- Contributed by
- People in story:
- Derek John Tregenza
- Location of story:
- Truro, Far East, NWFP India
- Background to story:
- Article ID:
- Contributed on:
- 08 July 2005
"This story was submitted to the People’s War site by Roger M Judge [ie you, the volunteer] on behalf of Derek John Tregenza [ie the author] and has been added to the site with his permission. The author fully understands the site's terms and conditions."
In 1939 on the outbreak of WW11 I was enjoying life as a dayboy at Caterham School, Caterham with the Guards Depot and Kenley RAF aerodrome nearby soon become a favourite target for enemy aircraft and quite a dangerous place to live. A bomb demolished a bungalow in our road and a neighbour was shot in the leg as he rushed to the air raid shelter in his garden. Each evening we would take cover in a nearby friends air raid shelter for the night, during constant air attacks. With the situation getting worse my parents decided to send me to Truro School as a boarder. In March 1943 my parents agreed for me to join the army. At the time I was 16 years and 9 months. So one spring afternoon I took the train to Redruth to sign up at the Recruiting Office. The Recruiting Officer initialy told me I was too young, so I went outside and came back saying I was 17 years of age. He then enlisted me into the Duke of Cornwall's Light Infantry. On the way back to school I bought a DCLI tie and proudly wore it before going into tea, only to be told to "get it off" by Mr Wilkes the housemaster.
Shortly afterwards I entered initial training with the DCLI company in Goojerat barracks in Colchester. After this training I was fortunate to pass a selection board, volunteered for the Indian Army and boarded a troopship joining a convoy for a wide sweep into the Atlantic, to avoid the U-boats. On arrival in India I completed six months training at the Officer Training School in Belgaum, and was commissioned into my first choice, the 5th Royal Gurkha Rifles (FF). After a spell in the Regimental Centre in Abbotabad in the NWFP I was posted to the South Waziristan Scouts. This Corps enlisted Pathan tribesman, with Officers from the Indian Army on attachment.They manned forts in South Waziristan, patrolled the surrounding areas and helped keep the road open between Brigade of Forts of Wana, Rasmack and Jandola. The local tribesmen were fairly quiet at the time, although I was involved in one ambush on a road convoy. It was quite an exciting experience for a young 18 year old to be left in command of two companies of Pathans, a troop of mounted infantry in a fort in tribal territory, Soon after the war ended was posted back to the Dutch East Indies, to join the 26th Indian Division. Our task was to keep order until the return of the Dutch. Due to the uprising of the local Indonesians we were confined to three bases on Sumatra and only went out in Bridgade strength, to counter the local opposition. Sadly many lives were lost amongst our troops, especially in Java.
Before returning for my first UK leave after four years, I was posted to the 2/5th Royal Gurkha Rifles (FF) in Japan with the army of occupation, but that is another story.
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