All Tanked Up . . . Extra . . .

Tank (2K)

Stories & information which arrived too late
to be included in the published book

Beer down the wellMystery solvedMea CulpaFooling the GermansWhitey the dog

1. Extract from the personal history of R D (Bob) Grant — Fort Garry Horse Apr/42

At the beginning of Apr /42 we moved about ten miles East to Headley Down, a beautiful English country town, and occupied several magnificent Surrey homes and we started to live a much better life. [Actually a village rather than a town, and we're in Hampshire not Surrey, Bob; but we'll accept the 'beautiful! — JOS]
Equipment continued to arrive and we could do some much more meaningful exercises, although we were still a long way from being battle equipped or trained. There were in the area some very good areas for running around in tanks, but no firing ranges.
In a light vein, we would keep our beer supply cool at the bottom of the well in our yard. [This was at Long Cross Farm — JOS]. The beer was put in a pail and lowered about thirty feet into very cold water. Unfortunately, one day the pail tipped over and we lost two dozen very scarce and very precious bottles.
A scheme was devised where I was to be lowered into the well to retrieve the treasure. Sadly, when I was half way down, the wire broke and I landed in the cold water which was about five feet deep, and it was absolutely pitch dark. Other than being surprised, I was unhurt.
My fellow conspirators were quite concerned about my well-being (no pun intended). A quick search failed to turn up a ladder long enough or any other suitable piece of equipment that could be used to extricate me from my predicament.
One would have thought that a first class Canadian Regiment would provide the necessary tools to solve the problem, but my friends devised the bright idea to call in the local branch of the Home Guard, who rescued me in no time; cold, wet, without the beer, but otherwise unharmed.

What really hurt was that the South Alberta Regt., which included an old school chum of mine, replaced us in the lines a short time later, and they recovered the beer.

Bob Grant – 26th April 1994

Readers who have ever watched the British TV comedy series Dad's Army may be amused to know that I have written this story up as a local variation, and it has been performed in Headley Village Hall a couple of times by the village's amateur dramatic society — JOS

2. A mystery solved (I think)

On pages 3 & 4 of 'All Tanked Up', I say —
The Calgarys arrived with old 'Waltzing Matilda' tanks, but these were soon replaced by new Churchills.
Jim Clark remembers watching them water-proofing the Churchills on Openfields – "putting black bituminous stuff, round the doors on the side", and Arthur Dean, whose sister married Jim Hanczin of the Calgarys, recalls: "we used to go up to Rogers Field, by the Holly Bush, and see them putting waterproofing all round the turrets – they put thick tape over the joints and anything that opened or moved – then they got the exhausts right up in the air, so they could go through the water."
"We knew something was on", Jim Clark said – and suddenly they all left and never came back.
He links this in his mind with the raid on Dieppe, in which the Calgary Regiment was involved, but regimental records show that the Calgarys left Headley in December 1941 to take up a role guarding the South Coast of England, eight months before the Dieppe operation occurred.

The mystery appears to have been solved by Steve Dyson who, in his book Tank Twins tells us that the 107 Regt (King's Own) R.A.C. was stationed with Churchill tanks in Headley from early April 1944 until they left for Normandy on 23rd June.

He describes how:— Once established in our billets [in Headley], we soon got down to the urgent preparation of waterproofing the tanks.
We found it was rather an intricate and technical job, requiring a lot of painstaking work. It was one that no-one would dare dodge, as there was too much at stake. Each crew was responsible for the work to their own tank.
There was the inevitable, sometimes heated, discussions on the right way to do things after reading the instructions that were issued with the kit, but in the end all things were solved amicably and satisfactorily for the tanks to operate in water to a depth of 5ft.
Extension ducts had to be fitted to the air inlet vents on either side of the hull, and long extension pipes to the exhaust system. Rivets and bolts cleaned and painted with waterproof paint. Inspection covers and, in fact, all areas where water could penetrate, were sealed with a rubber compound.
Balloon fabric was glued around the ring of the turret, the gun mountings, and driverís visor, under which ran a continuous length of cordex which, when detonated from a switch in the driverís compartment, exploded and blew it all off so that the tank could immediately go into action if necessary.

