I joined the Army on the 17th of October 1939 as a Sapper (Private) R.E.
The Town Hall had always seemed to be out of bounds. It belonged to the Mayor, who I imagined sat in his parlour, resplendent in his robes and chain of office. The stone steps were the nearest I had ever been to the entrance and then only to be told by the municipal cleaner to “Op-it!” Along with several other young fellows we pushed through the doors and climbed the maroon carpeted stairs to…….more about joining up>>>
We seemed to take a long time to reach Angers. Some officers and other ranks went off to reconnoitre sites for landing strips but I can’t recall much was accomplished. We eventually reached Nantes where we backed up against thousands of others, Air Force personnel as well as Army. After two or three nights bivouacking outside the town we destroyed the G.1098 stores sabotaged any unnecessary machinery and…….more about The Lancastria>>>
In the early days of the war in 1939 my time spent at the School of Military Engineering at Chatham did not include driving mechanical transport, using it, yes, whenever I could to relieve the incessant marching and walking when we were not in class. The first time I was able to ride again was in France in March 1940……. more about military transport>>>
On return from leave I found I was still in No. 78 R. E. W. S. with Tolhurst in command. Heaton-Armstrong, the C. R. E. was posted and replaced by Lieut. Col. Christian Chevis, very different from his predecessor. H. Q. and the units were being made up to strength. I made friends with new chaps in the drawing office……. more about being back in Blighty>>>
We had more embarkation leave and I was relieved when we went to Scotland and at Gurrock boarded the Louis Pasteur – a liner built for a French line but never delivered. I had begun to get agitated when several friends to whom I had stupidly bragged – ribbed me about paternity proceedings…….more about 8th Army>>>
My longest, and perhaps loneliest ride was in l941 in the Western Desert when I acted as a dispatch rider. The works section was camped between Mechele and Msus. Tolhurst, the D. C. R. E. sent me with a dispatch to the Chief Engineer Advanced Air Striking Force, Brigadier Kisch, said to be stationed at or……. more about 8th Army transport>>>
In 1942 we had orders to transfer to PAIFORCE. This meant the whole C. R. E. 2 Airfields organisation mustering in Cairo and travelling by road convoy across the Suez Canal and making our way up the Sinai desert to Palestine into Jordan and Iraq and…….more about Paiforce>>>
Friday January 1st 1943: New Years day finds us still at Hamadan, 6,000 feet above sea level and a cold winter here and a much colder one ahead. It has been snowing a little and the day was cold.
To work as usual; almost a bad start because signals came along and started to install a telephone but eventually came back again and dismantled all their work…….more about Persia and India>>>
I returned to England in the August of 1945 and was out of the Army by Christmas. It had been arranged for more than a year that I would take over the management of a small village cinema in Nottinghamshire. The first Monday in January 1946 I did just that. Transport of any kind was…….more about Civvy Street>>>