Sunday, 11 November 2012

Dingers Winter Project
My Rebuild Jeep

I had intended to purchase a short wheel base Land Rover to tinker with over the winter months but I was persuaded to buy something with a bit of military history that would be an increasing asset so I went for a ww2 Willy's Jeep, so now I have inherited over sixty years of bodge ups, so I have started my rebuild. Click on photo for more pictures of rebuild.

As seen in a barn near Darwin

Pick up

Start of project

Getting there

To Date

New Inlet Manifold Fitted

There are more photos in my Album Click on Photos

Monday, 1 October 2012


Reunion for 2013 has now been confirmed.

It will be held at the Norbreck Castle Hotel, Queens Promenade, Blackpool, on the 28th to 30th of June 2013.

The price is £96 per person for the two night stay and includes a gala dinner on the friday with complimentary wine and show, breakfast saturday and sunday, dinner saturday again with complimentary wine and show.

The hotel offers discount on all drinks at the bar to reunions and you will be given a wrist band to obtain the discount, I have yet to speak to the bar manager to find out the discount.

You can start to make your booking in the new year by ringing the hotel and asking for Aaron Snowden Sales executive on 01253 352341 stating 410 Reunion. When you have made your booking I would be grateful if you could inform me.


Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Reunion 2013 Blackpool

Norbreck Castle Hotel Queens Promenade


Reunion Proposal for;                        410 Independent Plant Troop Royal Engineers


Dates;                                      Friday 28th June – Sunday 30th June, 2013


Numbers;                                Approx 30 delegates


Accommodation;                    Approx 30 rooms – Singles / Twins / Doubles





v      Arrival and registration

v      2013 Armed Forces Celebration Gala Dinner

v      Complementary glass of wine with meal

v      In-house programme of dancing and entertainment in the conservatory

v      Overnight en-suite accommodation




v      Full English breakfast served in Castles Restaurant

v      3 course dinner in Castles Restaurant

v      Complementary Glass of wine

v      Programme of dancing and entertainment

v      Overnight en-suite accommodation




v      Full English breakfast served in Castles Restaurant

v      Guests Depart

        2012 Armed Forces Veterans   Gala Dinner




                               £96 per person 2 nights package

                                    Based on 28th June – 30th June 2013


The Britannia Big Breakfast



Orange, Grapefruit and Tomato





Muesli, Corn Flakes, Rice Krispies, Weetabix, Bran Flakes or Porridge





A selection of Breads, Rolls, Croissants, Toast

accompanied by Preservatives





Grilled Back Bacon, Cumberland Sausage, Pork and Beef Sausage

Baked Beans, Hash Browns, Mushrooms, Black Pudding, Plum Tomatoes and Eggs - Fried, Scrambled, Poached or Boiled





Vegetarian Sausage, Hash Browns, Grilled

Tomato, Mushrooms and Baked Beans







(available at a supplement of £2.50)





Breakfast Tea, Speciality Teas,

Freshly Brewed Coffee
Sample 3 Course Carvery
Dinner Menu
Served with a freshly baked bread roll
Served with Melba Toast and Chutney
Orange, Grapefruit and Tomato
Served with Yorkshire Pudding
Accompanied by Pineapple and Tomato
Supreme of Chicken wrapped in Bacon and topped with Cheese
In a Lemon butter and Pepper sauce
Served with freshly boiled rice



Wednesday, 13 June 2012

My 2012 Blackpool 10k Fun Run

                                                          At the start


Nearly There

                                                   Knackered 66.5 minutes


Sunday, 10 June 2012

Short History of 410 Plt Trp RE by Jim Loach

410 Independent Plant Troop RE

The above unit was formed in June 1949 at Barton Stacey.

It sailed for Hong Kong on 12th July 1949 and formed part of the Hong Kong Garrison.

It moved to Malaya in July 1951.

Where it moved to initially is unclear but it can be confirmed that in April 1954 it was located in Kuala Lumpur at Sungei Besi Barracks, probably co-located with a Malay Squadron under command of 18 Infantry Brigade.

In March 1955 along with 11 Field Squadron it came under the command of 17 Gurkha Brigade.

In March 1955 it moved to Nakah Camp, Kedha.

In February 1960 it moved to Bukit Terendack Malacca.

In November 1960 it moved to Quebeck Lines Butterworth.

In mid 1962 it moved to Singapore.

In October/November it amalgamated with 54 Ind Fld Sqn on the latters return from Hong Kong.

