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 MSO Tank Transporters

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4995moret
LCpl
LCpl


Number of posts : 5
Cap Badge : RAOC RLC
Places Served : Kirton, Gutersloh, Kineton, Bruggen, Dulmen, Wulfen, Bielefeld, Dhekelia, Nairobi, Gibraltar, Iraq, Afghanistan, Tidworth, Bosnia, NI
Registration date : 2016-05-25

PostSubject: MSO Tank Transporters   25/5/2016, 22:20

Hi. I'm currently carrying out some research into the MSO in the Tank Transporter role and am in need of some information/stories, please.

I'm collating the historical facts about the unit, but am desperately trying to add some human flavour to this history.

Can anyone help out, please?

Thanks
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Eric England
Maj
Maj
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Number of posts : 232
Age : 64
Localisation : China
Cap Badge : REME 1972 - 1984
Places Served : Arborfield, Deepcut Camberley 25 Lt Regt Catterick/NI, 4 Lt Regt Catterick/NI, 655 Sqn AAC Detmold, QRIH Padderbon, 9/12 Lancers Muenster, 655 Tank Tptr Sqn Fallingbostel, HQ REME 3rd Armd Div Korbecke, SEE Arborfield, HQ REME Trg Center Arborfield.
Registration date : 2013-04-22

PostSubject: Re: MSO Tank Transporters   27/5/2016, 17:22

I was REME attached to 16 Tank Transporter Squadron in approx 1980 and some of the drivers were still MSO. This was in Fallingbostel. I remember one of the MSO, an old boy who refurbished the canopies on the back of transporters, he had his own little workshop with appropriate materials for repairs and a coal heater to keep warm and also a few bottles of vodka lol.
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4995moret
LCpl
LCpl


Number of posts : 5
Cap Badge : RAOC RLC
Places Served : Kirton, Gutersloh, Kineton, Bruggen, Dulmen, Wulfen, Bielefeld, Dhekelia, Nairobi, Gibraltar, Iraq, Afghanistan, Tidworth, Bosnia, NI
Registration date : 2016-05-25

PostSubject: Re: MSO Tank Transporters   27/5/2016, 17:27

Eric,

Thanks for the information. Anything like this is great stuff!!
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Eric England
Maj
Maj
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Number of posts : 232
Age : 64
Localisation : China
Cap Badge : REME 1972 - 1984
Places Served : Arborfield, Deepcut Camberley 25 Lt Regt Catterick/NI, 4 Lt Regt Catterick/NI, 655 Sqn AAC Detmold, QRIH Padderbon, 9/12 Lancers Muenster, 655 Tank Tptr Sqn Fallingbostel, HQ REME 3rd Armd Div Korbecke, SEE Arborfield, HQ REME Trg Center Arborfield.
Registration date : 2013-04-22

PostSubject: Re: MSO Tank Transporters   27/5/2016, 17:51

I think the MSO were a breed apart, after all they lived through the second world war and became displaced, I am convinced each guy had his own story to tell but they never spoke to us, as they liked to stay with there own clique.

I remember this posting well, apart from the exact year, we are all getting older now eh? I was the CPL REME Clerk and therefore had to deal with the MSO, in the workshop environment a lot. It was from this posting that I got my third stripe and a move to HQ REME 3rd Armd Div.

One of our young REME Craftsmen took an escort bike on road test down the tank road. The bike had suffered frame shaking and he did what he thought was an appropriate repair. My OC got a call from RHQ saying there had been an accident on the tank road and one of our guys may have broken a leg, so he said to me go and check it out. I jumped in my own car and hit the tank road and sure enough there had been an accident, this young fellow had crossed to the wrong side of the road and hit a Dutch DAF head on, and not just a broken leg, he was dead.
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4995moret
LCpl
LCpl


Number of posts : 5
Cap Badge : RAOC RLC
Places Served : Kirton, Gutersloh, Kineton, Bruggen, Dulmen, Wulfen, Bielefeld, Dhekelia, Nairobi, Gibraltar, Iraq, Afghanistan, Tidworth, Bosnia, NI
Registration date : 2016-05-25

