These photos were passed on to me by Bob (Emu) Dowie
Unfortunately there were only a couple of comments, but anyway they still are great old photos
3 CAV Kangaroo Two - Shoalwater Bay
Leopard ARV unloading
Parking the ARV
Two Leopard ARV's
Bridge Layer - Doing its thing
Trying it out
She looks ok
Leopard Gun Tank
Another Leopard Gun Tank
They can really move
Finished for the day
Audience at the Paratas Cup
Un-tarping a very clean Centurion
Tug a war
Tug a war 2
Tug a war 3
To the winner - the spoils - The Paratas Cup
Centurions Lined up
Line up - Paratas Cup
Past the Saluting Base
I first saw Baby Doll standing beside a building near the Tank Hangers in 1955. She was a sorry site minus her turret and gun. I was told that she had been at Emu Plains for the Atomic test and had been parked very close to the Atomic bomb that was let off. The story said she had been left running with all radio's on, and they were upset when they went back and saw the motor was not running. But she had only run out of fuel and so was refuelled and driven from the site. More to the story is that I was later told that the decontamination consisted of washing her down with a fire hose. I do not know how true that was but I for one never sat on her and ate my lunch but many others did! The L.A.D. used her for a time as a tow tank and at a later date a turret was fitted and she was back in use.
The story below was written in the 1970's by Ron Saw a newspaper journalist
Army steels itself as Baby Doll sails home
hung lewdly over the side of the ship and I stood looking up at her with warm,
happy admiration. As long as I’d known her she had most of the qualities of a
been obstinate, tawdry, expensive and dangerous. Many men had known her and many
had found her beautiful. I, as a voyeur, had seen her lose her virtue. I, as a
lover, had seen her regain it. Now, yesterday, she was up to her old whorish
Baby Doll is a
Centurion Tank. I first saw her years ago, when for reasons which to this day
remain inscrutable, the Army decided to prove that the Centurion was not only
big and dangerous, but mobile: that she could get herself around in the event of
a running war.
the saddled up Baby Doll and
moved her from Puckapunyal to Singleton; and while I don’t say Hannibal had it
easier getting his elephants over the Alps, I’m certain he didn’t have it
smashed just about everything she touched. Her great steel tracks, with 50 odd
tons to press them down, broke up roads and pavements. She depressed so much of
the Hume Highway that for awhile it seemed likely to be more profitable to
forget about repairing it and to simply fill it with water and rename it the
Hume Ship Canal. She frightened the horses, the cattle, the sheep and the hogs.
Fowls fluttered screeching at her advance, farmers threatened her with shotguns
and their wives threw their aprons over their heads and hid in the barns.
my newspaper’s official tank-watcher I dutifully reported every tragic
embarrassment; and at a time when I felt sure that nothing more delicious could
possibly happen, Baby Doll got herself
stuck fast, on Toole’s Bridge, an overgrown culvert five miles from Gundagai.
I wrote about that was not, I suppose, great journalism, but it was to the
point: “Baby Doll, the army’s
wayward tank, suffered a fate worse than death on Toole’s Bridge, five miles
from Gundagai at 3.10 p.m. yesterday.”
after that I left her. My editor told me to stay with Baby Doll – but he could not see the faces of her crew changing
from pink to choleric crimson; he couldn’t hear the grinding of their teeth.
left her and forgot about her till March 1968, when I came out of an operation
in the Long Hai Hills of Vietnam, asked for and was given a bed and a disk of
coffee at a fire - support base, and saw the tanks. They had not been there
long, but they had done splendidly.
where everything and just about everyone was being smashed and trampled anyway,
it didn’t matter how much damage they did to the fool roads and bridges. The
country at that time of the year was flat and dry and the tanks were mobile.
Later when the rains came, they would take to the high ground designed to drain
into the paddies, and keep moving.
just now they were giving Artillery support to the Diggers who were slogging up
the side of Hill 323 (drearily named so because it was 323 meters high) and
there incredibly was Baby Doll. A
company from 3RAR, under Major Ian Hands, of Brisbane, had come in from the sea,
killed a few VC, then gone on to take the hill. As they struggled up the ragged,
jagged, rocky slopes, Baby Doll had
covered them, her long, nosy 20 - pounder laying 30 meters ahead of them,
brassing up anything in their path. It was a marvelously accurate weapon,
capable of putting a shell into a four – foot – square target at a range of
the tankers put it “Any closer and its like shooting fish in a barrel. That 20
– pounder can literally knock a man off a log.” At one stage of the assault
on Hill 323 Baby Doll’s commander, a
Corporal Phillip Reeves, of Toowoomba,
saw movement in a cave mouth above the Diggers. At his order Baby
Doll pointed her long snout and gave a bellowing sneeze and the shell went
straight into the cave mouth. There was no more movement. Baby
Doll and the rest of her girlfriends had what one might calla distinguished
tour of Vietnam. How many North Vietnamese and VC they killed doesn’t really
matter. Now, as then, it seems more decent to report that they gave protection
to the Infantry; and the Infantry loved them.
Friday they came home; on the Japanese freighter Harima Maru – How one wished that jolly old Jap – fancier Sir
William Yeo had been there to see it – and yesterday the Army got around to
unloading Baby Doll. Well the Army
I went down to Balmain to welcome her, to hand her ashore. I looked up and down the line of already – unloaded tanks, sitting on flatcars, waiting to be rolled south (they’re going to an ordnance depot at Bandiana, 180 miles North of Melbourne). I couldn’t see Baby Doll. And then they told me she was still in the hold. “She won’t start.” They said. “We need to start her up to move her a bit so we can get the hoisting cables on to her. But she won’t start, the bitch. We will have to get jump leads to her.” And they did. And I am able to report that Baby Doll, the Army’s wayward tank, was jumped in the hold of the freighter Harima Mari at Balmain at 4.15 p.m. yesterday. I’ll swear she wriggled her behind and winked at me as they lowered her back onto Australian soil.
The above story gives the impression that when the Cents went from Puckapunyal to Singleton that they drove up the Hume Highway. In fact in my day and I believe with a few exceptions they never were allowed onto our road system.
In fact they left Puckapunyal by Low Loader Tank Transporters from 186 Transport Platoon. They did have to be unloaded and driven under bridges and in some tight situations and then reloaded on the other side. The Crews had long insulated poles to keep the high voltage cables up out of the way. The trip took 32 days (You could now do it by car in 1 day) and they stayed off the Hume when ever possible, using the Olympic Way (around thru Wagga) and the Bells Line of Road from Lithgow and then Putty Rd. It was a very long, hard, exhausting trip.
Drivers were "Pokey" Coughlin in 169041 "Baby Doll" and
Trevor Neilson dove the Bridge Layer, with Bob Snape in the back up Landrover.
"Baby Doll" was a sister tank of "Bewitched" "Bothered" and "Bewildered."
"Bewildered" is now a Gate Guard at Puckapunyal, having just been repainted
Baby Doll was later refitted for Vietnam where she served with distinction
She is now at the 1st Armoured Regiment at Robertson Barracks Darwin.
Pokey Coughlin drove her again at the 1st Armoured Regiment 50th Birthday celebrations at Darwin
I do believe that she is no longer maintained as a runner, which is a great pity.
Today my daughter gave me a German Tank Badge, it has a small Maltese Cross on the turret of the tank
Can anyone id it for me, I believe its Second World War Hat or Beret badge