1987 Keystone – Galerie White

1987 Keystone

What can I tell you about them? At the time, I was back in the Regiment after a year in England at the Army Staff College. I was Officer Commanding D Squadron, 4th Royal Tank Regiment, stationed in Imphal Barracks, Osnabrück. We deployed on Exercise Keystone as the enemy, hence the red crosses on our tanks, which had SIMFIRE fitted, a training system which simulated engagements with a laser projector in the barrel to represent firing the main armament and detectors on the turret to receive hits. The system had pyrotechnics, with small charges in a rack above the gun to represent firing and an orange smoke pot to signify the tank being killed. Although most of the tanks in my Squadron were Chieftain Marks 6-9, there is one image of a tank driving through a village which is clearly a Mark 11 it has been uparmoured with STILLBREW armour and the searchlight has been replaced with the Thermal Observation and Gunnery System. This must have been the period when 4RTR went through a significant equipment upgrade. I subsequently left the Regiment in late 1987 to go to the Ministry of Defence in London and when I came back as Second-in Command, in 1990, it was completely equipped with Mark 11 Chieftain, the final version. I was fortunate then to be appointed as Commanding Officer of 2 RTR in Fallingbostel but that was on Challenger 1. You can see on the photos that I’d got D Squadron to paint the tanks in a camouflage scheme which allowed us to see to which troop a tank belonged from a long distance. The stripes on the hull sides were coded so that each troop had a different pattern, with single stripes at the front, centre or back of the side plates, or in my HQ Troop, two stripes. It was a good system as long as the tank didn’t pick up too much dust or mud. On the FaceBook page, someone claimed we had “shot down” a Lynx from our own side. The writer must have forgotten that we were acting as enemy and it was our job to shoot down any allied aircraft coming into range. We were not playing Russian tactics on this exercise but later, when I was commanding 2RTR, we formed the first professional “enemy” or Opposition Force (OPFOR) in Canada and we did then very much operate on Russian tactics, with a bit of our own thinking added in.

I’m now starting to look through all my photos and I hope I’ll find more of exercises in Germany. If I do, I’ll let you know. Thanks very much for yours. I’m now going to look through your wonderful archive to see if I recognise any more of my Regiment.

Very best regards.

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Stephen White

3 Kommentare

  1. 3

    Hello Stephen
    Very nice pictures and a great text.
    I thank you very much for providing these pictures.


  2. 2
    Guenther H.

    Ich stell mir gerade vor, wieviele von den “Briten – Infizierten” beim betrachen dieser Top Aufnahmen, wieder in anderen Sphären weilen…auch mich erinnern die Chieftain, an die C1 der Kanadier, die bei uns in selber Formation in den Feldern auffuhren , automatisch kommen wieder Erinnerungen optischer und olfaktorischer Natur in den Sinn, von Heimbs-Coffee, Schokokuchen, Steak etc.
    Könnte man doch die Zeit zurück drehen…

    In diesem Sinne : DANKESCHÖN für’s zeigen!


  3. 1
    Lars de Vries

    Hello Stephen,

    thank you very much for the incredible pictures and your extensive text. The exercise Keystone ran right here in my homeland …. I was 12 years old and hell was going on here. Thank you for allowing us this in our archive. I hope you can find more pictures of this or other exercises.

    Greetings Lars

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