DUKW Entering the River Yare at Thorpe St Andrews 1973

‘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,

 ’Alongside Hearts Cruisers – in the background you can see the MGB Morning Flight which was brought to Thorpe by Vaughan Ashby after the war to become the family’s home.

Approaching the Boat & Bottle public house at Thorpe St Andrew – since renamed the Rushcutters 

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