`Conga`/ 'Conger' tank info wanted

Discussion in 'Weapons, Technology & Equipment' started by Philip Reinders, Dec 13, 2008.

  1. Philip Reinders

    Philip Reinders Very Senior Member

    Can anyone tell some more about the above vehicle?

    I readed the following but can not place it:

    During this move a force of `Conga`tanks stopped near RHQ position. In the process of refilling with TNT an accident occurred causing an explosion which pretty well reduced the area

    Thanks in advance
  2. Rich Payne

    Rich Payne Rivet Counter Patron 1940 Obsessive

    Philip, do they mean the 'Conger' carrier like the one they have at Overloon ?
  3. Philip Reinders

    Philip Reinders Very Senior Member

    Could be indeed possible that it was a carrier, thanks will Google about it
  4. Rich Payne

    Rich Payne Rivet Counter Patron 1940 Obsessive

    'Maple Leaf Up' has some good threads on it. It was an engineless slave carrier towed by a Churchill...and seriously dangerous to friend and foe alike.
  5. Philip Reinders

    Philip Reinders Very Senior Member

    found this on the BBC site±

    <TABLE id=main cellSpacing=0 cellPadding=0 width=650 border=0><TBODY><TR vAlign=top><TD id=top width=650 colSpan=2>Sad Memories: Holland, 1944[​IMG]

    by George Herbert

    You are browsing in: Archive List > British Army
    Archive List > World > Netherlands

    </TD></TR><TR vAlign=top><TD class=maincontent width=470><DL><DT>Contributed by <DD>George Herbert </DD><DT>People in story: <DD>George Herbert </DD><DT>Location of story: <DD>Ijzendijke, Holland </DD><DT>Background to story: <DD>Army </DD><DT>Article ID: <DD>A1985367 </DD><DT>Contributed on: <DD>07 November 2003 </DD></DL>I served in ‘A’ Troop 85 Battery, 11th (Essex) Med Regt, Royal Artillery, during World War Two.
    On the 20 October 1944 we were involved in the battle to clear the River Scheldt of the enemy in order that the Allies could get shipping down to the port of Antwerp.

    We had orders to move to new positions ready in preparation for the battle of Breskens and - because of the weather conditions and very bad flooding - we had to send an advance party forward with the reconnaissance party to lay a platform of railway sleepers on which to stand the guns so that the wheels didn’t get bogged down in the mud.
    We arrived at a farm that had been selected as our position. There were already some tanks and an assortment of military vehicles on the site. The tanks were 284 Armoured Assault Squadron, Royal Engineers, who were refuelling their ‘Congas’ (a modified Bren gun carrier with the engine removed and a storage tank to hold Liquid Nitro Glycerine in its place) - these were used in a system for clearing mines. The LNG would be pumped into a pipe or a hose and detonated to explode any mines either side of it.

    At approximately 13:00 hours there was a massive explosion, which was devastating. We all instinctively hit the deck and lay there until the debris had stopped falling. When I looked up the tanks were badly damaged and burning, and other vehicles were also on fire and exploding - the carnage was terrible.
    Returning years later

    Exactly 50 years later in 1994, Martin Reagan, who was a Sgt Tank Commander in 284 Squadron at the time of the incident, went back to Holland to retrace the journey to the farm at a place called Ijzendijke. He introduced himself and was made very welcome along with his three sons who made the trip with him.
    As a result of his visit, the local people said there should be a memorial set up in honour of the men that died there on that fateful day. There were a total of 41 killed, 16 missing and many wounded.
    Raising funds

    The Dutch people set up a committee to raise funds locally, and Martin did the same when he returned home to England. After considerable hard work and countless fund-raising letters, a large sum of money was made available with contributions coming from as far as Canada as well as the UK and Holland. The memorial was built and finally unveiled at a ceremony attended by a large number of veterans, relatives of those killed and Dutch people in October 1997.
    Court of Enquiry

