(A Gunners yarn from back in the 1970's)
By Mike "Subs" Subritzky
161 Battery RNZA
Paul Andreas "Undies" Manning rang me from Hautu Prison where he works as a Corrections Officer and asked me to share this yarn with members of the Regiment. We both agreed that the statute of limitations must surely be over so I thought I should put pen to paper and get it down.
Our generation of Gunners joined the Artillery after the Vietnam war, but unfortunately we were largely influenced by those steely-eyed Vietnam Veterans who took great delight in passing on their knowledge of how to make "quick" brew-ups using the PE from the back of Claymore mines (Les "Rats" Ratray was an expert in this), or from the Sup charge (supplementary charge or booster from a 105mm projectile - the Sup charges were removed whenever we were firing CVT fuzes) from the inside of a HE projectile. A Sup charge cut in thirds had enough heat (when lit), to brew three cups canteen of coffee in less than a minute...two Sup charges cut in thirds could provide a quick brew for an entire gun detachment on a frosty Waiouru morning.
Other tricks of the trade that were taught to us was that if a Territorial Battery was deployed in front of our position then the very best way to get their attention during a live shell practice was to slightly unscrew the fuze from the projectile, and then break a "Gillette" razor blade in half (the old type safety razor), then insert the two halves between the gap of the fuze and shell, and then retighten. When that round was fired...usually the first round in any "Fire for Effect" the sound created with the projectile leaving the barrell, and the wind-rush had a sound not unlike a run-away steam train...guaranteed to cause all sorts of alarm and despondency in the ranks of the Territorial Force Battery [usually 11(A) Battery] as the shells passed overhead with their external ballistics completely "off the clock."
The effect was even greater when all three guns in the Troop took part!
If an OP Officer was taking too long in the adjustment and a brew was considered to be long overdue, then the Gunners on the adjusting gun would give the guy a hurry along, by removing the Sup Charge, reversing it so that the felt spacer was now facing upwards and when the shell impacted down-range the result was always a blind as the flash from the fuze had been masked from reaching the Sup charge and main charge by about a half an inch of good American carpet felt...needless to say while everyone at the OP end was doing their various sums and checks, the Troops on the gun line took a quick break and a much needed brew..."Record as Blind Over!"
Another short cut was to use the charge seven bags in the Guns "chuffer" to put together a quick brew on a cold or wet morning. It was all highly illegal, but we generally put the chuffer down into the depths of a weapon pit, or stood together in a line smoking cigarettes, standing between the chuffer and the Command Post...needless to say whenever Don Stratton was making the brew the bright golden flames shooting out of the top of the chuffer were usually about shoulder height. Stratton burned the bum out of so many of our chuffers that the RNZEME Gun Tiffy's actually replaced them all with six mighty large and strengthened copper and brass chuffers. They worked a treat and could always handle the charge bags and the added intense heat from our handfuls of 'dual-gran.'
If ever we were challenged by an over observant GPO (Bob Barker was one and Tom O'Reilly another), we would simply explain that we were destroying the propellant in a couple of unfired charge six bags. Most guns retained their unfired charge six bags as they were coated in a "de-copperising" agent and we would always try and fire several of these bag foils in the last couple of rounds for the day as it made it easier for us to fully clean the tube (barrell).
UNIFORMS AND EQUIPMENT
161 Battery was at that time in history was equipped with a complete Battery of 105mm M2A2 Howitzers and as well a completed Battery of 105mm L5 (Pack) Howitzers and for about the first six months I was there, our Battery Commander, Major John Masters MC would often take two complete Battery's out Live Firing or on Exercise. Then the atriction of the Vietnam Gunners began as their discharge dates came up and eventually the M2A2's were withdrawn and we were left with an understrength Gun Battery and six L5's.
