9th Battalion Royal Tank Regiment

 

Qui s’y Frotte Association

 

 

Colonel in Chief, Her Majesty The Queen, receiving a copy of Tank Tracks  from Dickie Hall

 

Photograph by Charles Poulter

Newsletter

 

I’d like to see a tank come down the stalls,

Lurching to rag-time tunes, or ‘Home sweet Home’

Seigfreid Sassoon, ‘Blighters’

 

CHAIRMAN’S MESSAGE

As this is my last message as Chairman before retiring office I would like to thank all members who are continually supporting our Association, QFA is also your Association, so a strong back-up is important. We are viewed in some organizations as very unique, with our long and very close comradeship. May it continue to flourish. I would dearly like to see some of the younger members of families taking an interest and gradually taking over to form some sort of Honorary QFA. It is possible; the interest is there. So,’come on’ Sons, Daughters and Grandchildren, think about it.  It just needs someone to take the initiative, to work in close liaison with the Management Committee. Our very vibrant Secretary, Elsie Thompson is a shining example of what can be achieved.  She is doing a five star job. I thank her very sincerely. I know this would be a very pleasing situation to our very good and faithful friends in Holland; Henk Bredevolt, Els and Bill Hoogandam. If, during my term in office, I have played some small part in helping to generate our Qui s’y Frotte flame, then I am highly satisfied.  May we all continue to meet in some way or another, in the future. Good Luck to you all.

Cyril Smith email: immunetank@cs.com

 

CYRIL REES REMEMBERS

The three of us got in the train and we slammed the door at Richmond Station, shutting out (we hoped) the cold, inhospitable Yorkshire Moors.  It was all over, these days spent on various exercises and driving instruction on trucks, Bren carriers, Valentines, Matida 11’s, and Churchills 1 and 11.  No more snow drifting through chinks in the window frames of the hut and settling on the blankets on your bed, or hours of drill on the vast 57th T.R. Waitwith Barrack square, being bellowed at by demented drill instructors.  We changed at Darlington and soon we were on our way south.

Now we were properly trained tank men, though our kit bags looked rather new and virginal as they lay on the luggage rack. We took them down and kicked them around the carriage floor for a while, which helped the aging process but wouldn’t fool old sweats for long.  Luckily we had the compartment to ourselves.

The stations rolled by – York, Grantham and finally Kings Cross.  By this time we had eaten most of our “unexpired portion of the day’s rations.” Bully beef and cheese sandwiches, I think they were, about the statutory 1.5 – 1.75 inches thick.  We lugged our kitbags and packs down to the tube and at last finally boarded the train for Charing (at, I think, Charing  X)  to join 9th R.T.R.

It was late evening as we slowly approached Charing, with the characteristic dimmed lights of a partially blacked out station.   Not much was visible through the gloom though it seemed as if there were just one or two goods sidings. Besides us rookies getting off the train, there were one or two in the station car park waiting for transport to various outlying camps.

As we boarded the 3-tonner we were to the casual observer already tank men, having exchanged during the last leg of the journey our “badges, cap. R.A.C.” for “badges, cap, R.T.R.”  The journey didn’t take too long, the truck lurching about on the narrow country lanes.  This seemed to be fairly hilly country too, judging by the amount of low gear work, and the area seemed to be heavily wooded. On the odd straight bits – clearly, the duty driver knew the road like the back of his hand – we fairly raced ahead.  I reckoned the driver was getting some training in for the post-war Lombard Rally. Finally, after a short first gear climb out of the valley, we arrived at our destination.  Here we unloaded our kit and disembarked. The truck roared off and stopped further up the camp road. The end of our journey!  We had arrived, to start the next stage of our service life.

Whether we spent the night in the guardroom after the preliminary checking of identity and documents, or whether we were posted to our allotted troop, I can’t recall but whatever happened, I was glad to get my head down. At reveille the next day, we crawled out of our beds and with help from our new hut mates, we were directed to the various facilities, Lats O.R.’s Abln’s, cookhouse, etc.  What a revelation this turned out to be!  In the new light of another day I looked out at what was to be my home for the next few months as part of ‘C’ Squadron 9th R.T.R.  So this was Halls Place (TQ949533)?  What a different sight from twenty-four hours ago.  No longer the serried rows of hutments, the vast barrack square of 75 T.R., of the distant sounds of bugle, barked orders and tracked vehicles of various sorts moving around. Here was the relative peace of rural Kent, the Garden of England.

DID YOU KNOW TOM  MENNIM?

Jim Holmes, nephew of Thomas Rippon Mennim, is interested in learning details of his Uncle’s death at Maltot on 10th July,1944.  Tom was a member of ‘A’ Squadron, ‘3’ Troop. As the family did not receive any of Tom’s belongings or any details of a grave, Jim would be interested to hear from anyone who remembers his Uncle. Jim lives in Newcastle upon Tyne, he has already spoken to Tommy Wolf and Joe Miller who were both very helpful.  Jim and his wife hope to attend the Reunion in June.

 

‘A’ squadron 3 Troop (photograph courtesy of Jim Holmes)

 

 

Tom Mennim is 2nd left, middle row.

