The History of the

4th and 7th Royal Tank Regiments

 

1966 - 1971

Map

In October 1966, after extended leave, the Regiment re-assembled in Harewood Barracks, Herford, Germany as an Armd Recce Regiment, part of the 1 (Br) Corps Covering Force.

halt Sign

The Squadrons spent much time out in their areas establishing liaison with neighbouring units in the Covering Force including our German colleagues, both Bundeswehr and Bundesgrenzchutz.

Abel, CO of  7 Panzeraufklaerungsregiment  with OC A Squadron

4 RTR's task was to provide the Screen Force from the Inner German Border in the area Uelzen - Braunschweig. This involved squadrons working closely with Bundeswehr, in this case Oberst Abel, CO of 7 Panzeraufklaerungsregiment with OC A Squadron.

'A' Squadron training with 18 (Wessex) Sqn commanded by Sqn Ldr Peter Harding
(later de-frocked as Chief of Defence Staff).
Members of 2 Tp abseiling from a Wessex
'A' Squadron training Members of 2 Tp abseiling from a Wessex
Colonel R B C Plowden assumes command of 4 RTR

Staff List

On 11 January 1967 Lt Col R B C Plowden assumed command of 4 RTR.

Lt Cheshire,Cpls Robinson, Knowles and Coffin compete in the Army Championships - Oberjoch 1967

Lt Cheshire,Cpls Robinson, Knowles and Coffin compete in the Army Championships - Oberjoch 1967

4 RTR Officers with the Colonel Commandant, Major General  H M Liardet CB CBE DSO April 196

4 RTR Officers with the Colonel Commandant, Major General H M Liardet CB CBE DSO April 1967.

The Warrant Officers and Sergeants, April 1967

The Warrant Officers and Sergeants, April 1967.
RSM Truscott is flanked by Col Comdt and Regtl Col.

In May 1967 we established a lasting and most enjoyable association with the Belgian 4th Lansiers

In May 1967 we established a lasting and most enjoyable association with the Belgian 4th Lansiers.

Invitation

But the major event of 1967 was the RTR 50th Anniversary Mounted Review.

4 RTR, along with A Sqn 1 RTR, 2 RTR, 3 RTR and H Sqn 5 RTR moved to Reinsehlen Camp near Schneverdingen in Lower Saxony in July 1967 to prepare and rehearse for the Queen’s Fiftieth Anniversary Parade and March Past. It was to have an ambitious format which inter alia involved the entire parade reversing on tracks and wheels some 40 yards, a drive past and an advance in Review Order before dismounting and hearing the Colonel-in-Chief Royal Tank Regiment, Her Majesty The Queen’s address. The reverse in close order proved especially difficult over rough ground for the entirely wheeled 4RTR.

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As the rehearsals progressed, from this near chaos came this near perfection !

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A welcome break in rehearsals

Lunch break during the rehearsals

Lunch break during the rehearsals.

Cock Troop 1967 2 Tp A Sqn Cock Troop 1967 2 Tp A Sqn

Cock Troop 1967 2 Tp A Sqn Back Row. Tprs Monro,Masson,Lakin, Adams, Duncan Leathwood Front Row. L/Cpls Tye and Logan, Sgt Barratt, 2/Lt Spurrier, Cpl Hawthorn, L/Cpl Boland

Lt Andrew Whitfield cooling off but eveready

What the spectators didn’t see - Lt Andrew Whitfield cooling off but eveready !

The Parade itself took place in fine weather before a large crowd which included the Commander-in-Chief Rhine Army, General Sir John Hackett GCB, CBE, DSO, MC and our three RTR Colonels Commandant,
General Sir John Jolly KCB CBE DSO (A former Commanding Officer of 4RTR),
Major General H M Liardet CB CBE DSO,
and Major General J R Holden CB CBE DSO.

Her Majesty our Colonel-in-Chief

Her Majesty our Colonel-in-Chief arrives at Reinsehlen Camp for the Mounted Parade involving 2,3,4, RTR and one squadron each from 1 and 5 RTR.

t Tim Turner, (RSO) Lt Col Roger Plowden (CO)and Capt Mike Rose(Adjt) with the RHQ Team before the Parade

Lt Tim Turner, (RSO) Lt Col Roger Plowden (CO)and Capt Mike Rose(Adjt) with the RHQ Team before the Parade.

RHQ 4 RTR and the squadrons "march" Past

RHQ 4 RTR and the squadrons "march" Past HM the Queen in the Royal Review, 14 July 1967

The 4 RTR Squadrons  "march past"

The 4 RTR Squadrons "march past".

