On 23 November 1973 Lt Col New handed over Command to Lt Col David Sands, the first Scotsman born and bred to have commanded the Fourth for many years. Under his command the Regiment had the clear prospect of one year in Catterick and thereafter a return to BAOR as a Chieftain Regiment in Munster.
In March 1974 General Don Starry and Colonel Oldinsky from the US Armor School visited the Regiment to study British basic training methods.
Maj Gen Pat Hobart,DSO,OBE,MC, RTR Colonel Commandant, visited A Sqn in Berlin. Major Neil Winship and Lt Eyre Maunsell accompany him.
An expensive project which came to fruition in early 1974 was the all-weather driving track at Catterick.
In October 1974 General Sir Richard Ward KCB,DSO,MC, Colonel Commandant RTR, attended the 4th/7th Reunion, and was Inspecting Officer for a Passing- Out Parade. Here he inspects a Quarter Guard commanded by Sgt Bourne.
The Regiment moved to York Barracks, Munster in December 1974 and became operational in Jan 1975. What a relief to be doing once again what the Regiment knew best. The Commanding Officer in “Long Range Desert Group” style with Cpls Logan and Thomas (driving).
SACEUR, General Alexander Haig is introduced by the CO to L/Cpl Norman and Tpr Marren, 17 April 1975.
During Suffield training involving 4 RTR BG the Commanding Officer presented a Regimental plaque to CO 12 RBC, our affiliated Canadian Regiment. Sadly we have no other photographs of this time.
In January 1976 Col David Sands handed over to Lt Col Nick Cocking who had last served with the Regiment as Adjutant throughout the Aden tour and for a while in Seremban. The task which faced the Fourth immediately was Op Banner which would involve a major re-structuring of the Regiment...
After intensive infantry training the Regiment deployed to Northern Ireland in early April 1976 for a four month emergency tour. RHQ, A Sqn and HQ Sqn were initially based at the Maze prison, Long Kesh, but later moved to Lurgan. B Sqn remained at Lurgan and C Sqn at Portadown.
It may be tempting to think that A Sqn had a routine time guarding the Maze Prison. The following account would suggest otherwise. Life in Northern Ireland was seldom dull.
By the half way stage B Sqn's records show that they had found twelve weapons, 1500 rounds of ammunition, stopped some 10,000 cars and searched 2,000 of them. They had assisted in fifty arrests, made eight hundred 'P' checks, dealt with nearly forty bomb hoaxes and ten live bombs.
C Sqn at the Mahon Road Base at Portadown had a quiet first two months providing an Alert Troop, Guard Troop and Operations Troop rotating on a 24 hour basis. But there was plenty of variety guarding the Tandragee Power Station, patrolling the Town Centre of Portadown, dispatching troops to the Bandit Country of South Armargh and searching endlessly.
The Regiment returned to Munster in July 1976. After Block Leave it was Ex Spearpoint. There was then a visit by Field Marshal Carver, shown here with officers of 2 and 4 RTR.
The 1976 4/7th Reunion at Blackpool
Maj Brian Coombes, Maj Gen Foote, ?, ?, The Mayor of Blackpool, Colonel Reeves (CO 7 RTR at Tobruk), Maj Gen Strickland, Bill Penketh and Taff John, (Both with ‘Strick’ in the Fourth at Farnham 1937-38 and at Arras).
Sadly we cannot name the ladies. Help would be welcomed.
In October A Sqn went to BATUS with 1 A and SH BG. The final exercise was conducted in two feet of snow.
For the first time for several years the Regiment entered teams for both Alpine and Langlauf in the 1976 Div and Army Meetings. Considering their lack of competitive experience they performed very well.
In May 1977 two hundred members of the Regiment took part in a memorable Battlefield tour of Arras, with especial emphasis on the May 1940 action involving the Fourth and the Seventh (see also Annex A and Chapter 2010). Eyewitness briefers were as shown.
L to R: Major Ken Macksey MC, Brigadier Peter Vaux OBE, and Maj Colin Cheshire who master-minded the Battle field Tour.
A poignant moment during the Battlefield Tour as the Commanding Officer laid a wreath on the Arras Town memorial.
Major Franz Wallerstein who won an MC when in A Sqn 7 RTR in Normandy translates for Monsieur Vaudeville, the Mayor of Arras.
Major Ken Macksey (late 4 RTR) who won an MC when leading a Churchill Flame-thrower troop in the Battle of Boulogne in 1944, speaks as a military historian and writer on Arras.
Left front Major John Robinson, right Captain George Riordan.
Brigadier Peter Vaux describes the moment when he saw twenty 4 RTR tanks knocked out
A guest night was held at the Hotel L'Univers. The British Officer in uniform left of the central flowers is Brigadier Desmond Langley, later Governor of Bermuda.
