Around 1954, L\Cpl. Jim Remfrey, Royal Signals, driver operator wireless for General Prior-Palmer (Lucinda Green's grandfather.|
"These pictures were taken while I was serving in BAOR 22 at Bunda in Germany until 1956 with 6th Armoured Signal Regiment.
I remember that 02BE72 was sent to us on trials, at various points on the engine Rolls Royce had put seals, which our REME mechanics could not break.
Although the Champ was great to drive etc. it could not cope with the weight of the new Canadian 52 radio set and batteries installed at the rear and kept blowing rear oil seals."
Mounted on the opposite side to the Bridge Plate is? I thought it could be an infrared unit?,
Clive Elliott says,
"Well this is a puzzler! Perhaps this isn't the answer you were expecting. I am glad it was on an 'in-service' vehicle otherwise it would be tempting to assume it was some embellishment of the owner's fancy. The suggestion that it is an infrared light seems very reasonable. It seems to have a cable at the rear and a substantial mounting bracket. What puzzles me is that is a sunny day and the front looks matt as if it is painted, an infrared filter would a very dark red glass which would be shiny on a day like this. Wartime night driving 'Tabby' equipment used smaller lamps and had a plastic diffuser on the surface to scatter the beam, with that degree of sunlight there would be some shine towards the camera and the diffusing elements would give a sparkle.
The pressed-in rim seems continuous with the main flat surface, it looks a bit like a bridge plate. Interestingly the proper bridge plate is obscured by the badge of rank, but comparing the diameters the mystery object is a slightly smaller diameter. As this was taken in 1954 the only viewing equipment for general driving then was Tabby Type E which was developed in WW2. These were bulky Generation One infrared binoculars which required a Meccano like support frame fitted to the vehicle roof. There is no evidence of this on the Champ. The so called Common-User Binoculars, which were fitted to a helmet rather than the vehicle, were introduced in the early 1960s. If there were prototype viewing systems around in 1954, I think it unlikely that they would be on the vehicle of a 2-Star General. Any such equipment would be very much in the hands of the Signals Research and Development Establishment (SRDE) Christchurch and FVRDE.
Studying the flat surface of the 'lamp' there seem to be two hollows roughly vertical of each other. So this doesn't look like a glass surface at all. This flat surface could possibly be a cover over an infrared lamp, but it doesn't fit in with the era and the role of the vehicle.
My suspicion is that this lamp has a shroud with two small holes so that at night it would indicate the occupant was a 2 Star General (i.e. Major-General). In the 1950s there was a requirement for Commanders and Staff Cars to carry a light box at the rear with apertures to indicate rank and Divisional Sign on the opposite side to the rear badge of rank. Typically these improvised light boxes were fashioned from a 1-gallon oil can with apertures covered with mica. My guess is that this mystery lamp is a deluxe version mounted on the front of the vehicle, again on the opposite side to the badge of rank.
The rear light made from an oil tin showing Div Sign & rank is referred to in a 1959 regulation. I have several copies of this regulation but not the 1955 one it superseded. It is in Equipment Regulations 1959."