PostSubject: Re: MSO Tank Transporters   27/5/2016, 18:13

Cheers Eric.
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Bazzzer
Private
Private


Number of posts : 1
Registration date : 2016-06-15

PostSubject: Re: MSO Tank Transporters   15/6/2016, 15:29

Hi.  I recently found this post card and I'm sure I have photos as well.  Wonder if might help pinpoint or help your research as I know some of my family were in the transporting of tanks can I upload pics
Baz dutton [hide]


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4995moret
LCpl
LCpl


Number of posts : 5
Cap Badge : RAOC RLC
Places Served : Kirton, Gutersloh, Kineton, Bruggen, Dulmen, Wulfen, Bielefeld, Dhekelia, Nairobi, Gibraltar, Iraq, Afghanistan, Tidworth, Bosnia, NI
Registration date : 2016-05-25

PostSubject: Re: MSO Tank Transporters   15/6/2016, 21:32

Cheers Bazzzar,

Thanks for the input. If you've any other stuff of even stories from your family that would be fantastic.

Thanks again,

Neil
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4995moret
LCpl
LCpl


Number of posts : 5
Cap Badge : RAOC RLC
Places Served : Kirton, Gutersloh, Kineton, Bruggen, Dulmen, Wulfen, Bielefeld, Dhekelia, Nairobi, Gibraltar, Iraq, Afghanistan, Tidworth, Bosnia, NI
Registration date : 2016-05-25

PostSubject: a few snaps (if I've worked it out)   29/6/2016, 22:48

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Brian Anthony Thomas
Cpl
Cpl
avatar

Number of posts : 10
Age : 58
Localisation : Hameln Germany
Cap Badge : MSO and GGS
Places Served : MSO Hildesheim,Hameln,GGS Herford,Hameln
Registration date : 2016-03-29

PostSubject: Re: MSO Tank Transporters   16/7/2016, 13:32

Have this in my collection





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bikergoth
Cpl
Cpl


Number of posts : 14
Age : 58
Localisation : UK
Cap Badge : REME 1975 - 1988
Places Served : Arbourfield, SEME, 16 tank Tptr Sqn, 1 Queens/1 BW LAD, BATUS Wksp, 174 Provo Coy LAD, 27 Command Wksp, 22 AD Regt LAD
Registration date : 2017-01-08

PostSubject: Re: MSO Tank Transporters   8/1/2017, 11:59

Hi all,

I've just joined this site so apologies if I get things wrong on this, my first ever post...

I served as a VM at 16 Tank Tptr Sqn Wksp from Jan 1977 - Jul 1979 & remember a number of MSO characters, all who had a very hard time of it in the past. Please excuse any spelling errors with the names.

There was a guy known as 'Trailer' George Ratuchnikov who ran the trailer section in Fally & was technically my first boss there. He ruled with a rod of iron & woe betide anyone who upset him. If he had to have words with an errant squaddie he would study his dictionary to ensure he used exactly the correct words - no more, no less. I remember he used to pronounce the word 'damaged' as 'd'majedd' & no amount of telling him it was wrong would change that. A strange man...
Rumour has it that he was from the Ukraine or White Russia & he served with the Waffen SS after the German Army invaded Russia. The other MSO in the workshop hated him & I remember one of them getting into an almighty argument with him over something then forcibly grabbing George's wrist, rolling up his sleeve & pointing to the tattoo on his wrist, becoming quite angry & agitated as he did so. George still had his SS tattoo...

Some of the other guys I remember from the workshop were: Little Jan, Big Yan - (2nd generation I believe), Bruno, Big Ginge, Mr Spieker the clerk, Paul the painter & Wischnievski, all though I'm sure there were many more.

I think it was Ginge who used to keep geese behind the washdown to the rear of the main workshop building & come Christmas, both he & Big Jan would kill them by dinging them on the head with a lump of scrap metal to initially stun them, then cutting their heads off with an axe over a tree stump. Many a VM opened up their toolbox only to discover a severed gooses head sticking to their spanners for about a week after the Christmas cull.