John Masters was an excellent war time Battery Commander and he was really relaxed about what we wore in the field, due to the fact that the kit issued by the New Zealand Army at the time was absolutely inadequate. I went on my first exercise wearing 'exactly' what I had been issued with; that is a full battle dress uniform, and 08 Pack (yes pilgrims, this pack came into service in the Year of Our Lord 1908), two Army issue grey blankets, wrapped inside of a US Army WWII "half shelter" which was actually made out of perished rubber and was designed to be buttoned to a tree and serve as half a tent...it was a magnet for rain and wasn't even shower proof. The half shelter and blankets were actually rolled together (like they did at Waterloo), and then attached to the outside of the 08 pack by means of good old fashioned Kiwi bailing twine. I was unaware of the relaxed rules in the field and when we arrived at Waiouru for my first shoot I was the only Gunner in uniform, the rest wearing anything from Dennison Paratrooper smocks through to Bombardier Bruce Duggan wearing a complete South Vietnam Special Forces "Tiger" cam uniform. Major Masters was a highly respected officer and whenever questioned about how the Battery "looked" in the field would always reply "Don't judge my men by their dress and bearing, but rather by their performance on the Gun Line." That same Exercise it was very cold and wet and so we were pulled back into Waiouru and slept in one of the tank hangers. We were told we were allowed to go to the bar, but if we went down town we had to be in BD's or civvies...Civvies??? Next thing from out of no-where appeared dozens and dozens of shirts, jackets and jeans...I was the only Gunner in 161 Battery in Battle Dress and this was to have a terrible effect on my personal safety some time later that same evening.
THE GREASY GREEKS
We all went to the Waiouru pub that night, and then when it closed I tagged along with the other Gunners and we went to a place they called "The Greasy Greeks." The Greasy Greeks was basically a fish and chip shop and there were about a half a dozen foreign folks inside very busy preparing great piles of food for the several dozen hungry Gunners standing in the cold outside. Paddy Nolan (a Gun Tiffy, later to become the first New Zealand "Beefeater" to serve at the Tower of London), who had served with the Battery in Vietnam, appeared from no-where and of course spirits were raised amongst the Vietnam Gunners and so a great deal of very loud banter and tooing and throughing of friendly insults. I was the only Gunner in uniform and was standing beside Bob Downs, Ken Davey and Johnny Nagle. Unfortunately the Head Honcho of the shop, the Greasy Greek himself, took the insults personally and appeared at the ordering window clutching a very large knife and began yelling at all two RL Bedford loads of us "To go forth and Multiply!" or Greek words to that effect...needless to say he then slammed his doors and windows, basically ripping us all off to the tune of several hundred dollars in fish and chip orders.
There was a pause for about I guess a minute, maybe even a little more and then when the Gunners realised that they were not going to get either their food, or their money returned...all hell broke loose. Windows were smashed and then when a couple of the Greek folks were dumb enough to come outside to confront us, the Gunners got stuck into them and took their anger out on them physically. All around me events began to look quite similar to a Western movie set with windows being broken and foreign folks getting a jolly good thumping. I was brought back to reality when the door beside me opened and two of these guys grabbed me (due to my being the only dumb individual in uniform), and started dragging me inside of the shop. Luckily for me, Lance Bombardier Barry "Nugget" Nugent saw what was happening and grabbed me by my stable belt, and then he yelled to Bob Downs and Johnny Nagle and then the next thing there was something of a tug of war between 161 Battery and the local Greek community, with my uniform and myself acting as the rope.
When the Greeks realised that they couldn't hold me they simply grabbed my beret and and took that.
By now the Military Police had been alerted and so Bombardier "Shorty" Barrett, Pete "Nig" Botica, "Chop" Karatea, Walley Henry and Tawhiwhi Brown yelled at us to mount the trucks and so this was done in record time and we sped back to the tank hangers, less our fish and chips. It was a long, hungry night and we never, ever forgot the underhandedness of the Greasy Greek.
Bright and early next morning after breakfast we were carrying out sight tests on the Guns, when two Land Rovers of Head-Hunters (Military Police) arrived at our location and shortly afterwards my Gun Sergeant Johnny Niwa summoned me and informed me that I was in a "world of shit" as my beret had been found at the scene of a riot the previous evening. I was ordered to report to the Battery Commander himself.
As I made my way towards the Military Police vehicle, Lance Bombardier Nugent fell in step with me and told me to simply tell the truth about the events of the previous evening. When we reached the Battery Commander he was holding my beret, with my name and Regimental Number written on the inside clearly visible. He then asked me to explain to him how I had only been in 161 Battery for all of five minutes and yet I had managed to destroy one of the local Waiouru businesses. When he asked me who else was present I told him that as I was so new in the Battery that the only person I could identify was "Nugget" as it was him who had saved me from being stabbed by a certain very angry Greek gentleman.
Nugget also told a similar story. The MP's were baying for blood but the only two Gunners that they could identify was myself who was a fresh faced recruit, and Barry Nugent who stood about five feet tall and weighed about 6 stone when soaking wet so they didn't really have any of the ring-leaders.
