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HEY SAID THAT TANKS COULDN’T COPE WITH T JUNGLE FIGHTING, BUT THE BRITISH WERE TRYING TO DO JUST THAT AS THEY BEGAN WRESTING BACK BURMA FROM THE JAPANESE IN 1944.

I HAD JUST GOT MY HEAD ROUND BEING A FOOT SOLDIER, AND THEN IT ALL CHANGED. IT’S NOT BEEN A GREAT START EITHER.

STORY MAC MACDONALD ART MORAHIN SECOND-LIEUTENANT PETER WRIGHT, AN INFANTRY OFFICER UNTIL HIS ENTIRE UNIT HAD BEEN TRANSFERRED TO THE ROYAL ARMOURED CORPS TO TRAIN AS TANK CREWS, WAS FINDING HIS NEW ROLE AND THE THOUGHT OF ACTION A LOT TO COPE WITH.

COVER JANEK MATYSIAK


4 THEIR SQUADRON OF AMERICAN-BUILT STUART LIGHT TANKS HAD BEEN MOVING FORWARD ON SCAMMEL TANK TRANSPORTERS UNTIL THE ONE PETER WAS ABOARD HAD DEVELOPED ENGINE TROUBLE. BY THE TIME IT HAD BEEN FIXED, IT WAS DARK AND THE CREW AND PETER’S MEN HAD BEDDED DOWN FOR THE NIGHT.

TAKING FIRST SENTRY GO SUITS ME. I COULD NEVER HAVE SLEPT ANYWAY...THIS IS ALL SO DIFFERENT FROM WHAT I IMAGINED.

A TRAINEE SOLICITOR BEFORE THE WAR, HE HAD NEVER SEEN HIMSELF AS A SOLDIER BUT HE HAD WILLINGLY ENLISTED TO DO HIS BIT. THEN AS WELL AS THE NOISES HE WAS BECOMING USED TO IN THE JUNGLE NIGHT, HE THOUGHT HE HEARD THE RING OF METAL ON METAL. HELLO, WHO GOES THERE? SHOW YOURSELF!


5 THE MEN OF AN ENEMY PATROL ROVING BEHIND THE ALLIED LINES HAD NO IDEA WHAT THE BRITISH OFFICER HAD SAID, BUT THEY WERE ABOUT TO CHARGE ANYWAY. PETER HAD NO MEMORY OF OPENING FIRE BUT HE DID. KILL THE WHITE EYES… AIEE!

GOOD GRIEF, WE’RE UNDER ATTACK!

THE TANK GUNS COULD NOT BE BROUGHT TO BEAR IN THIS INSTANCE AND THE THREEMAN CREW PILED OUT TO HELP THEIR OFFICER WITH THEIR WEAPONS DRAWN.

BREATHE EASY AND SHOOT STRAIGHT, THAT’S THE DRILL!


6 CORPORAL BRIAN LESTER, THE GUNNER, THE MOST EXPERIENCED OF THEM ALL AND A MEMBER OF THE ROYAL ARMOURED CORPS FROM THE START, HAD SHOUTED THE ADVICE. NOT AS EASY AT IT SOUNDS, THOUGH, IS IT?

IT IS IF YOU JUST DO IT!

ONE OF THE TRANSPORTER CREW DIDN’T LIVE LONG ENOUGH TO HEED BRIAN’S WORDS.

AAGH!

THEY’VE GOT ONE OF US!


7 DESPERATION OVERCAME NERVES AND THE TRAPPED MEN RALLIED. THE ENEMY SUFFERED ANOTHER CASUALTY BUT SWEPT ON FANATICALLY. ONWARD FOR THE EMPEROR!

HOW MANY OF THEM ARE THERE?

A BULLET JUST MISSED THE YOUNG OFFICER THEN.

SOME OF THE ATTACKERS GOT NO FURTHER AS A BURST OF HOT LEAD BLASTED THEM.

AAAIIE!

URGH!

THEY’RE GETTING CLOSER...


8 A PATROL OF TOUGH GURKHA SOLDIERS FROM THE HIGH HILLS OF NEPAL, LED BY LIEUTENANT VICTOR FLECK THEIR EQUALLY HARDENED BRITISH OFFICER, CAME FROM THE SHADOWS WITH DEADLY MENACE. SEND THESE RUNTS RUNNING, MEN!

AIIEE! AS YOU SAY, SIR ...AYO GURKHALI!

THE TANK LADS HAD SUFFERED NO MORE LOSSES AND PETER KNEW THAT WAS ALL DOWN TO THE NEWCOMERS. VICTOR JUST GRINNED AT THE THANKS HE GOT. IF YOU HADN’T TURNED UP, WE WERE...

...GOING TO SEND THESE ANNOYING ORIENTALS PACKING. YOU WERE PUTTING UP QUITE A DEFENCE THERE.


9 THE “VETERAN” BRIAN AGREED WITH THE GURKHA OFFICER’S WORDS WHICH HAD BEEN MEANT AS AN ATTEMPT TO BOOST THE NEWCOMERS’ MORALE. YOU COULD SEE THEY WERE READY TO BREAK ANY MINUTE SOON.

I’M NOT SO SURE...

NEVER MIND ALL THAT, YOU NEED TO RE-ORGANISE BEFORE ANY MORE OF THE ENEMY APPEAR.

IT WAS DAWN BEFORE THE DEAD BRITISH SOLDIER HAD BEEN BURIED AND THE SURVIVING TRANSPORTER CREW MEMBER GOT THE SCAMMEL AND ITS LOAD ON THE ROAD. PETER WAVED AS VICTOR AND HIS GURKHAS RESUMED THEIR SEEMINGLY TIRELESS MARCHING.

WE ALL HAVE A LOT TO LEARN OUT HERE FROM THE LIKES OF VICTOR AND HIS MEN. I JUST HOPE WE CAN COPE.


10

FOR PETER, STILL JUST BEGINNING TO GET TO GRIPS WITH BEING A TANK COMMANDER, IT WAS A SHARP LEARNING CURVE. BRIAN HAD SEEN HIS ACTION IN NORTH AFRICA IN VICKERS VALENTINE TANKS. HE WAS ALWAYS READY TO OFFER WORDS OF EXPERIENCE, WHETHER THEY WERE WANTED OR NOT. PRIVATE STEVE QUEEN, DRIVER, BARELY SPOKE BUT HE WAS A NATURAL AT THE CONTROLS, DESPITE HIS ONLY OTHER EXPERIENCE HAVING BEEN HANDLING A COUNCIL ROAD ROLLER BACK IN ENGLAND. CO-DRIVER, PRIVATE LEN ABBOTT, WAS AMAZED AT ALL HE SAW. BROUGHT UP ON A SHEEP FARM HIGH IN THE YORKSHIRE DALES, HE WAS USED TO BRACING, COLD WINDS AND NOT TROPICAL JUNGLE CONDITIONS.



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