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A Story of Disappointment

From some stories I have been told there were two shell casings that belonged to the 1st Armoured Regiment. Its my belief they were the first and last shots fired in Vietnam from the main 20 pounder gun. I am open to correction as I am fully aware that over forty odd years memories fade but the fact is that these two mementos have disappeared.

Not long back one was found on the Werribee tip. It was recovered and repolished and donated to the Werribee R.S.L. This week my niece was in Werribee and I asked for a photo to be taken, if in fact it was there at all

 

                           

                                            Yes it was there                                                                                This was the best I could do today

I drove down today but the inscription is so small I could not get a good photo of it, but have copied the text. There is a plate fitted on the front with the text

 

 

The last 20 pr round fired in action in the Republic of Sth. Vietnam.

The round was fired from Centurion Tank No 169090 of C Sqn. 1st Armoured Regiment on 30th July 1971 in Long Khang Providence at YS 394811.

The firing took place during OP. IRON FOX while assaulting a bunker system occupied by elements of 1BN 274 NVA Regt.

TANK CREW

Comm.            2nd Lt. B. Cameron

Op.                Tpr. I. A. Tulk

Gnr.                Tpr. G. J. Court

Dvr.                Tpr. T. R. Jones

 

On the rear of the case , engraved into the shell itself was the wording

The last 20 pr. round fired in action

The Republic of SVN.

Round was fired by 5 Troop C Sqn

1st Armoured Regiment at YS 394811 whilst in contact with elements of 1Bn. 274 NVA Regt.

During

OP. IRON FOX

30 July 1971

Bruce Cameron M.C. was kind enough to supply the information on the first and last firings in Vietnam

First round fired by 1 Armd Regt (RAAC) in SVN?  .30cal test firing from landing craft on the Song Dinh;
 
First round fired by 1 Armd Regt (RAAC) in anger? .50cal fired by Bob Owens from APC (F) at Baria.
 
First 20pdr round fired in SVN?  Bore-sighting, Nui Dat.
 
First 20pdr round fired in anger? Bob Snape (Dozer) on Op PINNARO.  (The case of this round had a plate fixed to it with details of Bob's crew.  It used to be at 1 Armd Regt, but appears to be lost.  Enquiries at School of Armour indicate that it's not there.)
 
First confirmed kill by 20 pdr in SVN? Len Allen (c/s 3A) en route to FSB Balmoral.
 
Last 20pdr round fired in contact? My tank on 30 July 1971 (Op IRON FOX). 
 
Last 20pdr round fired in anger? Cpl Ian Tulk's tank while returning to Nui Dat from Op IRON FOX in early August 1971.  (I was on R&R)
 
From memory, the plate on the shell case found on the tip claims that it was the last 20pdr round fired in action.  I think, however, the engraved details confuse the two incidents above, ie. Ian Tulk's crew & IRON FOX contact. 

My thanks to Bruce for this information which will be fully described in his book

I find it hard to believe that these two pieces of historical interest were neglected in this way. One story is that they were lost in the transfer to Darwin

Any information on the other shell case or information on where they originated -- were displayed-- would be greatly appreciated

 

Another Centurion has been located

169002

The third tank of the first consignment to Puckapunyal.

Now located on the Pucka Range -- more or less complete externally

Note no turret bins or flume extractor on the "B" Barrel

No IR Cage either

Also missing is the 100 gallon fuel tank but the mount bracket cover strips are bolted in place

Unfortunately, inside is a different story as she has been gutted, motor, transmission, have been removed

The turret interior, and breech block are gone.

As is most of the gunnery

 

Also the drivers compartment  have been stripped out, leaving only the pedals and handbrake.

 But its still nice to locate her. I knew she was on the range but imagined she had been destroyed.

I am now looking for 14 more

169013 - 169022 - 169065 - 169066 - 169084 - 169085 - 169087 - 169091- -169093 - 169096 - 160104 - 169118 - 169128.

When I can locate these 14 Centurions or find out what happened to them, the complete list of 142 will be accounted for - I wonder if it will ever happen?? Well I remember when I had 25 to go I really never thought I would find any more, so you never know!

