As you know, perhaps for many readers, the western desert in Africa is a “tactical paradise”, a place where an experienced and agile commander can brilliantly display his qualities, trying to defeat his superior force. The desert gives the soldier the opportunity to maximize what can be improved. A minefield set in the right place will direct the enemy’s forces around to the right place convenient for the defender. During World War II, a large number of devices and machines were used to successfully demine whole fields. When General Rommel captured Tobruk in 1942, British and Allied forces began a massive retreat to the Egyptian border, trying to reach Cairo and Alexandria before the Germans . Among them was the British repair unit, which was previously based on the border in the town of Buck Bak near the coast. It also created one very curious car, which had a rather unusual look.
Meanwhile, the design was indeed unusual. Still: on the Ford truck, the chassis was installed from another Ford, which had an engine, transmission and rear axle. On each axle, where the wheels were to be located, drums were mounted on which long chains and ropes were suspended. In fact, it was an original device for mine clearance in every sense. During mine clearance, the shortened chassis, mounted backwards, moved forward, the wheels spun up and long chains and ropes were thrashed in front of the machine, causing the mines to explode.
The author of the idea was Major Norman Berry, at that time assistant to the head of the workshops at the 13th Egyptian Corps. A year earlier, in September 1941, Bury was sent to Pretoria to inspect demining machines in North Africa. He was introduced to Captain Abraham de Tua, to whom he showed a short film about this device and the principle of its operation. Berry offered his new leadership to start work immediately and preferably in a workshop in the desert - to keep everything secret. De Tua, being an inventor himself, decided to go to Britain and present the invention to top management. Thus, on October 14, 1941, he flew to London, and Berry went to perfect his brainchild in the desert.
His work was interrupted by the advance of General Rommel. The 4th brigade workshop was relocated to the Alamein area, where Berry had to repair the tanks. There was no time to further develop his idea. Instead of writing off the project, Berry found the 21st field campaign, which had human resources and equipment, and transferred his invention to them.
Despite the fact that, according to Berry, the chassis of the truck will cope with the task completely, for field tests he was transferred to an infantry tank A12 "Matilda". It was believed that he would also be able to serve as a base for a demining device.
Little is known about the technical difficulties that Berry and his team had to face - one can safely assume that there were plenty of those. On September 13, the device passed the first field tests. One of these tests was carried out in comparison with a counterpart based on the Matilda tank. At the same time, the clearance device worked much more efficiently than the initial installation. This circumstance has benefited the inventor and the new car has earned the highest praise of the management. The invention was treated so favorably that a month later the Commander-in-Chief of the Eighth Army (at that time, General Mongomery) requested 24 such machines, which should have been prepared in four weeks.
The assembly was to be carried out on the basis of the 7th Automotive Workshop, located in Alexandria. In addition, Berry required well-designed drawings, because during the development and assembly of prototypes, he simply did not have time for this — most of the sketches he made on pieces of paper. Berry was looking for a new engine. Old, Ford, was weak,