David Edwards, FO, 22 Bty
The newly formed 2/10 Medium Regiment travelled across to Cultana Range in Oct 1992. I was a FO with 22 Bty. Here are my notes (spread across multiple parts).
Soon after 2/15 Fd Regt and 10 Mdm Regt amalgamated into 2/10 Mdm Regt under LtCol David Forster, we held an annual camp at Cultana in SA. This was the first time many of the Victorian gunners had experienced this type of terrain and it was quite a learning experience.
I don’t recall much of the trip over other than stopping at the Murray Bridge (SA) range before continuing on through Adelaide and up to Port Augusta and Cultana. There may have been some issue with us driving on the newly laid GP circuit, but I don’t remember it. The Cultana Training Area (El Alamein) encampment was somewhat underwhelming. A bunch of small buildings spread out amongst the red dirt and sparse scrub with an imposing hill behind it.
We had little appreciation of the size of the range until we drove the 60-odd kilometres down to the bottom of the range (just short of Whyalla). Our FO party consisted of Bdr Andrew Eccles (FO Ack), Gnr Peter Haysom (Sig) and myself. The other party was Capt Jim Pearson, Bdr John Moodie, and Gnr “Johnno” Johnson. Our driver was Ray Chachia – sporting the coolest 70’s wrap-around shades.
My first observation of the terrain close-up was that over the millennia all the topsoil had washed down off the hills onto the plain leaving incredibly sharp rocks underfoot. Good thing I was looking down on this occasion as I nearly stepped on a baby tiger snake sunning itself. The place was hot, dry and dusty.
The range itself seemed like a huge bowl with a steep ridge running down the west side and a few smaller hills to the SE where we started our observer activities. After shooting at Pucka, Singleton and Holsworthy, the large featureless plain was challenging for adjusting. My first adjustment went something like; add 400, add 400, (what the…) add 800, drop 400 …
On another day we were in a similar position with all FO parties, with BC (Maj Steve Venn) and CO (LtCol Forster) on the hill. The first adjusting round from the other battery went whizzing overhead and the CO jumped on the radio to call ‘Check firing’. Apparently, the GPO (who will remain nameless) hadn’t done his crest clearance drills. I reckon I could have held up my highlighter and put a nice spiral pattern on the round. Well, it’s funny now.