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    I always have a great time in Dorchester. I like the people and the atmosphere and I have survived liver crunching nights in several of the pubs. I will always be grateful to the staff of the casualty department of the town’s hospital who put me back together after a calamity with a Sherman. The place means an awful lot to me.

    It all started in the summer of 2010 when the first Armour & Embarkation convoy swept into the town on a stunning day when the impact of seeing tanks, half-tracks and a host of trucks and jeeps shepherded by a swarm of outriders was really quite profound. I said at the time that it was the Liberation of Dorchester and the townsfolk turned out to welcome us in good numbers. But they got careless and we had to go back and liberate the place again in 2012. The weather offered up an on off summer not unlike the one we are experiencing this year, but the second outing was still fabulous.

    Four years on from that classic and here we were back again. The organising team had expanded and we had a new basecamp at D5 in the village of Broadmayne. This is an original D-Day marshalling location where American tanks and vehicles were gathered. You could feel the history. One of the people whose house backs on the field obliged by playing period pop music and the strains of an air raid siren. It was all a bit surreal. The rain held off.

    This time round the convoy included two Shermans, two Stuarts, an M4 High Speed Tractor and thirty-five other vehicles including half-tracks, an M8 armoured car and a lot of big trucks including two Macks. We had three Ward La France wreckers and a Diamond T. A majestic AEC Matador added to the big stuff. There were no less than twenty motorcyclists working as shepherds for the caravan of khaki. As ever, there was a moment of immense anticipation as we pulled out of camp and got on to the highways of Dorset. I sat in the back of a jeep driven by Callum Courtney, an experienced parachutist who has thrown himself out of a Dakota to enjoy the top end of the living history experience. I was happily snapping away as Adrian Scott drove his M4 HST a few feet behind.

    We drove down to Moreton ford where a crowd had gathered to see the vehicles cross. Heavy rain had swollen the stream and there was little room for error as the jeeps made it over, their drivers a picture of concentration. The motorcycles used the footbridge that was just wide enough for a Harley.

    After a break we headed into Bovington past Clouds Hill where TE Lawrence lived out his last days of solitude before his fateful motorcycle journey to immortality. We drove down past the Armour Centre and into the Tank Museum. This, for me, was the most surreal part of the trip. I have been to Bovvy to watch others put on a show enough times, but here I was doing something unique in company with many new and old friends. It doesn’t get much better.

    A few circuits of the muddy arena were followed by a long break for lunch and a rest. I went off for a look at Michael, the first Sherman to arrive in Britain and the world’s oldest surviving M4 Medium. We hit the road once more; it was time for the main event, our latest Liberation of Dorchester. On the way we had the Diamond T on our tail and there were moments when the Spielberg film Duel seemed real.
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