The Battery Commander considered the events over a cup of coffee that morning and then gathered the Battery in a group and informed us that he was disappointed that we had taken the law into our own hands and so as a punishment we were all to "voluntarily" pay $5 towards the renovations of the Greek restaurant in Waiouru.
That was the first renovation that I was required to pay for while I was in the Gunners, but not the last. Some years later I was required to pay a second $5 for the near destruction of the Junior Ranks bar in Burnham Camp, but that Gunners is another story.
Suffice to say that back in the 1960's and 70's the New Zealand Armed Forces were not popular employers due to the public backlash caused by the involvement in Vietnam. When you joined a branch of the Armed Forces it was something akin to a marriage, in that you joined the Army for three years, the Air Force for five years or the Navy for eight years and once you had signed that dotted line then that was where you remained for the length of the signed contract. No matter how much of a ratbag one was, if he offended against "Good Order and Military Discipline" (remember Army Act 61.1), he was sent to the Ardmore Finishing School to crack rocks for a short sharp period of about 30 days, and then back into the ranks of the Regiment. About the only thing I ever remember anyone ever actually being discharged early for, was for being homosexual...there was no "touchy feely" back in them days, simply soldiering!
RIDING THE ROADS
An L5 Gun Detachment was normally made up of a Sergeant, a Bombardier, a Lance Bombardier and three Gunners. Once all of the Vietnam Gunners had taken their discharge then the numbers on the gun-line rapidly dropped to a Sergeant or Bombardier and possibly three or four Gunners. It was very common to go live firing with a detachment of four men. It was also decided that each gun tractor (a six cylinder Land Rover), should also carry not just the Gun, but all stores as well, and also a first line of six ammo boxes filled with sand, if we were not carrying live ammo. By the time that all of this had been carefully stacked into the rear of the Land Rover, there was virtually no room for the members of the detachment. And so, until it was knocked on the head with the issuing of a second Land Rover several years later, it was very common in the Waiouru training area to see six Land Rovers driving along the roads towing an L5, with a Gunner and rifle sitting on the bonnet, and two or three Gunners standing on the back, between the vehicle and the Gun. I was actually standing on the back of a Land Rover one day with Bob Downs and Ken Davey as we were deploying, and coming down the steep incline to the North of Imjim Camp when our gun's right wheel disengaged itself and flew past our vehicle which came to a sudden and abrupt halt, and as well the gun wheel passed the four Gun tractors that were ahead of us, bouncing over the lip of the bank and then sailing out into the wide blue yonder of the Training Area...it took the entire Battery about half an hour to find the damned thing. Suffice to say that Gunner Ken Davey was not the most popular member of Sergeant Niwa's Gun Detachment for the next several days as it was him who had carried out the maintenance on that wheel earlier that same morning after Stand-Down.
It was a pretty physical Artillery back then and Sergeant Johnny Niwa, an extremely softly spoken chap had the distinction of at one time or another slapping the ears of one or another member of his entire Gun Detachment. Ken got his that exercise, Don Stratton our driver got his about six months later when we ran out of petrol in the middle of a night deployment (Don was our driver). Bob Downs committed some mortal sin in Singapore, and mine came about a year later when I slept through a Fire Mission in Kluang in Malaya. Not only did Johnny kick the crap out of me, but he also destroyed my hoochey as well. Johnny, must have been pushing about 50 back then and after he finally retired from the Army some few years later, we all read with great pride how he had caught and "subdued" (kicked the shit out of), an attempted rapist at the Papakura Sports Centre. And true to form he was awarded a citation by the Inspector of Police. Well done Hone!
In the mid-1970's, 161 Battery took part in two very historic projects. From memory the first was the ceremony of Papakura being appointed a City and on that occasion we did a musical ride on the sports stadium and then operated the Guns for that piece of classical Gunner music "The 1812 Overture." We must have practiced for the musical drive and "1812", for I guess nearly a month. During which time Don Stratton and also Richie Gerrard managed to roll a gun apiece. Both guns had their shields attached at the time and as they were made from sprung armour plate, they were bent during the roll and were useless forever after.
105mm blanks back then came in three sizes, "Half Pound," "Pound," and "Pound and a Half."
