armistice 100 news
Early start and departure at 6am to avoid Wellington traffic. There were a few dusty people from the night before.
We had an awesome and extremely well designed and executed drive through cold blustery wind and rain to the ferry terminal.
Unfortunately we had an incident involving a trailer, a loose wheel and a Dodge M37. Luckily the wheel was found in time to board the Ferry. Terry Marshall was also in need of a tow to start his Jeep and load it on board. We were parked among a group of vintage Packard (and other) Cars.
The crossing was good despite the wind and the team had time for breakfast and a few more drinks. They even had time to write these reports on official sick bags. One sick report!
After horsing around refuelling, we had a smooth run in dense Ferry traffic from Picton to Blenheim. It was still raining but we had some welcome respite and an opportunity to get things dry (Especially welcomed by the Jeep drivers).
We organised a couple of movies in the outdoor BBQ area which brought us all together. Dinner was enjoyed in the pub across the road.
This is the first time to the South Island for many of our vehicles.
The Lockheed Martin boys brought a Pinzgaur around to the carpark for our inspection and enjoyment. A few of us piled in and did a lap around the Base which is surprisingly big. A suggested drive through of the workshop was abandoned in case we go left behind.
Back at kick off we thanked Sargent Major Brill and Sgt Peterson before playing the NZ and USA Anthems and rolling out. As we entered Shannon a cop arrived at an intersection just as the entire convoy started to drive by. After a brief comfort stop in town we pressed on through Levin and onto Otaki where we had a warm welcome at the Otaki RSA. This was the start of trying to fix the battery charging issues in Wayne Hook’s Jeep. Lift a bonnet and it is a magnet for men – like bees around a honey pot.
We rocked out of Otaki on State Highway 1 down the brand new motorway. We exited at MacKay’s Crossing / Queen Elizabeth Park to visit the Marines Memorial. We were met by members of the US Marine Trust who oversee and administer the memorial.
There is a restored/replica 4 man army hut that was set up last year. It is complete with cots and equipment. The Kapiti Trust has undertaken this project in co-operation with the local “Men’s Shed”
The assistant US Consul to NZ was there with her Marine Guard providing security. After a few short speeches we retired to a new information centre for tea and coffee as it started to pour down with rain again.
Rejoined SH1. There’s been some discussion as to who went the right way from here over Haywards Hill. Wilson is pretty adamant that he went the right way but there are some convincing arguments that he in fact went completely the wrong way and doesn’t know what he’s talking about!
We were welcomed into Trentham Military Camp. After sorting out our rooms some of us took up the offer to do a close up inspection of Light Armoured Vehicles (LAV’s) in the workshop. We were presented with the “vanilla” version and the up armoured one with 4T of extra fruit. Into the troop compartment in the back. Check out the chemical warfare breathing system and comms. The turret is in the middle of the vehicle with crew and Cat engine in the front. Apparently when the gun goes pop-pop-pop it is $1,000 per round. Dropping into the driver’s compartment is better suited to the younger folk. We were fortunate to be briefed by the chap who was there at the beginning of the evaluation and procurement in 2001. There is nothing he does not know about LAVs. He absolutely loves them! We walked back past some MAN trucks, the next lot of Unimogs to go up on the block and a few surplus SAS assault RIBs (there are HUGE!)
The folk at Camp provided a fine meal and a whole slew of excellent single rooms for our accommodations. Some of the wives appreciated some “alone time”.
Peter Haig spent a long time at the bar and was assisted to his room late in the evening.
We had a fully relaxed start today after the shock treatment yesterday. Hanging around Waiouru until midday so that we can fully appreciate the history. Half the team toured the Military Museum and the others did “Behind the Scenes” (Vehicles/armoured/artillery).
The convoy rolled out of Waiouru like a geriatric rocket sled on rails. The road before us was empty. The road behind us was well, who can see anything in those tiny mirrors anyway?
There were no problems through Taihape except for an extremely elderly couple crossing the road. After waiting the equivalent distance of 3kms road travel they waved encouragingly to us as we passed.
