Thornycroft Antar unveiled by Earl Attlee at the Defence School of Transport, Leconfiedl, East Yorkshire

Leconfield army barracks
Leconfield army barracks

On Saturday 18 August 2012, Earl Attlee TD, unveiled a recently renovated Thornycroft Antar at the Defence School of Transport.

During his speech, Earl Attlee, grandson of Clement Attlee, and President of the Thornycroft Register gave a knowledgeable account of the Antar and the part it played whilst in service in the British Army.

Rapid Solicitors and SODEXO teamed up with The Defence School of Transport at Normandy Barracks, Leconfield to create a unique monument to the camp’s services by funding the restoration of a Thornycroft ANTAR, a heavy duty transport vehicle originally produced to move oil pipelines in Iraq but its immense power was ideal to cope with the increasing size and weight of the new generation of battle tanks used by the Army.

The Antar was used by the Army as a Tank Transporter between the 1950s and 1980s. The restored Antar is to be used as a ‘Gate Guardian’ at the school.

Andrew Baldwin, Partner at Rapid Solicitor said “The Antar Tank Transporter was an incredible vehicle in its day and deserved to be restored for others to see. The team involved has done a great job in making this project happen and in securing the private funds necessary to complete the task.

“It was great to see the many other historical military vehicles on display throughout a well groomed camp and this can only serve to inspire the trainees as they arrive to start their courses. With the world changing so quickly, these once extremely relevant military vehicles will become even more fascinating to future generations.”

Additional funding towards the restoration was provided by SODEXO, a multi-discipline facility provider who support many aspects of military life at DST. If an Army ‘Marches on its stomach’ it is Sodexo who ensures that those stomachs are kept well nourished.

Sodexo’s Chief of Operations (North), Steve Groves, said “It was an easy choice for Sodexo Defence as a company to support this restoration programme, particularly given our links with the Defence School of Transport at Leconfield over the past 20 years. Preserving our heritage is massively important to us all, and to be in a position to sponsor the restoration of the ANTAR vehicle to be used as a gate guardian for all those personnel passing through Leconfield was an opportunity not to be missed.”

Paul Brook of the appropriately named ‘Rusty Trucks’ who completed the restoration work said “It has been a real privilege to have been part of this project and although the old Antar here has provided lots of challenges along the way it has been great fun.

“Whilst I have been working away I have been constantly reminded of the trials and tribulations (and one or two antics) of the tough and resourceful men who used to crew them and that has made the restoration all the more memorable. Seeing it here at last, casting a knowing gaze over all the young men and women coming here to East Yorkshire to train for their vital military roles, is a particularly satisfying moment for me”

Colonel Paul Ash, Commandant at The Defence School of Transport said “The restoration of the Antar is part of an ongoing programme by the School to recover, restore and display some of our wheeled vehicle heritage. There is no intention for the School to assume a museum-like role but the small number of projects that we have already undertaken and look forward to completing will form an important record of our history for the staff and students.

“The work is undertaken by volunteers in their own time unless of course we need specialist assistance, as in the case of the Antar which was in a shocking state when we acquired it. Other than the support from both Rapid Solicitors and Sodexho for the Antar the other projects are all funded by the School. I’m very grateful to Earl and Lady Attlee for taking the time to visit the School for the formal “unveiling” ceremony, to Paul Brook from Rusty Trucks and to the numerous members of my own staff who have contributed to this and the other restoration projects.”

DST Communications Officer, Donna Murphy said, ”After many years of service the Antar was in a dreadful state of repair, so to see the restored Antar Tank Transporter outside the HQ is excellent, the transformation really is exceptional. We are the largest residential driver training school in the World, so I am sure the Antar will be a talking point for any one of the 19,000 students that annually attend one of the 147 course types available at the School.”