 

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INTERESTING FEEDBACK!

As a follow on from Viv Taylor’s article in the August Newsletter, Jock Farrell writes:

I also was in the RECCE car for ‘A’ Sqaudron and we were the crew knocked out at Maltot.  Captain Kirby, Tpr. George Pearson and myself.  We had a bad day then the Captain and myself got Blighties and George finished up wounded, a prisoner and landed up in Paris.  ‘A’ Squadron had a very bad day at Maltot.

 

 

 

 

REUNION JUNE 8th 2002

The Reunion at Charing will be on Saturday 8th June.  Meet at Charing Church of St. Peter & St. Paul at 12.00hrs. for the Service.

Lunch will be served at 14.00 hrs. at the Holiday Inn, (Hop Picker’s Pocket Building) just off the A20, on right at Hothfield, travelling towards Ashford.

 

 
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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PROPOSED VISIT TO ROOSENDAAL

The suggestion of a visit to Roosendaal to commemorate the 60th Anniversary of the Liberation has been proposed. No arrangements have been made nor a date set, which could be either the October, 2004 (Liberation of Roosendaal) or May, 2005 (Liberation of Holland).  We need to contact friends in Roosendaal to discover their arrangements, if any.  However the Committee would like some feedback from members as to who may be interested in such a trip.  This would not be a commitment at this stage as we realize this is some time hence, but we do need some idea of the interest.  Cost etc. would be worked out at a later date.

 

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NOMINATIONS FOR CHAIRMAN

Two nominations for Chairman have been received to date, they are: Charles Poulter and Brian Marchant. A vote will be taken at the AGM.

No new proposals have been received for a change in the existing Committee, Treasurer or Secretary who have all agreed to stand for another year if required.

 

A MEMORIAL CONCERT

A tribute to those who served with  43rd Wessex (Wyvern) Division & Supporting Units by The Regimental Band of the Devonshire & Dorset Regiment, The Rifle Volunteers will be held at The Wyvern Theatre, Swindon at 7.00pm on 31st August, 2002. Tickets £10, cheques made payable to: 112 Regt 43 Div Tribute Fund to Albert Figg, 135, Rough Common Road, Canterbury, Kent. CT2 9BS  Tel. 01227 785227

 

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NEWS FROM BOVINGTON

Andrew Caney, 21, Mount Pleasant, Fairford, Glos. GL7 4BA, Tel.01285 713034, email: andrewcan@lineone.net  would like to hear from anyone who would be willing to talk to him about their wartime experiences.

RTR MARCH TO THE CENOTAPH 2002 Will be on 17th November, 2002.  The parade will form up on Horse Guards Parade 10.30 hrs.  Following the service wine & canapes will be served. Tickets £15 each available from: RTR Headquarters, Bovington, Dorset, DH20 6JA. Tel:01929  0403331

 

 

 

 

 

FARNBOROUGH 1944

 

‘C’Squadron, 14 Troop, photograph courtesy of Arthur (‘Zeke’) Vardy

 

Trevor Greenwood, Johnny Towlson, Peter Bowden, Arthur Vardy and Geoff Bound

 

‘C’Squadron, 14 Troop (Courtesy of Arthur (‘Zeke’) Vardy)

 

 

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ARTIFACTS FOR HENK BREDEWOLT

Henk Bredewolt of Holland would be interested in any stories, artefacts etc. which any member feels they would be prepared to send to him.  Henk has a very interesting museum which he has set up in Roosendaal and is keen to add to it so if you would like to contribute his address is:  Flintdijk 192, 4706 J.W.Roosendaal, Holland.

Email: henkpolarbear@hetnet.nl

 

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HEALTH REPORT

Cyril Rees has been poorly lately but we wish him a speedy recovery and hope that he will be well enough to attend the Reunion.

Charles Poulter has just undergone surgery for the removal of cataracts and seems to be recovering well, we hope he will soon be on top form.

Our best wishes to all members who have not enjoyed the best of health lately.

We are very sorry to learn of the deaths of:

John Keith Roper, Lymington, Hampshire.

Leslie Raymond Ellam, Balsham, Cambridge.

John Proctor, Eltham, London.

Our deepest sympathy to their families

 

Our deepest sympathy also, to Johnny Towlson who lost his dear wife, Joan, just before Christmas.  Our thoughts are with you, Johnny.

 

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RETURN TO BOVINGTON 2001

By Jack Woods        

On Friday 23rd November last, together with Brian Marchant, I returned to Bovington.  For me it was the first time back since December, 1993 and for Brian the first time since together with the complement of 31 Troop 58th Training Regiment RAC we left for pastures new.

All this came about as a result of a small ad in The Tank Magazine advertising a Cambai Lunch in the Armoured Warfare Centre for  members past  and present of the Royal Tank Regiment.  I had a hankering to get to Bovington Museum for some time now, the distance from Norwich possibly being the reason for not doing it and this seemed a golden opportunity to kill two birds with one stone, i.e. a two day visit incorporating the lunch with a visit to the museum.

