Battlegroup North 2015 Show Report
by Mike Humphreys

Our Area’s main event again took place at the Yorkshire Air Museum, Elvington. For the last few years we have had a range of weather conditions and this year was no exception –warm and sunny, torrential rain, cold east winds, then warm and sunny in that order. Most of the vehicles, camping and stalls had plenty of space to spread out to the right of the entrance. Inside, next to the helipad could be found the artillery group of trucks and a 25 pdr field gun along with a number of re enactment groups.
The main hanger was again home to Wargaming and further stalls whilst to the side children could enjoy rides in miniature ‘tanks’. Rides on a real tank, a Russian T54/55, or armour in the shape of a 432 and Abbot were also available at the end of the run way at prices up to £25.00.
The 4.00pm Saturday afternoon road run, through the adjoining flat countryside, left on time. Starting with a convoy down the runway, and then out through Elvington village to the former RAF airfield at Melbourne. The cold weather attracted the Land Rover fraternity rather than the Jeep boys.

The NAAFI building was the centre of entertainment on Saturday evening with loud disco music, (I am getting old), the excellent three girl group the ‘ Hotsie Totsies’ and our usual large raffle.

If you wanted to be deafened over the weekend then watching the static Merlin engine run up was the thing for you! A quite unbelievable noise! Nearby, twice a day, Mike Peacock introduced the 25pdr field gun to the crowds and talked them through a demonstration firing of this iconic artillery piece. The bang was suitably loud to make people jump and set the odd car alarm off.


There are plenty of aircraft to see dotted around the site and I took the opportunity to go aboard the Nimrod which arrived at the museum in 2010. Ray Flint, an ex Air Electronics Operator and instructor kindly talked us through the technology on board.

An unusual exhibit sheltering under an awning was a recently purchased 1942 Austin Tilly which had been laid up since 1953 somewhere in Belgium. It may well have been ex Belgium army after the War. Simon and Chris Taverner, from Helmsley bought it last year. Built under Contract S1444 dated 28 10 42 and with serial no M5396122, it certainly had patina, and was complete before his wife Chris, and her sister Michelle Thompson, began the strip down. They were continuing this over the weekend. The plan is for a rebuild to a factory fresh finish. Chris and Michelle are ATS re-enactors and along with Paula and Lotty Swinford are known as the ‘Khaki Bloomers’. Other possessions include a ’44 Ford GPW, a push bike and a Triumph 3HW from 1943, which Chris says she rides and helped put together in their front room!
Another Austin, but this time one some 23 years younger, looking very smart indeed as was owner Mike Howard from Goole, stood amongst the Land Rovers. This ex AFS Austin Gypsy had been built in 1965 and released as late as 2002. It still has only 12,500 miles on the clock and is powered by a 2.2 petrol engine now fitted with electronic ignition. Mike is ex T.A. Royal Engineers, 129 Field Squadron, 3 Troop from Goole.

Nearby, with his head under the bonnet was Anthony Bentham being helped by his son Jack. His immaculate RAF blue 1958 Series II Land Rover had blown the exhaust gasket en route. He was hoping to fix it before the trip back to Lofthouse near Wakefield.

Norman Gibson and his wife Linda had brought along a 1990 110 Defender bought only last week. This is ex Army 64-KJ-52 and now registered H880 OEE and Norman intends to put it back to its’ original specification.

Colin and Liz Parr come up every year from Southampton, and again for the Crank Down weekend in their 110 which was built in 1991. They say the folks up here are so friendly and that’s generally true. Sold by Withams, this was originally fitted as a deep wader but Colin had it put back to a commercial specification as he uses it every day.

It has had various rebuilds and a new chassis at some stage. They travel widely in it having been to Spain 10 times, Italy and the Pyrenees. He tows a small caravan with it and they said they were planning a trip to Peenemunde later this year. It was obvious that Colin had a wealth of stories to tell as he works in the dockyard as a marine electronics contractor and was previously a Torpedo and Sonar man. He is also an MBE.