I think from memory for the 1812 Overture it was decided to use "Pound" charges for the blanks. On the night of the first performance (we did two, the first was a rehearsal), one of the old Gunners (I think it was Jock Fellon but I am not sure), told each of the four Detachment Commanders to "Pep" the cartridges. I was a little unsure what this meant but Jimmy Bell explained that all it required was to get a single sheet of newspaper, open it right out and then get a "hand-full" of OM 58 (gun cleaning oil), and then rub that onto one side of the paper and then fold the dry side onto that so that the dry side was then rolled into a ball and forced down the primer to rest on top of the leather spacer. The results when the gun fired in the total darkness of the Papakura Stadium were absolutely spectacular in that it lengthened the muzzle flash by a good metre or metre and a half, increased the smoke three fold, and also put a thick coat of oil up into the barrel making it much easier to wash and clean the tube after we returned to camp. I think during the performance each gun fired about six rounds. Three or four during the musical and then a couple of "Battery Rights" at the end. Suffice to say that the "Pepped" rounds were a real crowd pleaser. I think Jock Fellon had gotten the idea from when he served in the Royal Artillery.
About a year later (1975/1976?) it was decided that a Military Tattoo was to be held in the Western Springs Stadium in Auckland and that the Guns from 161 Battery would take part. The BSM (either John Rout or Dennis Dwayne) and the BK, Captain Dave Bowler went out to the Stadium and did a recce. It was obvious to them that only four guns would be able to carry out the various maneuvers and turns, and so the following Gunners were appointed as the Detachment Commanders: Eddie Naden, Johnny Nagle, Jimmy Bell and myself.
Due to various other commitments placed on the Battery at that time and the shortage of Troopies in the Battery the actual detachments were made up of "scratch" Gunners...that is just about anyone in the Battery who was physically fit and who's fingers weren't strapped.
Most of the Battery Sigs and Surveyors John Botica, Grant "Hannibal" Hays, Brian "Skin" Francis, Warren "Snow" Berkett, "Pete the Pom" Glassborow, Gunner "Maggot" Drenean and others were fully employed doing the Artillery "Search-Light" Course and their new found skills were then put to good use at the actual Tattoo.
My Detachment was made up of myself, Bob Kinzett, Don Stratton (driver), Smiley Stevens, Fred Munro, and Paul Manning.
We were informed that we would have to perform each night for about a week. I can't quite remember but I think that the monies raised went to a variety of good causes, including the QEII Museum planned for Waiouru by our then CGS General Ron Hassett (also a Gunner).
CONTESTS AND INJURIES
The Troop Commanders wanted each and every 'strip and assemble' to be done as a speed race between the four Gun Detachments that were taking part, and this caused quite a few injuries in the first couple of days of practice...cold steel recoil systems and barrell assembly's can be very unforgiving against fingers, blood and bone. On the third practice day when the Officers left to go to smoko we sat down in a group and decided that rather than injure any more Gunners trying to do the "impossible," we would slow the whole bloody thing down, pick a Gun each night to be the winner and we would all of us take our timing off that particular Gun. The crowd wouldn't have any idea of how long it took to strip and assemble a 105mm L5 (Pack) Howitzer, and the Troop Commanders would be none the wiser...in any event it worked and saved on injuries. The Gun detailed to be the winner would strip and assemble at about 75% of the normal speed and the other three guns would be just behind it...no pressure on anyone, and the end result was a very crisp and professional performance.
The four Gun Detachments each picked a day when their whanau would be at the Tattoo and that was the day that their Gun Detachment "won." It worked like a treat. As well, each night prior to the performance which involved a drive out of a castle, a musical drive, charge, strip and carry, re-hook, drive to the Eastern side of Western Springs stadium, and then a series of "Battery Rights." Naturally enough all of the cartridges had been "pepped" with newspaper wiped with OM58, and the results when the lights were dimmed and the guns fired were absolutely spectacular. I think a picture of the guns firing in the dark made the front page of the NZ Herald.
My detachment picked the Wednesday evening as our night, and my Dear Old Mum, God Bless her, was so proud when we won and beat the very next gun by about 15 seconds, she reakoned that Jesus himself had been guiding my hand (my mother was Irish).
MAJOR ROD BALDWIN
The last night of the Tattoo was the Friday night and we were getting our Guns lubed and ready for the performance when the word came down that not only was the CO or the Regiment present, but also our very own Battery Commander, Major Rod Baldwin. Also present (from memory) was The Prime Minister Sir Rob Muldoon and also the Director of Artillery.
