The LSL Sir Galahad in the Sinclair Wharf at Belfast Docks.
I took this shot after we had just unloaded a regiment of troops with all their vehicles, kit and ammunition, to start a tour of duty. The ship is now waiting for the regiment being relieved to arrive and form her "return load" to Liverpool. Meanwhile myself and my men from 17 Port Regt are providing the security screen around the ship. This return trip was undertaken by an LSL every two days throughout all of the "troubles". I include this photo because Sir Galahad went on to get sunk in the Falklands, but also because the men of "B" Troop, 18 Amph Sqn, were stationed in Belfast at that time.
This shot is of the LCT Abbeville when we attended the first Bristol Water Festival in 1972, after the port had been extensively restored as a pleasure boating centre. The SS Great Britain had just arrived, as a hulk, and was in dry dock to start her preservation. Moored on the other side from us was the RN frigate HMS Palliser and both ships' crews had some memorable runs ashore together during the festival!
In view of the date, this was probably the last outing by DUKWs of "B" troop, 18 Amph, before the squadron was disbanded.
This shot shows Earl Mountbatten of Burma at the parade in Marchwood when the last DUKW's in the British Army were disbanded in Marchwood in 1974. The Land-Rover is also a classic since it was originally used by General Montgomery to inspect troops after the war and was brought out of preservation for this occasion. He was driven down the slip onto a Mexeflote (part of my troop) from where he took the salute at the final sail-past.
Notice all the cranes in the old Southampton docks on the other side of the Water. It's a bloody great container terminal now, but this was the old P&O terminal, where the SS Canberra came home after the Falklands.
This was the inspection of the troop after the sail-past and if the photo did not show the proof you would never believe that they paraded in spit-and-polished wellies! Speaking with Mountbatten is Cpl Marsh, one of the most experienced DUKW men of the old Fremington "A" troop.
The officer on the left is the revered and well remembered CO of 17 Port Regiment - Lt .Colonel Stanley Ball.
Just to explain what these photos are all about :-
When I got posted back to Marchwood after the LCT course I asked to see Colonel Ball and suggested that we should do a KAPE tour (keep the Army in the public eye) of the East Anglian Ports and the Norfolk Broads, as that was where I lived. To my amazement he said "good idea Vaughan - organise it and do it". Which bears out the old saying - "never volunteer".
So I ended up with an LCT, "Andalsnes" (The Old 97) commanded by Captain (later Lt Col) John Fidler, an RPL (No2, Bude, Sgt. Paddy Edgar) two diesel workboats and 6 DUKWS which I had borrowed from 18 Amph troop. The vessels sailed round to Ipswich while the six DUKWs drove up from Marchwood after a memorable ride in convoy round the North Circular.
I was escorting them in a Land Rover with all sorts of radios and aerials (none of which worked) and when we got to Ingatestone I realised one vehicle was missing and so pulled into the side of the A12 to wait. Very soon a Police car pulled up behind me and , as I was in uniform, Mr "Wyatt Earp" the traffic cop, had to get out of his "Jam Sandwich", put his cap on and salute me. On the side of the A12 in all the traffic. A moment I shall never forget! He ended up giving us a "blue light" escort all the way to Colchester. Presumably to get us off his Patch!
The colour photos were taken near to my father's boatyard on the Broads, which is about 2 miles by river from Norwich and so was the nearest place where we could get into the water. The LCT stayed in Gt Yarmouth as she was too long to turn round in Norwich but the RPL and the workboats came up by river, all crammed with schoolkids. On the same day these photos were taken, two other DUKWs drove to Cromer where, again crammed with schoolkids, they did their favourite party trick of charging down the beach into the sea at about 35MPH like a fairground ride with spray screens, windscreens and canopies all down.
They went offshore about half a mile and were met by Whirlwind helicopters from RAF Coltishall. They had staged an exercise where pilots had been dumped in the sea and were winched up by the Helos and then dropped into the DUKWs. They even winched up some of the children from the DUKWs and brought them back to the beach. Imagine the other kids, in the DUKWs, coming back up the beach sitting beside genuine Lightning pilots. And imagine all that being allowed nowadays!
Everywhere we went we were visited by children from schools all over East Anglia, all organised by the Army Careers Office in Norwich and needless to say, it was a great success. They also organised a full press coverage and we were several times on local television. I was told that there were 12 direct applications to join the RCT, after the visit.
The photo of the lads in the troop was taken by the press for publicity a few weeks before our trip started. It was taken on board RFA Sir Lancelot, on which I sailed that afternoon on an exercise to the Med. I am standing on the left and all the lads are ex "A" troop from Fremington.
Judging by your site I get the impression that most of you were in Fremington in the 1950's and 1960's and so I hope that these photos will show you that we, in the 70's, still did our best to keep up the old traditions! In fact this trip to East Anglia may well have been the last big one that the DUKWs took part in before they were disbanded.
With best wishes,
VA/16 Names please