10 March 2002

3-Tonner / Farleigh Mount Field Days

Read Steve Drake's posting re school holidays and was reminded of other trips out in the 3-tonner.  Mostly CCF field days to Farleigh Mount (haven't been there for years!), but also further afield on occasions.  The worst of the thing was that, if the flap in the front of the canopy was open, Hetty or Pete (or whoever else was in the cab) could see you so you couldn't get away with having a smoke.  However, if you closed the flap, the back filled with exhaust fumes and you couldn't smoke for coughing anyway!
On the subject of field days to Farleigh Mount, I recall that we were issued with 5 (or maybe 10) rounds of blank .303 ammo and were told we had to capture a 'machine gun emplacement'.  Those unlucky enough to man the machine gun were issued with twice as many rounds as the rest of us.  On the command, the attackers proceeded to move towards the target using whatever variation of crawl you could do whilst remaining reasonably clean - though some were less fussy about this than others.  During this process, the heads of a number of unfortunate daisies would be blown to pieces.  Eventually, the exercise would be called to a conclusion (not, usually, because the target had been captured, more that the supervising officer was bored to tears) and then we would be marched back to school.  If we arrived early enough, rifle cleaning was then the drill.  Can anyone tell me, was Peter Symonds' solely responsible for the extinction of the Farleigh Mount daisy population, or did they recover?
Any other memories of Field Days?


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  2. Hi Bob,
    Yes I remember the CCF manoeuvres at Farley Mount very well.  The field craft signals: 'advance', 'follow me', [I often used to get those muddled up] 'group together here' and the monkey crawl.  My family used to go for a walk every Sunday afternoon this being the usual entertainment at the week-end.  Often we would walk out to Farley Mount.  I remember us sitting together at the site of the 'war games' and I would tell my father what I had learnt.  He would listen patiently and tell us of his adventures in North Africa and Italy with the Royal Artillery.  He also told us a poem as I remember, I am not sure whether I remember it as a hymn but it one verse goes like this-
    "If hopes were dupes, fears may be liars;
    It may be, in yon smoke concealed,
    Your comrades chase e'en now the fliers,
    And, but for you, possess the field."
    Is that what they call whistling in the dark?
    A little further on from there is the village of Ashley.  We walked on and my father took us into the churchyard and showed us a gravestone with a rather grim epitaph.  I was astonished yesterday when I put four words from that epitaph in the Google search engine and had just one hit after one fifth of a second, it was the village of Ashley site and there is a photo of the gravestone on the page with the epitaph!
    jim wishart

  3. Changing services, I was in the navy. I believe it was generally considered the easiest to survive - not as much book learning as the RAF & not as much 'bull' as the Army. When my year joined very few wanted to go into the army and I was one drafted in on an alphabetical basis. I managed to change by convincing Spike I wanted to make the RN my career - having Drake as a surname may have helped. Does anyone remember the CPO who used to come on a Friday afternoon, slightly over retirement age? Most of our field days were spent in Pompey, but the one trip which sticks in my mind was a weeks camp at a naval boom defence depot at Loch Ewe, North West Scotland. Activities included sea canoeing, a two day hike and taking the helm of a minesweeper on the Loch. I don't think the Captain could believe how bad we were. Needless to say it rained non stop on the 2 day hike and we had no tents - unlike the officers - and had to sleep in the open in a 6ft plastic bag, no health warning attached in those days. Heating in the huts at camp consisted of a pot-bellied stove and we stoked it up so well one evening the top glowed red. On the day we left we met the next weeks contingent at Achnasheen station. a certain amount of banter and warnings were shouted across from one platform to the next. I was going on holiday in Cornwall that day and managed to get a rail warrant all the way to Penzance. This did mean a hurried change out of uniform at Kings Cross station.

  4. Yes I too remember Fri afternoon drill - carefully ironing 7 horizontal creases in the incredibly itchy black baggy trousers. "Field days' at Eastliegh barracks . And a visiting Chief Petty Officer who was a bastard for square bashing - with his favorite phrase of telling us to 'breathe in deep as fresh air was the only free we would get in life"

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  6. There must have been more than one Chief Petty Officer involved in the Naval Section in the period being discussed. The one I remember from 1956-1959 was just referred to as "Chiefy" - can anyone remember his name?  Chiefy  was certainly not a "bastard for square bashing".  He had been Admiral Fisher's messenger boy at the Battle of Jutland.  He had so many medals from two world wars that you always knew where he was on inspection days from the constant jangling noise.  The officer in charge of the Naval Section was Lt (English teacher) Larry Ward, who was somewhat deaf from WWII depth charges - does anyone know what happened to him?  I have a vague idea that he retired early.   I remember inspection days at Portsmouth.  These were based upon HMS Vanguard and later, when Vanguard was sent off to be scrapped, upon the light cruisers Dido and Cleopatra.

  7. Before someone else spots the error, field daya on Dido and Cleopatra pre-dated those on Vanguard, and not vice-versa as in my previous message.   HMS Dido was sacrapped in 1957 HMS Cleopatra was scrapped in 1958 HMS Vanguard was scrapped in 1960  


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