Most of the MSO were in their 50's or 60's when I served with them & I have never served with such a fine group of people. As well as the workshop staff & the HQ staff, there were two troops of MSO when I was at Fally - C Troop who drove mainly the old Mark 1 petrol Antars & D Troop who drove the 'Tennys', ten ton AEC trucks with trailers in a support role or for moving light stuff such as 432s or CVR(T). Sadly, many of the drivers were bordering on being alcoholics, probably due to their past experiences. In particular I remember one driver who would just sit in the bar whilst continually knocking back vodka or brandy totally on his own, just staring at an old photo of his family and crying. I approached him one day & asked him who was in the photo. He showed me the large family group then told me that His father, mother & all his brothers & sisters were taken away by the Germans while he was out getting wood & he never saw any of them again. They all died in Auchwitz. It was SO sad. He was not the only one with such memories either...
Some of them were allowed to visit their surviving family members behind the Iron Curtain, but as far as I can remember it took them absolutely ages to get a permit & after that they could be held for undefined periods at the whim of the authorities there. Not a good situation.

Slightly off topic & in reply to a previous post from Eric England, the young craftsman who was unfortunately killed on the bike was known universally as 'Sid Snott' after the Kenny Everett character. Sadly I cannot remember his full name, but it certainly brought home the dangers of riding on the range roads to us all. If I remember correctly the new bikes, (Triumphs I think), we had been given to replace the old BSA B40's were all grounded after the enquiry for this incident.
I think the guy who used to repair the canopies may have been Paul who also doubled as the signwriter/artist. He had a little workshop in one of the stables by the back gate next to the welding shop & if you gave him a bottle of brandy he would paint/draw anything for you - a talented man.
Eric, did you take over from Andy Anderson or Steve Holroyd? My memory of that period is unfortunately a bit sketchy...

Hope this is helpful...
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bikergoth
Cpl
Cpl


Number of posts : 14
Age : 58
Localisation : UK
Cap Badge : REME 1975 - 1988
Places Served : Arbourfield, SEME, 16 tank Tptr Sqn, 1 Queens/1 BW LAD, BATUS Wksp, 174 Provo Coy LAD, 27 Command Wksp, 22 AD Regt LAD
Registration date : 2017-01-08

PostSubject: Re: MSO Tank Transporters   8/1/2017, 12:09

I've also just remembered that we had an influx of 'new' MSO at Fally, who were dog handlers. They were I think from Pakistan & devout Muslims There must have been around ten or fifteen of them. I'm not sure if they were actually employed to guard our camp or somewhere else, but they were fed in our cookhouse so I guess they must have been on our unit strength. They always used to get to the front of the queue for meals & always ended up grabbing the best food, much to the distress of all the squaddies. The cooks wised up to it in the end & used to save trays of some of the more popular items under the hotplate until the new MSO had been served. They always used to clear the place out of ice cream, but that was stopped pretty smartish. It would certainly not be tolerated these days, but I distinctly remember one of the cooks telling one of these dog handlers that ice cream was made from bacon just as he was filling his bowl with a double helping. None of the dog handlers ever ate the ice cream again...
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JPW
Let Gen
Let Gen


Number of posts : 1003
Age : 75
Localisation : Berkshire
Cap Badge : REME
Places Served : Rotenburg Ploen Lippstadt Hamm Wetter Minden Munster Bielefeldt Dusseldorf
Registration date : 2008-11-09

PostSubject: Re: MSO Tank Transporters   9/1/2017, 08:59

bikergoth

Welcome, another welcome reinforcement to the significant number of contributors to this site with a REME background

Your comments regarding the MSO reflect the changing situation as veterans of the WW2 Polish Armoured Division reached retirement age and the questionable quality of their replacements
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bikergoth
Cpl
Cpl


Number of posts : 14
Age : 58
Localisation : UK
Cap Badge : REME 1975 - 1988
Places Served : Arbourfield, SEME, 16 tank Tptr Sqn, 1 Queens/1 BW LAD, BATUS Wksp, 174 Provo Coy LAD, 27 Command Wksp, 22 AD Regt LAD
Registration date : 2017-01-08

PostSubject: Re: MSO Tank Transporters   9/1/2017, 11:22

Thanks for your reply, JPW.

