By Gunner Glenn (Dicko) Dixon
Operation Granby, FDC, HQ Bty, 2nd Field Regt. Royal Artillery. I was a "flaggy" on the Regimental Command Post, Regimental Command net in one ear, Div Arty net and Tech net in the other. Although commands were given by those on high, the memories of 24 x M109's responding to my voice will never eradicate. At about 60 hours into the conflict I received a sitrep from a Canadian Forward Observation Officer - Indiah 22, "I am experiencing what appears to be a dug in company position to my front, on my hand held." (night vision sight) "I request Charlie Charlie 1 at priority call to me for the next 45 minutes, 15 rounds HE, 5 Rounds WP, 2 Rounds Illum, over."
Suddenly I'm in the chair! I looked to the officer next to me who was doing the nodding dog through lack of sleep, nudged him and he replied "Yeah" waving his hand at me in a royal wave fusion.
I then transmitted, "Hello I22 and CC1, I22 has CC1 at priority call to you for the next 45 minutes 15 Rounds HE, 5 Rounds WP and 2 Rounds Illum, over"
The batteries replied " I10 Roger Out", "I20 Roger Out", "W30 Roger Out", "I22 Roger Out" Then silence...
Fire mission pad poised ready, I was now bolt rigid waiting for the shoot to take place. The OP gave the batteries the target location, the target description, the amount and type of rounds he wanted and they responded as slick as they've never been slicker before. By this point I was so involved in the Fire Order process I was oblivious to the fact that the nodding dog officer next to me was now a sleeping dog, as deaf as a post and unmoveable. The delay in the mission was due to there still being a state of 'At My Command' in force, that only he could cancel and by doing so gives the executive order to FIRE!!!!
I knew this and I knew that I was in no position to give the order myself. The net was silent, the air was still, and 24 guns were poised ready to punch anger into the night ahead.
The officer next to me responded to my excessive nudging by slumping over on his side, My blood was rushing hard as I looked around the wagon for inspiration, and in the end a voice on the net "Hello 0 this is W30, send cancel at my command over!"
This was no longer a decision but an absolute must, as there had already been a delay longer than the minimum delay stated in the 'Aim of Fire Discipline'.
With a deep breath, knowing I was a Gunner not commissioned to give such an order I looked at the sleeping officer next me and I gave the order, "Zero cancel at my command, OUT!"
That which followed will echo in my mind forever, as 24 guns let rip at once, a barrage of Royal Artillery pumping HE and WP rounds towards the soon to be dead, disorientated, demoralized and neutralized enemy. It seemed to last forever, and it was the smoothest mission I'd ever been a part of, then suddenly the OP stopped the shoot, "Check Firing, friendlies wish to dismount, end of mission Sitrep to follow." As he transmitted the noise in the background was screaming, muffled explosions and the crackling of small arms fire and then silence again. A truly deafening silence.
The Sitrep came through in the most sombre, bereaved manor, as if the OP had lost one of his own he said, "Good shooting.... target annihilated...many enemy dead..........Out!"
Following that, the officer next to me woke and asked, "Anything happening Dicko, I nearly dozed off then..."