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101 Forward Control Land Rover pages -
Military Service
(72 GJ 52)

We now have much more information - very many thanks to Mark Cook at the EMLRA for finding the stuff, and for the interpretations!

  • The vehicle was built in 1977 and entered military service in 1982 (army registration 72 GJ 52). Presumably it sat about in storage for the five years in between.

  • It began proper service in 1984, with the 250 Field Ambulance which was part of the 15 (North East) Brigade - probably based at Catterick, but clearly didn't do very much since two months later it went back to the vehicle depot.

  • Then, in 1987 it went to the Ordnance Support Unit at Burscough where it was non-operational for another 5 years.

  • In 1992, it began to see real operational service life when it joined the 19 Brigade Airmobile Field Ambulance Unit, Royal Army Medical Corps (RAMC). We are not sure what our vehicle did for its first three years of operation, but the RAMC was active all over the world, and since the Brigade it joined was designated "airmobile", the chances are it went somewhere interesting. In 1995 it transferred to the 5th Field Ambulance Unit of the RAMC and became part of Operation Resolute - Bosnia. This trip is confirmed by us finding, while cleaning up the external paintwork, the legend 'IFOR' in the side panels in large yellow lettering. This means that the vehicle was part of the NATO Implementation force in Bosnia, which took over after the UN had left in December 1995, but before the Stabilisation force (SFOR) was set up in December 1996.

    • The Army says about the RAMC on its website: "The RAMC has a most distinguished record both in the practice of medicine and in the gallantry displayed by its members. In the 3 major wars (Boer, WW1 & WW2), the RAMC dealt with 14 million casualties, was awarded 14 Victoria Crosses (two with Bars), one George Cross, 630 Distinguished Service Orders, 1,806 Military Crosses, 464 Distinguished Conduct Medals, 2,375 Military Medals and 16 George Medals. The price was not small with our rolls of honour containing 1,180 officers and 8,165 soldiers who died in the service of their country. With such a distinguished history, present and future members of the Corps have an awesome reputation to live up to. Moreover, wherever there is conflict whether it is limited war (Korea), Counter Insurgency (Malaya), Counter Terrorism (Northern Ireland), Task Force (South Atlantic), Coalition Forces (Gulf War) or United Nations and NATO peacekeeping operations (Bosnia, Cyprus, Angola etc) the RAMC is always there."

    • The British Army first entered the former Republic of Yugoslavia as part of a United Nations force to deliver humanitarian aid during the Bosnian conflict. This force was known as the United Nations Protection Force (UNPROFOR) and was highly respected for the quality of the work that they undertook. Once the conflict neared resolution in 1995 it became clear that an intermediary force would be needed to implement the peace agreement that had been brokered by Senator Dayton. The multi-national force tasked with this duty was called the Implementation Force (IFOR). In December 1996 this force was deemed to have successfully created a peaceful environment so needed to be restructured to ensure that the peace was maintained. The British contribution became part of the newly formed Stabilisation Force (SFOR) which remains the name of the force serving in Bosnia Herzegovina today.

  • It had a little more service with 5 Field Ambulance, RAMC and was then passed to MVSL (the commercial wing of the Army that sell off "demobbed" vehicles) in 1998. They auctioned it to John Craddock in 1999.

We hope to find out more about it as time goes on, as we research the activities of the various units at the time the vehicle was with them. The information is taken directly from Army records below. If anyone has any information or interpretations, please let us know.

Clive Lavery emailed us recently with the following:

Hi Ian,

How weird - I was surfing the net in some random sort of fashion and noted on a Google page the title '19 Airmobile Field Ambulance' - a click later and I am in your website reading about the history of 72GJ52. The totally random yet fluky point for me is that I believe that I have worked on that LR when I served with 19 AMFA as their only Vehicle Electrician REME (therefore am confident that I have worked on it) from 1992 - 1995 (I then served at 4 Regt Army Air Corp up the road in Wattisham.)

The REME LAD (Light Aid Detachment) consisted of only 6 of us REME chaps, an Artisan Staff Sgt (Mechanical) three Corporals (2 mech and 1 elec) and the three Craftsmen / Lance Cpl - all of a mechanical persuasion. I remember when we exercised in the UK some of us REME chaps would have to drive the Ambulances to the exercise areas due to a lack of Medic/MT drivers - they were incredibly hot, damn loud but sounded sweet when running correctly mainly due to that lovely V8 3.5L petrol lump it had. An absolute mare to work on though, and they were always breaking down - the reliability of the ambulance fleet must have improved by factors of thousands when the diesel variants were introduced.

