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6th Field Regiment, NZA, gets its Guns

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The usual postponement of the Divisional Exercise did not eventuate, but it was replaced by a definite rumour of a move in the near future. Our war equipment was coming to hand all the time and we sent drivers to Alexandria and to Palestine for Ford V8 30cwt trucks. At the same time we collected vehicles and equipment almost daily from Lama, Abbassia and Tel-el-Kibir. The early part of March 1941 was one of feverish authority as our colleagues from England were arriving at Helwan and the units of the First Contingent were starting to move out on the "Bear Exercise". We became the proud possessors of 36 Morris Quads with which to haul our guns when they arrived. By this time we were up to establishment with our MT. Although some of it is somewhat nondescript and is not exactly the correct type, however, the drivers are all very proud of their trucks which have been suitably named after their wives or sweethearts. Then came the first of our guns, not new ones but nevertheless nice weapons, all 25pdr Mk II on Mk1 carriages accompanied by 50 Trailers. Calibration was carried out on the northern slopes of Aber Thrimbruin but the job on all guns was not finished as we were under short notice to move at that time. A regimental concentration was carried out on Sat March 15th, the target area being the 102 feature commonly known to us as the "Dog's Retreat".

Sunday the 16th was the great day we said goodbye to Helwan and we arose bright and early, everyone in high spirits at the thought of a move at last. A regimental parade was held at 0830 hrs and a short church service by the Padre, and then all moved to their vehicles ready to move off. At 0910 hrs the CO's car pulled out of the camp gates and the convoy was on the move, headed for the Transit Camp, not far from Alexandria. The trip was uneventful and everything went very smoothly indeed, travelling along at 20 mph and stopping for 20 minutes every 2 hours. Looking back from near the head of the column it was a great sight to see the column stretching far back into the distance for about 6 miles.

To be continued

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