I have nothing but respect for the 'Old guard' of the MSO they worked extremely hard, often putting the squaddies to shame. Unfortunately I had nothing further to do with the MSO after 1979, when I left Fally, but I did hear that the guys reaching retirement age were being offered a pension & a home by the German government. I hope this is true as these guys deserve it.

Most of the 'second generation' MSO we had in the workshop had the work ethics of the older guys & were taught extremely well by them. I'm not 100% sure but I think a few of the younger ones may have been working alongside their fathers. One of the younger guys, (who I think was called George Bartchikovski - excuse the spelling), transferred from the workshop to the convoy escort side of things & very soon became a supervisor. I can't remember the rank system that was used for the MSO, but when I left he was wearing something on his epaulettes, so he obviously did well for himself.

A couple of the guys I served with in the REME also transferred into the MSO on completing their army service & had good careers with the MSO, so I wouldn't say ALL the replacements for the original guys were of questionable quality, but as I wasn't there when the majority of the original MSO started retiring, I cannot really comment on the quality of their replacements. The dog handlers I was referring to in my last post had, I believe, been brought in as a new thing, as I don't remember any Polish dog handlers eating in our cookhouse previously. I may of just never noticed any Polish dog handlers of course, as they would have blended in with the rest of the usual guys.
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bikergoth
Cpl
Cpl


Number of posts : 14
Age : 58
Localisation : UK
Cap Badge : REME 1975 - 1988
Places Served : Arbourfield, SEME, 16 tank Tptr Sqn, 1 Queens/1 BW LAD, BATUS Wksp, 174 Provo Coy LAD, 27 Command Wksp, 22 AD Regt LAD
Registration date : 2017-01-08

PostSubject: Re: MSO Tank Transporters   9/1/2017, 12:35

I also recall a rather amusing incident involving the guys from C Troop when we were out 'on drag', (drag is what we called going out on convoy duty for a few days collecting & dropping of tanks). I can't for the life of me remember exactly when it happened, but my guess is the summer of 1978.

As you all know, the REME always brought up the rear of any convoy & dealt with breakdowns & casualties as required. While we obviously had to follow any route-card on a convoy, at 16 Sqn we were always told to stick right behind the spare tractor units because even if the whole convoy made a mistake at least all the recovery & breakdown elements would be together in the event of any breakdown. So far, so good.

C Troop had on this day become a little more spread out for one reason or another & were not the regulation distance apart as we approached the Karmener Kreutz autobahn interchange not far from Dortmund. The front part of our convoy followed the route card so around three or four Antars were on the right route, no problem & carried straight on over the bridge. Unfortunately at this exact moment, a convoy of loaded Antars from our sister unit 617 Squadron, (who were also MSO), based at Hamm just up the road from Kamener Kreuz were passing under the bridge going from right to left. The middle part of our convoy, who by now were about a k behind & out of sight of the front of our convoy, spotted some loaded Antars with MSO drivers going along the autobahn & simply tagged onto the end of them without consulting the route-card. I think perhaps half a dozen had done this before one of the drivers actually realised what was happening then followed the correct route, following the first Antars from our troop. Some of the group who had gone wrong had pulled up on the hard shoulder & some had taken another wrong turning in an attempt to get back on track. One driver actually realised what was going on as soon as he had turned off, & somehow managed to get back on track saying he took ALL the exits one after the other. We just followed the solo tractor unit in front of us & I don't know how it happened to this day, but as we went over the bridge there appeared to be Antars EVERYWHERE. We passed one of our convoy escort Land Rovers parked on the bridge with one of the MSO supervisors leaning over the autobahn bridge shaking his fist, shouting & swearing, (as only the Polish can), at the melee of Antars going in all directions. I can't remember our final destination, (may have been 23 Base Wksp at Wetter), or even the autobahn rastatte involved but I know the escorts pulled the front of the convoy in early & it took almost four hours to round up all the stragglers & get everything back to normal. Luckily for us there were no breakdowns & no-one ran out of fuel, so by the time our merry band were all accounted for, we were fully fed, watered & rested, (a most unusual occurrence in the world of REME). We had a few tinnies then eventually drifted off to sleep in our little van to the sound of many, many separate arguments in Polish...