I also note from memory that during th3 period 1992-95 I went nowhere on operational tours - I'm 99% certain that the unit didn't go anywhere as well so it is totally possible that all your Landrover did for that period was drive between Colchester (where 19AMFA was based - Goojerat Barracks), Thetford and Salisbury Plain. If memory serves me correct - the formation of 24 Air Mobile Brigade was pretty recent (before it was 19 Inf Brigade) - When I went to 4 Regt AAC in Wattisham it was under the command of the same brigade as 19AMFA and at that point the operational tours started.

I seem to remember that in nearly 15 years I never ever saw the IR system work. (Forgive me if you already know) the IR switch was flicked having placed great big IR filters on the headlamps. Using appropriate IR sensitive goggles or what-ever, the IR light was visible and allowed you to drive effectively in the dark. I think that it was fairly short lived as all the enemy had to do was don some similar goggles and they could see you.

Whenever we could we would repair / replace cable and components as per the manufacturers specs though it has to be remembered that the vehicles had a hard life and were normally battle damage repaired to ensure that they kept rolling. As with everything else time to repair properly once back in camp was sometimes limited so a lot of army vehicles had all sorts of 'bodges' sorry, technical repairs to keep them roadworthy. I can remember that a favourite fault was the wipers inop which occurred when the cam nets were on the vehicles and someone inadvertently caught the wiper switch causing the motor to get hot which heated the brass worm gear which then melted the teeth on the plastic gear - the number of araldite plastic gears that were made, cured over the gas stove and filed back to gear teeth using a needle file was quite high. The other option was a piece of string that manually made the wipers work - the drivers used to hate it and we had some pride in our ingenuity and ability so that was avoided at all cost.

Anyway - seeing and looking at your site certainly provoked a thought or two - I hope that you find the info useful. If I remember any more I will drop you a line.

Kind regards,

Clive

And Mark Ridge adds:

Hallo Ian,

just having a surf and came across your pages. Thought this may be of interest:

I was a Combat Medical Technician (RAMC) in 250 Field Ambulance in 1984. At this time the Unit was a Hull based TA unit which, in Sept 1984, deployed to W Germany on the largest European exercise since WW2 - Excercise Lionheart. As I recall we went by ferry to and from, Hamburg. It would seem that the vehicle was probably part of a unit upscale for Lionheart only.

Cheers

Mark

The Land Rover Forward Control 101 (the 101 refers to the wheel base in inches) was designed for the British Army as an air-transportable heavy duty four wheel drive/gun tug. Production ran from 1975 to 1978. Some were converted to ambulances - and we've bought one of those. The engine came from the Range Rover of the day: alloy 3.5L V8; transmission is the LT95 gearbox with 4-speed gearbox, 2-speed transfer box and full-time four wheel drive with centre differential (and diff lock). Salisbury axles (much stronger than Rover axles) were fitted front and rear, with 5.4:1 ratio differentials - which makes it very low geared. Suspension is by leaf springs (parabolics) and is surprisingly comfortable. It had an anti-roll bar fitted to the front axle, so it's quite stable for a vehicle of this height.. Tyres are 9.00x16" on 6.5x16" rims with six studs. Bar grip tyres were fitted (although we've replaced them) - which don't help it go round corners very quickly.  A really good overview of these vehicles can be found on the ex-military Land Rover association site.

Vehicle History Card Data

Notes

30 Jul 1982 Hilton Commissioned to the Hilton Vehicle Depot
4 Aug 1982 ADPCON  
6 Aug 1984 250 Fd Amb(v) Began service with 250 Field Ambulance, 15 (North East) Brigade
18 Oct 1984 VD Hilton Returned to to the Hilton Vehicle Depot
4 Aug 1987 OSU Burscough Transferred to the Ordnance Support Unit at Burscough
7/8/87 VBQ  
  UIN CHANGE  
26 Jul 1988 TMP Burscough  
1 Sep 1992 OSU Burscough  
25 Sep 1992 19 (AIRMOB) FD AMB Began service with 19 Brigade Airmobile Field Ambulance Unit, RAMC
4 Dec 1995 BRITCSSBN Went to the British Combat Service Support Battalion
12 Dec 1995 OP Resolute - 5 FD AMB Began service with Operation Resolute - Bosnia, with the 5 Field Ambulance Unit of the RAMC
19 Nov 96 TDU  
7 Jan 1997 5 FD AMB RAMC Continued service with 5 Field Ambulance, RAMC
4 Nov 1998 MVSL (Disposals) Disposed of through Military Vehicle Sales Limited

Images of the data sheets are here (use 'back' to return here).

Sheet 1
Sheet 2
Sheet 3