I had just photographed an immaculate Plymouth saloon when the owner, John Le Page from Wharton, a member of S. Cumbria and N. Lancs MVT turned up. He said he had spotted the car on the web on a garage forecourt in Indiana.

At the time it was turquoise, but in amazing condition. Desert Classics arranged its’ importation in 2012 and since then the 214cc 6 cylinder side valve engine has been rebuilt and the car now supports olive drab paint.

This 1940 model P10’s interior is all original and in superb condition. It did make me wonder why I was driving a wartime truck and not enjoying the luxury of something like this. Could be the future perhaps? Most impressive Air Horns under the bonnet.

A 1916 model T Ford arrived on Sunday brought by Alan and Christine Rogerson. Built originally at Trafford Park, Manchester this had been bought in bits from France.

Christine told me that the original engine had “crumbled” but luckily a replacement had been found. The rebuild takes its original form as a Water Tanker and was completed last year.

Christine also said driving it took a little getting used to as it does not have a traditional gearbox. It is worth having a look at the Transmission and Drivetrain section in Wikipedia to see how it operates.

Graham and Maureen Durrans from Sheffield were sat enjoying a picnic behind their immaculate 1968 Air Portable Land Rover as I passed. This enjoyed a very short life with 41 Commando then the Royal Signals before being sold at the end of 1973. However Graham has restored it to show condition from the wreck he bought in 2010.

I am never quite sure what Mick Sparks from Shelf, near Halifax will be wearing at events. He certainly looks most convincing as a French 'poilu' ( literally meaning 'hairy' the common nickname given to French infantrymen because of their unshaven appearance ) not that he is, but this year he was with the Russians. 

However, his truck is a 1940 aeroscreen Bedford MW which he has owned since 1993. He likes to keep it on the road doing jobs in between. The back body has been off recently so he could do the chassis and he has recently renewed the cab floor. He tells me it came from a farm near Kettering and when bought was fitted with an OY cab. Alongside, standing out from the crowd, was a 1944 ex Army QL in fire engine red with plenty of patina. I didn’t get to speak to the owner, but the display board showed it to be ex Morecambe Fire Service. Great to see being preserved in running order as it must have looked 50 or 60 years ago.
Chris Tills newly restored Sherman was most impressive winning Best in Show and photographs of the interior can be seen in a recent issue of CMV. He took it on the road run which I believe created a bit of a stir locally. A number of us followed him and several other Shermans in Holland last September where they made a most impressive sight.

Another newly restored vehicle was Mike Peacock’s Morris Quad on its first show outing.

Re- enactment groups included a superb large tented display of 101st Airborne medical facilities, some German Wehrmacht, 69th Field, the East Yorks, and Forces 80 amongst others. Forces 80 have been going over 10 years and the group has about twelve members and appeared armed to the teeth! The three in the photograph are Graham Foggin from Durham, David White from Stroud and Stan Cheffey of Cambridge.

I appreciate that this report can only cover a handful of the vehicles there but I hope it along with the photos gives a flavour of the vehicles on show and the dedication of the owners in restoring and keeping them on the road in excellent condition. Last, but not least, a big thank you to Brian and his team of volunteers who organised and had a busy three days running the show. Next years show will be 6th- 8th May.

Prizes were presented on Sunday afternoon and the winners after Best in Show were:

Jeeps 1st D Anderton Ford GPW
2nd N Hudson Ford GPW
3rd J Arnold Willys MB

Best WW2 1st S Wright Halftrack
2nd M Bean AEC Matador
3rd M Dicken Fordson WOT 3

Best Post War 1st N Clay 436
2nd J Hepworth Land Rover
3rd P Wright Trabant

Best Motorcycle 1st M Edmondson Matchless2
2nd N Cheetham Royal Enfield
3rd K Goodwin BSA M20

Best diorama/display Andrea Leathley 101st AB medical tent

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