Land-Rover in dire straits
by Takeo De Meter
I dont know if this is the place, or the time, to tell this. But it involves
a Land-Rover, so maybe someone may be interested. If not, dont read
Some years ago, in a place not too far from continental Europe, there
was a conflict that was not what it seemed, nor was it about what most
people think it was about, but that does not matter right now. Anyhow,
I wound up there and one fine (?) late afternoon I woke up, cold, hungry
and totally pissed-off lying under a piece of canvas in the shade of some
rocks, smack dab in the middle of nowhere. We had moved all of the previous
night and slept during daylight. We knew that the locals would not be
friendly and that may explain why I started by scanning the area through
the telescopic sight of my rifle, rather than through my binoculars. One
just never knows. All I saw was a couple of sheds about 500 metres away,
so we burrowed in the shadows and started to think about moving again
My group had been thinned over the past days and only four of us were
left, one of which whom we had to carry because a nasty little plastic
anti-personnel mine had badly wounded his left foot and both his legs.
It also had sent some shrapnel into my shins and this had also considerably
affected my mood for the worse. We had no radio left since it had been
lost in the skirmish we had escaped two days earlier. In short, we were
on the run, trying to make it to safety. Safety was some 90 clicks away,
not an easy task with a man to carry.
As the sun was going down, my #2 nudged my elbow and drew my attention
to something glaring in the last light of the day. He handed me his binoculars
and I found myself staring at what looked like a run-down and battered
SII. One windshield pane was missing, the remaining one reflected a weak
reddish glow from the setting sun. Hmm, that thing must still be running
or how would it have gotten there ? So I got some ideas since we were
very low on everything: no food left, about 3 litres of water, some 20
rounds for my Steyr sniper rifle, two full 13-round mags for my HP Browning
and about 10 full mags between the others for their FALOs. And our wounded
man would stand a far better chance if we had some form of mechanized
transport. So we drew up a simple plan.
In order to make this little contribution look a bit less worse than a
bad war story, I will spare you most of the details of how we despatched
a some stinking rats but 20 minutes after sending the three men who had
come with the Landy into martyrdom to the eternal delights of heaven,
my #2 sat at the wheel of probably the most rickety-rackety, baling-wire-and-broomstick-repaired
Land-Rover on earth. The engine had fired up all right but it seemed not
to be capable of any speed over 50 Km/h and it made a serious effort in
asphyxiating us by blowing exhaust gasses through a blown downpipe gasket
and through a large hole in the footwell on the passenger side. The moon
lit the track better than any Lucas electrics would ever do so we sortof
saw where we were going. Our wounded comrade in the back had a kinda soft
ride for the lack of shock absorbers but the truck transmitted the potholes
very efficiently anyhow so he got the last of whatever morphine we had
in our emergency packs.
The track was the one we wanted and the one that we had tried to follow
on foot, at a parallel distance so we didnt have any major orientation
We traveled with some relief in our minds, knowing that we had 4 full
jerrycans of gasoline and more left in the tanks under the front seats.
We would make it easily, we thought. Yea, right. We easily made it to
a patch of soft sand that had blown over the track and got in up to our
axles. Now this may seem big off-roading fun, but I swear to all the gods
that is is NO fun when you are running for your life and you have no damn
shovel. We eventually got out of it using a lot of elbow grease,hand digging,
rocks, high revs and a neverending logorrhea of swearwords.
Back on the road, about an hour later, the engine suddenly shut off, for
no good reason at all. Checked fuel. Fuel ok. Check ignition. No ignition.
Why not ? Open distributor and find that rotor has broken in two and fallen
off shaft. Ment rotor by tying it together with duct tape found in tool
locker. Truck runs again, but misfires all the time. Top speed is now
some 30 Km/h. Keep truck running, dont stop for repair refinements,
keep going as it is, if it were not for a bullet -coming from behind-
punching neat hole in windscreen. Tell driver to zigzag and get in back
with other rifleman to return fire.
Return fire to what ? Pitch dark out there and theyve not got their
headlights on. Bastards must have night vision instrument of some sort
and they can see us. How far are they behind ? Good question. Muzzle flashes
give away position of party in pursuit of us and they are too damn close
for comfort. Trooper fires burst in general direction towards the back
and enemy muzzle flashes seem to point up in the air, must have hit something
by sheer luck. Driver tells me engine is running hot. All we needed.
So we continue and I am praying to the Sun Goddess that we may live to
tell when all on a sudden I hear the driver emitting a loud Sheeeeeeet!
Next thing I know, I am flung out of the truck and hit the ground hard.
Somehow, we had made better time than we thought and reached our lines
much earlier than expected. My driver had hit the brakes when he saw the
roadblock too late, the brakes had not responded for sand-abrased brake
linings and we had hit a couple of sand-filled oil drums in the middle
of the road at whatever speed that was left in our truck.
So we had made it, more or less unscathed and thanks to an old, shot up
For all I know, the truck must be still existing somewhere. The injured
guy recovered somehow and is still alive. My #2 bought the farm years
later somewhere in the East and I dont know what happened to the
Thats all, folks