As a small boy my hero was a tank commander friend of my father called David Glazebrook and all I wanted to do was roar around in heavy metal as he did. Well this dream was realized recently on Salisbury Plain as a guest of 1RTR, as part of a Vintners outing. The Vintners of which I am proud to be a liveryman has had a long association with the tank regiment and so periodically we get to play with heavy metal and they in turn are reciprocated by some heavy consumption in the beautiful Vintners Hall.
The day in question began with a briefing by Captain Hobbs who had constructed a fascinating day for us – the morning spent in Challenger 2 tanks which weigh in at circa 70 tonnes and can travel at 50 mph across pretty much anything. It is the biggest tank in service but at present resigned to exercises.
My tank commander was a legend and we fulfilled fully my childhood ambitions including him directing the driver to drive backwards, with him being the driver’s eyes! Quite amazing. As we returned to the yard we managed to get airborne which was really something else.
Lunch of army rations was sustaining only, chilli con carne, better than school but not as good as the Chelsea Kitchen! Not a drop of wine which put us Vintners into major confusion, but did ensure that during the simulated battle action in Imber village our reactions were crisp.
Wow I was humbled by the insight into what it must be like to face up to real aggressors in the heat of battle. We had body armour on but a fraction of the real weight, vests which beeped when shot and guns which weighed a lot and which I found rather hard to reload my magazine into.
Smoke bombs and grenades were thrown at us and in the heat and confusion I was delighted to have dispatched four of the enemy but was outflanked eventually. Two troopers with guns pointed at the back of my neck instructed me to “drop your f***ing weapon” which I did – quickly.
Full respect to the army, they are legends and I have to say that Major Barrington Barnes and his team really gave us a great day – thank you all.