‘Fire Mission’ Beer Garden

At 18.00hours on Friday (3rd October)I
was at the wheel, driving back from Manchester with my mate David. Traffic was
heavy at this time of the evening so I decided to take the back road through
Scarisbrick cutting out the main A565 into Southport – though David decided it
was because I’d taken a wrong turn. As if!

As we came up to a right hand bend in the road, I
noticed the Heaton’s Bridge Pub on the left. It wasn’t the pub that caught my
eye and that sent my body into spasm. It was the sight of an Artillery gun
which had been placed there by a group of military enthusiasts. This was no
ordinary gun, but one which features heavily in my latest book, British Army on
the Rampage. It was the F.H.70 (Field Howitzer 70).

The gun was a tri-national (Great Britain, France
and Italy) disaster and was the worst gun most artillerymen had ever served on.
Every time I came across it after leaving the army it still had the ability of
turning me into a manic-depressive in a very short time. I wasn’t the only one
to despise it either.

Only a few yards further on from this gun was
another. It was a tracked vehicle. An Abbott 105mm. This was another gun that I
had served on when I was deployed in Germany. We couldn’t resist and so stopped
to look at all the other vehicles that were being displayed by the military
enthusiasts.

At the rear of the pub we noticed an A.F.V. 432
(Armoured Fighting Vehicle), which was the tracked troop carrying vehicle and
also served as a command post vehicle during my days in the army. By this time
I was in my element.

The icing on the cake was resting on the small
field at the rear of the pub. It was the mighty Foden Gun tractor. This was the
wagon that towed the F.H.70 gun and the same vehicle that I passed my H.G.V.
(Heavy Good Vehicle) licence on. My fondest memory of this vehicle was from
1982 when I was travelling in the ‘Wendy House’ on the rear of it and when I
launched a scalding hot ten man tea bag landing it on the right cheek of the
face of a W.P.C. (Woman Police Constable). She was innocently patrolling the
streets of London with her colleague at the time of the assault.

With my memories intact and revitalised we had one
last look around at what once was the might of the British Army in 1982 and
thanked the enthusiasts for all their efforts in looking after the Olive Drab
relics, (well all except the F.H.70 of course). We left the pub and I have to
say that seeing all that old hardware and I was feeling very contented driving
the few remaining miles home.

Once more, thank you for your continued support and
don’t forget you can pre-order you copy of British Army on the Rampage
(B.A.O.R.) by emailing me at sean@armynovels.com