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Document from Keith Briggs

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     Twenty-one young soldiers from the All Arms Junior Leaders’ Regiment at Tonfannau were injured when this lorry left the road and tumbled down a 70ft. slope between Machynlleth and Cemmeas on Thursday.
     The lorry was in a convoy at the time on its way to an adventure training camp at Cemmaes when it appears that the verge of the road collapsed.
     Ambulances from three counties rushed the injured boys to Aberystwyth Hospital where eight were detained. Fourteen others were accommodated at the medical reception centre at Tonfannau with cuts and bruises.
     Of the eight detained in hospital two were reported to be seriously injured. They are Junior Privates J.W. Dennis, of Cudworth, near Barnsley , and D.S. Dows, of Brough, Yorkshire.
     The civilian driver of the lorry, who was also injured, Mr. G.H. Franklin, of Llwyngwril, was transferred from Aberystwyth to St. Laurence’s Hospital, Chepstow.
     It was stated today that all the injured boys are now making progress.
3 Tonner Accident At Cemmaes Road.
23rd September 1965.

Document From Kalvin Haley

The above report prompted an immediate flashback to the day it happened. 'A' Company, under the command of Major Ian Appleton RASC as he was then, were due to begin their two-week summer camp that day and embarked on trucks at Tonfanau Camp early that morning for a destination in the vicinity of the village of Cemmaes.
As the tail-end Charlie of Imphal Platoon I remember getting ready to climb into the back of the first 3 ton truck in the convoy when suddenly the order came: ‘tail board up’. As I protested and insisted on getting in with my mates, the NCO in charge had to restrain me; he told me that 21 was the authorised limit and ordered me to get into the front of the one-ton truck immediately behind it. On the one-hand I cursed him for sticking to the rules but on the other, as I climbed into the passenger seat and found it comparably so comfortable, I counted my blessings and not too soon as it turned out.
I recollect we had passed through Machynlleth and were approaching a right-hand bend on the Cemmaes Road where it narrowed when a large fuel tanker came round it from the opposite direction overlapping the centre of the road. I watched the 3 ton truck in front of me instantly pull over hard to the left and, as the tanker swept by, saw the edge of the road crumble as the truck started to keel over and then roll over 3 times as it went down the steep bank below. The rest of the convoy’s action was immediate.
We dismounted and raced down the bank, lined up on the lower side of the truck and lifted it so we could extract those who were trapped under the side of the truck. We then started giving first aid to the casualties until some ambulances arrived. How no-one had died was a miracle, although it very quickly became clear that bones were broken and internal injuries suffered by many of the passengers.
I had no time then to reflect on the matter, as we were ordered to remount and continue our journey to camp but, later on that night, I recalled seeing the whole thing over again and again in very slow motion in my thoughts and began to wonder, somewhat selfishly I suppose, how it was that I had been spared. The words “There, but for the grace of God, go I” which then occurred to me were quickly substituted by “An order is an order, obey it and ask questions later”……. a lesson I would never forget for the rest of my military career.

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