    There was a Court of Enquiry held at the farm on the day following the disastrous event, and both Martin and myself have tried to obtain a copy to see what the official findings were as to the cause of the explosion. Martin explored various avenues within the Royal Engineers and even employed the assistance of a researcher to visit the Public Record Office at Kew but to no avail.
    I tried the Royal Artillery Museum, the Imperial War Museum and, as a last resort, I wrote to Professor Richard Holmes at the Security Studies Institute to ask if he could give advice as to where else we could search. In his reply he stated that if there is a copy of the findings of the Court of Enquiry it would almost certainly be at the PRO at Kew, but as we discovered previously it is not.
    Congas trial

    Martin knows that there had been trials in using the ‘Congas’ about a month before the explosion at Ijzendijke, and the conclusion was that the practice was extremely dangerous and therefore should not be used. This information was never passed on to 284 Assault Sqd, nor was information on the correct handling procedure for such a volatile substance as Liquid Nitro Glycerine, which should never have been transported in ‘Jerry’ cans.
    The casualty list at Ijzendijke on the 20th October 1944 was:
    Killed: 284 Armoured Assault Sqdn - 27; Royal Canadian Army service Corps - 10; ‘A’ Troop 85 Bty, 11th Essex Med Reg - 3; REME - 1.
    Missing: 284 Armoured Assault Sqdn - 9; Royal Canadian Service Corps - 7.
    Also a large number of men wounded.
    The farmhouse at Ijzendijke was completely demolished along with the barn. The orchard was stripped of all its fruits and trees destroyed.
    Two daughters of the family De Doddelaere, who owned the farm, were badly wounded, but thankfully no civilians were killed.
    Images from the explosion are etched on my mind forever.
    G Herbert, November 2004
    © Copyright of content contributed to this Archive rests with the author. Find out how you can use this.

  6. von Poop

    von Poop Adaministrator Admin

    Aftermath of a conger carrier refilling explosion:
    I've got a suspicion it may be the event described above but can't for the life of me remember where the account I read was. just that the casualties sound about right.

    I think now it must have been one of the MLU threads Rich mentions, here's one that mentions your explosion philip:
    Conger Carrier restoration, Overloon The Netherlands - Page 2 - MLU FORUM
    Last edited: Nov 15, 2017
  7. Philip Reinders

    Philip Reinders Very Senior Member

    Thanks that could well have been the Zeeland accident
  8. Smudger Jnr

    Smudger Jnr Our Man in Berlin

    It is hard to believe that the soldiers were expected to handle such a dangerous explosive mixture.

    Little wonder such calamities happened.

    It reminds me of the Luftwaffe groundgcrew that had to service and refuel the Me 163B Kommet, where the 'C' and 'T' Stoff never came within 1km of each other if it could be helped.

  9. von Poop

    von Poop Adaministrator Admin

    Another account of the explosion with casualty list, :
    Untitled Page
    Many of the poor buggers straight into the 'missing' category, underlining that 'vapourised' is perhaps a better term than simply 'killed'...
  10. von Poop

    von Poop Adaministrator Admin

    Remembered where I saw that explosion picture - Fletcher's 79th Armoured Division book - couple more shots of Conger equipment in it's armoured form:
    Towed by an AVRE:

    And an internal view:

    The combination of rockets, nitro glycerine, and a pump never fails to make the mind boggle...
    Last edited: Nov 15, 2017
  11. Bodston

    Bodston Little Willy

    A few more Conger pictures from Nigel Duncan's '79th Armoured Division - Hobo's Funnies'

    Churchill AVRE


  12. Philip Reinders

    Philip Reinders Very Senior Member

    Nice photographs thanks for that
  13. von Poop

    von Poop Adaministrator Admin

  14. Oldman

    Oldman Very Senior Member

    Science strikes again which backroom boffin thought this one up! pity he was not available to try out under battle conditions.
    Super photos and interesting post it makes you wonder how they expected the troops to use it in the field
  15. leccy

    leccy Senior Member

    Never heard of this contraption before, LNG pumped into a hose by compressed air that had just been fired by a rocket. I assume this was supposed to be done remotely with the tow vehicle out of the way?

    The later developments and much safer were the Giant Viper (from the 50's to the 90's) and its replacement the Python in British service.

    Apart from the bangalore torpedo was there any infantry type device along the lines of Baby Viper to clear a foot lane.

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