It would appear to have been the Churchills of this British regiment which Jim Clark and others saw being waterproofed in Headley, not those of the Calgary regiment after all.
[And Jim now agrees that this may well be so — JOS]

3. Mea Maxima Culpa

On page 19 of 'All Tanked Up', I had Tom Grisdale remembering—
"all these tents that had been washed down off the common flopping about in the road."

It should, of course, have read: "all those tench . . ." !!!

A fishy business indeed. My apologies to Tom.

4. Fooling the Germans

The Calgary Tanks on Headley Downs

The 14th Canadian Armoured Regiment (Calgary tanks) was training on Headley Down near Grayshott, England in October 1941. One Saturday afternoon when 'F' Troop 'C' Squadron was on duty, we received a visit from some HQ Brass, two British Officers and a BBC film crew. They wanted a Tank and crew for some action shots. Our Troop Officer was away so Cpl Herb Travis was ordered to mount a crew and prepare to take a tank onto the training area. The catch came when German uniforms were produced and the crew was told to put them on. Cpl Travis refused and was put on orders. They turned to another NCO who complied.

The crew were told to take the tank out onto the training area and drive it over a prepared course which would end when they were enveloped in smoke bombs and thunder flashes. They were to evacuate the tank and emerge from the smoke with their hands above their heads. This done the visitors left and the tank crew returned to base.

On Monday morning, Cpl Travis was taken before the CO and was demoted to Tpr for refusing to carry out an order. A couple of nights later we were at a theatre in Haslemere watching the usual Pathé News when our 'C' Squadron crew were shown emerging from the smoke on Headley Down with their hands up over the caption "British 8th Army destroys Panzer in North Africa."

When Troop Officer Lt. Bryce Douglas returned to camp and discovered that one of his Cpls had been stripped he was incensed. He asked Travis why he had refused the order. Travis explained that his father had been killed by the Germans in World War One and there was no way that he would put a German uniform on. Douglas agreed and Travis had his stripes back..

5. The Story of a Dog

Although the story of Whitey, the canine mascot of the Fort Garry Horse Regiment, is told in part in the book, this article from The Rally, dated 1 May 1944, tells us more:—

We buried Whitey to-day. He was laid away with full military honours. His friends, the men of the Fort Garry Horse, were in attendance. Whitey is gone, but not forgotten.

Many citizens of Winnipeg will remember when, at the start of this war, the Fort Garry Horse Regiment was mobilized and barracked in an old departmental store, the Robinson building, in the heart of the city. They will remember seeing the brand new soldiers in their brand new uniforms out on route marches. And they will remember seeing a little collie pup, the smartest soldier on parade, herding along his recruits with all the zeal of a sergeant-major. That was Whitey.
It was on the first route march, after the Garrys mobilized, that Whitey joined up. The route march took the boys through the west end of the city. Tied to the verandah of one of the houses that they passed was a three weeks old pup, who strained, and tugged on his leash, until, at last it gave ,way. Whitey joined his first parade and marched back to barracks.

That night the owner called for Whitey, and took him home. The next day, however, another route march took the boys past Whitey's place of captivity. Again Whitey broke loose, and ran away to join the Army. Again his owner called for him, and took him home. Time after time this happened. Whitey escaped his bonds to march with the soldiers, and was recovered by his owner. Finally Whitey's master decided that he might as well give in. He presented Whitey to his new friends. Thus Whitey joined the Fort Garry, and was duly attested as the regimental mascot.

From the first Whitey was a soldier, before each parade he romped around, making friends with everyone; but when parade was called he became as still as a statue, and as quiet as a mouse. All through inspections he stood rigidly at four-footed attention. On the first command to move off, Whitey was off like an arrow, up to the front to lead the way. In all his 4½ years of soldiering, Whitey never missed a parade. He was the pride of the regiment.
So exemplary was Whitey's soldierly conduct that it was decided to give him a regimental number, and pay. This was done. He became H-26000½, Trooper Whitey, and drew pay of 35 cents per day. This money was used to buy canine delicacies. He was a well fed dog.

