B Squadron Leopard 2A6M Conversion Training Part II
Lt Moses Pano
2nd Tp Ldr
22 June 2009
29 May 09 marked the beginning of B Squadron’s second group of personnel destined for Leopard 2A6M training in Germany: the land of Beiren, schnitzel, automobiles, and the premier tank in the world, the Leopard 2A6M.. As such, the road to war continued in true B Squadron fashion, with students reporting at o’dark hundred (0300) at the Harvey Building, departing for the airport at 0630.
The “8 hour” flight found everyone keeping themselves entertained by the many “amenities” offered along the way. Finally arriving at Munster, we were inundated by a myriad of Germany safety regulations on the operation and treatment of vehicles and equipment. Unbeknownst to us, the German course officer, Hauptmann (Captain) Nils Potten, was under the impression that all Canadian soldiers were issued hammers for resolving vehicle complications. It was stressed that no Canadian hammers will be used in such cases.
On the second day, the staff and students mingled after working hours at the traditional Ice Breaker which is held in the “Witches’ House”. There, all familiarized themselves with German cuisine and beverages. We also introduced our German comrades to the favourite Canadian Army pastime of Spoons. This author can say with certainty that this game was not for the faint of heart, as c/s 22 and 22A (WO Marty “Wheels” Wheeler) faced off. The senior NCO’s were able to retain their title as champion spooners yet again.
The following two weeks involved early wake up calls by the famous coo-coo bird, physical training at 0500 hrs, training on the turret, and long hours for the drivers. Weekends were devoted to experiencing German culture at many tourist attractions close at hand.
The third week was known as simulator “hell week” because it saw the turret crews trained and tested by the Shadow Instructors: Sgt “Gitch” Allen, WO Iain Fox and WO Malenfant (of C Sqn 3-07 fame). Gunnery skills on the Leopard 2A6M were drilled and drilled again. In the Troop Trainer, we were tested on our ability to fend off the evil hoards while escorting the spargle (asparagus) shipment to safety.
The drivers compiled many hours of driving time and could be seen waving while we were being taught the importance of using a wench system to pick up the 500 lbs escape hatch. The German experience culminated on the much anticipated range were the crews finally experienced the tanks in action, firing service HEAT ammunition and conducting night shoots with the hunter-killer sight.
Finally, the course came to a close at the “Witches’ House” with an end course party. All the proceeds from the canteen fund amassed during training funded an excellent time with more WeisBeir. Hauptmann Potten was presented with a unique Canadian Hammer and other tokens of our appreciation for his hard work and that of his staff. However, after being away from home for two months out of the last two and a half, the soldiers of B Squadron headed back with fond memories, excellent skills, and a much anticipated return to our family and friends.