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Report - Salisbury Plain Training Area, Wiltshire - December 2014

Discussion in 'Military Sites' started by Bertie Bollockbrains, Jan 5, 2015.

  1. Bertie Bollockbrains

    Bertie Bollockbrains 28DL Regular User
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    Visited with Wife of Bertie Bollockbrains and Son of Bertie Bollockbrains
    Revisit with Oort, TallRich and Huey.


    Disclaimer (for visiting journalists):


    These are not derelict sites but actual live military sites used most days of the year for training, including live fire training. We visited on a day that we knew in advance that there would be no training on the Plain. Such days are few and far between. It would not be wise to follow us as you could be shot (errr accidentally I mean, I don’t think there's an official policy of execution by firing squad for explorers just yet).

    All of the sites below are near to public rights of way and none of them involved climbing fences or crawling through holes in fences for entry. At no time did we purposely pass any sort of “Go Away” sign. Although we did eventually find a “Go Away” sign after exploring Copehill Down for some time. It was facing the wrong direction and was on the complete opposite side of Copehill Down from the public right of way. Memo to any reading member of the MOD: the keep out sign need to be positioned next to the public right of way where it can be seen.

    Hundreds of photos of the following sites can be found on the internet using Google. They also show on OS maps and the grid references are shown on Wikipedia, Copehill Down actually appears in an episode of “Top Gear” with Jeremy Twatson. So we are not revealing state secrets.


    History:

    Salisbury Plain Army Training Estate (ATE SP) is one of the most well known areas of all the MOD land. The Army has been connected with Salisbury Plain since 1897 and the total area of the current estate is just over 38000 hectares. It is 25 miles by 10 miles and occupies about one ninth of the area of Wiltshire.

    20,000 hectares are designated Sites of Special Scientific Interest and Special Areas of Conservation, and the entire estate is a Special Protection Area for birds. There are some 2300 ancient monuments including features dating back to 4000 BC, with more recent Roman settlements.

    It is the largest military training area in the United Kingdom. Around 39 square miles are permanently closed to the public, and access is greatly restricted in other areas. Since 1897 and as military use of the plain increased, new camps and barracks were constructed; including those at Larkhill, Bulford, Tidworth and Warminster. Several installations have been built and since removed, including a railway line and an aerodrome that was constructed next to Stonehenge. In 1943 the village of Imber and the hamlet of Hinton Parva were evacuated to allow training for Operation Overlord to be conducted. The village has remained closed, except for the annual church service and some bank holidays ever since.

    Live firing is conducted on the plain for approximately 340 days of each year. Military personnel from the UK and around the world spend some 600,000 man days on the plain every year.

    Accidents do happen, and in March 2014 a stray round landed at Patney, near Devizes, leaving a crater 6ft in diameter and 2ft deep. Wife of Bertie Bollockbrains was scared out of her wits that day and hasn’t been the same since!

    There are limited public rights of way on the Plain, but these are seldom used by anyone and it’s very easy to find solitude on the Plain - which is why in the summer Wife of Bertie Bollockbrains often goes up there for a bit of naked sunbathing. Don’t worry she doesn’t read this I think.


    Copehill Down FIBUA Village

    (FIBUA = Fighting in Built Up Areas)

    The village was built in 1988 to resemble a German village in Bavaria, to provide troops with a simulated backdrop when training for operations in European theatres including the Cold War, the Balkans and Northern Ireland.

    In recent years the facility has been expanded to include a shanty town made up of cargo containers stacked and laid out in rows of tightly packed streets, to provide an additional training area that more closely resembles the Army's more recent operational theatres in Operation Herrick (Afghanistan) and Operation Telic (Iraq).

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    Photographs stop here, because we did spot the “Keep Out” sign and :eek: we also spotted the uniformed retaining guard force. A quick retreat was necessary.


    Train and Helicopter Graveyard

    To be fully fully reported from one of the others soon.

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    Imber Village

    To be fully reported from one of the others soon.

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    Thanks for looking
     
    #1 Bertie Bollockbrains, Jan 5, 2015
    Last edited: Jan 5, 2015

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  2. huey

    huey 28DL Regular User
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    That's an excellent report mate,great info and pics,well done indeed. Was good to hook up with you and thanks for the hospitality too,getting caught on a live MOD site is something I wont forget in a hurry.Have to meet up again soon.:thumb
     
  3. brewski

    brewski 28DL Full Member
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    nice, look forward to seeing the rest. sure having the MOD chasing you would be an experience!
     
