BAOR on parade 1951

shinwell visits baor - Google Search

Earlier today I came across this little gem – as one does – whilst looking for not very much at all; sadly, no sound; for Cold War modellers perhaps thinking of modelling in that relatively unrepresented period of the early 50s, you might find sufficient inspiration here, well, British inspiration that is.

What I noticed was Centurions with a strange cylindrical fuel tank at the rear that seems to me to be redolent of a type fitted to Churchills in an earlier time. Also, Cromwells as AOPs, one would assume for Sexton-equipped regiments. However, there are also Sextons shown modified sans armament so I wonder if they were also an AOP variant? Or, thinking about it, perhaps a Command version.

Comet presumably still employed as gun tanks until the Centurion issue is complete.

And curiously, at this relatively late date (late to WW2 that is) M3 Scout cars – though in what role is not clear, well, to me, just yet. Presumably a Recce Half-troop?

Anyway, not uninteresting I think; vehicles, whilst bulled up with white this and that painted, appear to be matt so conceivably SCC 15, prior to Deep Bronze Green, which I believe came into service 1955.

Anway, for what it’s worth - enjoy!

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Cromwells were still used in Armoured Regiment recce troops at this time, as well as being used in RA Batteries as AOPs (hence the mixed group of Cromwells from KRIH and RA who fought the ‘Happy Valley’ battle in Korea in 1950).

What’s the protocol on saluting the parade, looks like 1st rank tanks salute, but after that only centre vehicle salutes? Though tere seemed to be variation on that too?



I haven’t studied this from a drill/ceremonial point of view (though I should - God knows I know my way around a drill square(!)) but I’m pretty sure the position of the respective saluting officer will reflect the structure and composition of the units/sub-units on parade.

You’ll probably have noted that the formation signs reflect those of the famous 11th Armoured Div, resurrected as it were in 1950 (sadly only for a few years). Now, a Div on parade – displaying it’s full constituent parts would take forever and a day to drive pass any such dignitary (Shinwell was then Secretary of State for Defence) so the CinC BAOR would have ensured that only a representative number of units/sub-units would drive past; for instance, it may be that it was deemed desirous that most of a regiment of tanks would drive past and that would involve a round 50-odd tanks (and take some time) but it may then be planned that only say, a Battery’s worth of SP Guns should be on parade eg around 6-8 equipments. Where the senior officer in each component would be, would be dictated by the size of the unit trundling past. For an Armoured Regiment, I’m pretty sure the lead tank would be the CO’s, likely to be in the centre and forward, and he would salute. For smaller units, it may be that the senior officer would immerse himself in the centre of mass as it were, say, if there were only 9 or so vehicles, he might position himself “centrally” and then salute. This would all have been worked out to the finest detail involving no small number of Regimental Sergeant Majors and a designated parade officer – probably a hapless full Colonel on the Staff of HQ BAOR tasked to make sure this would “bloody well work”.

A long-winded answer I’m afraid based on no small experience of being involved in comparable events (and of course, developing the scrutiny required of one’s own Army as one ascends – hopefully - though the ranks, enduring a full military career; that said, more than happy, as ever, to be corrected).

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Thanks Boots
Didn’t expect it’d be an easy explanation. That makes a lot of sense.


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Very cool film there, lots of hardware.

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When we still had an army! Some interesting things going on here.

  1. I note the band are wearing the pre-war SD.
  2. Could the weaponless Sextons be ammo carriers?
  3. The extra fuel tanks on the Centurions look remarkably similar to those on the rear of Matilda IIs.
  4. The half tracks look like infantry carriers to me, but they could be part of the Recce Regiment.
  5. With the possible exception of the Cents, it’s all WW2 kit.

Of course, the pre-war SD dates back to around the 1900s – you can’t say the Army didn’t get its money’s worth! It was also still in use in Junior Leaders’ units up to around 1964. Thank God it had gone by the time I joined.

I think it’s unlikely that the Sextons would be used to carry ammo – there wouldn’t be that much room to make it worthwhile; I suspect they’re Command Post vehicles – kitted out with extra comms and map boards etc, for use at Battery level.

The half tracks shown all appear to have heightened bodies which makes me think they’ve all been converted to Armoured Command Posts – so probably RHQ/Bn HQ vehicles. I’m sure that the Infantry Battalions - and possibly some Recce units as you identify - would still have had them, not least as Saracen had yet to come into service. The REME LADs of course had their own modified version with a jib which soldiered on until around the early 70s, until replaced by the FV 434.

