Chapter 2 Rank brings Responsibilty
Part 3 Manoeuvres at Foxton
373649 Arthur H Paddison, 2nd Field Regiment, NZA
I have tried to give some idea of the establishment of our outfit so that what follows makes a bit of sense.
Most of the manoeuvres were carried out on the sand country between the main road north of Foxton and the beach.
The west coast beaches made an ideal place for an invading force to come ashore thus avoiding the harbour defences guarding our major cities. We were all young and enthusiastic and driving around cross country provided a challenge.
Many of the drivers only had licences to drive cars or other light vehicles so while the gunners practised gun drill on the park, the drivers tried their hand at crossing sand hills and swampy ground.
Truck servicing and maintenance plays a big part in the mobility of the modern army. Our battery had an MT sergeant who had worked for the Automobile Association and of course there were a number of skilled mechanics from civvy street.
Some of the signallers had worked for the Post and Telegraph Department and although this tended to give an experienced base for the instructors to work on, there was a still a lot to learn.
For about a week each section did their own thing, then we started linking up:- the tractors towing the guns around, with each Troop leader in control giving hand signals that were passed along the line as the noise of the engines precluded voice commands being heard.
We learned to execute "Action" commands in any direction, many responding to simulated tank attack, while on the move. Tanks take open ground and small ditches and streams in their stride, so to speak, and consequently attacks can come swiftly, from any direction.
Roads and tracks tend to limit the scope of manoeuvre and in any case vehicles cannot outpace shells so speed in bringing guns into action in this situation is vital.
With the Troop proceeding in column of route (one behind the other) the Troop leader (TL) standing in the cab of TLA, would give the hand signal for tank action imminent and the direction from which it was expected. The No's 1, standing in their cabs, would repeat the signal down the column.
On the signal" Execute" each No 1 would dismount smartly, ensure that that his gun would have a suitable platform for fighting the gun, plus a clear field of fire in the direction indicated, and order "Halt! Action ...".
With the left hand steering the nose of the round into the breech and the right punching it home, No 4 steps clear and No 2 slams it shut and closes the handle, this rotates the breech block locking it in place and cocks the firing pin. No 1 reports "A3 Ready" (A3 is the name of the gun).
Usually the order "Gun control" would give each No 1 the freedom to fight his gun as the situation developed. In the beginning, it would take at least 40 sec; as the days went by the time dropped to about 25/30 sec for the best crews.
The main area for cross country training was north of Foxton between the main road and the beach.
There was a series of small lakes connected by a stream meandering from north to south plus a few swampy areas and windblown sand ridges; plenty of scope to test rookie drivers and lazy Nos 1.
AH Paddison, 2007