On a walk from Lightwater to Deepcut on the track alongside the protective fence of the Bisley & Pirbright Ranges I encountered vehicle and man from Landmarc Landmarc won a contract in 2012 to manage the Defence Training Estates (DTE) for the Ministry of Defence.
Before I relay the conversation, there’s an excellent document – DTE Home Counties – User Guide, which provides a useful brief history of Ash, Barossa, Pirbright & Bisley Ranges, their location, conservation and live firing information. .
Back to the conversation. I said I was a regular walker along the track, and therefore noticed the changes to the track and the ranges over time – such as the firebreak added adjacent to the range perimeter fence, and introduction of Red Deer. I mentioned the likely location of the remains of a 1916 training mine explosion near Colony Gate.
I also described details of a rusting tank carcass inside the ranges that can be seen from Hangmoor. Continuing by saying that I’d asked a Brigadier of Princess Royal Barracks about the tank, only to get back the report that ‘leave it where it is, it’s the remains of the worst tank the British Army ever had”.
I guess more interesting is the information passed on by the man from Landmarc, who said that he was waiting for Army soldiers to complete the disposal of ordnance in the ammunition disposal area near the Chobham Ridges. He said this part of the range contained many anti-tank shells, much of which was unstable.
Then, out came two fascinating bits of information; that an American had acquired a tank carcass from inside the range, which was lifted out by a Chinook helicopter. Even more surprising was that in the Ranges, at an unknown location along Chobham Ridge, is a fully kitted-out a cold war nuclear bunker.
Perhaps both bits of information are apocryphal. Though perhaps not, too. Even so, it made for an enjoyable conversation.