You will notice that there is no mention of the time the troop was located in Minden Barracks Penang, this is because information regarding the troop is poorly documented.

It would be useful if anyone could expand on the information shown above with detail relating to projects completed, locations, dates etc.

As I understand the unit has reformed again as 410(BAOR) Plant Troop Royal Engineers (V) in Roberts Barracks, Osnabruk.

The Kedah Road Project Malaya

                                                     The Kedah Road Project

This road construction project was carried out under Emergency conditions in the Malayan jungles, by field units. For over two years they were employed on a real engineering task: Officers designed and built permanent RC bridges : Sappers supervised gangs of labourers : Workshops once were really busy with men “working at their  trade”: and everyone from Squadron Commander to Sapper, had the satisfaction of seeing the results of his work in permanent form

A large part of the workforce were inexperienced in this type of work and fell to those who had been involved in “real tasks” previously to teach and demonstrate the knowhow in getting the job done. This challenge was taken up enthusiastically by all and sundry and very quickly we developed   a strong confident team able to deal with most problems (opportunities)

Kedah is the most northern state in Malaya, bordering with what is now Thailand. It’s capital Alor Star, is circa 290 miles from Kuala Lumpur, the Federal capital of Malaya, and 540 miles, or a day and a night journey, from Singapore.

Early in 1957 it became apparent that it would be sometime before sufficient troops would be available to deal with the Communist Terrorist threat in Kedah, it was therefore suggested that an extensive road building programme, coupled with administrative development, with the aim of bringing Government to some isolated villages in the  centre and  east of the state. It was considered that this would do much to curtail terrorist activities and help it their eventual destruction.

In April 1957 the Chief Engineer arranged for the road to be reconnoitred by Capt. J F Newton RAE, of 11 Independent Field Squadron RE and Capt. G N Ritchie of 50 Ghurkha Engineer Field Regiment.

The  recce. was carried out in haste along existing  jungle tracks and made no attempt to fix a detailed  alignment, but it did confirm that construction was practicable.

It was estimated that the cost to Government for the 64 miles of laterite surfaced road, passing thro’ primary and secondary jungle, at times very hilly, rubber estates and  a few padi fields, and crossing one large river, the Sungei  Muda at Nami, would be in the order of £300,000 and wdould take circa two and a half years with one field Squadron, one Plant troop, and additional pool plant. By all accounts this estimate proved to be surprisingly accurate albeit the decision was made to employ two squadrons on the task. A
 A plan was made by the Chief Engineer to build 52 miles of road, the reduction in length was due to road realignment, and work began on the 1 August 1957.

410 Independent Plant Troop RE - August 1957 – September 1959

Officers  Commanding, Capt. A Bellizzi Re, Capt. J N P Vann RE, Major E F S Pike RE.

The road was to be built to the following specification as determined by the original plan.

Formation  width, 34 feet.

Cleared  width, 100 feet in primary jungle down to 66 feet in less dense areas.

Minimum width of surfaced area, 14feet, ( 6ins. of laterite)

Ruling gradient camber, each  1 in 30

Bridges – Class 24 permanent construction, with a 14 feet carriageway

The line of sight around a bend was defined in technical terms “it was acceptable as long as a Scammell and low loader could negotiate the curve. This gave everyone plenty of leeway.

Stretches of steep side hill cut and embankments passing through swampy areas had the formation width reduced to 22 feet and relatively steep gradients up to 1: 12 were accepted in difficult country.

The jungle thro’ which the road was built was, in places, very dense and it was difficult to determine the best alignment until some undergrowth had been cleared. In order to do this a dozer track was pushed thro’ until it was possible to see the best way to go. This work was usually done by a D8 operated by Sapper Ollie Olliyat, and I think as, reinforcement on occasion by Sapper Mac “Jock” Mcready on a Vickers VR 180.

Once enough area was cleared and the alignment confirmed the centre line would be established and clearance would begin. As the forward clearance progressed utilizing dozers and sometimes a 19 RB might be called up to help form sidehill cuts, the scrapers would then follow up constructing the formation. The scrapers were towed mostly by Fowler Challengers. They were Heath Robinson machines but good operators like Jim Pearce could get a good days production out of them. They were powered by a Leyland AU 600 (Automotive Unit), the output thro’ a single dryplate clutch. Skillfull operators could easily construct the camber leaving the final shaping , laterite surfacing, and bank battering to the grader section. The rate of progress was circa 2 / 3 miles per month depending on the alignment and the weather conditions.

 The graders employed were Aveling Austin 99H and, one I think, Blaw Knox (BK 12). I know 410 produced some of the best grader operator the construction industry has seen.