By July 4 RTR Battle Group, less B Sqn, plus a Canadian company of 3rd Princess Patricia's Light Infantry, was in Suffield. As they completed their final battle-run B Sqn arrived to join 2 Scots Guards BG. The only record we have of this training is of Captain Mark Goodson and supporting cast posing for an ITV documentary on Suffield!
It was time to prepare for yet another Op Banner Emergency Tour beginning in February 1978.
This time 4 RTR would be responsible for City Centre Belfast, based at the Grand Central Hotel and the Cromac Mission.
Markets Squadron hard men off duty. Cpl King (later RSM and Major) seated in the centre. Belfast 1978
Tragedy struck at the start of the tour when Tpr Nowosad was murdered on 3 March while on duty at the security gates in Church Street. The terrorists approached disguised as Rag Day students.
In August 1978 just back from Belfast, and after some nine months away from proper tanking, the Regiment formed up on the Dorbaum to bid farewell to Lt Col Nick Cocking and to welcome back Lt Col Mike Rose.
The Regimental log “Chinese Eye” records that this was a difficult time. The Regiment was sixty under strength - almost a squadron – and tank skills had suffered from the two Op Banner tours in quick succession. There was great pressure on all ranks and sport inevitably suffered. One piece of good news for the officers was that the ceremonial astrakhan beret was finally given the heave – officially!
|It was good to be back in our proper role.|
4 RTR Battle Group took to the field at Suffield once again in June 1979. The composition of the BG was certainly more sophisticated than the 4 RTR BG which pioneered Suffield in June 1972.
Lt Col Mike Rose gives his orders for the final phase of Op Malplaquet. The BG covered 136,000 miles during Suffield 79 without accident.
After the BATUS training a small group sailed home on HMS Fife, a County Class Destroyer affiliated to the Regiment. In the event she was diverted to assist with disaster relief in the Dominican Republic and the slightly dislocated group returned some six weeks later!
By 1979 the Pipes and Drums were making very good progress. The Regiment's Establishment was annotated from this time to show three crewmen as pipers. Thus all the P and D's kit could thereafter be indented for, a great advance.
The Officers 4 RTR Munster 1979
Back Row – Lts P Loggie, R Chesterfield, J Mosley, S Anstey, A Stephenson, R Jenkinson, Capts Ian Lawson,A Fraser, M Stephenson
Centre Row – 2/lt Mark Urban, Capts George Riordan, Tom Horne, Tom Roach, Eyre Maunsell, Brian Wheatley, E R Barnham, Stephen White, Roger Mertens. Ray Tillotson, 2/Lt P Miller
Front Row - Majs Mike Williams, Stephen Doble,Colin Cheshire,Ian Galloway, Lt Col Mike Rose, Capt Martin Speller, Maj Chris Hammerbeck, Chap Clements, Maj Charles Vane-Percy
L/Cpl Gregson piping a 4 RTR Chieftain across the Weser at Ohr during Ex Keystone, the 2 Div Autumn Exercise.
In March 1980 the Regiment re-visited the Rhine Crossing site on the 35th Anniversary. They had the advantage of five of the original survivors, here seen with the CO and Major Peter Bloomfield who enlisted in 1949 and completed a distinguished clerical career by commanding G Sqn.
Thanks to the consistent leadership of Major Colin Cheshire the Regiment came fourth in the Inter-Unit Competition at Bisley with a score of 394 out of a possible 420.
A performance of the 1812 Overture during a 4 RTR evening for invited guests at Munster in November 1980.
In December 1980 RSM Jess handed over to RSM MacDonald, promoted from SSM D Sqn. In January 1981 Lt Col Mike Rose departed for Hong Kong (in a Bangladeshi Staff car!) and Lt Col Philip Sanders assumed command.
Lt Col Philip Sanders assumed command of the Regiment in January 1981. Like so many of our COs he had previously been Adjutant of the Fourth, in his case in 1970/71 in Hohne.
January and February 1981 saw 4 RTR teams active on snow and ice. The Downhill Team consisted of Lt Harper, Major Mark Goodson, Tpr Swarbrick, Capt Anstey, Lt Ward and Lt Warner. They came 4th in the Divisional Downhill and Lt Warner 2nd individually.
In the June 1981 Pipe Major Elder handed over to Pipe Sergeant Harden. Elder had served for 27 years, nine of them in 4 RTR. In the Birthday Honours he was awarded the well deserved British Empire Medal. At the same time the newly appointed Pipe Major received his LS and GC Medal.
The final Autumn in Munster was hectic. In September the Regiment exercised together for the first time for more than eighteen months. After Soltau and BG training came the FTX Jumping Jerboa and then Red Claymore. Cambrai was celebrated with a Drumhead Service. There was block leave over Christmas and New Year.