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Farming while in the army


Learning to blow up tanks with a mortar
George Daniels Master watchmaker
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Soon after basic training, I went to Wales, where I was taught to blow up tanks with a mortar and the mortar is quite a heavy instrument. It's three components, there's the barrel, the tripod and the base plate and each one weighs 50 pounds, and so wherever you went you had this 50 pound weight on your back and it gets very tiring. You never get used to it, but you become stoic and you just think here we go another ten miles, 50 pounds on your back, but you do it. And they say in the end it's good for you, but I've never really discovered whether or not it was.

So we enjoyed ourselves on this. There we were driving these Bren Carriers, tracked vehicles, which were terrific fun to us, and a great adventure. And I remember on one occasion we were learning how to cross a ford. It's very important to know how to cross water in tracked vehicles, and someone made a bit of a rush at it and hammered on to a rock and jammed all the gear changing mechanism up into the engine so that was hors de combat. Another tracked vehicle was brought in to tow it out and our platoon sergeant was standing with one foot on each vehicle and someone gave the word to go and of course he fell down the middle between these two, into the water, soaked to the skin, you know. And it was then we heard the poetic majesty of the expletive of an instructor who's been humiliated and left in great discomfort by all these people. And everybody around us was terribly amused, so everybody got blamed for it. But that is the sort of thing that happens.

George Daniels, CBE, DSc, FBHI, FSA (19 August 1926 - 21 October 2011) was an English watchmaker most famous for creating the co-axial escapement. Daniels was one of the few modern watchmakers who could create a complete watch by hand, including the case and dial. He was a former Master of the Clockmakers' Company of London and had been awarded their Gold Medal, a rare honour, as well as the Gold Medal of the British Horological Institute, the Gold Medal of the City of London and the Kullberg Medal of the Stockholm Watchmakers’ Guild.

Listeners: Roger Smith

Roger Smith was born in 1970 in Bolton, Lancashire. He began training as a watchmaker at the age of 16 at the Manchester School of Horology and in 1989 won the British Horological Institute Bronze Medal. His first hand made watch, made between 1991 and 1998, was inspired by George Daniels' book "Watchmaking" and was created while Smith was working as a self-employed watch repairer and maker. His second was made after he had shown Dr Daniels the first, and in 1998 Daniels invited him to work with him on the creation of the 'Millennium Watches', a series of hand made wrist watches using the Daniels co-axial escapement produced by Omega. Roger Smith now lives and works on the Isle of Man, and is considered the finest watchmaker of his generation.

Tags: Wales, British Army

Duration: 1 minute, 49 seconds

Date story recorded: May 2003

Date story went live: 24 January 2008