Tag Archives: jeep

World at War weekend at Fort Nelson

I’ve just got back from the World at War weekend at Fort Nelson.

The main event involved an re-enactment of a raid on a fort on the Franco-German border in late 1944. The British had captured the fort, and a scouting force had left the fort on a patrol. A German force entered the fort, killed the commanding officer and set up an ambush.

The British troops – of the Devonshire and Hampshire Regiments – returned, in a half-track and on foot. Suddenly the Germans fired a Panzerschrek at the half-track, and ambushed the British. Returning fire, the British were hard pressed. Reinforcements arrived in the shape of an American patrol, a British airborne anti-tank gun, and a Royal Artillery Sexton Self propelled gun. With the extra firepower the British eventually assaulted the German positions, clearing the fort and taking them prisoner. Although slightly fanciful, interpretations such as this make great watching for kids and adults alike.

I also watched a brilliant interpretation of the Cockleshell Heroes raid – Operation Frankton – based on the recollections of Marine Bill Sparks, one of the survivors of the raid. Again, brilliant to watch.

There were also a whole host of military vehicles on display – including a number of Second World War Jeeps, with one in British Airborne Recce markings, and another marked as a Red Army lend-lease Jeep. There was also a British Army truck in 2nd Army markings, and a US Army truck.

Also outside were a number of post-war British vehicles. There were a number of Land Rovers, including a Bomb Disposal, and a couple of lightweights. Interestingly, there was also a Humber Pig, an armoured vehicle used in Northern Ireland, in the markings of J (Sidi Rezegh) Battery, 3 Regiment Royal Horse Artillery. Two of my uncles served in J Battery in the 1970’s.

Fort Nelson is definitely one of the best-kept secrets about local military history. There’s always plenty of events going on up there, and you only have to pay to go in on special event days. How many people live only a mile or two away but don’t even know that exists?

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Filed under Army, event, Local History, out and about, Royal Marines, World War Two

Military Vehicles: a confession

I’ve always had a bit of a ‘thing’ for military vehicles. I guess theres no way about getting away with this one: in this respect, I’m a geek.

My favourite military vehicle has to be the good old Land Rover, stalwart of the British Army for years. I’ve never heard anything other than good words from people who have driven them, especially the 110 long wheel base versions – the military counterpart of the civilian Defender. There are some fantastic examples out there – 109’s restored as SAS ‘Pinkies’, Lightweight airportable verions, Gurkha versions, Royal Signals FFR (fitted for radio) versions, and ambulance versions.

There are even a number of communities dedicated to the restoration of ex-military vehicles – The Military Vehicle Trust and the Ex Military Land Rover Association are both fine examples. Just take a look at some of the vehicles in their galleries! There sure is a wealth of expertise out there.

I guess you could say it is an ambition of mine to own one. The plan, eventually, is to pick one up at a knock down price and take it on as a project – research its service history and restore it back to something like its original condition, complete with markings. The great thing is that you can research the service history of every ex-army Land Rover via the records of the Royal Logistics Museum.But, alas, as I haven’t got a driving license yet the Land Rover project is there on the backburner. But that doesnt stop me looking in the classified ads in military vehicle magazines, an on auction websites.

Not only do I find them interesting, but I can imagine a Land Rover 110 being a pretty darn practical vehicle – you wont find the snow stopping you driving round a Lanny. I can see it being an ideal fishing wagon too. And any vehicle that is designed to serve in action with the Army is going to be reliable and easy to maintain, surely?

If money were no object, I would like a WW2 airborne Jeep too. Now that would be something to drive along Southsea seafront in Summer. And while we’re at it, how about a DUKW amphibious vehicle? Is it a truck, is it boat? Its both! It beat Top Gear to it by 60 years!

The Land Rover is gradually being phased out as a combat vehicle in favour of more armoured and mobile vehicles. This is especially important given the inadequacy of the Snatch Land Rover at protecting troops from roadside bombs in Iraq and Afghanistan. But I’m sure the Lanny will keep on serving away from the front-line for some time to come.


Filed under Army