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6th Field Regiment, NZA, at Helwan

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The move to Helwan was accomplished without incident. Striking camp at Maadi was very similer to striking camp anywhere else. The day preceding the move all tents wer packed and the various mess buildings in both our own and adjoining areas were utilised as sleeping quarters. An early reveille saw the start of the finishing touches on the packing and then we proceded to systematically load the 33 ASC vehicles provided as transport. That accomplished, we set off in column of route for Helwan. The bitumen road proved vastly different from the sands of the Wadi Digla and a lot of strange muscles started to ache and feet became sore. In spite of the comparative shortness of the march, all hands were very thankful when they arrived at Helwan Camp in the early afternoon.

The advance party had done good work and after everyone had got outside a refreshing mug of tea they started the process of settling in. This was accomplished early and except for a few essential fatigues the main job of work was left over to the follwing day. There followed a period of tidying up, digging in and the usual things necessary in a new camp. The absence of proper gear made things difficult and the whole Regimental area was literally picked, not once but many times in an ever constant effort to make it clean.

Equipment started to trickle through. First 16 MkII light Dragons from the 4th RHA Regt. These had already seen considerable service and even though they had been overhauled at Abbassia the infirmities of old age were ever present until the consequent breakdowns. However, we were very grateful for them and were able to do manoeuvre etc and our own guns no longer remained in the gunpits whilst we deployed on foot.

The next items of interest were the approach of Xmas and news that the Regiment was to shoot. Xmas came first, heralded in by a Regimental Tactical move across the Regimental area at 7.15am in a thick fog picking up rubbish, cigarette butts and straw to the strains of Xmas carols purveyed by the 6 Inf Bde Band from an ASC truck; a unique Xmas morning. However after Church Parade the greatly talked of Xmas Dinner arrived. The messes were decorated with blue and red crepe paper, the tables covered with plain white. Each table had on it 8 quart bottles of Stella Beer©, fruit, nuts and cigarettes. The Troops seated themselves and the Officers and Sergeants queued up at the cookhouse and collected individual plates of food for the Troops. During the dinner the GOC arrived and drank a noggin in each mess and wished the Troops good cheer. It was a very successful function and ended with much cheering and singing.

The intervening period up to New Year was spent largely in preparing for our first practice shoot in Egypt which was due to commence on Dec 30 and to carry on for four days with an ammunition allotment of 300 rounds. New Year's day 1941 was to be occupied by shooting and as a consequence there was no leave New Year's Eve much to the disappointment of all concerned - however the wisdom of the restriction was indicated in the high standard of Drill and accuracy obtained.

Broadly the entire shoot was very successful and the Drill at the guns excellent. The actual shooting was good and in no case did the OP officer fail to achieve his object so far as the limited ammunition would permit. Every series received full criticism on the spot but any errors were largely technical and errors of procedure - the results on the ground were good.

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