Saturday, January 2, 2010

Weymouth Bridging Camp
9th April 1972 - 5th May 1972

9th April 1972
Convoy arrived in Chickerell Camp at 21.00hrs.
Troop sleeping in Wooden Cabins - 15 men to a cabin.

10th April 1972
With exception to troop Drivers, all the troop moved to Portland Down, to start building Pontoons and learning to operate them.
This involved un-loading sections from lorries, floating each section and securing sections together, with four "power" plants, one on each corner.
Each power unit was very powerful and could be rotated through 180degrees.
The 'Raft' had four drivers and a Corporal in charge.
Hilarious fun was had for nearly an hour, whilst the "team" learned to work together, steering the raft in the same direction.
For those ashore, it was a 'side-splitting' show, as the raft tried pulling itself apart, or one-side would steer one way, the other the opposite - swinging around in exaggerated circles, zig-zags and plenty of "wobbling", when the bow waves washed over the raft, to drench each driver, who would lose balance.
When you watch 3 or 4 Rafts moving side by side, along or across the River - Together, it was a fantastic sight, when done correctly.
The benefit of these Rafts, being the ability to lift each engine and therefore "beach" the raft, to land its cargo.

Drivers mustered at the Workshops - large Marquees, with electrical power for tools.
A REME Fitter instructs us on how he wants the vehicles Waterproofed, then the drivers carry-out the tasks.
After each vehicle is completed, the driver then drives the vehicle through a 5 foot deep water tank, to test it.
The vehicle can only travel short distances on dry land, before over-heating.
A Landrover takes 3 days to Waterproof, longer for larger road vehicles, or Plant.

The Medical Officer was very concerned, he was issuing boxes of Condoms, far more than usual.
When he spoke to a Senior Officer, his fears were allayed "The Condoms are being used on vehicle waterproofing, to seal various electrical parts, because the correct equipment has not arrived.
It would be fair to say, that a third of Condoms, were being used correctly - Weymouth Girls!!

19th April
After completing the Waterproofing, the troop gathered together, to prepare for the Exercise.
Arnie Dousse decided to play the fool, but Staff Pickles was having none of it, he sent Arnie to stand by the rear gate, at the far end of the Weymouth "Hard".

Lt. Col. Sir Steuart Pringle was due to visit that day, to see how the Engineers can help his troops, by viewing the waterproofing process (one Landrover left for the visit), plus view the Pontoons loading vehicles and doing a 'dummy' landing.
His driver got slightly lost, turning into the rear gates, he stopped to ask this Sapper standing there for directions.
After asking and receiving directions, the Colonel asked Arnie Dousse, what his trade was and why he was over by the rear gates.
Arnie responded truthfully "I am the Troop Idiot and have been sent here, to avoid the VIP due shortly".
The Colonel told his driver to continue, then sat back and laughed!

20th - 25th April 1972 - Exercise Sea Horse

20th April
09.00hrs - Briefing:
It is now 1980 and 59 Indep Cdo Sqn RE has just arrived back in Weymouth, after 6 years abroad.
Due to the Common Market, the Welsh & Cornish Celts have turned against the Country.
Fierce fighting is taking place along the River Avon, from Liverpool to Bournemouth.
The Squadron's task, is to provide Bridging, Demolitions, Mine Clearance and Mine Laying, in support of our forward troops, to help cross the River Avon and force the Rebels back.
59 Indep Cdo Sqn will board LSL's, carry out a Beach landing, somewhere between Bournemouth and the Isle of Wight, then proceed across country, asc all roads are blocked, to give support to the forward troops.
Further details will be issued on board the LSL's.

The Exercise will last 5 days and 4 nights, with the "Enemy" being 45 Cdo Group RM.

Drivers leave camp and proceed to Portland, where they board the Pontoons built and manned by the "Field Doggies". The Pontoons take the road vehicles out to the LSL's, where we do a Sea transfer onto the LSL's.
Heavy Plant waded out to the LSL's.
All night the LSL's sailed along the coast, until we reached Lulworth Cove.

Final Briefing about Landing, route inland and Tasks to carry out. Then some sleep.

21st April

05.00hrs - Reveille
06.00hrs - Breakfast
07.00hrs - Move to Landing positions.
Board landing crafts to "attack" the shore line, completing a perfect landing - whilst being filmed from ashore.
The landing craft came right up on the shore, before lowering the ramp, our vehicle wheels never got wet!
Only the Plant machines had to wade to shore, they are too heavy for the landing craft and waded ashore from the LSL's.

22nd - 25th April - Salisbury Plains
Here the troop spent:
One day on Bridging, building a Bailley Bridge.
One day on Demolitions - playing with various shaped charges.
One day on Minefields - laying and lifting mines of all sorts.
Half a day on Ambush - setting up an ambush and firing on the "enemy".

26th April to 5th May
Drivers removing Waterproofing.
Field Doggies stripping the Pontoons.

Leave Weymouth around Midday on the 5th.

6th May - 26th May
Condor Base

27th May - 12th June Montrose
Working for the Montrose Fish Farm and Sea salmon Netters, the troop erect a Bailley Bridge.
Ron Gould started the "first" Company Car, by taking the Muirhill home each night.
Dave Green set-up an invisible Water supply to a standpipe, which amazed everyone.

Spean Bridge 1972
A group of lads spent the week-end at Spean Bridge - Big Jack, Dennis Donald and Roger Peart.

L to R: Big Jack...Dennis....Roger

After the Exercise, the lads Party.
L to R:

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