Federation Engineers looked after miscellaneous FE tasks including, revetments, catchwater drains and run-offs for surface water. Culverts figured significantly thro’ out the road, both R C and Armco, an idea of their cost ranged from a 2 feet RC @ £109 to a 7 feet Armco @ £830 per 50 feet run.

They also ran fleet of Leyland Comet and Commer tippers which ran the laterite from pit to surfacing section.

Good rate of equipment serviceability depends upon a first class unit inspection and servicing system. This was lacking in the first instance due to the inexperience of the fitters, mostly straight out of training, and also because the allocated plant was not “up to the job” but in a short length of time on the job training and a lot of effort an acceptable system was established and availability improved on both static and mobile plant. What was impressive was the way operators and fitters alike embraced what needed to be done and got on with it, often working 7 days a week when the weather was right. This team spirit was, I believe, one of the things that made 410 the unique unit it was.

It should be pointed out the effort put in by WOII Jacob “Jake” Jacobson, RAOC , a South African, he was the Tech. Stores department, who dealt with never ending requests for spare parts and  maintained the FAMTO stores. He spent a considerable time, successfully too, upgrading equipment spares scalings which improved the parts inventory but in the end it all became a bit blurred and everything was “Red Star”. His effort certainly made a considerable contribution towards improving plant availability.   

Nami  Bridge. This bridge was built by 1 Engineer Squadron, Federation   Engineers, at times assisted by 410 Independent Plant Troop RE and men from 2 Engineer Squadron, Federation Engineers between the 1 May and 16 December 1958 over the Sungei  Muda. The site on the river had a water gap of 210 feet and a flood plain of 170 feet with steep banks on both sides rising some 25-30 feet above normal water level. The river was known to rise up to 25 feet if sudden heavy rains occurred up steam during the monsoon season.  

It was 451 feet long with a 14 feet carriageway and two 1 foot kerbs. Several bridge designs were considered but it was decided by the Chief Engineer that it would be a submersible bridge but high enough to so that it would only be under water a few days in the most abnormal flood conditions. The final design was for 12 piers,6 x 40 ft over the river and 7 x 30ft over the flood plain. The piers were excavated to bedrock, with a mass concrete base tied into the rock on the on the upstream side. From this base the capsill was supported on two R C (reinforced concrete) 14ft columns the columns were joined together by a web wall.

Next came the 16 deck beams per bay lifted into place by a 19 RB and when in place were tied down to the capsills using mild steel threaded bar.

The abutments were on silty soil consisted of a ground beam supported on R C.mat itself  supported on 3 piles springing from a bedrock base.

During the course of construction the military labour varied, averaging out at circa 35 no’s which matched the number of civilian operatives (give or take a few).Aggregate for the project was sourced and crushed on site.

Here it is, the cost : -   Materials                                £ 14,650

                                           Labour                       £4500                    (we must have paid them too much)

                                        Total                        £ 19150

This cost was exclusive of the military contribution.                       

The overall cost of the project, road “an all” to the government was:-

                                                Road and Culverts           £150,050 or £2915 per mile

                                                Bridges                                 £57140     or £34 per ft.

                                                Camps                                  £34,365 ( we were expensive sods!)

                                                Sundries, Training materials,

                                                Project stores                    £990

                                                Total                                      £242,545

This compares favourably with allotted share of £265,000 for the military out of the approved £300,000 budget for the whole project. 

An interesting aspect of the project from our senior officers point of view was the decision to consult with the PWD (Public Works Department) informally on problems that arose, and if practical, accept their advice and their approval of road formation, bridge works and drainage etc. before handover.

We were not bound by this policy, but it was adopted deliberatively to improve some strained relations that had developed during the emergency and it paid dividends apart from the useful advice received re., sourcing materials, but also as a result of the confidence PWD gained in our ability to build permanent bridges and roads, the Federation Engineers were given a task of constructing a 1260ft permanent RC bridge on the East Coast of Malaya and I hope have gone on from strength to strength.

The roads and bridges were officially opened by His Highness the Sultan of Kedah on the 7, September, 1959 in the presence of many distinguished guests including the Minister of Defence and other minister of the Federation.

 In the course of the ceremony the Sultan named Nami bridge “Sultan Abdul Halim Bridge after himself and presented an inscribed Kris to British Engineer Units and a silver salver to the Federation Engineers.

It must have been a very grand occasion, Sultan Abdul Halim Bridge ‘eh, it will always be, to me, Nami Bridge on the Kedah Road.

