Stars of Sandstone - Military Vehicles
Early in the planning of Stars of Sandstone, it was decided to showcase the Military Vehicles in the Sandstone Heritage Trust, and I was asked to assist to make this happen. I have a keen interest in Military Vehicles and History, having spent a year in the South African Armoured Corps (1SSB) during National Service, followed by 3½ years in the British Parachute Regiment, including some training in the USA with their 11th Group, Special Forces (Airborne).
It took months of planning. We did research on most of the 34 vehicles in the Collection, using several books in my own library as well as the internet. From this information, Fact Sheets were produced and laminated for attaching to each of the vehicles. Contact was made with various guests expressing interest in driving certain of these vehicles, checking their credentials and military backgrounds. It was interesting, for instance, writing to someone who had been at an obscure camp in the bush of the Caprivi Strip a few months after we built it, comparing notes and commenting on my photographs! We were worried about 'chancers' who might harm
I decided it would be best to 'look the part', dusting off some old uniforms and losing a few kilogrammes to be able to fit in them again after 43 years! Finding khaki overalls similar to those which we wore back then was a problem, leading to some partly successful attempts at dyeing white ones. I searched all my old photos for a clue as to how the overalls were marked and on which top pocket, with 1SSB / SDB, without success. In the end I took a chance and had a rubber stamp made!
To make an improvement on previous events, each Military Vehicle now has been bought its own battery/ies, and they have been duly marked. At the beginning of the event, it was an enormous help having Jan and Francois Fouché commissioning each vehicle; there's no substitute for the person who restored them in the beginning. They know all the good and bad points of each one! Not long after they'd left, a strong team from the Armour Museum at School of Armour in Tempe, under command of LtCol Raymond Hohls, arrived and sorted out most of the remaining problems.
The arrival of the General Officer Commanding, South African Armour Formation, Genl Chris Gildenhuys was for me the highlight of the event, and his taking the Salute on the Friday put a seal on the special arrangement the Sandstone Heritage Trust has with the Armour Museum! It was a pity we couldn't stay on Sunday to watch the Sherman walk through the building!
Pit stop, Beaufort West at 2.15am
Dawn at 7am, near Gariep Dam
Checking ropes outside Bethulie
‘Smiffield’ Police Station
Arrival at Sandstone. Did Oliver pedal all the way, or did he have his engine running?
Cold Armour, Eland 90 and 60
Suddenly, snow on the Malutis
Super-Hostess Lyndie Mole receiving the Flame of Armour badge from LtCol Raymond
Hohls of School of Armour while SgtMaj Sig. Marais of the Armour Museum looks on
Freestate Mielies Express power-pack
After-dinner fireside chat
GOC SA Armour Formation, Genl Chris Gildenhuys and Cpl Andy Selfe,
1SSB in 44-year-old uniform
International Firepower; French, US and Russian!
WO2 Willem Wilke setting the handbrake on the Eland 60
(he got a cramp in this position!)
Fikile’s presentation! Laundry bag, all washed and ironed in a few hours!
Drying soya-beans (from the top)
(and from the side)
Eenie meenie miney mo
Awaiting restoration; M20 Diamond T ballast tractor, to go with the Rogers
And another, a Bulperd mine-protected recovery vehicle
Buffel, Blesbok and Casspir
Don’t try falling off the bonnet of this monster Oshkosh, it isn’t fun!
Batting on a sticky wicket
No contest! Tiananmen Square, all over again?
Old Broom Sweeps Cleaner!
Master pudding-maker, Len Huxham
New-boy; SAMIL 100 Gun-Tractor
Another new-boy, Ratel
…. and another, Eland 60. Hat trick!
The green Lawley looks black in the early morning!
Standing guard over the level-crossing in the Eland 60
Frost on the lawn
Packing to go! :(
Star of the Show, NG4