Rod Baldwin stood way over six feet tall and he was one of those guys who's very presence tended to be intimidating. In the Battery he was known as "Big Bad Rod" and not for good reason...he could go from silent to enraged in all of about 10 seconds. Although he never, ever actually hit anyone he was one of those guys who just had an awesome presence. [He is best remembered in 161 Battery folklore as waking in the middle of the night in Fiji when we were on Exercise, going into the Command Post and upon finding the duty Sig (Gunner Boss Ratana), asleep in a chair, quietly sat directly in front of him and waited for him to awaken. Suffice to say that when Boss stirred some 30 minutes later he found himself staring directly into the very angry eyes of Big Bad Rod...Boss has never forgotten that incident and even today still suffers from bouts of post traumatic stress]. Major Baldwin reminded me personally a little like Colin Meads the All Black, and in fact more resembled a 1st Division Rugby Prop than a Commissioned Officer. He was also one hell of a rugby player, and on the field when the Regiment Officers played the OR's he offered and gave no quarter.
Naturally enough when it was announced that Big Bad Rod was present, everyone decided NOT to "Pep" their rounds for the evening. I think that each Gun was required to fire four rounds that night, and my own Gun was also required to fire the last round.
Just as we got ready to "saddle up" and begin our own performance, I had a slight change of heart and decided to "Pep" the last round of the show...unfortunately for myself, so also had Don Stratton, Smiley Stevens, and also Bob Kinzett. So that...inside of the last cartridge was not one sheet of oily newspaper, but rather four sheets of paper and a whole lot of OM58 which was obviously seeping through the papers to the leather spacer, the primer vents and beyond!
Well, the 300 man guard (yes 300 men back in those days), marched on and began their routine, and then after them were the massed pipes and drums and then the New Zealand Army band. Then in a quiet moment, the lights on the castle were dimmed and a focus of a single search light was directed at the centre door of the castle, and the Royal Artillery march past music began...We were on!
The castle doors opened and dressed in Gunners berets, white overalls, stable belts and spit polished black combat boots we drove out of the castle door with four Gunners seated opposite in the back and the Gun Commander standing in the passengers seat, (the Land Rovers having been stripped right down of their canopy and ribs).
Forming up in front of the crowd in line abreast. The music changed to "The British Grenadier" and two Gun tractors broke left and the other two broke right and we were into it. We got the charge done, where we drove at breakneck speed towards each other, then spun around and brought all four guns into action. Once in action, about two or three seconds between individual guns, the announcer divided the stadium crowd into four teams and each crowd was required to barrack for the Gun detachment that was closest to them...Needless to say that Eddie Naden's gun was the chosen winner (by us) for this evening.
We all took our timing off Eddie Naden, and stripped the guns down safely, carried the various bits and pieces the required distance, and then once again reassembled the guns. The crowd went wild as the timings between the winning gun and the loosing gun was all of about 10 very crisp and professional seconds...perfect!
We hooked-in, mounted our Gun tractors and once again formed up, and then drove to the Eastern end of the stadium and brought the Guns into action for the final time. The lights were dimmed, the crowd hushed and we moved into the actual shooting phase, that was three individual firings of all four Guns on the GPO's order, and then the Grand Finale...a Battery Right...The three lots of Battery fire were very impressive, although not having "pepped" the blanks meant that the flame and muzzle flash was quite tame as was the smoke.
And then the final Battery right...
In this instance all four Guns, had their shields removed and on my Gun, Fred Munro had asked to be the Number three (the Layer) and Paul Manning had asked to be the Number two (the Gunner who elevates the tube). Smiley Stevens was the loader and Kruger, Don and myself were kneeling at the end of the trails. The cartridge was loaded and I raised my right hand. The GPO took a quick look at all four Guns, saw four raised arms and gave the command "Battery Right...Fire!"
"Number one gun fire!"...Bang!...(five seconds later),
"Number two gun fire!"...Bang!...(five seconds later),
"Number three gun fire!"...Bang!...(five seconds later),
"Number four gun (us) fire!"...Pop!...
FLAMES AND STUFF
There was the definite "pop" sound as the primer initiated, and then a deathly pause for about a second, maybe two, as all sort of bad ballistics started to occur inside of the barrel of Number four Gun.
I looked at Kruger and Stratton, and both men avoided my eyes...