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I would say during that parade it is only Officers saluting the dias. It is probably the Troop, Platoon / Sqn Leaders who are saluting in the middle tanks or other vehicles whether they re in the centre or on either side, all other ranks are just giving an eyes right. In one shot, the lead tank commander salutes (the Regt CO) and then the first row behind him salutes. These are probably the Regt HQ tanks, (Regt 2i/c, Adjt, and maybe the Ops Officer ? )

Each parade may vary as to who does or doesnt salute. Sometimes you will just have an eyes right and only the Troop leader salutes, other times it may be be the company / squadron leader salutes and everyone else just does an eyes right. Foot drill is totally different depending on swords drawn or being carried etc.

When we did one of our presentation of standard parades from HM QE2 on Horse Guards and we were in our CVRTs, one year all Veh Comds saluted her, another year only the Troopy saluted and we gave an eyes right at a designated Guidon marker.

If anyone is interested, here is an interesting link to nearly all the old BAOR sites/barracks/trg areas etc

The windmill in Boots post above is still there and I went past it many times while I was stationed in Athlone Bks in Sennelager. It isnt actually a wind Mill, it was a built mock up I seem to remember called the “Winning Mill” on Parade Strasse on the Trg area behind Normandy Bks (STC)

Just as an aside, and not a dig at the modelling community by any means, one doesn’t often see much on the display tables covering the early Cold War; perhaps it’s because most of the kit was of WW2 origin, and therefore is already covered by that very genre. I should of course, practice what I preach and to date have only modelled a Charioteer and a Conqueror, and they’re both really mid-50s not really “early”; I’ve also tackled a French Panther but again, that’s definitely WW2 kit.

I just wonder where the earlier Cents, M46s and M47s are, whether or not in their livery of origin. The opposition seems fairly well covered with not much of a shortage in IS-3s, T-54s etc, but perhaps it’s just not a particularly stimulating period modelling wise.

I realise I’ve just answered my own question(!)

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You’re right Brian about that period of time. I have a bunch of Cold War armor in my stash though and just need to get going !

OK, a couple questions from someone who knows almost nothing about British equipment.

What is pre war SD?

The British were still using M3 half tracks in the late 60s/early 70s?

Sorry Ken - an assummption too far re abbreviations: SD equals “Service Dress” ie a standard daily wear (and combat in WW1) uniform.

The Half Tracks were used by the Light Aid Detachments of the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers; they were modified with a jib on the front, and until the advent of the FV 434 were used in the armoured regiments (and other units). In this configuration they could, I believe, manage to remove the power pack from the Centurion, amongst others. I’m not sure of the exact designation - probably not M3, possibly M9? I’m no half-track Ninja.


I certainly remember seeing them in UK in 1968, and again in BAOR in 1969; 1970 is, I admit, a further assumption but based on the usual amount of time it takes to get new kit into service - ie several years.

After doing a bit of digging I 've just found this from the HMVF website:

International Harvester Half Tracks - Page 2 - Tracked vehicles - HMVF - Historic Military Vehicles Forum

Scroll down to the poster “harry7134” and soak up his memories; it seems that 1970 was, in fact, accurate.


Awesome read!

I use to passed them in in the RAOC depot Ayrshire Bks, Monchengladbach, going to school there, all lined up for Disposal, between 73 and 76, still some their when visiting friends 78-80.

Frank, I suspect our paths almost crossed; I visited there (Ayrshire Barracks) in 1971 as part of a sort of look at life of what the RAOC did (all wasted on me as I was destined to be a Staff Clerk not a logistician). There were indeed, acres of vehicles which was quite impressive. However, I do remember that particular visit for one reason: our previous RSM – that is the adult RSM of our Junior Leaders Battalion - was there in his commissioned guise, and you know what, he seemed somehow diminished.

I further recall visiting there in around 1980 and I’m pretty sure by then it was full of Yank kit so conceivably was a POMCUS depot. I’m afraid I just can’t quite remember.

Happy days; God, I miss my Cold War!

the old man started as a Driver RAOC, then Clerking it RAOC, Munster, Malaya, Singapore, Netheravon, Abingdon, ICP Viersen x2, Cypress war, NI, JHQ Rhindahlen, topcliff, Donnington for gardening leave, I may have missed some.


A Cold War is better than a hot war any day!

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