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JPW
Let Gen
Let Gen


Number of posts : 1003
Age : 75
Localisation : Berkshire
Cap Badge : REME
Places Served : Rotenburg Ploen Lippstadt Hamm Wetter Minden Munster Bielefeldt Dusseldorf
Registration date : 2008-11-09

PostSubject: Re: MSO Tank Transporters   9/1/2017, 21:45

Other expert contributors to this site will confirm but I am pretty certain that the German Federal Government did set up some form of retirement home (in the Duisburg area?) for those first generation MSO unable to return to their homelands on reaching pension age.

Very amused by your latest anecdote, I had a similar experience in the mid 60s with a mainly TA reinforcements to an Autumn Exercise in the Rheinsehlen area who mistook the route at the Hannover motorway interchange and were heading for Helmstedt and Berlin not north to Bremen
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bikergoth
Cpl
Cpl


Number of posts : 14
Age : 58
Localisation : UK
Cap Badge : REME 1975 - 1988
Places Served : Arbourfield, SEME, 16 tank Tptr Sqn, 1 Queens/1 BW LAD, BATUS Wksp, 174 Provo Coy LAD, 27 Command Wksp, 22 AD Regt LAD
Registration date : 2017-01-08

PostSubject: Re: MSO Tank Transporters   12/1/2017, 18:19

Hehe! Used to love it when everything went pear-shaped!

Glad to hear the MSO did finally get rewarded with a home & pension. They deserved it.
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Rocky
WOII
WOII


Number of posts : 91
Registration date : 2009-11-23

PostSubject: Re: MSO Tank Transporters   16/1/2017, 16:08

In the late 70s/early 80s, back when i was driving Chieftains, we used to get carted up to Hohne Ranges or Soltau and back to Sennelager by the MSO quite a lot. Moreso than from the RCT Sqns, or so it appeared anyway.

My recollections of the Mo-Jos (I'm sure that I've recounted them here previously but its a long time since I've been on here), were, on the evening of the 'deployment' they'd be lined up at the back of the tank park whilst we were at scoff and in the NAAFI loading up with fags and stickies for the duration of the exercise/firing package. Their 'Superintendent' would be first in the camp along with their 'catering wagon' and a couple of others. They'd pitch up a 9 x 9 on the grass next to the tank gate and get a few dixies on in readiness for the Antars which were following them.

You'd always find the same old faces hovering round the NAAFI shop door asking you to buy them 200 No.6 as they didn't have ration cards. When it was time to load up, they were very efficient. They just didn't hang about worrying about all the niceties that the RCT did. You'd be in your cab, a MSO 'SNCO' would give you the signal to get your engines running, then once he'd walked the lines of tanks making sure we were all singing off the same song sheet so to speak, he'd come back and he'd point at a passing Antar and then signal you to follow it. As your Antar drove past, off you went behind it. They'd travel outside the camp and onto the road where the convoy would eventually stop and then the loading process would begin. They just didn't hang about with all that getting you straight before you hit the ramps. You were straightened up as you went up the ramps and onto the trailer. Once you were on, you were told to switch off the engines and get your handbrakes on. in the meantime, the MSO were shackling your tank to the trailer. I used to hate the journey up as it took forever and the two MSO guys made you sit between them as the second driver wanted the window seat. They'd argue all the time. About what, I have no idea as I didn't understand Polish. This could go on for hours. Most of the time though, they'd let you baton down in the Chieftain drivers cab where we could drop the seat and get our heads down. You woke up as they pulled into their designated stop to have their scoff and after an hour or so you were off again.

