasion, and of course a few visits to the, ‘2 fields and a ditch‘ Gasthaus.
The 1966 World Cup Final
On the morning of the 1966 World cup final, the Sqn had just finished an exercise in Soltau. Next on the sqn’s programme was bridge camp. That morning we drove from Soltau to bridge camp in Hameln. At the time my vehicle was a 3 tonner, as I was only part way through my Sqn APC course. Before we set off, I wrote on the canvas sides what I thought would be the final score. I was going to write Eng 4 Ger 2, but I was out numbered by suggestions of Eng 4 Ger 0, so that is what I wrote with white chalk on both sides of my vehicle in large bold text. En-route to Hameln, many passing motorists were sounding there horns gesturing their forecast of the result, which was much different to mine. When we arrived at bridge camp a RMP came up to me and told me to clean the text off my vehicle. We off loaded the vehicles and moved into our tented accommodation. The NAAFI beer tent acquired a TV set, (black and white of course) to show the world cup final. The tent was packed with Brits and Canadians who were at bridge camp at the same time. The sound was turned off the TV and an English radio station was used for the commentary, which was very effective. There was a great atmosphere to what turned out to be a thrilling final, and not without it’s nail biting moments either. This was a great day for English football and an experience I will never forget. ( Don't mention the third goal, I think wev'e got away with it!! )
On the day of the World Cup Football Final in July 1966, 7 Field Squadron Royal Engineers were at Hameln on Bridge Camp
Squadron APC Course 1966
It was some time in the late summer that I completed my APC course, Chris Ellis was one of the instructors
The main exercises this year: Ex Check Mate & Ex Channel Link
I was driving, Chris Ellis commanding. Top photo: me entering the River Weser on far bank.
Bottom: exiting the river. Chris Ellis commanding,seen above
the floatation screen.
FV 432 Tracked Armoured Personnel Carrier
Building Heavy Ferry on exercise. I think it is 2 troop in 1966
Other main events this year:
The Squadron received it's much awaited HMLC Stalwarts, with an allocation of 1 per troop.
Earlier in the year some of the Squadron participated in the international Bramsche marches,
which consisted of marching in squads for so many kilometers each evening. The event lasted several evenings. I remember the Americans and the Dutch took part and there was a P--- up on the final evening. We all thoroughly enjoyed the whole event.
In May 1966 a 'British week' was held in Roberts Barracks, Osnabruck, to promote friendship and trade.
Heavy Ferry transportation by a 10 Tonner. Usually driven by the RCT or MSO
Some names ;Dennis Connelly, Kev Ella, Eric Elgie, Paddy Hooks, Yorkie Walker,Taff Lewis, ? Bennet, Bill Fotheringham, Tich Peacock, Alex Sharp, Taff ?, Pete Rayner, Sgt Pilgrim
Amsterdam Trip by car
Myself, Fred Lasham, Paddy Hooks and Pete Borthwick went to Amsterdam in my car. On the return journey we called in at Arnhem and Oosterbeek war cementery and paid our respects to our fallen heroes.
The Bramsche Marches
The Squadron participated in the international Bramsche marches, which consisted of marching in squads over X amount of kilometers each evening. The event was over 4 evenings. The Brits, Americans, Dutch and Germans took part and there was a 'merry' up on the final evening. The lads thoroughly enjoyed the whole event.
Fred and I with Dutch Tankies Hohne Jan 1966
Fred, PMH & me posing in front of a flashy sports car
Not quite so flash, my car outside Amsterdam
Myself & Pete Borthwick outside Arnhem
Entrance to Oosterbeek
war Cememtry 1966
Oosterbeek war cememtry 1966
A corner of a foreign field that will be forever England
My other Heroes visited the exact same spot 6 years earlier.
My leave pass for my trip to Holland
1 Troop's Stalwart 08ER63
Bramsche marches medal presented at the end of the event
Regimental Signals Course 1966
In late autumn the regiment ran a signals course. The course concluded with a short exercise. I was detailed to drive my APC, on the course, which was 1 troop’s Command Vehicle (CV). Mushy Turner and Jock Orr were my commanders. The students used the vehicle’s radios for their training.
Mushy Turner commanding & me driving for Regimental signals course 1966. The 2 guys on top are course students from 16 sqn
Me outside the 'Bratty' Stall Achmer 1966
Pronto, Doughy Baker at far end of photo
In Barracks in between Excercises and Projects
In general, any free time we had while in camp was used to do our laundry, civvies, shirts and underwear. The army provided a weekly laundry service for army uniform.
