|At Donnington, Colonel Reg Tibbie, six feet
four inches and some 16 stones of dynamism, believes in strict deadlines
and simple solutions. And he puts paperwork very much in perspective. "The soldiers in Ulster are doing a bloody good job and anything to make
it easieróthat's what we're here for. And one can respond very rapidly,
which is what industry can't always do," he says.
Along with the ingenuity of the ideas this quicksilver response is one of
the most remarkable things about REME's effort.
|A lot of our ideas are based on ancient concepts. The Romans knew what
they were doing."óMajor Reg Pearce, REME Northern Ireland. Grappling
hooks, catapults for CS smokeóboth have been used. And soldiers skeltering
under packed shields are reminiscent of early times.
One Friday morning Donnington was approached with an idea for a smoke
discharger for armoured vehicles. At lunchtime the experts conferred
around an armoured "pig." By 2am a decision was reached. Craftsmen worked
through the weekend and the first ten arrived in Northern Ireland on the
When Northern Ireland appealed for protection for staff cars, Colonel
Tibbie "pinched" his GOC's vehicle to experiment with. "He gave it just
like that." and quality testing is all part of the work.
When the first plastic shield
was made, Captain Harry Bray became, perhaps, the only officer to throw a
brick at his colonel and get away with it. Behind the shield: Colonel Tibbie.
And in Northern Ireland Major Reg Pearce had a bruised stomach for several
weeks after testing the strength of a new water cannon.
On the shop floor the soldier in Ulster gets nothing but sympathy and
whole-hearted support. At Donnington 59-year-old Mr Stanley Woolley
discovered that public transport could not get him to the Sunday shift on
time. So he walks six miles from his home in Wellington. "It's a job well
worth walking for," he says.
Another man hired a taxi out of his own pocket to arrive on time. When
Colonel Tibbie heard about this he arranged Army transport.
"The whole idea is to help the lads in Northern Ireland. We'd do anything
for them and we like to think we are doing our little bit to stop the
trouble." óMr George Jervis, carpenter at 34 Central Workshop, Donnington.