The Climax of the Royal Review

The Climax of the Royal Review

The Commanding Officer and Ruth introduce Her Majesty to members of the Fourth

The Commanding Officer and Ruth introduce Her Majesty to members of the Fourth, in this case to the author and his family; it is all too much for daughter Amanda. Major Dick Murrell QM, and Major Richard Jerram (behind him) having been presented.

The Officers and Sergeants of A Squadron 4 RTR 14 July 1967

The Officers and Sergeants of A Squadron 4 RTR 14 July 1967.

Sgts Moore, Barrett, SQMS Jordan, SSM Morris, S/Sgt Hicks,Sgts Hills, Kew and Sgt Reid
Lts Bowen, Whitfield, Major New, Capt Mallam, Lts Duncan, Spurrier

A Squadron 4 RTR - 14 July 1967

A Squadron 4 RTR - 14 July 1967.

Being wheeled, much of our training was possible in 443 areas

Being wheeled, much of our training was possible in 443 areas (i.e. not designated training areas) which were entirely new to us.

Not far from the Inner German Border

Not far from the Inner German Border.
(Note the Vickers Vigilant GW mounting on the Ferret)

b_0_180_0_00_images_Documents_4and7rtr_documents_00024.jpg Border patrols in the Harz Mountainsnear Braunlage with Mr Bland

Border patrols in the Harz Mountains near Braunlage with Mr Bland, a member of the British Frontier Service, early1968

Tpr Richmond Cpl Robinson

Being close to the Harz Mountains also provided excellent opportunities for cross-country skiing – Tpr Richmond left and Cpl Robinson

L to R: Lts Martin Speller, George Mayne, Lieutenant Chis Lavender and the Colonel Roger Plowden

L to R: Lts Martin Spurrier, George Mayne, Lieutenant Chis Lavender and the Colonel Roger Plowden.

Quadrant Ski Club Quadrant Ski Club Quadrant Ski Club

Quadrant Ski Club Lermoos Jan 1968 4 RTR came 2nd out of 26 teams in the 4x10 km relay. Cpl Robinso takes over from Lt Spurrier.

The Fencing Team under Major George Forty were Fourth in the Army Championships

The Fencing Team under Major George Forty were Fourth in the Army Championships.

Arras Parade

Just before a hectic last training season in armoured cars we celebrated Arras at Herford. General Sir Alan Jolly, lately CO 4 RTR and now Quarter Master General was the Inspecting Officer

The Fourth staff list

The Fourth staff list at this time was as shown.

The Drive and Fly Past

The Drive and Fly Past

The Standard is Trooped

The Standard is Trooped

General Sir Alan Jolly talks with  Cpl Knowles

General Sir Alan Jolly talks with Cpl Knowles while inspecting the crews. Lt Col R.B.C Plowden and the Regimental Colonel RTR accompany him.

2/Lt Prince Alkexander after winning the Slalom 1968

The 1968 Winter skiing season was one of the best the Regiment had ever enjoyed. In the Slalom 2 /Lt Prince Alexander beat the Captain of the Army Team to win the Army Championships. The A Team came 2nd in the 15 km Relay, Tpr Bourne was the individual winner of the 15 km Cross-country race,and Tpr Reid won the novices Langlauf Cup.

Dinner

The Regimental Ski Team was the best RAC team in the Army Championships. At the top of the table Lt Martin Spurrier, Lt Col Roger Plowden, Captain Brian Coombes and Mrs Ruth Plowden.

Dinner

In January 1969 the Fourth returned to 7 Armd Bde as a Chieftain Regiment and was stationed in Haig Barracks, Hohne.
(The technically-minded will note the Stillbrew additional turret armour)

It was good to be back

It was good to be back, but it seemed a little deliberate after the élan of the Armoured Recce Regiment.

The Soltau trainig area in 1969 was full of pitfalls especially when moving at night.

The Soltau trainig area in 1969 was full of pitfalls especially when moving at night. Ice on a river such as this – the River Swinderbeck – when seen through infra red driving lights looks exactly like grass. Chieftain 13 Alpha was clearly not going to arrive on time !

Swingfire anti-tank missiles mounted on FV 438s

But there were new skills to acquire including the Swingfire anti-tank missiles mounted on FV 438s. Oops!

The Officers, Summer 1969

The Officers, Summer 1969.

The Chieftains still needed a great amount of TLC

The Chieftains still needed a great amount of TLC.

Cock troop 1969

Cock troop 1969. Sgt Lang and S/Sgt Bourne.

