Monday, January 4, 2010

Monday 11th October - Arbroath
The troop is sorting out personal clothing, plus checking and double checking the limited troop equipment that we had, then started loading the small amount of equipment into the few vehicles we had, along with the few Stores and personal kit.
Personal Kit consisted of:
Large Pack
Sleeping Bag, Shirts KF, Denim Trousers, Socks, Washing/Shaving kit, Cleaning kit, Spare underclothes, Yoke, Ammo Pouches, Water Bottle & Carrier, Cape Carrier & Poncho, Large Nylon Stocking.
Kit Bag
Boots DMS, PT Shoes, Combat Trousers, Combat Jacket, Respirator, Steel Helmet, Kidney Pouches.
Shirts KF, Socks, UnderClothes, PT Vests, PT Shorts, Jersey Pullover, Gloves, Berets, Cap Badge, Denim Trousers/OG Trousers, Towels, Braces.
Leaving out, ready to wear:
Smocks Denim, Denim Trousers, Boots DMS, Puttees, Beret & Cap Badge, Belt58, Jack Knife, Housewife kit, Holdall, Mess Tin/KFS/Mug, FFD.

15th October 1971 - 8th January 1972
Northern Ireland
Condor Troop, 9 Indep Para Sqn RE, Antrim Bridging Camp, BFPO 801.

"The Troubles" started back in the 12th Century, when British Troops stormed Ireland.
The current "Troubles" have their roots in the National Uprising on 24th April 1916.
A Guerilla war followed, resulting in most of Ireland becoming "free" from English rule, with exception to 6 North Eastern Counties, which were predominantly Protestant and wanted to remain a part of the United Kingdom.
The "Troubles" really flared in July 1969, when a Civil Rights Demo in Londonderry, was broken up with great violence by the 'B' Specials. This caused the Protestants to attack Catholics, whilst the Police and Militia stood by and watched.
The British Government sent in Troops, to quieten down the fighting.

Friday 15th October 1971
All Landrovers are fitted with a "Cheese Cutter", an angle iron fitted at a 45 degree angle upwards from in front of the windscreen, giving head clearance. This was designed to cut wires
Troop Fitter Ray Elliott
put across the road, to cause head decapitation.
Drivers parade before leaving, all drivers issued with weapons, including 'live' ammunition, generally drivers were issued with a Sub Machine Gun, passengers are issued with an SLR Rifle.

A Convoy of vehicles (Marines, Battery & Engineers) which included - 21 x Landrovers, 7 x 3 Tonners(RL's) and 1 x Commer Tipper, left Arbroath Camp at 02.30hrs.
Eddy Sanders was driving the Engineer Commer Tipper, whilst Ray Elliott (Troop Fitter) was driving the Landrover, Peter Davey and one other driving the 3 Tonners.
At 07.00hrs a Marine Landrover crashed off the road, into a brick wall, the driver had fallen asleep. The front of the Landrover was severely damaged, rendering it un-fit to continue, so it was left behind. The trailer was transfered to our Troop Fitter's Landrover, plus kit from inside the damaged Landrover; the driver was taken to Hospital, with broken Arm & Shock.

