Enham Alamein 2011

Enham Alamein, 16th October 2011

This was the Garrison’s third year attending the El Alamein commemoration organised by the village of Enham Alamein in Hampshire. Originally Knight’s Enham, the village changed its name in 1945 following a donation from the Egyptian people to fund a rehabilitation centre for disabled soldiers. Although the charity is no longer exclusively for the benefit of ex-servicemen, it doesn’t forget its roots and commemorates the Battle of Alamein each October.

For the Garrison, the day started on Sunday morning with the group mustering at Larkhill, and preparing to travel the twenty or so miles to Enham. It might have been the unseasonably warm weather, or perhaps the desire to fit in a final firing event before the season ended, but whatever the reason, a good number of people made the effort to come along. Enough indeed to allow a second gun to be added to the one gun originally scheduled for the event. As such it was a fine convoy that set-off from Larkhill at about 10.30 in the autumnal sunshine. Leading the way was Paul’s Dingo armoured car, followed by the ATS contingent in Keith’s Austin. Next came the two gun-sets, the first towed by the Bedford OY, the second by Rodney’s Quad. After the guns was an Austin K2 3-tonner belonging to the 4th Battalion the Dorsets (who had kindly come along to help out). Bringing up the rear of the convoy was an American jeep, and Clilff’s Land Rover. This fine collection of vehicles was ably assisted by Kevin on his Matchless motorcycle, who did a sterling job of scouting ahead and helping out at junctions. Taking a back-route through the beautiful Wiltshire and Hampshire countryside, with the sun shining and the vehicles all behaving themselves, it was a great reminder of what makes this such a great hobby and why we put in all the effort.

Arriving at Enham (almost on time) we pulled onto the green and brought the guns into action, with the other vehicles deployed nearby. The lads from the Dorsets had brought a truckful of kit, and set about establishing an impressive command post set-up at the back of their K2. Meanwhile the gunners, having got the guns prepared and with no sign of imminent action, quickly sniffed out a brew at the village hall and slopped off for a tea break. Suitably refreshed, they returned for a run through of the afternoon’s firing display. It was a good opportunity to blow off the cobwebs and put in some practice. The BSM gleefully took the opportunity of throwing some curve-balls to the number ones, with some tricky fire missions involving unfamiliar fuses and angle-of-sight adjustments (even Sgt Ulrich was wrongfooted at one stage!).

At two-twenty we put on the firing display with the two guns. Following the usual CP orders regarding bearing, elevation, method of fire, etc, we were all poised to loose off the first shots,the number threes’s hands twitching on the firing mechanisms, when a comedy granny suddenly appeared walking right across the firing line. A rapid shout of ''stand fast!'' halted proceedings whilst the ATS shepherded the lady safely through the danger zone. With the coast now clear, we blatted off five rounds apiece in the usual manner (with only one further ''stand fast'' when an over-enthusiastic photographer ventured a little too close to the guns for Cpt Sherring’s liking). In all quite a nice little firing, not too long, plenty of loud bangs and no obvious hiccups. It was just a shame that the audience wasn’t a little larger, but those people that were there seemed to appreciate the show.

With the firings over, it was a case of washing out the guns, and getting things packed away. We loitered around for another hour or so, talking to the public and catching up with friends, before departing Enham at a little after four o’clock. The run back to Larkhill, was if anything, even better than the trip down. It was a glorious evening, and a slight re-jigging of the convoy order gave the two gun-sets a clearer run at the hills. It was going down some these hills we learned that a Morris Commercial FAT and gun-set can top 40 mph, not a sight for the fainthearted! The only slight drama occurred when Doris the Austin got grumpy at having to bumble along at low speed behind the guns and kept cutting out. But another adjustment to the convoy organisation allowing her to take the lead soon sorted out the problem, and everyone arrived safely back at Larkhill without further incident. Once everyone had had a brew (cheers Barry!) and the vehicles and guns were safely locked up in the shed, it was time to head home for the happy gunners. Everyone that is, apart from one idiot who managed to lock his keys in his car. . .!

Overall, this was a fabulous little event, and a great way to round off a busy season. Thanks as always needs to go to BSM Brigstock for the organisation, and to all those who supplied vehicles, particularly Rodney, Paul, the Dorsets and Kev the DonR. Thanks also to Danni for all the photos.

For some video footage of the event, see the GarrionLHG YouTube channel.