We headed off on SH1 towards Ohingaiti. We almost claimed our first victim when a small 3 tonne tip truck came down a hill at a great rate of knots. With the distance closing at warp speed the driver eventually realised that we were going slowly so he hit the brakes and must have steered to avoid us. On the wet road this resulted in a spectacular 360+ spin within about a meter of the last Jeep. Pointing sideways, the truck drove back up the hill until he could perform a U Turn then drove back down to the spin site to stop and pick up his stuff off the road.
The Chev Radio Shack had been suffering overheating problems. Now even taking the hills in 1st gear was too much. Chris and Tracy Bass got a spectacular video of steam blasting up from the radiator like Pohutu Geyser. It certainly made a big splash but it wasn’t as big as the devastating disappointment suffered by Chris Flegg after months of work on the restoration. He decided to continue with Nick in the RL Bedford, leaving the Chev behind at a friend’s place.
The lunch break was at Vinegar Hill reserve. The entry is through bush and the site is under the cliffs of the Rangitikei River. A summer long camper told us that the fishing was poor which he put down to river management and flushing from the Moawhango Dam in the Waiouru Defence Area.
Rolling out of Vinegar Hill Reserve (Isn’t that just the best name?) we went past another crash site being cleaned up (driver ok) and pressed on towards Linton Camp. It wasn’t easy keeping the convoy together and managing traffic passing through the column. Plenty of radio traffic!
We were checked off the security list at Linton Camp at the gate and went in to park up in a central area where we were welcomed by Sargent Major Brill who has a disconcerting resemblance to Windsor Davies. Lucky for us no one was an “orrible little man”, rather the opposite. In fact we were all such good chaps and chapesses that we were invited into the Linton Camp Warrant Officers and Sergeants Mess. Very salubrious! The experience was enhanced by a shout from Air Force peeps visiting from Ohakea. A shout goes a long way with the cheapest bar prices in NZ. The team had thoughtfully placed a LAV armoured vehicle outside for our enjoyment.
Barracks was 4 beds to a room with differing configurations. They took a good shot at allocation but it was fairly mix and match. The quality of sleep was directly proportional to the number and volume of snorers in your room. Wilson complained. Again. No one cares Wilson. This barracks hadn’t been fully upgraded to the new unisex world so the ladies had to transit past the urinal to reach the stalls.
Dinner was outstanding with 2 roast meats. We dined as a group on our own in a section of the officer’s mess. After dinner socialisation occurred till late back at the WO & Sarge’s Mess.
The day could be summarised as dramatic.
A good run with a bone shaking 7am start in the dark. All MV’s made it to 1st gear start time because that’s who we are and that’s how we roll!
We headed off for a pretty cool drive to Wairaki and most of us stopped at the Huka Falls for a leg stretch. The lunch stop was the wonderful Taupo waterfront. How could this be better? Especially with no-one broken or busted.
With that pleasantly full feeling we pushed on towards Waiouru. On the Desert Road Ken and Mark had an ignition coil issue (or at least their Jeep did. We think their personal ignition coils are working fine). Then it was a good run over the summit and down into Waiouru.
The Army put us up at the Sports Complex and the Base Commander came along to welcome us. Profuse apologies were offered for not being able to host us on site due to a massive influx of deployments and untold thousands of soldier’s onsite. John Subritzky mistakenly checked himself into the Base thinking that we were in the Gym onsite. After finding zero evidence of vintage military vehicles he contacted Haigh to discover that we were off Base.
We settled into the wonderfully warm hall and as the evening fell into darkness gunfire resonated around the hills as massive training battles were fought. In camp there were equally loud explosions of snoring. We woke in the morning to heavy machinegun fire. Good morning Waiouru! We love the smell of gunpowder in the air!
The group toured both the Museum and the Back Lots private tour. We managed 4 of the 6 back lots sheds so that was cool. The interaction between the Convoy and NZ Defence has taken NZMVC Rallies to a whole new level. Magnificent!