A Sqn Leopard 2 A6M Conversion Course Serial 1, 19 Sep 09 to 17 Oct 09

Tpr T.J. Livingstone
9 November 2009

On 19 Sep 09 A Sqn, LdSH(RC) left for Germany to complete a one month training session on the new Leopard 2 A6M main battle tank. There were 40 soldiers, senior NCOs and officers included. For most of the younger soldiers it was their first time travelling to Europe and they were all very excited.

When they arrived in Germany there was a lot of work to been done in a short amount of time. The first week involved discovering the difference between the Leopard C2 we currently use in Canada, and the new Leopard 2 A6M that we will be using in Afghanistan. This included what the capabilities are, and where the kit is stowed on, the Leopard 2 A6M. Drivers were sent to the driving school where they learned the skills required to maintain and drive this impressive new beast.

After a long day of work, the troops went back to shacks to shower before exploring the beautiful town of Munster, Germany. The popular hot spots for the Canadian troops were the Sunset, the K2, and Le Chateau. The troops would stay at the bars until curfew. They drank, played pool, laughed, told jokes and sang all night.

After a long week of hard work the troops were exhausted, but they somehow found energy to pack their bag and make it to the train station for an amazing weekend in Hamburg. MCpl Reid, Tpr Livingstone, Tpr Sears, Tpr Foster, Tpr Lucas, Cpl Estabooks, and Cpl Nancarrow all made the long trip to visit Berlin. Berlin was having a grandiose festival celebrating the reunification of East and West Germany 20 years ago.

The next weekend the crews made the road move to range six, in Bergen-Belsum. The crews would put their training to the test. On the second day of shooting Maj McKenzie (OC A Sqn) and WO Jones (SSM A Sqn) made a visit to the range to see how the troops were progressing with the new tanks. The OC and SSM were very impressed with everyone’s performance at range.

At the end of the range all the drivers were treated to a surprise. Each driver got to fire off a round of Practice HEAT. For all of the new drivers it was their first time shooting a 120mm round. Seeing the smiles on the drivers’ faces after firing the gun was a great feeling.

After the range was cleaned everyone went back to shacks for the course party where there was plenty of beer for everyone. The Canadians introduced a new game to the Germans; the game was called “spoons.” The Canadian champion, MCpl Reid, wanted to challenge the German course officer, Captain Erb. It was a long and stressful but entertaining game. In the end MCpl Reid came out on top with a win. After a long night of drinking and sharing stories it was an early morning reveille for the road move back to Munster. The next day we would make a long journey back to Canada where everyone would be reunited with their family and friends.