Reading and the bar was the most common options, unless you were one of the few who owned a car, in which case, you would most likely be doing a repair on it as there was only 1 brand new car owner in the Squadron and that was Bert Bates. He bought a brand new Hillman Imp. Lucky guy! The cars we owned were old, and usually had several previous owners. Some guys bought cars but never managed to get them on the road. Our spare parts supplier was the local scrap yard. I think Eric Elgie had shares in it, as he was always running us down there. Actually, Eric was a great help, he was always working on somebody’s car, usually with a ciggie dangling from his lips. He had on occasions added a couple of extra nuts and bolts to a pile of a car being worked on to confuse the unsuspecting victim. All in good humour!!
Good news, turns out it was only your battery!!
Cars parked behind the sqn block.
Thats me looking out the window admiring Bertie's Hillman Imp.
The owners of the cars parked:
One weekend I looked out of my room window, the squadron duty vehicle (Landrover) was parked outside facing the squadron block. Behind it, the OC parked his light blue Sunbeam sports car. Paddy Heron was the sqn duty driver, and I saw him rush out the block, jump into the landrover and reverse it into the front of the OC’s car. It was quite funny, but I felt a bit sorry for Paddy as he always seemed to be in a hurry, and always tried to be helpful. I don’t remember the OC’s reaction or the outcome of it, but he wouldn’t have easily got spares for it in Germany in those days. I remember the headlamps were smashed.
Mock Shooting - Certified true edition by Tony Rountree
The story of the mock murder of, Brian “Paddy” Murray
Those involved: - Eric (Luigi) Elgie
Tony Robertson-Bruce (AKA Rountree)
and our victim, Paddy Murray.
The reason was, after watching a German episode of candid camera on TV and thinking we could go one better. The victim (Paddy) was chosen because he was the sprog in the Belfry; he was the lightest of the group and probably was the best actor.
I think we all know what car was chosen for the job and since Elgie looked the most like a gangster, (Black shirt white tie) he was to do the shooting and I was given the job of driving his car.
We piled into the Opel and headed for the centre of Osnabruck, I picked a well lit store in the busy part of the shopping centre and stopped to drop Paddy off, telling him to stay put till we drove around the block.
Sure enough, he was still there shivering in the doorway of the shop when we pulled up to a screeching stop beside him and Elg jumped out with my .22 pistol loaded with blanks from a nail gun.
As Elg walked towards him, Paddy started yelling NO, NO Luigi NO. Elg fired 3 times from about 4 feet away; Paddy went down in dramatic style.
Two of the others jumped out of the car and dragged Paddy over to the car and dumped him in the boot. (All part of the plan) unfortunately they left his arm hanging out of the boot when they slammed the lid (not part of the plan).
The screams coming from the area was deafening, Big German men were pushing women out of the way so they could run away faster.
Everyone jumped back into the car and I took off with the passenger door still open and Elg hanging half out. Luckily the lights were red so I ignored them and made a sharp right as fast as I could, which threw Elg back into the passenger seat; he then promptly thumped me for my great driving skills.
Contrary to the false versions of this event we did not speed out of town at that time, in fact, I only drove a few hundred yards to the first bar and pulled over; we all piled out and had a few drinks after extracting Paddy from the boot. It turned out that Elg had got a bit too close when shooting the blanks and Paddy was now sporting a burned shirt and bleeding slightly from burn marks.
After a few more drinks we all got back in the Opel and decided to go out of town to a dance we had seen advertised somewhere. Using the back road through the officers Qtr’s we had no problem getting to where we wanted to be.
The dance turned out to be the usual German Umpa Umpa type event and not what we expected. After many drinks, I think it was Taff and Paddy that started to argue about something which resulted in us all being asked to leave (chucked out). For their punishment they were both banished to the boot for the ride back to camp, off we drove, singing the usual squaddy songs at the top of our voices. It was when we came back through the Officers Qtr’s that I noticed an M.P. Landrover following us close behind. Having had “one or two” too many to drink I thought I had better drive with care till we got back to camp, no point in taking chances, right?
It was just as we pulled up outside the Brocky shop when they pounced on us, and when I say pounced, I mean cautiously sidled up to the passenger side door, at the same time as Jeff Voce was sidling out the rear driver side door, in his defence, he did ask if anyone wanted a brocky, then walked across the road to the Brocky shop un-noticed by the M.P.s (there were two of them ).
The biggest of the two M.P.s started shouting at us (as they do) telling us to get out of the car and demanded to us to show our hands, (strange time for a hand inspection I thought) so we all got out the car waving our hands in the air, except the two still in the boot who were by now fast asleep.