I then asked "Did you bastards Pep that round?" to which both men replied "Just a bit" and Smiley added "Me too Subs"...
Next instant our voices were swept away in a deafening roar as all sorts of internal ballistics were happening inside of our now shaking barrell...Fred Munro and Paul Manning grabbed a-hold of whatever they could as next instant the longest most golden muzzle flash launched itself out of the barrell of L5 Howitzer No: 01321...
Followed closely behind the muzzle flash of this cartridge which now had taken on a life force of its' own came the baffle flash, as even more brilliant golden flames came roaring out of the baffles of the muzzle break, all of the way back in a circular motion to the breach ring and singeing the left side beret of Gunner Fred Munro on the left side of the Gun, and the right side, beret and sideboards of Gunner Paul Manning who was holding on to the now shaking ordinance of the Howitzer. And then out of the tube came many, many millions of pieces of shattered newspaper, some burning, some too wet to burn and each piece about the size of a Gunners fingernail. The pieces of shattered newspaper flew out in front of the barrell and formed a perfect white "V" on an angle of about 0900 mills from the centre of the tube...and all the while Stratton, Kruger and myself were looking at each other dumbly, trying to figure out what the hell to do next, because the flames just wouldn't go away...Having said that, the crowd who by then thought it was some special kind of Army "bullet" that we had just fired, were all of them on their feet yelling and screaming for more...it was a real crowd pleaser!!!
THE SAS CHOPPERS
About now Stratton jumped forward and ejected the cartridge case...its' exit was followed by another large golden flame which hung up at the breech ring and then slowly dissipated. The ejected cartridge was far too hot to touch and so we poured half a bottle of coke over it.
At this moment two helicopters swooped into the stadium and the NZSAS air assaulted into the stadium...thankfully, the rotor blades blew away all of the shattered pieces of paper that pointed directly out my own muzzle break.
The Ranger Squadron Troopies "Air Assaulted" out of the chopper, hit the deck, and turned to wait for their ropes to be cast down to them, but this didn't happen and one chopper then lifted up about 4 metres and then the chopper crewman sliced the roped and three SAS Troopies including Corporal Sextant and a very close friend of mine Ron Evans fell to the ground and this resulted in a shitload of broken legs, arms, and pelvises. Ron actually had a Bren Gun strapped to his back and he was very badly injured with a broken leg, pelvis and several vertebrae.
CAPTAIN DAVE BOWLER
We then came out of action and quietly drove around to the "pits" side of the stadium. Stratton who was no mug yelled to us to "Lose the cartridge cases!" and so they were then passed to the kids who were waiting for souvenirs as we drove back to the pits.
Once we arrived back at the pits we decamped the Gun tractor and headed for the very darkest corner of the stadium where all of the smokers in the team took a well earned break...Captain Dave Bowler, our BK arrived at the pits about two minutes later and headed straight for myself and Don Stratton. Dave Bowler was no slug. He was very highly trained and in fact "Artillery" and everything associated with it was his personal hobby...he read up on guns in his spare time.
Captain Bowler approached my Gun Detachment and enquired "What the Hell happened out there Subs? Your Gun had almost a complete malfunction with that last round...What happened?"
Naturally enough, I was not going to say that Smiley Stevens had pepped the round, nor was I going to say that Stratton also pepped the round, followed by Kruger, and finally myself...so rather than lie to the BK, I simply said "Sir, I have no bloody idea."
Naturally enough, Captain Bowler was not at all happy with my answer and so he went over to our Gun Tractor and went in search of the malfunctioned cartridge...Needless to say it wasn't there, and so the events of that night became part of the 161 Battery folk lore.
I can't speak for any of the other Gunners involved, purely because Stratton was always as mad as a snake, and Kruger had a habit of blowing thing to pieces in the most unlikely places (I was once at a Neil Diamond rock concert when Kruger emerged from the shadows and fired a mighty ICARUS flare skyward, which then popped into a para flare and hung above the concert for about three or four minutes...stopping the entire concert and causing Neil Diamond himself to remark over his micraphone "Holy Shit!"), but in regards to myself. After that military tattoo I never again doctored or "pepped" any Artillery ammunition, and that included both HE and also blank. I think we all of us learned a very good lesson on internal ballistics at that particular Military Tattoo all of those years ago...
And to any young Gunner reading this yarn, chaps I give you this one piece of thrill seekers advice "Don't try this stuff at home."