Tank Crews

Discussion in 'RAC & RTR' started by Belgian Dave, Aug 20, 2013.

  1. Belgian Dave

    Belgian Dave Well-Known Member

    Thanks Tom. I imagine one had to get over the embarrassment as there was no alternative, and probably a tank clunking up and down, in the middle of combat is not the place to try and 'hold on until later'!
  2. Tom Canning

    Tom Canning WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran


    in the olden days - on the way back to laager we would stop and place five cans of M& V against the red hot exhaust pipes to be ready to eat when finally halted ....invariably something would

    happen and we would forget to move them .....consequently they would burst and the contents would spread all over the engine - which had to be cleaned out first....we would finally eat our dinners

    way after midnight when we should have been sleeping - we never did learn...

  3. 51highland

    51highland Very Senior Member

    The very same.!!
  4. Wills

    Wills Very Senior Member

    Tom, Gdsm 'Kenny' did much the same thing, on the rear crew door we had two 'boilers' with clamp down lids. The CSM told Kenny to get the scoff going, Kenny dropped a few tins of chicken supreme in with water - Kenny forgot - as we were stretching legs and lighting up 'boom' the lids went heavenward and the contents in part hit the CSM legs as he stood in the cupola - he said things that could not be repeated and predicted Kenny's demise. And ours too as we fell about laughing! Only just arrived in the area - I promptly went on the scrounge to a pals vehicle and scrounged a scoff. I had two PPCLI lads for three days with my crew - they came with their rations and stood wide eyed when shown a ten man ratpac for 24hrs - looking at their paltry fayre and ours, a 16 ounce tin of steak and onions with pom and peas possessed - no complaints, suggest the Canadian rations to the Jocks and aye OK was the mildest reply. They never took to the tea, hot sweet and with an oil slick of condensed milk to lubricate the lips and tongue.
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  5. Ron Goldstein

    Ron Goldstein WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran Patron

    I recall on one occasion SSM "Busty" Thomas, our tank commander, boasting that he would show Hewie & I how to make the quickest brew ever.

    (You need to know that Busty was a desert war survivor and was our mentor in all survival skills)

    He broke open one of our Verey Light Pistol cartridges, extracted some of the powder and after pouring it liberally into a hole he'd scooped in the ground he left the residue of the cartridge in the hole.

    Over the hole he placed the metal grill that we owned and on that he perched a fllmsy half full of water.

    He then ignited the powder by means of a petrol soaked rag.

    There was an almighty flash, the magnesium flame roared away and the water in the flimsy boiled literally in seconds.

    I remember being suitably impressed at the time but never repeated the process myself as I thought that it was a bit wasteful on our Verey Light cartidge stock :)

  6. Wills

    Wills Very Senior Member

    Ron. as young apprentices we used to machine magnesium, a pile of swarf and mag dust to get it going would light up the area like a continuous flashbulb. One of the older hands said watch this and put the hose on it this intensified the burn - on one occasion the apprentices lined up and given a lecture by the local copper and fire officer after reports of the industrial estate showing a glow against the clouds.
  7. pensioner1938

    pensioner1938 Member

    In the 9th lancers during the 50s and 60s to boil water for tea we used one of these. These boiled water within minutes. The lads in LAD used to make them for us.


    We called them a Benghazi.
  8. Ron Goldstein

    Ron Goldstein WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran Patron


    Going slightly (actually completely) off thread, but you've just reminded me of something to do with my own young days.

    My very first job, at the age of 14, was at the Associated Press of Great Britain & America in Fleet Street.

    It was a Photographic Agency supplying photos to all the newspapers in Fleet Street and I was employed as a "Runner boy" who actually took the photos to the various newspaper offices to see if they would publish them.

    Speed was of the essence and to dry the photos after they had been printed they were soaked in meths and then literally set alight to burn off the fluid but leave the paper dry.!

    Thanks for the reminder !