Originally four of us showed an interest, two dropping out for health and domestic reasons, leaving Brian and me to carry out the mission. We set off by road and duly arrive at the Armoured Centre with scarcely a hitch, booked in and were allocated our rooms in the Sergeant’s Mess there.  A brief period to freshen up and in to the bar where everybody was assembling.  It wasn’t long before we were engaged in conversation with today’s generation of serving officers and senior NCO’s who were keen to hear our exploits.  After a drink it was photocall with Brian and me seated one each end of the front row, we then took our places for lunch.  By this time it was universally known that we were the two oldest past members of the Regiment present. The lunch was a splendid affair, real regimental, ( there were no ladies present by the way) with toasts to our Colonel in Chief, Her Majesty The Queen and to the Regiment accompanied by the National Anthem in the first instance and My Boy Willie in the second.  During the course of the meal various serving members related copies of orders issued for Battle of Cambrai, a very moving occasion.

After lunch we again assembled in the bar to be entertained by the Pipes and Drums of 1 RTR.  During that period the Colonel Commandant, Major General A.P. Ridgeway, CB, CBE, came over to speak to both of us saying that we represented the esprit de corps and regimental tradition that had been built up over the years.  We understood that he was not talking about us personally but about our generation but it was nice to hear for all that.

We were well looked after during our stay, we were never left alone.  During the evening a racing game was played and in between the races the Pipes and Drums entertained.  Our day was made when, in one of those intervals three members of the Pipe Band came over and played for us specifically.

The next morning after a leisurely breakfast we were off to the Tank Museum. This is well worth a visit these days for the Trench experience itself.  I collected a copy of our War Diary I had ordered previously, and Brian bumped into a friend he hadn’t seen for years; what a coincidence!  What impressed me was that others had been there prior to our visit, possibly on Cambrai Day itself and place on the appropriate tanks small remembrance crosses, I wished I had thought of that.

After that it was the journey home.  In the course of our being there, we were told that this particular lunch had commenced a few years previously with just a few people gathering together.  This year there were over 100 attended.  All members of the Regiment, past and present are eligible and welcome to attend, I know we will try to return this year.  I recommend it to others.

 

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I WAS SURPRISED

By Bill Thompson 

A friend of mine who is an ex-Tankie (15/19th Queen’s Hussars) said he had something I would very much like to see.

He had purchased a model kit of a Churchill Mark 1V – V11 tank and knowing that I was ex 9th RTR who had Churchills, he showed me what the kit had revealed.

In the paper work with the model were details of which regiment it had copied. Yes! The 9th RTR and it was 2 Troop ‘A’ Sqaudron and none other than Iceni. 

I remembered that this tank was in fact Ray Gordon’s tank in which he suffered his severe injuries at Maltot, in Normandy on 10th July, 1944, the remainder of the crew did not survive, you may recall.

I contacted Ray and he was over the moon about it and requested that I get a model for him, which I did.

The name of the maker was TAMIYA (Japenese) model no.210.

 

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NEW MODEL ARMY

The Truck n’ Tracks Exhibition, which is an exhibition of military models, was held at the Leas Cliff Hall, Kent last month.  The newspaper states: Shepwar War-Games Club did itself proud, setting up The Battle of Maltot that was fought soon after D-Day in 1944 by members of the 9th RTR (Stationed in Charing).  The Shepway Military Modelling Club put on a lavish display of mini ordnance.          (Must have been a sight worth seeing!)

Thanks to Col. Stan Holloway of Kent for the Newspaper cutting.

 

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‘B’Squadron, (Photograph Courtesy of Len Saxton)

 

 

 

 

Thanks for all newsletter contributions. Please keep them coming!

 

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THANK YOU, CYRIL!

The secretary would like to thank the Chairman for all his help and support, without which the position of secretary, especially to a complete novice who had little idea of the workings of the Association, would have been very difficult indeed. So Thank You, Cyril. You will be a great miss to the Committee.  We know that you will remain an active member and we hope that one day you may feel fit to return to the Committee even if not as Chairman.

 

 

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Your Present Committee (June 2001/2002)

President: Charles Poulter

Chairman: Cyril Smith (retiring in June 2002)

Treasurer: Bill Thompson

Secretary: Elsie Thompson

                  Committee Members: Ted Crouch; Alf Dodwell; Arthur Glasspool; Cyril Rees;

Bob Taylor; Jack Woods.

 

Charles Poulter’s email address: charles.poulter@breathe.com

 

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Late News

It is with deep regret that we learn of the sudden death of Glyn (Taffy) Leyshon of Barry, Glamorgan, Wales, who suffered a massive heart attack on Monday, 25th March, 2002. Our sincere condolences to his family.

We are also sorry to learn of the death of Major W.D. Andrews (Bill) on March 22nd. Bill was Second in Command when the Regiment was reformed at Gateshead. Our sympathy to Bunty his widow.

 

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We would like to wish everyone a safe journey and we look forward to seeing you at Charing.

 
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


If you have not already sent your form in for the Reunion, hurry up! Or contact the Secretary ASAP. Don’t miss out on this wonderful occasion!