Monday, June 25, 2012

Hello G29, This is 88........

Artillery without communication is nothing. Zilc. No firepower, no nothing. Comms are needed for passage of orders, sitreps and all the 'treps, and for keeping control of everything Artillery. The Fire Orders Net is the primary net for the artillery carrying fire orders and directing the guns so to speak. The two other nets are the Regt/Bty Command net and the Regt/Bty Admin net. All HF networks. The FO NET is always VHF for clearity and noice reduction. But VHF is dependant on line of sight signals, hence a very short range. To increase our range for communication, the BDE Signals Sqn would set up relay stations, mostly on top of hilltops for extended range. Rebro callsign is always 88.

I always request, sometimes demand for Rebro stations for all my operational activities. Some Signal Sqn comds do not always see my point for deployment of their precious resource. But I always get my way, via the Bde Comd or over beers. We unfortunately do not have the iPhone, Nokia, Motorolla and Samsung smart phones like today. No TWITTER, No Facebook, No Facetime and No Skype. No IM, MMS and SMS.
Today I use WHATAPPS and Skype for all my communication needs. I never use IM for lack of interoperability between types of hardwares.

Wouldn't it be nice if Fire orders came through today's communication setups? No need to remember the lenght of the HF arial to be used as we strung them on our diaploes. Heck, I still remember the formula to be used. Half Lampar equals to frequency over 234. Lampar or in the Queen's English Lamda is the length of the HF arial to be used. As we always have 2 primary frequencies and two spare frequencies allocated, we need to remember the formula to change the length of the arial as we change frequencies to suit the time of the day and night. Lampar is an easy word to use as we use it almost everyday; even the non Chinese personnel use Lampar!

But I am a thourough bred VHF man. I demand VHF comms for all my deployments. Call sign 88 would always be deployed, when my Regt or Bty was in town. Regts have their own Rebro signal equipment.

My Bty was operating in the Batu Kawa area just outside Kuching town. 3 Bde Signals Sqn had deployed Rebro for us on top of Gunung Sempadi, overlooking the whole AO. No VHF comms problems over 80 km.
Gunung Sempadi is the highest hill in First Division Sarawak. A TV station was being built on the hilltop. A section of LDC personnel was stationed permanently guarding the station. The Rebro section would put up with the LDC unit whenever deployed. They had a tin shed for admin; a leanto attached to the back of the main building.

3 Bde had deployed two infantry battalions for Search and Destroy Ops in Batu Kawa. My Bty was in direct support and provided HF fire missions , day and night. Occationally we would fire illumination rounds over Gunung Sempadi. A show of operational intensity so to speak. A waste of money I would say.

One night when we were firing Illumination rounds over Gunung Sempadi, 88 came in excitely over the air. Normally they were on radio silent providing their auto relay services, without fuss.

"Hello G 29, this is 88. Bomb masuk dapor over."
"G29. Bomb masuk dapur Out"
" 88 this is G 29, apa ini? Bomb masuk dapur? Jangan kacau over"
"G29, this is 88, bomb api tuan terus masuk dapur kem ini dan tidak bolih dipadam over"
" G29, gunakan Pamadam Api. Over"
" 88, tidak bolih. Dah cuba. Masih terbakar over."

The above conversation is real. What happened?

It had been a normal night illumination mission. Illumination flares open in the sky and float down to the ground providing illumination for about one miinute. Sometimes the parashute of the shell does not open. Although quite rare. We had a mulfunction that night and a flare came straight down the ground. It came through the zinc roof of the leanto, hit the rim of a 44 gal oil drum and deflected 90 degrees and shot out the zinc side wall. It continued to burn fiecely next to a stack of diesel oil drums used for the station's generators. Magnesium burns underwater and without oxygen. It could not be put out with fire extinguishers.

Luckily there were no casualties and no real damage. No Chenobyl. The diesel oil drums did not catch fire and explode. Only two big holes in the roof and side of the leanto.

I dread to know the scenarios of the What Ifs..........

Good Luck, Bad Luck, Maybe

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