This Land Rover with added bling is pictured in Cyprus in 1961 and was spotted in his brother Gerald’s photo album by Peter Clarke. Gerald explained: “The escort Rover was only driven by regulars for special occasions, such as visits by dignitaries or senior officers etc. Drivers were dressed in all white special uniforms.”
The other two pictures were taken during Exercise Triangle in Libya, February-March 1961. Gerald, who did his National Service with the Royal Military Police, added: “We set out in convoy from the coastal base at Tmimi near El-Adem in North Libya and headed 150 miles south. Then we turned back and headed North West back to the coast at Derna and then along the coast back to base at Tmimi.
“I was part of the route signing crew for the exercise. I had imagined all deserts to be deep, ever-rolling sand dunes, similar to those depicted in the Foreign Legion films, but I soon discovered that the Libyan desert was somewhat different. Continuous sand storms had swept away much of the sand, exposing a rocky base, ideal, of course, for supporting the heavy tanks and vehicles. I now understood Rommel’s reasons for using that area for his base of operations some 18 or so years earlier.
“Our convoy moved off at the start of Exercise Triangle in a sand storm and the Intelligence Corps had the task of leading the way with compass and maps. To ensure that the convoy could follow the route, a Royal Military Police Land Rover and trailer laden with signs drove closely behind the leading vehicle, following its wheel tracks. Four of us sat in the trailer wearing goggles, face masks and trench coats. Every hundred yards or so, one of us would leap out with a sign and post, hammer the post into the ground, clip the sign on and then quickly jump back into the trailer so that we could frenetically follow the wheel tracks before they disappeared completely in the storm.
“We really had to move fast and it was fortunate that four of us were working together, otherwise we couldn’t have kept up and had a good chance of becoming lost in the desert. No-one had seen fit to supply us with maps or compasses but we soon acquired some!
"Another RMP Land Rover and trailer followed the convoy, collecting the signs. Their job at the rear was just as frantic and dangerous, because pulling out the signs required some effort and once again the wheel tracks of the convoy could quickly disappear.
“After enduring a few weeks in the North African desert in Libya, I began to have some idea of the discomforts my father must have experienced when serving in the Eighth Army in World War Two: blazing hot sun during the day when sometimes we worked with our shirts off, and very chilly nights when an overcoat was needed. At least though, I knew that we were only staying for a short time and no one would be shooting at us or bombing us for real, so we were only playing at it in comparative terms.
“It had been somewhat different for my father. On one of the few occasions he did talk about the war, I remember him relating that when driving in a convoy, a sudden strafing attack caused him to veer violently into a roadside ditch . . . anything to get off the road and out of the line of fire as quickly as possible. Thankfully, my father survived the war, although his general health was never the same afterwards.
“I half expected to come across remnants of tanks or armoured vehicles from World War Two, as we were following in the footsteps of Rommel’s Afrika Korps, but it was not to be. It seemed that the Libyan scrap dealers had already cleared up!
“We embarked at Tobruk and headed back to Cyprus, a three day trip on an LST (Landing Ship Transport), very slowly.”
Tim Webster sent the following three pictures of his father, L/Cpl Dick Webster, who went with the 1st Northamptonshire Regiment to Hong Kong in 1954-56. The Series One Land Rover was the first they had and was, of course, bagged by the CO! The rest of them were using war-weary Jeeps and a Humber Heavy Utility.
Peter Clarke found the following pictures from the early 1990s in his attic. If you can add anything to the captions or want to correct anything, please get in touch via the CONTACT section.
John Marchant with a "before and after" display of his beloved CMP trucks at Cranfield Air Show.
Brian Tegg, now a member of the Oxford Area, in the penthouse of his radio truck. I think it was a K9.
At the end of season Bovington show are, from left, Peter Clarke with his 1942 Ford GPW, "Big Dave" Mills with his GMC, and Stan Holland with his Jeep. Peter's Jeep is still going strong and is now owned by area member Terry Feltham. It's known as "The Fastest Jeep in the West" owing to its Ford Cortina Pinto engine.
Also at Bovvy is another of John Marchant's vehicles, a Humber Super Snipe body mounted on a Humber One Ton truck chassis. Anyone know where this is now?
Gordon Beale accepts the MVT Wilkinson Sword from WO2 Mick Higgins, of 118 Recovery Company, REME TA, and John Marchant, then MVT chief judge. Gordon drove his Bedford Scammell OXC a total of 2,015 miles that year to win the sword. Petrol was cheaper in those days . . .
Area members and friends assemble in Jimmy's End, Northampton, for the traditional post-Christmas road run, still being held today. I can spot Steve Gascoigne, John Marchant, John Short, Brian Shoebridge, Stan Holland, John Wingrove, Dave Mills and his son Paul . . . and me.
Bob Duthie powers his Jeep along a flooded green lane somewhere south of Towcester.
The same event and Steve Gascoigne gets help in extricating his Jeep from a muddy hole.
Firm ground at last!
Gordon Beale clears the gutters of the MV Section at Bletchley Park.
Gordon Beale's Bedford-Scammell, in which he won the Wilkinson Sword, mentioned above, in the MT Section at Bletchley Park
MVs outside the Mansion at Bletchley Park include Peter Clarke's Ford GPW and Gordon Beale's Bedford-Scammell.