The other M.P. who stood at the back of the car told Elg to open the boot, Elg told him ”it’s not locked” so he opened it himself and squealed like a little girl when he saw the two in there fast asleep, I remember his high pitched squealing voice saying “there’s two of them”. This woke up the sleeping duo which made him squeal even louder when they started getting out of the boot. (He must have watched one too many zombie movies,) but to be fair, they did LOOK like zombies.
After what seemed like forever in the M.P. place and after convincing them that it was all just a joke we were taken the 9th/12th Lancer’s nick and were met by their orderly Sgt. It was then that Elg asked him, is this the 9th/12th Lancer’s? To which the Sgt. said Yes, in a very loud voice, so Elg shouted CHARGE, and we all ran into the guard room and into the open cell.
No one ever mentioned that Jeff Voce was with us but since our fines for the event were quite high, he did buy us a lot of beer in the following weeks, thanks Jeff.
For those of you who might wonder what happened to the gun, that will remain between those of us that were there and those that can remember what happened to it.
Tony Robertson-Bruce (AKA Rountree)
Regimental Ski Team
In October the regiment agreed to send a regimental ski team to the 2 divisional ski championships. The team would be split up into the 2 different ski disciplines, Cross-country skiing (Nordic Langlauf) and Downhill skiing (Alpine) The langlauf team had to be very fit to achieve a good result, so the regiment decided to have a cross country race and choose the first 5 runners for the team. I was in the first 5. Capt Lipscomb from 16 sqn won the race and he was the team officer. The other guys were Taff Galsworthy, Brummy Ruffle, both from 16 sqn and the other guy was Pete Whittle from 7 sqn. We were all complete novices and I remember trying to imagine what to expect. We did some fitness training in the November. Before we left, some second hand skis and equipment arrived, and I remember trying on the skis with excitement. In early December the team would meet up with 35 Engr Regt at Hameln, who would train us on snow in Zwiesel, near the Czech border. Little did I realize that this would have a major impact on my life. For me it turned out to be a major success, and I continued to be involved with the sport at different levels until 1994. At the 2 div ski championships we won the team novice prize and qualified to compete in the Army ski championships. In the patrol race, there is a team rank structure to be adhered to, as well as certain equipment and weapons to be carried by the 4 man team. Each team must have an officer, a Cpl or above and 2 privates. The officer must carry a pistol and binos and the others, SLRs and rucksacks with x amount of weight between the team. The men each shoot 5 rounds on the shooting range part the way around the 20 km course. There are penalties added to the ski time for each miss on the range. An officer from one team fell on the course somewhere and lost his pistol. He didn’t realize until the end of the race. A search of the course failed to find the pistol. 2 x mine detectors were sent down from a Royal Engineer Unit, and Taff Goldsworthy and myself skied around the course with mine detectors searching for the lost pistol. Unfortunately we didn’t find it but our efforts were appreciated.
Taff Goldsworthy ski training at Zweisel, near the Czechoslovakian border. December 1966
11 Engr Bgde Ski Hut Zweisel where we learned and trained to ski December 1966
The Regimental x country ski team being inspected prior to the Patrol race at the 2 Division Ski Championships January 1967. L-R Capt Lipscomb (16 sqn) Taff Goldsworthy (16 sqn) Me (7 sqn) Pete Whittle (7 sqn)
Me on the range during the Patrol race at the Army Ski Championships January 1967. Capt Lipscomb is spotting for me
It is common knowledge that in 1966, Leslie Grantham was arrested while serving in Osnabruck for the murder of a German taxi driver. When he was brought into the guard room, I think it may have been Quebec barracks, a member of the Squadron, and a good friend of mine, was in the same guard room serving sentence for GBH. He was sentenced to 56 days detention but had already done 28 days before he was sentenced, therefore did not have to go to Colchester. He told me the story about when Grantham was brought in. I can remember there were rumours that following the murder, taxi drivers stopped some military vehicles and 'beat up' the drivers in retaliation.
In Memory of our fallen Buddies
Tragically, we lost 2 members of the Squadron in 1966. Lcpl Paddy Humphries sustained serious injuries in an accident while on exercise and died a week or so later. The Squadron held a church service for Paddy, and I had the honour to read the lesson. Paddy was an excellent soldier, who knew, and did his job well. He was a very pleasant guy and was well liked by everyone who knew him. R.I.P
Tragedy struck the Squadron again, when sadly, Spr Tony French was killed in a motorbike accident while on UK leave. Tony was always smiling and joking, I don't think he could ever have had an enemy. R.I.P
In May 1973, SSM Ian Donald was killed in northern Ireland by a remote controlled bomb, detonated while searching a house in Cullaville, County Armagh.
Ian was a former member of 7 Squadron and well remembered for his time as Provo Sgt. R.I.P
Fred at Hohne
Allan Williams was the first Beatle's manager and drove their minibus at this time