Oh yes!!! I wrote a book! A book about life in a tank over my 15 years in the Army. It pulls no punches, tells it as it is and the language is as spoken by soldiers the world over, perhaps I should have possibly considered a 'Parental Advisory'? It plays heavily on the mad escapades of Tankies.
The book is not, surprisingly, aimed at just all us old 'cold war' Tankies. I have endeavoured to inject enough fact and humour to interest even complete laymen to the world of Tanking. It covers life in the 3rd Royal Tank Regiment between 1975 and 1990. Both the laughter and sometimes poignant times are reflected, for example what is it like to punch a 56ton tank into the front of a German's house at 5am? There are plenty of photos from my own scrapbook and my own cartoons and illustrations in the book and, my sense of humour is poured into the 300 odd pages!!
Here is a short extract out of chapter 2 'The Beast'.
So here we were in The Royal Armoured Corps, and today would be the first day when we would get to smell, feel and even sit in our first real tank.
The morning started with the obligatory merry festive getting run off our feet, then back to the room, quick shower and change into our overalls. Having got changed we all formed up for our daily ‘first parade’, which consisted mainly of our Troop Sergeants inspecting us and informing us of our inadequacies in wearing the Queens uniform.
“What the f#ck is that on your head son? A f#cking beret? I f#cking think not! It looks like you’ve done a wee in it! Yes, there, look a wee”.
With that the poor unfortunate lad's beret was swiftly plucked from his bonce and the Sergeant ‘frisbeed’ it across the landscape while screaming “WEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!”
The beret came to rest in a suspiciously foul looking puddle and lay there looking unwanted and dishevelled.
Having sated himself at the poor chaps expense he then turned to the rest of us and made the long awaited announcement.
“Okay, listen up you crapheads, today is the day, yes the day when you start your transformation from tin to armoured soldiers. I have my doubts whether you’ll ever rate as tank men, but the curriculum says we will at least have a crack at training your bloody miserable souls”.
With all that cheery repartee we just couldn’t wait for this next step in our adventure.
So off we marched to a date with destiny, well, with a huge cloud of smoke actually. As we neared the tank hangers all we could hear was a loud wail from an engine and a dense cloud of smoke drifted out the hanger doors. Then, squeaking, roaring and belching smoke from its exhausts the beast known as a Chieftain tank loomed into view.
The Chieftain Main Battle Tank had first entered service in the early 1960’s. So by the time I first laid my sweaty palm on this one it had already gone through many evolutionary stages to become what stood before us now, the Mark 2. Little did I realise just how many changes were still to happen to Chieftain before it’s life effectively ended as it handed over the baton to its successor Challenger later in my career. Either way at this stage it was unimportant, quite frankly its very presence was at that time awe-inspiring. This leviathan was rated as the best Main Battle Tank in the world. And boy could I sense it!