Eric now works on a mining rig in China and so there is some times a wait until he is home for information, but he passed on these photo's.
This is an excellent shot of Puckapunyal range in winter-Mud everywhere
I will explain some things here as not everyone reading will be aware of wording used by drivers and crew
"ANGELS GEAR" This occurred when a driver missed a gear change and was then stuck in neutral or 'Angels'. With the old crash gearbox, if you missed a change when going uphill or down hill, you mostly never got a second chance as the tank would gather speed quite quickly and the gearbox speed would exceed the motor speed making a gear change impossible. A very good driver if he was very quick could increase the engine revs and maybe have a second go, but he had to be bloody quick, mostly it was a ride in "Angles". Of course your brakes at this speed were useless and it was a ride to the bottom and a gradual slow down, (unless something stopped you.)
Another funny one was a "Stall Change". 1st Gear had a gate across the gear lever slot in the box and it was spring loaded. Selecting 1st to move off in very heavy going was no worries but when on the move and you needed to change down to first, it was another matter. To execute a stall change you needed to be going very slow, and on the point of the motor stalling you threw the clutch and using both hands forced the gear leaver into first , pushing the spring loaded gate open and into first gear, then increasing the revs before the motor stalled. There was not much time and everything had to be exact with perfect timing or you did not make it. This resulted in a missed gear or a stalled motor, both a major disaster on a hill, as stated before the centurion brakes were not much help now. As second gear was normally used for starting off there was not a lot of use for first unless in very steep or boggy country, but you had to know how to do one. I remember one day when I blew the left hand magneto and could only use 1st to move off and then second, which quickly lost power, so a stall change to 1st, onto the governors and back to second, where it was all started over again. I drove her for about 4 miles and never missed a stall change to 1st. I would not like to try that today, doubt if I could do one and I have no intention of trying it in someone else's tank!
The next three pictures show the damage done to C/S 22 when it was approaching the range in a live firing run. The crew commander was Lt. Dave Ritchie and Jim Imlach as the driver Eric Ilett was the loader / operator. The gunner is unknown. Jim missed the 2nd to 1st change when ascending a hill and so became involved in a Reverse Angels Drive down the hill backwards. The tank behind them saw the trouble and was able to pull to one side but was still struck a glancing blow, before C/S22 descended to the bottom.
Anyway she sure made some roadwheels B.E.R.
This is a tank crossing on the Puckapunyal Range. If you did not use the tank crossings you usually experienced a very bogged tank, even in the summer! As I know full well!!!!
Puckapunyal in winter was a place that had everything. Wet, cold, windy and either rain, hail or even snow, mixed with a lot of very deep slushy mud everywhere. These conditions were mostly experienced at the same time.
Different days but mostly the same conditions
Yeah it was a bloody cold place
A great place for driving Centurions
Call sign 22 on the Pucka Range 1968
While on the Pucka range in 1968, Call sign 22B was re-fuelling. They had a tarp stretched over the tank with a small section pulled back to allow them to refuel The fuelling was being done from 20 lt jerry cans and using a folding rubber funnel. As it was night there was a kero lamp burning which had been placed in a safe area. Unfortunately there was a leak in the funnel and the petrol ran to the place that Murphy's law said. Right to the lamp, which caused a nice fire and setting fire to the boots of the Trooper doing the re-fulling. He decided to jump off the tank which was in fact not a bad idea. The tarp caught fire as did the Tank. After the tarp burnt out the fire more or less went out.
Damage after the fire
They used a lot of fire extinguishers as can be seen in the bottom right of photo
It made a mess but no real bad damage
Quite a lot of cleaning up
22B after the fire This would be 169109 I imagine
Doug Lean on C/S 22
169074 Call sign 20E
169074 in 2003 When last seen it was being wrecked and had no turret
Another angle of C/S 20E note the free add for Rolls Royce
169074 C/S 20E being used as a mine roller
The rice paddy in Vietnam was a trap.
Caribou at Luscombe airstrip
Closing a fire Support Base
Centurion at Fire Support Base Julia
I think everyone posed for one of these at Kapooka --- This is me 1955
This is Eric Ilett 1968 at Kapooka
Pickup at Baria
Make shift shelter at FSB Julia
Eric's tent -Vietnam
Nui Dhat Nov. 1968
The Puckapunyal sign was hidden under the side plates of a Cent and was found when it arrived in Vietnam. To this day I do not know of anyone who knows the story of who knocked it off.
Nui Dhat 1968
24A early 69 This is 169007 Bob Browning's tank
On an operation outside an unknown village Call Sign 92A Early 1969
Resupply at FSB Julia
Scorpion found in Gun Pit
The shower block at FSB Julia
Inside the living quarters
View through the Balistic sight
Peter Chapman and Bob Splatt Early 1969
Peter Chapman early 1969
Rain in Siagon
It really comes down
Note the water cascading from the verandas
On the way home
Anthony Chaunavel at the site of the reclining Budda
Opening Victorian Parliament 1968
L to R Wayne Stevens (Driver) - Unknown - Bob Walker (Gunner)