  4. Oort

    Oort The spice expands consciousness.
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    Great report mate! One of the most enjoyable above ground explores I've been on. I'll get the Imber report up tomorrow.
     
  5. Oxygen Thief

    Oxygen Thief Admin
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    I've come across all that stuff on my travels before, not all in one go though.

    There's an airliner out there somewhere, a smallish one. Remember sleeping it in once with some sTAbs. Never could re-locate it in recent years so maybe it's been shifted.
     
  6. Bertie Bollockbrains

    Bertie Bollockbrains 28DL Regular User
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    Did plenty of training myself on the plain in the 1990s. Never seen an airliner and in my time living hereabouts have thoroughly explored the west side. Could it be on the east side where the public really do have restricted access.

    Thought I would go a bit further on an incident I briefly mentioned in the history as we heard the explosion from our home and wifey really was spooked. In March 2014 a stray artillery shell landed outside Devizes. The explosive, which was fired either by large AS-90 locomotive artillery or a L118 105mm light gun howitzer, left a six foot wide crater in a farmer's field, scattering earth and rock up to 40ft.


    An overshot of at least 5 miles. I didn't even know that was possible and I do hope the range officer got a good bollocking. Anyone from the MOD wants to apologise to my traumatised wife?

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  7. Cuuvin

    Cuuvin 28DL Colonial Member
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    oops...

    Ahh, the Military. Just a bunch of crazy blokes. got em over here too. Happened a few years ago

    US fighter jet strafes school in New Jersey :eek:

    "...But when the heavy gun in the left wing of an Air National Guard F-16 fighter jet fired Wednesday night, it sent 25 rounds of 20mm ammunition smashing through the roof and zinging off the asphalt parking lot of the Little Egg Harbor Intermediate School 3½ miles from the range."

    "In 2002, an Air National Guard F-16 that had been practicing at the range crashed along the Garden State Parkway. The plane’s pilot ejected safely, and no one on the ground was hurt.
    Errant practice bombs were blamed for forest fires that burned more than 11,000 acres of the Pine Barrens near the range in 1999 and more than 1,600 acres in 2002."
     
  8. Bertie Bollockbrains

    Bertie Bollockbrains 28DL Regular User
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    Update for Oxygen Thief

    Just spoken to a recently retired infantry Regimental Sergeant Major with nearly 40 years of experience on the plain. There are two airliners on the plain. Could not get the location info out of him. Used for hostage rescue scenarios at least by special forces. I imagine careful examination of Google Earth will show them up, but I suspect they are well away from any public accessible areas.
     
  9. Bertie Bollockbrains

    Bertie Bollockbrains 28DL Regular User
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    Well it's a long night in the office on a night shift, so been scanning Salisbury Plain on Google Earth and no signs of a plane. But did find the word "OXO" largely carved in a small wood a couple of kilometres SE of the Westbury (just east of Dirtley Wood which is marked on an OS map).

    Guess the nights are as long and boring for the woodchoppers of the Royal Corps of Lumberjacks as my office is.
     
  10. Oxygen Thief

    Oxygen Thief Admin
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    Cheers mate, knew I wasn't imagining things.
     
  11. Raz

    Raz 28DL Regular User
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    wow looks great :thumb is this the place they used on a episode of topgear? looks familiar!
     
  12. Session9

    Session9 A life backwards
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    Now that is interesting. Excellent write up :thumb
     
  13. merryprankster

    merryprankster formerly oakleyframer
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    very nicely done!
     
  14. A man called Martyn

    A man called Martyn cultural theorist
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    Defence chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear centre had or may still even have a Dominie T.1, which would be a prime candidate for the smallish airliner you slept in. There is also a Hercules fuselage or flight deck, depending on your source.
     
  15. Bertie Bollockbrains

    Bertie Bollockbrains 28DL Regular User
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    yes - about 2 years ago

    Copehill Down is also occasionally rented out to airsoft wargaming groups - looks like next one in August at about £90 a go, bookings through this website
     
    #15 Bertie Bollockbrains, Jan 8, 2015
    Last edited: Jan 8, 2015
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