Friday, January 1, 2010

15th June - 25th June 1972
Orkney Islands

15th June
Troop board HMS Albion, engine problem, so off-loaded and return to Arbroath.

18th June
Troop board HMS Albion again, during early evening, bed down on S2 deck.

19th June
10.00hrs - Ship finally sets sail, heading for the Orkneys.

20th June - 23rd June
08.00hrs - Arrive Orkney Islands.
The Marines put in an "Air Assault" to secure the ground, before we land. Then move further inland, to carry out their own exercises.

The troop task is to remove an old 'fixed' pier and replace with a 'floating pier', for the Laird of Orkney to land his sheep.
Ron Gould found an old D2 Bulldozer, plated 25th built and asked the Troop Fitter to help get the Donkey Engine running.
The Bulldozer had grass growing over it, it had been there some years.
The Donkey engine produces pressurised air, which then turns the main engine over.
The cylinder head was slightly cracked, but in the Troop Fitters 'box of tricks', was a sealant paste that turns to concrete, allowing the donkey engine to start.
After priming the main engine, Ronnie primed the main engine and after some spluttering, it fired up.
Ronnie then tied rope to the main clutch lever, engaged a forward gear, climbed down and pulled the string; nothing appeared to happen, then loud grinding noises were emitted, followed by the bulldozer shuddering. Suddenly it moved forward, Ron jumped onto the track and rode up to the cab, taking control of the monster.
After a few turns, Ron turned towards the beach head.
The Dozer was much appreciated by the troop, using it to pull out the old pier head scaffolding, buried in concrete in the sea bed.
With the job done, Ron parked the Dozer back in the field.

Some lads found a baby seal, captured it and carried it out of the sea to the beach....followed by an angry mother seal. They promptly put the seal back and retreated.

That evening, Albion sailed away along the coast.

24th June
Albion arrived at Scapa Flow, at the start of a warm day.
After breakfast, all Soldiers on board, were invited (told) to participate in some sport.
Football on the Flight Deck, running around the ship decks, press-ups, sit-ups, or swimming.
For those who could dive safely, groups were allowed to dive off a section of the Flight Deck, or further down, from the Weapon pits. Diving into the sea, has to be precise, the hard water can split a skull open.
For those who were adventurous, we could board a helicopter, with 200 foot ropes dangling; the helicopter hovers 20 feet above the sea, for those who wanted to slide down the ropes and drop the 20 feet into the sea. To reach the flight deck from the sea, it was climbing up the nets.
A few climbed up the centre "Castle", to the Ship Captain's deck, then dive outwards 10 feet, before angling towards the sea. When the Captain realised what was happening, he put 'armed' guards around the castle - he did not want blood spilt on his deck.
Experienced Divers, went down to explore the sunken war graves of British & German ships.
It was here that the Troop trialed out the first Army hovercraft.

25th June - "Attack Arbroath Base"
Albion hove-to off Arbroath, helicopters were used to land men and vehicles, in Arbroath Docks.
Landrovers formed-up, with heavy machine guns mounted to them and a team of 4 per landrover.
Other lads mounted helicopters, lightly clad with sub machine guns.
Others mounted helicopters, heavily clad with General Purpose machine guns and Mortars.

Lining the Airfield were spectators, Wives, Families and residents of Arbroath.
The "Enemy" was the 'skeleton' rear party at the base.
With a Tannoy telling the spectators where to look and what they were seeing, the battle commenced.
In came helicopters with 200 foot trailing ropes, lightly armed men abseilled down and formed an outer perimeter.
In came heavily armoured men, jumping out of hovering helicopters, themen consolidated and started the attack on the enemy, using mortars and heavy machine guns, flares and pyro-technics (flash/bang grenades).
Roaring in from behind the enemy and surrounding them, came the Landrovers, with heavy machine guns and more flash/bangs.
Totally surrounded by the attackers, the "enemy" gave up.
The rest of the Groups vehicles were then flown in by helicopters.
A grand show had been put on, one that those watching, will never forget. The Marine Group had did what they do best - show off!!

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