  9. idler

    idler GeneralList


    Spent too long trying to clean up a pre-war photo of him in 7H with his Light Tank!
  10. Tom Canning

    Tom Canning WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    Well - there you go - initially invented in Ireland but made in New Zealand - probably brought into the desert by the Kiwi Division in the early 40's but in short supply so we made our own - much cheaper I would imagine

  11. Tom Canning

    Tom Canning WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran


    there was little embarrassment as five men cooped up had the same problem - usually at different times...

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  12. chrisgrove

    chrisgrove Senior Member

    On Exercise Pond Jump at Gagetown in 1962 we watched wide eyed as the Canadians sorted their rations, chucking half of them away. We were on Canadian rations too and, apart from finding that the menu differed from the specification as some items had been removed and replaced with something different, we thought they looked quite good. After the first exercise we sorted our rations just like the Canadians! Fresh rations in camp were pretty good though.

    One day on exercise we had a message by radio that 'sardines in mustard sauce' and dried raisins should not be eaten as they had gone off. My platoon sergeant turned a little green as he had just lunched off (you guessed it) sardines and raisins. However, he survived with no ill effects.

  13. RemeDesertRat

    RemeDesertRat Very Senior Member

    Attached pic of Dad (left) and chums having a brew. captioned "El Alamein Oct. 1942. note Bengahzi fire, often called a Tommy cooker? made from a flimsy and also a seen is a Billy can.
    Also note petrol is probably kept in the captured jerry can!

    Dad was REME at the time.


    Attached Files:

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  14. Tom Canning

    Tom Canning WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran


    you are quite right about the Benghazi fire......but way off with the "Tommy Cooker" which was the German term for the Sherman Tank which tended to "COOK" British Tommies - we basically agreed with them by calling the Sherman a

    "Ronson " as like the cigarette lighter - it lit first time ..!

    That captured Jerrican became standard and the flimsies were junked

  15. Andreas

    Andreas Working on two books

    I'd think water was kept in that Jerrycan, it appears to have a white cross on it, which would mark it as a water container? Would make more sense, unless your dad was a tough 'un, drinking tea brewed from petrol. :D

    I also thought that the British started actually manufacturing the Jerrycan?


    All the best

  16. Wills

    Wills Very Senior Member

    Water carriers. The AFV432 had as part of the kit list 4 canvas water carriers - I cannot remember ever using them myself possibly why I cannot remember what we called them, from Indian service I believe, the idea was to fill them cover the outside in sloppy mud the evaporation from this would keep the water cool in hot climates. Bladder like with a neck and ties. The only time they came out of the side lockers was on kit checks.
  17. idler

    idler GeneralList

    Chagals (pity there's no photo).
  18. James55uk

    James55uk New Member

    I know what you mean by that as I was too young to ask my Grandfather those sort of questions too but I wish I could of, he was also a tank driver and was in the 9th Queens Royal Lancers. His name was James Wilson and I wish I could get to know him today as I have no clue what sort of tanks he would have driven.
  19. Tom Canning

    Tom Canning WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    Not a problem as 9th Lancers were part of 2nd Brigade in 1st Armoured Division and their history can be seen on WIKI but in WW2 they took part in the famous three armoured Divisions of Monty's Corps de chasse - which ws

    badly led and ground to a halt just past El Alamein as it started to rain etc .....it took Monty until Medenine before he could afford to fire the leader an they did a fantastic job at El Hamma under Brian Horrocks - then after Tunis where they had a

    secondary role - they stagnated in Tunisia until called forward to Italy almost a year later - but by then they were not as good as they were and took a beating at Croce / Gemmano and were broken up for spares in the October of '44..their

    main vehicle from Alamein was the Sherman - "Tommy Cooker "

    Try googling for " El Hamma" - and the " Battle for Gemmano " - they went through it...

    now amalgamated with 12th Lancers to form 9/12th Lancers

  20. Andreas

    Andreas Working on two books


    Depends when he joined the Lancers. They arrived in North Africa with Crusaders, but had to give a lot of them up as replacements for tanks lost during CRUSADER I believe, and then ended up with a mix of M3 Honeys, Crusaders, and older Cruisers, most (all) of which they lost in January 1942, during the Benghazi Handicap. I don't know what they were then re-equipped with, presumably Crusaders again, maybe Grants and Honeys as well.

    All the best


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