12 RSME REME Workshop
Neil McNulty sent me this - does it ring any bells with you?
I was posted to the REME Wksp in Chatternden as a Fitter RE fullscrew in Nov 89. I was employed as the C vehicle inspector for the school so basically it was my job to PRE all the plant and its ancillaries in Chatternden and beyond sometimes.
All the plant was programmed in for its annual inspection well in advance and I would have to inspect on average 3 pieces of plant a day. This involved following a set inspection format and then writing up the report and entering the inspection into the docs.
The full screws who ran each section on the field i.e. wheels, tracks excavators etc. would bring the kit over then wait for me to pass it as serviceable or not. A fail was frowned upon by their bosses so I was every planties mate from the field lol
As I said earlier I wasn't just inspecting plant in Chatternden, I also did 33 EOD Regiments C Vehicles as well and on a few occasions I went to the local RE TA centres in the Medway area to do their kit (101 EOD TA) and once to the HAC in south London to do their kit.
I worked from a Portacabin inside the inspection bay where a REME Staffy would PRE the B Vehicles in the area. I sat next to a civvie who's job it was to in and out inspect all the C vehicles that came into the Wksp for 2nd line repair. He taught me a great deal and was a good friend at the time as we used to play golf together, sometimes before work.
There were only about 6 RE's in the orbat of the Wksp as I remember the senior rank being a Ftr RE Sgt who ran the FRT by the main gate to wainscot camp but more of that later. Then there was me and the rest were sappers who worked in the FRT. The only military actually working in the workshops itself was the ASM. The HQ element of the unit consisted of a REME OC and AQMS and the rest of the REME soldiers were employed in the LAD up in Chatternden barracks at the top of the hill. They looked after the B vehicles for 12 RSME. 24 Fd Sqn, 17 Tpt Sqn and 33 EOD, so they were very busy, as was the FRT in Wainscott.
After 2 years I was asked to go on a special project which involved travelling around the world. The Army had decided that the world wide fleet of Medium Wheeled Tractors needed to conform to the latest legislation which meant they needed to have safe load Indicators fitted. This was to warn the operator by means of a audible and visual alarm in the cab if he was carrying to much weight in the bucket/forks.
I was asked if I would go as the Fitter in a team of 2 and it was my job to fit the sender unit into the hydraulic system. A REME Tech would fir the electrical side of the system into the cab. Another team of 2 was chosen from the REME and they travelled to Honk Kong. NI and Canada and my team went to FI, Cyprus and Belize.
As with all things military we weren't expected at most locations when we arrived especially in Belize. The roulement sqn was 9 Para and the QM wanted to put us up in with Sp Tp in Airport Camp. Luckily the boffins in Land had said that if we arrived anywhere and there was no accommodation available they would pay for a hotel. So I wasn't too happy with being billeted with 9 Sqn so I asked the QM to give us a non availability chit and we would stay in a hotel in Belize City. Luckily I had served with him a couple of times before and he said OK. So off me and the REME chap went and booked into the Belize Biltmore hotel down town. A Land rover came and picked us up each morning and dropped us off each night. We were only there for a week but it was an experience. We only had 1 tractor to do there as well as the other one was away up country and could not be got too in the short time we were there. The one funny thing that happened there was that the other guys got stuck in the void between the engine cowling and radiator when he was fitting some of his electrical stuff out of sight. He was wedged in upside down and hefty 9 Sqn bloke from Sp Tp couldn't pull him out so he had to be cut out with a gas axe, Scary at the time actually because of his position in the void (foetal) he was struggling to breathe which made him panic even more and I thought he was going to be really quite badly hurt. Anyway we got him out eventually and we had a slap up meal that night to celebrate his release.
I had a good time in Cyprus as we were put up with 62 Sqn and I knew a couple of the blokes there. we did 1 machine down in Dekhelia and 1 up on Troodos which was covered in about 6 feet of snow. But had a good social whilst in Cyprus. The FI was OK but it was still the FI so nothing special.
After I came back from that jolly I was cross posted into the FRT and was asked to start an FRT up with Sp Tp of 24 in Lodge Hill Camp. they had a couple of Muirhills up there and a REME LCpl who had experience of working on 432's and CVRT's was sent up there as well to look after their A Vehicles. This again was a good time as I made some great mates within 24 and when they deployed onto Ex Waterleap 91 to Nova Scotia I fought tooth and nail to go with them as part of their FRT support. Luckily they let me go and another great experience was had. when I first got there I was with a REME craftsman working with the local Canadian fitters in their small workshop. We were supposed to be looking after 24 but they had nothing going wrong so we were getting our hands dirty working on the local Canadian mil vehicles. After about a month one of the planties was sent home so Sp Tp were an operator down so they asked me to operate the roller as I had a roller license (part of the A1 fitter course). This was great for me as it got me outside in the good weather and as the roller is used last on any excavations it was my good operating that made the jobs look good when they were finished lol.
The social side to that tour was outstanding and I can't say anymore than that!!
When I came back from that tour they had closed the FRT at Lodge Hill so it was back down to the FRT at Wainscott. Our job there was to carry out first line repairs to all the plant at the school so it was a very busy job and we gained massive experience on working on the Corps current plant equipment.