Glancing through the Internet tonight I came across these two statements from a Canadian website that was talking about the Canadian Centurions

By 1975, the once state-of-the-art tank was beginning to show its age, though as late as 1975 Canadian gunners could still outscore other tank types by considerable margins in exercises. 

(One gunner told me that if he had the correct range he could drop a 20 pounder round into a chaps shirt pocket. At a shoot at Singleton the Centurion out shot the Leopard!)

 

The unsynchronized gearbox was also tricky for drivers to master, and faulty shifting could leave the 55 ton tanks rolling free in neutral on downward slopes, a condition nicknamed "Mexican Overdrive."

 (Yeah not a great feeling I would imagine, but touch wood it never happened to me, but I have seen the results of when it has occurred to others.)

 

Tpr Brenton Shelvin -- 1st Armoured Regiment

The new M113 AF4  Brenton said these can really fly and have heaps of climbing power

 

Tpr Brenton Shevlin completing the driving course in the new APC -- M113 AF4.   Brenton is now qualified in Leopard, Abrams and M113 AF4, which is not a bad effort.

Brenton also passed on some Centurion photos he had access to-------

169021

 

 

 

169021 is now in Hall A.C.T. privately owned

169041 The Atomic Tank

 

169041 at The Cambrai Parade Puckapunyal

 

"Scorpion"

 

 

At this stage I have no information on this tank, but the name "Scorpion" is unknown to me. I wonder if it could be an old N.Z. Tank?

 

ARV  169112 C/S 98C now resting in the Puckapunyal Museum

 

Australian War Memorial Centurion

The Australian War Memorial has two Centurions in storage, both are ex Vietnam and have the full Vietnam configuration. I was at first surprised when I heard they were looking for another one to place outside the complex, when they have two at the moment. But with a bit of thought I realised they would not like these two historical Centurions placed out in the elements.

The Army came good by replacing 169056 which was on the Puckapunyal Parade Ground with a Leopard MBT and also transported 169056 to Canberra. It is being externally restored , and will make a great display. 169056 was also a serving Vietnam Centurion and has history of its own.

169056 Holding Ground at Puckapunyal

Bruce Cameron contacted me in the hope that I could find another road wheel for the Glacis Plate

A call to Matt Mahon in NSW and two was donated immediately. They are now looking for a radio antenna base as well. I was able to supply this as I had donated three to the Vietnam Veterans Museum and as they only needed one. So they were very pleased to be able to assist and posted one off to Bruce.

As 169056  was a Vietnam Tank she has most of the external gear on board, "B" Barrel, and a 100 gallon rear fuel tank, as well as the up armoured Glacis Plate, and the .50 cal drilling in the gun mantlet.

It will, when finished look great, and Armour will again have a genuine Vietnam served Centurion displayed at the Australian War Memorial.

This is G for George and the reason that the Centurion was moved out of the Museum a few years ago --- this was the only place with the headroom to fit G for George

ANZAC DAY MELBOURNE 2007

Myself, grandson Tom and his father Shane, leaving for the Anzac Day  March

The Cav  banner proudly showing their Battle Honour's

The CAV Guys had a big turn out

As did the Special Air Service

The S.A.S. Looked very good

The 1st Armoured Regiment did not appear to have as many as last year, but we all enjoyed the march

The crowd was the biggest I have ever seen and there is no doubt that the public are getting right behind the Anzac Day Parade

This was taken half way down to the Shrine where the crowd normally thins a bit, but not this time.

Tom's third march, the first he was carried half the way (3 years old), last year he copped a ride in a Ferret for half or the march, and this year did the full march, not bad for 5 years of age.

ANZAC DAY CANBERRA

Rusty Dyson just sent me these pics of the Canberra Anzac day that he and Cass attended.

They were hosted by Bruce Cameron M.C. and had a great time

There are no need for captions

 

Rusty Dyson and David Mercer

 

Rusty's daughter Lana, also sent me some pics of the dawn service at Bomana P.N.G