When we look back on the work we did we and more important the way in which we did it, we should be immensely proud of ourselves, the Kedah Road , the sports field at Minden Barracks more than  likely the sports field at Burma Camp in Johore Bahru the air field at Asahan are all still operational.

The air field built by the Royal Engineers in Borneo is now I understand the main international airport serving Sabah. We did have some good officers and SNCO’s, albeit, at times they seemed to become a little emotional, even sometimes very emotional, they were very good at taking rag off your sleeve

What it was about 410 I don’t  know, the esprit de corps, the camaraderie, but it was the happiest time I experienced during my 22 years service.

I hope you find this interesting and it may jog your memories

This brief account of the Kedah Road Project was taken from an entry in The Royal Engineers Journal, written by Lt. Col. R A Blakeway R E and additional comment from experience gained by myself, Sapper Joe Loach (sometimes L/Cpl) on the project.  

Lt Col. Blakeway R E became the first Chief Engineer of The Federation Engineers, Malaya and previously was the Commanding Officer of 51 Field Engineer Regiment RE. 

Joe Loach











Monday, 4 June 2012

2012 Reunion Holiday Hotel Coventry

Reunion 2012

My photos from our 4th Reunion

Our turnout was 27 total this year

From left-Margaret Millward,Anne Macauley,Joan Ramsay,Elaine Ford,Pam Hoskins,Pat Green,Margaret Bell,Lynne Toase,Mary Loach,Diana Randle,Dave Cowels Sister- Charmaine

Front row- Ian Hoskins, Mick Millward,Bill Kent,Jim Macauley,John Bell,Jim Loach.
Middle row- Trev Green,Jim Randle,John Toase.
Back row-Norman Ford,Mick Ramsay,Oly Ollyot,Dave Cowel.

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

PJM Medal application

PJM Medal application

For those who have still not applied for their medal there is now a cut off for applications 30th September 2012, see the above link. 

Thursday, 19 April 2012

Reunion 2012 Confirmation List

Reunion Holiday Inn Coventry 1/3 June 2012
The Reunion for next year 2012, will be held at the Holiday Inn Coventry from 1 to 3 June. I have provisionally booked 15 rooms and the cost for the weekend will be £109 this will include double or twin room, breakfast Sat and Sun and Dinner Saturday night.
Dinner for the Friday night is optional and will be £10 per head, this is the same as we had last year with 11sqn but this year we will not have 11sqn with us.
We have decided to have it at the above as it is central and we have everything in the same hotel as opposed to the proposed Travel Lodge which would not have been suitable for our needs.
You can start making your booking after Christmas preferably by ringing 02476587420 and ask for Natale Traylor, as she has a lot of reunions next year make sure she gets the right dates.

 Update 19 April 2012

  Reunion Confirmation List 2012

To reiterate our conversation I can confirm that I have an allocation of twenty rooms (15 double & 5 twin) on hold for the 1st & 2nd June 2012.
These have been reserved at the reunion rate of £109.00 based on a two night stay including Breakfast both mornings and Dinner on the Saturday night
We cannot guarentee that this dinner will be a carvery due to the limited number of people attending however we will advise closer to the date what the menu will be.
Friday night dinner will be offered at a discounted rate of £10.00 per person, and again this menu will be sent closer to the date for your perusal
The £109.00 stated will be prepaid however we are flexible with all of our reunions and in the event of cancellation we will offer a refund
If anyone only requires the Saturday night this will be at the rate of £75.00 inclusive of Breakfast and Dinner
As this is an allocation, all unsold rooms will be released 4 weeks prior to arrival
If you need any further information please do not hesitate to contact me
Natalie Trailor | Reservations Shift Leader
Holiday Inn Coventry M6 J2 | Hinckley Road, Walsgrave, Coventry, CV2 2HP, United Kingdom
Direct Tel: +44 (0) 2476 587 420
Hotel Tel: +44 (0) 871 942 9021
Fax: +44 (0) 2476 587404

The following have confirmed and paid for Room

John Dinger Bell and Margaret
Dave Cowel and Sister Charmaine
Jim Macauley and Anne
John(Toots)Toase and Lynda
Bill (Legs) Kent and Celia
Jim (Brummie) Randle and Diana
Trev Greene and Pat
Ian Hoskins and Pam
Dave West
Bob (Flash) Reynolds 
Mick Ramsey and Joan
Norman Ford and Elaine
Jim Loach and Mary
Mick Millward and Margaret
Oly Ollyot