Arriving in Belfast Docks, the Convoy was surrounded by Heavily Armed Infantry and escorted to their Camp, possibly Flax Street Mill (on the Ardoyne Estate), about 4 miles from the Docks, arriving at 16.00hrs.
The Convoy of escorts and escorted, was spread back over one and a half miles, each vehicle only inches from the rear of the vehicle in front, to stop any other vehicles joining the convoy. The Convoy length could best be seen, when it crossed a bridge and doubled back on itself.
The Engineers remained with the Infantry overnight, our quarters used to be a huge workshop, divided up into bedrooms.
The Marines moved to Bessbrook Mill, a detachment went through to Newry.
Saturday 16th October 1971
Drivers were escorted from the Infantry Barracks, to our "new home" - Antrim Bridge Camp, which was still being constructed by 9 Indep Parachute Squadron RE.
Being the first of the Commando Engineers to arrive, we took a lot of 'stick' from the Paras.
The rest of the Troop was collected by the Paras and escorted to the Camp, we all had to find sleeping quarters. Quarters were newly built huts, with bunk beds ranged down both sides, I think there were 5 Bunk beds on each side.
The following day, the Troop Fitter was involved in his first Escort Duty with 9 Para, escorting our Troop Muirhills in from Belfast Airport.
Dress for Escort Duty:
Shirt, Trousers and matching Smock top, Flak Jacket, Webbing -Ammo Pouches with spare 'clips', Water Bottle, Gas Mask in Pouch, plus Field Medical Dressings.
The Sub Machine Gun has strap on the Butt of the handle, the other end secured round the right wrist.
From now on, the Troop Fitter would be in the Workshops, or on Escort Duties, Officer Driver or Emergency Call out driver. Generally working through the night in the workshops, whilst the Troop slept, given time to sleep in the morning and used for driving duties or workshop in the afternoon.
All Engineers are grouped together, for easier Command and task distribution.
Condor Troop was grouped with 9 Para and coming under command of 9 Para, who certainly tasked the Troop well, which included: Area Searches, Sangar Building, Fence Erecting and much more.
Our Troop Officer was out to "prove" the Troop, in the eyes of 9 Para, by taking on more tasks than any Para troop and in more dangerous areas, some that 9 Para refused to go to.
Our Officer was correct to do this, we were 'new' and un-tried. The troop actually covered almost twice the work of any Para Troop and worked in more dangerous places than 9 Para. We
gained a lot of respect from 9 Para and the Royal Engineer world.
Taff Bridgeman and Hamish remained in camp, working on Prefabricated Sangers.
Bally Murphy - Building a Sanger (Sentry Hut) and Car Park area.
The Muirhill is out Troop "Work Horse", used on all troop tasks. It is towed on a trailer, behind a Tipper.
21st October 1971
Troop started work at Larne Power Station.
Front of Power Station - Concrete in concrete fence posts with chain link fencing, covered with single Donit Barbed Wire.
Rear of Power Station (Sea Wall) - Layout 3 miles of Double Donit Barbed Wire.
Bill Young - Troop Plant Fitter on Guard duty at Larne.
24th October 1971
Troop called out to help disarm the 'B' Specials in Shankill Road, supported by 45 Commando RM, plus other Infantry Units. Shankill Road was cordoned off, whilst our troop ripped out floor boards and walls, looking for hidden weapons. Of 2000 licensed weapons, our search only found 200.
26th October 1971
Troop called out to Girdwood Park, which had come under attack, killing two Guards and wounding another. The troop carried out repairs to fortification.
27th October 1971
Troop Fitter escorting a 10 tonner to Londonderry, to collect a Bray Wheeled Dozer, returning back to Antrim.
28th October 1971