Cock troop 1969

In July 1969 Lt Col Roger Plowden left to become Col GS at Div HQ. Lt Col Martin Sinnatt assumed Command. He had served in Korea, Hong Kong and Aden. Immediately before coming to the Fourth he had been MA to C-in-C Allied Forces Northern Europe.

In May 1970 the Regimental Judo Squad were Army Champions

In May 1970 the Regimental Judo Squad were Army Champions. Cpl Cairns,(top right) became Lt Heavyweight Army Champion.

Lt Col Martin Sinnatt, RSM Mann and Band Sergeant Major Pierce

The Commanding Officer, Lt Col Martin Sinnatt, RSM Mann and Band Sergeant Major Pierce outside RHQ in Haig Barracks.

Regimental Sergeant Major Mann, the Warrant Officers and Sergeants Hohne 1969

Regimental Sergeant Major Mann, the Warrant Officers and Sergeants Hohne 1969.

Captain Colin Cheshire with the Loder Cup – Bisley 1969

Captain Colin Cheshire with the Loder Cup – Bisley 1969. His other achievements included captaining the Great Britain Rifle Team four times between 1991 and 1995, Captain of the GB World Championship Team in 1992 (awarded OBE) and 1995, and winner of 24 trophies at Bisley. As recently as 2005 he was the Winner Open Veteran' Aggregate at Bisley. His success continues in that he and his team retained the 2007 World Veterans Championship in Canada

Recruiting Poster Recruiting Poster  

With our higher establishment as a tank regiment, and the man-power situation much tighter in Scotland, we had to give priority to recruiting.

KAPE Tours

The Regiment was obliged to spend much time, effort and manpower ensuring that it was fully manned. That included KAPE Tours and...

Major Brian Coombes, Captain Andrew Whitfield, Sgt McMinn, Tpr Chalky White and friends

...posing for "come and join us" photographs. Here Major Brian Coombes, Captain Andrew Whitfield, Sgt McMinn, Tpr Chalky White and friends look inviting.

It involved some imbibing ..!

It involved some imbibing ..!

Time for tea Ern!!

and some laughter.. Time for tea Ern!!>

The Regimental Langlauf

The Regimental Langlauf team achieved the best results recorded hitherto in RTR annals. Led by Lts Goodson and Pickering they came eleventh in the National Races, the highest of eight RAC regiments.

Regiment on the Hohne Ranges 1971

January 1971 saw the Regiment on the Hohne Ranges. It was an exceptionally cold month but an outstanding set of gradings was achieved – thirteen "A"s and one "B".

Judith Hand

Judith Hand was with the Regiment for five years as our tame WRVS Lady. She endeared herself to all ranks and the families.

Majors Hammond (left) and Slade and the officers

In March 1971 the Regiment was ordered to prepare two composite Rifle Squadrons for a four-month emergency tour in Northern Ireland from August. Here the CO is flanked by Majors Hammond (left) and Slade and the officers concerned.

Those not going  to Ulster concealed their disappointment by taking the Mickey!

Those not going to Ulster concealed their disappointment by taking the Mickey!

squadrons would be under command 15/19 H and not 4 RTR

An undeniable disappointment was that the squadrons would be under command 15/19 H and not 4 RTR. The Cavalry made every effort to reduce the chagrin, referring to the combined unit as the "Black Hussars."

The Senior ranks

The Senior ranks having completed Northern Ireland training, with the CO and Adjt.

Northern Ireland map

The Squadrons deployed in August 1971, B (Rifle) Sqn to Lurgan and D (Rifle) Sqn to Newry, both renowned trouble-spots.

Cpls Spalding, Davies, Ross and McNeil standing easy Lt Freeman doing it by the book  

Cpls Spalding, Davies, Ross and McNeil standing easy. Lt Freeman doing it by the book.

Tpr Gill in front of what remains of the Corkins shop in Lurgan

Tpr Gill in front of what remains of the Corkins shop in Lurgan.

It wasn't all plain sailing

It wasn't all plain sailing.

It was a lively scene – in both Lurgan and Newry

For those involved there was much professional satisfaction. It was a lively scene – in both Lurgan and Newry.

On 4 September 1971 near Newry, Tpr John Warnock was killed and L/Cpl Allan and Tpr Smart were injured when a claymore mine exploded against their landrover. The funeral was organised superbly by 2 RTR at Tidworth and attended by John Warnock's Father, a serving member of the Royal Highland Fusiliers, and by many members of 2 and 4 RTR including CO Designate 4 RTR.

In Chapter Eleven we see 4 RTR as the first Battle Group to train at Suffield, Canada.



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