Easter at Fort Nelson
For Andy Dawson, Tracey and I the Fort Nelson event started on Thursday 13th April at 10.30hrs when the low loader arrived from Phil Benham to pick up the Searchlight and Generator. It al started so well the low loader turned up on time the loading when well and I left on time in the GMC. I Should have known it could not last, and boy did it not last, I had only driven 16 mile from Larkhill when I Broke down in the GMC. Eight and Half hours latter and a mercy dash to Rex Ward in Reading for parts we were still broken down and in need of recovery. I finally contacted a local MVT member who had his own low loader and for £120 he came and carried us the final 50 miles to Fort Nelson, hoping I would be able to get it fixed there. We finally arrived arrived at 21.30hrs, 11 hours after leaving Larkhill a journey of 60 Miles. Andy D had already left for home knowing we where going to be picked up, and I owe him a great dept of gratitude for his dash to reading and all his help in trying to get it started. Tracey and I stayed in a B+B in Fareham that night and we arrive very tired and hungry having not eaten all day.
The next day we arrived at the Fort at about 10.00hrs and meet up with Jonathon and started to build the displays. As we did in London last year we were covering 4 displays Burma, Ack Ack Searchlight, Field Kitchen and Searchlight Command Post. It was not long before Don and James arrived followed by a steady trickle of group members. The first display we started on was the Jungle but I soon started on the Searchlight display when the 500 filled sand bags arrived. By late afternoon most of the Jungle display was finished as was the Searchlight display so it was only a case of setting up the CP and and the Cook House and we where ready. John Bell arrived from Newcastle Upon Tyne Saturday afternoon after leaving at 1 am, that's real dedication for you.
The Sunday and Monday where the public open days and the weather kept off so there was a good attendance. Although it was not raining it was not the hottest time of the year and the guys doing the Jungle display where freezing most of the time. They did have the firing of the 5.5 inch howitzer to keep them warm and this they did and enjoyed. The girls and the lads on the searchlights where warmer and close to the cook house so where reasonably contented, Where as us in the CP where snug as a bug in a rug, if a little far from the tea. The day passed off with little in the way of excitement but the evening was a different matter with our first chance to light up the two searchlights. The generator sparked first time the 90 plugged in to the mains and then came the order "expose" and up the lights went, it was fantastic. One of the guys from the HMS group took the order a little to literally and mooned in the beam but it was soon doused.
The Monday was much the same as the Sunday but with the good news that the Chris and lads from the HMS group had fixed my GMC so I could drive home. Thanks to every one for turning up again the Garrison achieved all it set out to do the organisers where very happy and next year they have promised to give us star billing in a Blitz display. Thanks to Ian F-K for driving his Chevrolet over it was appreciated and thanks again to the HMS group for the Navel Stores on Lemons and Limes and for fixing my truck.