Troop Fitter escorted 10 tonner to Girdwood Park, to collect a Road Roller, to be delivered to a quarry in Ballymurphy. On the way to Ballymurphy, we came upon a semi-blocked Roundabout, a burning car blocking the left side of the roundabout. All down both sides of the road, leading to and from the roundabout, were rows of children.
With the 10 tonner creeping at 10 mph, we were "sitting ducks", full and half bricks were thrown in a frenzy at us, every window was smashed, including headlights on both vehicles, luckily no petrol bombs were thrown. The Lorry passenger had to be raced to hospital by helicopter, with a fractured skull.
21st November 1971
All Army bases on "Red Alert", this was the IRA's 50th Anniversary.
During the night, Staff Pickles ran through our hut shouting "Stand to", then waited outside of the back door. 'Jock the Doc' or 'Piggy' got up, went out the back to urinate and promptly soaked the Staff's leg - he was not amused and I think his shouting scared the IRA away, for we were "stood down" shortly afterwards.
The Troop laid the very first "Sleeping Policeman" across Shankill Road, it was too high, causing half the buses to be put off the road with bus panels missing, Mini's became stranded on the top and Motorbikes 'took off', one landed about 30 feet down the road, before crashing.
This was laid outside of the Police Station.
4th December 1971
Sgt Jock Gray, Ronnie Gould and Troop Fitter, working at Belfast Police Station, strengthening the Station, by fitting concealed doors and windows.
The Troop was working in the Ardoyne area, building Sangers.
Here Eddy Sanders was setting up for the Sanger.
In-between various tasks, the Troop helped to complete Antrim Camp, carrying essential plumbing tasks.
Muirhill digging pipe-line holes.
Other Troop Tasks included:
Clearing Burnt out vehicles on Flak Street, Belfast, with an Alice Chalmers.
Erecting a 16 foot Chain link fence around a School, required 3 men on each post, to pass up and then clamp the wire to the posts.
Two shots sounded, Bob Williams above Ray Elliott on the post, let go and crashed down, sending the two crashing into 'Piggy' (Chris Moore) at the bottom. One shot passed through the scaffold pole, just above Bob's head, but shock had made Bob forget why he had let go. Bob spent 10 days in Musgrove Hospital, damaged left side of his head - partly from sliding down the pole, plus drop onto the concrete ground.
Canada 'Mac' (McDonal) and Taff Bridgeman, held a competition to walk the furthest with a roll of fencing, Mac beat Taff by two steps only.
13th December 1971
Union Street, belfast - Printing Factory blown-up, troop tasked with clearing the debris, looking for killed or injured and making the building safe.
Dock Yard, Belfast - Pub blown up, troop tasked with clearing debris, looking for killed or injured and making the building safe.
Girdwood Park
Before the "troubles" this used to be a TA depot, but was now becoming the main Recovery and Breakdown Centre.
Troop Fitter spending a lot of time at Girdwood Park, on Escort Duties, or Recoveries.
Also from the Troop, the Plant Operators took turn at being stationed here, Eddy Sanders, Jock-the-Doc, Ronnie Gould and Joe Noble, working with 9 Para Plant Operators.
The Alice Chalmers was a powerful machine, that could twist in the middle and turn around in its own length. These machines could lock their bucket on the centre deck of a burning double-decker bus and lift it out of the way.
To protect the Operator, from his door being opened whilst working, the door was welded shut.
The first design by 9 Para, saw the driver climbing in through the roof, the MOD then changed the design, so the driver climbed in through the side window. both designs were awkward for the driver.
The interior was not padded, so stones hitting the cab, sounded like minature explosions.
On the 4th Week, Eddy Sanders got stuck at Girdwood, until the troop returned home.