We never really knew a lot about them apart from them being displaced after the war, but we were all 18 and 19 years old and our cares (if we had any) were elsewhere.
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bikergoth
Cpl
Cpl


Number of posts : 14
Age : 58
Localisation : UK
Cap Badge : REME 1975 - 1988
Places Served : Arbourfield, SEME, 16 tank Tptr Sqn, 1 Queens/1 BW LAD, BATUS Wksp, 174 Provo Coy LAD, 27 Command Wksp, 22 AD Regt LAD
Registration date : 2017-01-08

PostSubject: Re: MSO Tank Transporters   16/1/2017, 17:32

Hi Rocky! I'm guessing as a tank driver, you were lucky & got to hold the Antar steering wheel when the MSO decided to swap drivers or have a piss-break as they trundled down the autobahn flat out at 30mph. The driver usually put the hand throttle on then crossed over on the bonnet while the one who was taking over went around the back of the cab, leaving the poor tank driver, (sitting in the middle), in charge of around 100 tons of the British Army's finest for a couple of minutes.
I recall one instance we were following a vehicle that had broken down then been repaired, so we were separate from the main convoy. For whatever reason, the two MSO drivers had decided to swap over on the move. Unfortunately, both the drivers went round the back then stood there hanging onto the bivvy with one hand & shaking the fist of the other hand at their oppo, while shouting & swearing so loudly we could hear them over the engine noise of the Antar & our van. Neither appeared willing to back down & admit they had gone the wrong way round so they stayed arguing for a good 5 miles, before one of them went back & over the bonnet. A lot of German civvies driving past us did a double take when they saw the two MSO shouting & swearing on the back of the tractor unit. When we eventually reached our destination the poor young tank driver was so traumatised, he could hardly speak. Most entertaining for us, but not for the poor tank driver!

Officially the tank drivers weren't supposed to travel in the tanks, as apparently someone decided in the past, to get out of the commander's hatch as they were travelling under a bridge. No-one knew until they got to wherever they were going & found a bit of a mess on the top of the turret. Not sure if this is true, as you heard so many stories in Germany, but I know a lot of the drivers did turn a blind eye to tankies travelling in their tanks.
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Rocky
WOII
WOII


Number of posts : 91
Registration date : 2009-11-23

PostSubject: Re: MSO Tank Transporters   17/1/2017, 10:35

The lad who died was Tpr Bob Swann, who was one of ours. That happened after I transferred over to RMP. I didn't know Bob that well, but he was a popular lad. As a coincidence, I ended up working for the bloke who investigated that fatality. I believe after that, that everybody rode in the ANTAR. Before that though, we would frequently stay in the tank, but only with the Mo-Jo crews. The RCT wouldn't allow it.

I was in an ANTAR cab when they MSO did a driver change once. They'd been arguing and the second driver got out of the passenger door, went round the other side and climbed in the drivers door. They did a bit of fancy footwork before the driver climbed over me to get to the other side and the other guy replaced him in the drivers seat. I wasn't asked to hold the wheel and I've no idea about hand throttles. I wasn't sure whether to laugh or be scared. I think I did both. I'm now wondering how many times that happened when I was asleep in the tank?

I'm sure that others must have similar stories about them. When all is said and done though, they were part of BAORs history. Sadly, most of them won't be with us anymore.
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bikergoth
Cpl
Cpl


Number of posts : 14
Age : 58
Localisation : UK
Cap Badge : REME 1975 - 1988
Places Served : Arbourfield, SEME, 16 tank Tptr Sqn, 1 Queens/1 BW LAD, BATUS Wksp, 174 Provo Coy LAD, 27 Command Wksp, 22 AD Regt LAD
Registration date : 2017-01-08

PostSubject: Re: MSO Tank Transporters   17/1/2017, 16:09

Wow! I'm sorry the guy who died was one of yours & that you knew him. We had a Cfn in our workshop called Bob Swann too. I always thought it was one of the BAOR 'stories' that gets passed down over the years. I do however have a very fuzzy memory of someone telling us that Bob Swann had died, so I may even have been at 16 Sqn when it happened. Our Bob Swann was a good lad too, mind you most of the guys I met were ok. There weren't a lot of idiots around in those days - it's funny but I've only become aware of idiots since I got out of the Army.

I'm sure there's a wealth of similar stories about the MSO & it would be nice to see a few more here on this page. As you say there were a huge part of the history of BAOR & yes, sadly most of them have probably left us now.
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