When the regiment was moved from Winnipeg to Shilo, Whitey went with them. From Shilo, Whitey and his boys moved to Ontario, to take up guard duties at an internment camp. There Whitey took it as a personal responsibility to ensure that no prisoners escaped. He was always the acme of vigilance. Nothing escaped his watchful eye.

While the regiment was on guard at the internment camp the order came through that a party of German prisoners was to be picked up in Quebec. Only the most efficient guardsmen were chosen for this task. Whitey led the expedition.
After their tour of duty at the internment camp, the Garrys moved to Camp Borden, where they spent over a year. From there they moved to Debert. Whitey was with them all this time.

From Debert the regiment set sail for overseas duties. So clever a mascot was Whitey that, so far as is known, he was, the only dog to have entered England, for many a year, without undergoing six months quarantine.

Since November, 1941, Whitey has been in England. In many different parts of England, wherever the regiment has been stationed, Whitey has become known. So famous has he become that all visitors to the Garrys, be they brigadiers, generals, or what have you, among their first questions, invariably asked "Where's Whitey?"
He was always the perfect mascot. He showed no preferences. Every Garry was his friend. Whitey accepted no new-comer to the fold until he had proven himself a "right guy". Toward civilians his attitude was one of strict indifference, so long as they stayed away from camp. He would brook no visits from members of other units. They must not tread the sacred precincts of the Garry lines. He was always there, ready for anything that came his way. He was strictly a Garry dog.
Whitey was well looked after. Wherever he went, the boys ensured that he had veterinary care. He was kept clean. His teeth got regular attention. His coat was thinned and his claws clipped periodically.

On Tuesday, March 28th, 1944, Whitey was killed. No one is to blame. He had lain down in front of a parked vehicle. The driver, not knowing he was there, started up. Whitey was just a moment late in getting clear.

Whitey is dead. One of the oldest members of the Fort Garrys has gone to the Great Beyond. The entire regiment grieves his passing. Gone is a pal. Gone is a gallant dog. Whitey has departed.

A very special resting place has been selected for Whitey. A monument has been erected on this site, which will be of historic interest in future years. The exact location of Whitey's grave cannot be made known until "après la guerre." Reason-security.

[Now it can be told — 'Whitey' was buried with proper military ceremony at a spot code-named 'Shangri-La' near Fawley — JOS]


For completeness, we show here what is said about 'Whitey' in All Tanked Up:—

Villagers such as Katie Warner have fond memories of the Garrys mascot, 'Whitey' the Collie dog: "He used to lead the regiment to church. They'd bring him in, and he would lie down in the aisle right by the front pew, and would stay there the whole time. If you couldn't see him you wouldn't know he was there - and when the service was over he would get up and lead them out again."

'Whitey' had been smuggled into England in a box under anaesthetic, and was a great favourite with troops and villagers alike. Rod Waples, secretary of the Fort Garry Horse Association, says: "'Whitey' was a Fort Garry Horse member - his Regimental No. was H-26000½ - and he came to us one cold night in the winter of 1939. He appeared on the doorstep, was invited in to warm up, and stayed."

John Whitton remembers: "Whitey lived with 'B' Squadron, and at morning parade time, when the Sgt. Major would shout his orders to "fall in", Whitey would literally herd the men into their various troop formations, all the while barking and rounding up the slow movers. He knew to be quiet when the Sgt. Major was about to give forth with subsequent 'orders', but would then give more barking, just to punctuate the occasion." E C Brumwell, also of 'B' Squadron, recalls: "He would attach himself to a Trooper as his master for a couple of weeks, then move on to another troop."

All Tanked Up . . . by John Owen Smith
Large-format pages – 98pp, photos, maps, information – ISBN 978-1-873855-54-6

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