Christmas Day
Both 9 Para and Condor Troop, formed up in the Canteen for Christmas Dinner, Staff Sergeant Pickles was duty Officer.
The meal was served by the Officers and SNCO's, Starters followed by the main Course.
Members of 9 Para started throwing Peanuts at Condor Troop, who retaliated with Roast Potatoes, then the "Food Fight" went out of control. The Officers and SNCO's fled the room, leaving the lads to "fight" it out.
After the Roast Potatoes, followed the Meat and then the Plates, even the Chefs were bombarded and joined in. Those still hungry, slid under the tables, to retrieve Roast Potatoes, or whatever was about, until the tables took-off. Joe Morrison, Bob Williams and Canada Mac were among those trying to retrieve food.
When calm was finally restored, every plate had been broken, the Kitchen wrecked and 3 Windows smashed.
Eddy Sanders, stuck at Girdwood Park, missed all the fun. He was served his meal by the WO2 and given a glass of Whisky with it, so Eddy enjoyed his meal in peace.
Hamish & Ray Elliott missed all the action too, being served their meal by the local Vicar's wife; they returned to the camp, to be told about the "food fight" and saw the mess that had yet to be cleared up.
Guard Patrol Goes Wrong
A 3 Tonner set out on a sweep of the Belfast area, but as it passed through the gate, all went wrong.
When a Flare was set off, Garth Freeborn saw a figure "flitting" through the trees and fired a shot at it, only that figure happened to be the Guard Commander, checking out the Flare, which had been set off by a Rabbit.
The ejected cartridge from Garth's rifle, struck Big Jack Audsley on the side of his tin helmet, Big Jack thought he had been shot.
The patrol was cancelled, whilst an investigation was held.
Boxing Day - Big Fight
After a shower and donning clean clothes, Ray Elliott headed out to stay with the Vicar and his family, from 11.30hrs to 23.15hrs.
Arriving back in camp for Midnight, he witnessed the most senseless fight going.
The room mates arrived back shortly after Midnight, totally drunk and spoiling for fun.
Big Jack tried cutting down the Christmas Tree in the room, but gave up.
Ronnie Gould tried the same and he too gave up; in a fit of anger , Ronnie smashed a wooden chair, knocking himself out in the process, wjhen he came to, he put the splintered chair in the room fire.
Big Jack decided to smash a metal chair, gave up, got hold of an Axe and tried chopping up the room Sofa, he tore the fabric but luckily did no real damage.
Fed up by now, Ray Elliott tried to restore calm, but too late, other room mates arrived and the fun became more serious.
Garth Freeborn arrived first, saw his Christmas Tree damaged, lost his temper and using the discarded axe, cut it up. Harry tried to stop Garth, but they ended up fighting; four other lads tried to stop them and a bigger fight started, everyone fighting each other.
During the melee, the destroyed Christmas Tree was flung all over the room, someone tried swinging on the room light, which was ripped out of the ceiling, sending light and sapper crashing to the floor. He then hit another lad trying to lift him up and others joined in to stop them, but fighting each other took over.
Blue Fenwick was hit over the head with a bottle, obtaining a fractured skull and required 4 stitches.
Garth received a broken jaw, bleeding nose and cut around one eye.
Harry had a sore right hand.
Totally fed up, Ray went for reinforcements, in the form of the SNCO's; Jock Gray finally brought calm to the room.
The room was totally smashed up, lights hanging with bare wires, Christmas decorations ripped apart and hanging, Christmas tree partly in the fire and burning, sofa almost wrecked from falling sappers crashing into it.
What a Total Waste!!
Of course 9 Para thought this funny, fighting each other and wrecking a hut.
8th January 1972
Civilian Ferry home.
Troop Fitter found another "broken-down" landrover, just outside of Glasgow. Stopping to investigate, he found Jock-the-Doc and Eddy Sanders.
They had been 'split' from the Convoy, stopped at a Pub in Glasgow for directions and a few drinks, leaving the pub with a "carry-out", they finally found their way out of Glasgow (strange, Jock-the-Doc was from Glasgow) and stopped for a sleep.
The Troop Fitter, who was last in the Convoy, hooked the landrover to his, using an 'A' frame.
During the drive to Arbroath Jock and Eddy swapped seats, taking tuerns to 'drive', whilst consuming their carry-out.
At Arbroath, Staff Pickles wanted to check out the towed landrover, but could not start the engine, so could not charge Jock & Eddy with drunk driving.
Did the Fitter do something to the engine, to avoid the lads getting into trouble???
A lot of excess Stores came home with us, hidden under personal kit and authorised Stores, all would help raise money for our Troop Finances.
The Troop returned home 3 weeks early, due to an imminent deploying to Norway with 45 Cdo RM. Lt. Hoddinott had been sent to Norway 2 weeks earlier, on Special training, in advbance of the troop.
Despite the all-out fighting on Boxing Day, the whole Troop had started to "Bond" and were looking forward to Norway, though with some trepidation, having to walk on planks of wood was scarry.

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