ACV Stories from the 1970s

104 Sig Sqn Brassard Badge 

The Brassard Coup

By Dennis Wynne

104 Brassard from 1974This is the patch that 104 Sig Sqn wore that caused a little stir in the Task Force at Holsworthy in 1977.    We were known then, as the 104th Combat Armoured Task Force Signal Squadron but this patch was got to celebrate the Armoured Command Vehicles (ACV) introduction back into the Sqn after returning from Vietnam service.

We had just done our first exercise with the ACV's and at its completion the Task Force did a 40km route march.  104 Sig Sqn got right up 5/7 Battalion backside grunting like piggies to keep cadence and for our enjoyment!

Just before we took salute from the Task Force Commander, we all took these brassards out of our packs and wore them on the right shoulder.   Our OC was with Task Force Commander, as we went by for the salute and it was quite funny to see the look of anguish on our Boss's face when he realised what was happening - he was not in the loop!  Earlier the Task Force 2IC had shit canned the idea on formal request by our OC!

The 104 Troops took matters into their own hands!

PS   Same brassard/patch was wore on the  "The Kidnap Caper" - Read on.


 The Kidnap Caper

by Dennis Wynne (2N) with help from 1N

104 Sig Sqn return to Holsworthy from Vietnam, now with ACV's and seasoned Warriors. 

Snatch and Grab at 1 Sig Sqn by 104 Sig Sqn

As you do with your big brother a 'Snatch and Grab' was planned and executed on 1 Signal Regiment Headquarters (RHQ) with guns and smoke grenades, using ACV's to noisily get to RHQ at Ingleburn.   The CO and RSM were in the CO's Office and were "invited for a drink".  The CO, I remember said to the John Chennoweith, well RSM, an invite is hard to refuse and the rest is history.   They had a beer or two at the Squadron before being allow to return to the Regiment (Regt).   During drinks the 104 Sig Sqn orderly room clerk came into the bar and said to our OC in front of every one "The Adjutant at 1 Sig Regt wants to know when they can have the CO back".   Needless to say the bar broke up with laugher!

Anyway the full resources of the Regt went into planning to regain honour for the Regt.  The result a return tactical raid on 104 Sig Sqn using pushbikes with cardboard armoured protection panels was mounted.    The pushbikes were launched from a mother ship (MK5 Truck) as it was a bit far to ride to Holsworthy from Ingleburn for the Regt shock troops.  This also help maintain mission security and was a complete surprise and success! 

104 Sig Sqn gave up without a fight - they were all rolling around on the ground pissing themselves with laughter!

A Pleasant Drive at Puckapunyal

By Ken Twining

104 Sig Sqn had been in the scrub in the Puckapunyal Training Area in mid 1977 as part of the TFHQ when an exercise break was called to permit 5/7 RAR and 1 Armoured Regt to conduct some live fire mobility exercises on the tank gunnery range.

Not only did the break provide an opportunity for a canteen run into Puckapunyal itself, it also enabled the Ops ACV to be taken off line for a quick trip to the 1 Armd Regt RAEME facilities to fix a main engine generator problem (could be done a lot quicker at the RAEME facilities than stuffing around in the scrub).

Those selected for the canteen run headed off to Pucka using the liney’s landrover and a borrowed 2.5 ton truck accompanied by the Ops ACV with the OC (Ken Twining) in charge of the group (having let the rest of the unit officers go to the live fire exercise).

For once, everybody behaved themselves, and with the ACV fixed the little convoy headed back towards the scrub when all of a sudden the OC calls a halt and wanders over to the ACV and says to Ian Bardwell the crew commander “Ian, there’s the armoured vehicle battle run course just over there, what about sticking this thing over it to let everyone see what it can do?”

“No, cannot be done because John (Melrose) (who was driving) has only got a limited track licence and you need a full one for that course” is the reply.

“Right”, says the OC, “tell you what, I will drive it then”

“Hang on”, comes back Ian “did you not hear me say that you need a full track licence to do that course, and you would need a qualified crew commander sitting up here should you be considering doing some sort of swap around.”

“Mmn”, goes OC, “you mean two licence codes like these”, pulling Army drivers licence book from pocket and handing it over.

“Bugger me” says Ian, “where did you get these from?”

“Just happens that before I became an officer I used to be an AFV crew commander” is the reply, “and if it makes you happier I’ll do the driving while you play crew commander, will be a nice pleasant drive.”

OC walks over to other vehicles and say “anyone want to come for a ride in the ACV?”

Bunch of diggers jump out looking all eager, whereupon Ian calls out “He didn’t tell you he is going to do the driving” with the resultant that all but a couple of eager diggers are back in the vehicles in a flash, not helped by John Melrose in a loud enough voice saying “I want out of here, he’s dangerous enough driving a landrover.”

Leopard Tank out running the ACV

ACV sets off with OC driving, Bardy as crew commander, with John Melrose (made to stay in the ACV by OC for driving skill remarks) and a couple of diggers in the compartment, and things are proceeding quite nicely until two Leopard tanks idle up on either side of the ACV, with one of the Leopard crew commanders pointing at the signals tac sign then giving the finger, which of course causes a rush of blood to the head of the OC, who just tramps the ACV and next minute there is a drag race taking place despite the anguished screams of Bardy to slow down.

After about two kilometres with the ACV seeming to hold its own (despite Bardy making several attempts trying to kick the OC in the back of the head through the inner compartment gap to make him slow down), the Leopards suddenly decide to strut their stuff (with a thumbs up from the turret crews to the ACV) and take off at a rate of knots that would leave an F1 driver blinking.

Sanity returns to the ACV (no way it could keep up with the Leopards) with it then heading off to re-join its convoy at a much more sedate pace, where on arrival there are plenty of enquiries about how it went, with probably the most polite rejoinder coming from Ian Bardwell “if he ever mentions the words pleasant drive, run!”

Mind you, afterwards, it was noticeable that unit ACV drivers used to muzzle comments about their driving abilities by saying “if you don’t like my driving, can always get the boss to drive.”