Lt Col Doug Cantley assumed command of 4 RTR on 16 December 1985. He came to the Regiment from 2 RTR.
|A distraction from the training cycle was the preparation of the Maze Prison Guard Force (PGF)|
Once in place the PGF had little time to be bored, if only because of a steady stream of visitors. Here the GOC NI, Maj Gen A S Jeapes (late SAS).
Guarding the Maze near Belfast was no sinecure. At one time in the late seventies there were so many break-outs that a wag placed a road sign near the entrance “Drive with care, escaped prisoners crossing”!!
In June 1986 a burst of adventure training took elements of the Regiment to Sardinia, India and a retracing of Hannibal's Route.
By December 1986 the Commanding Officer could write..
...a happy Christmas. And so another year passes.
1987 Saw the usual round of troop and squadron training and range firing broken into by a novel Winter Sports Day.
The Continued restrictions on track mileage emphasised alternative training. Such was Ex “Tartan Wanderer”.
During the Battlefield phase of Tartan Wanderer visits were made to the Vimy Ridge and Pozieres Memorials.
One of the techniques to be mastered by 4 RTR tank crews in 1987 was TOGS, the Thermal Image Gun Sight. Until the mid-80s night vision equipment in the Army was confined to Image Intensifiers, an unpredictable aid that depended upon there being ample ambient light. A decision was taken by DRAC one Summer evening in 1978 at Bovington to throw all our weight behind the experimental work of a retired RTR Major, (Ralph Bagnall-Wild, then working for Barr and Stroud) to harness thermal-image technology for the battle tank gun site. It would be expensive and would face determined opposition from vested interests. It was a courageous technical decision, one that today we take for granted.
In 1987 the Regiment became involved in the annual US reinforcement Ex REFORGER, designed to demonstrate that the US could return quickly to Europe both with their own equipment and where appropriate using NATO Armies' equipments. The observations of a subaltern who in the future would command 1 RTR are worth noting.
In May 1988 command passed from Lt Col Doug Cantley to Lt Col Charles McBean, whose regimental service had been entirely with the Fourth, most recently as OC A Sqn in 1984.
Medicine Man 7 finished in November 1988 and the Regiment was together again in Osnabruck for the Winter.
In 1989 Cyprus beckoned.
In Chapter Fifteen we see the Regiment deploy to Cyprus.