It had only been thirty minutes since the alarm had been given, and third Troop were just waiting on one of the married guys to turn up. The tanks had been pulled out of the hangars, a full Sqn communications check had been carried out, and they were ready to roll. Twenty minutes later the whole Sqn was complete and the Sqn Leader gave the order for them to move to the front gate, and wait the arrival of the RMP and GCP. The engines roared in a belch of smoke, and as one they lumbered forward. On arrival at the gates the RMP were already waiting and had stopped the traffic. The Troops headed out one at a time towards their pre designated positions around Spandau and Ruhleben. It only took Richard’s vehicle fifteen minutes to reach the bridge, which was their fighting position for the initial deployment. As the three tanks from third Troop took up their defensive locations, they were joined by a platoon of infantry from the Royal Irish Rangers. Some of them had anti-tank weapons and were there to protect the armour from any close attack. The temperature was dropping rapidly, and Albert asked ‘H’ to put the Boling Vessel (BV) on for a brew. This of course had already been done prior to them leaving and he had begun to pour out the brews. As Albert and H sat with their heads out of their respective hatches they peered down at the infantry in their dug in positions. They looked up longingly and somewhat enviously at the tank crews. It was a well-known fact that all infantry assumed that tanks had fitted heaters. This was could not be further from the truth, as the inside was like a fridge as it consisted mostly just of pure metal. The only luxury they had was the BV which was a life saver, and every good loader would have it on permanently. Feeling a little sorry for the infantry Albert asked if they would like a brew. This was gratefully accepted and H busied himself filling up the BV once more.
In twenty minutes the BV had boiled again and H had already collected the mugs from the four infantry guys dug in at the side of the bridge. He returned to the tank, and added the tea bags or coffee and sugar to the mugs. With Sols help he dished out the brews which were taken with thanks. It caused one of the infantires who spoke with a broad Belfast accent, to point at the armoured search light on the left hand side of the turret.
‘What’s inside there?’ he asked inquisitively.
Thinking for a moment before answering, H smirked to himself. ‘That’s where we keep our spare crewman’ he replied with a completely straight face. This caused looks of incredulity from the four young infantry soldiers.
‘Feck that, I couldn’t handle that I get claustrophobic’ he quipped
Shaking his head and laughing H returned to the tank, and took great delight in telling the crew. For the next five minutes they could not do anything for laughing. However the mirth was cut short, as the order came over the air for them to move to another grid. On investigation, Albert saw that it was in the heart of the Grunewald, which was a large wooded area. Making sure everything was stowed, the Troop vacated their positions, waving goodbye to their gullible close protection as they did so. They moved a Troop at a time, along a route that had been given in the movement order. On entering the Grunewald they immediately cut any headlights, only leaving their convoy light at the rear, for the tank behind to follow. They were about two kilometres into the wood, when they were met by the SSM. Albert jumped down from the turret and had a quick conversation with him. Once he was happy, he nodded his head and indicated to Sol that he should follow him. Guiding him forward on foot, and using a single torch, he reversed the tank into its position. As soon as it had stopped the gun kit was turned off by Richard, and Sol cut the GUE and main engine. Like a well-oiled machine, the crew jumped out and began its hide drills in silence, and in thirty minutes, tracks had been obliterated and cam nets were up. Sentries had been posted and a radio watch set up. It took only forty five minutes for the whole Sqn to arrive complete their hide drills, and have camouflage nets up. The wood was silent, except for the odd hoot of a nearby owl. Then suddenly in the distance the sound of more armoured vehicles. The noise was accompanied by numerous headlights, snaking their way in the Squadrons direction. The Sqn Leader informed them that they were to have a Company of American Infantry, which would be providing their close support. The on looking British Troops could not believe the total disregard to tactics, in the use of lights at night. They may have moved into their location unobserved, however this was all for nothing, as the position was now lit up as though it was daylight. This was just a taster of things to come, as the Americans were to show how vastly different the Allied forces were.