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Out of Action

by footslogger

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Archive List > British Army

Contributed by 
footslogger
People in story: 
Ray sinclair
Location of story: 
Various Locations
Background to story: 
Army
Article ID: 
A4677500
Contributed on: 
03 August 2005

At this point I feel I have come to the end of my active service memories,as after being regraded no longer fit for active service because of my wounds and transfered to another unit my service life became rather less exciting, although in my new capacity I did quite a bit of travelling being sent to S E A C going to Sri Lanka (Ceylon), Singapore and ending up in Hong Kong.
I was flown out there by RAF Transport Command,(so in the end I did get to fly with the RAF)though not the way I originally wanted.

It was an interesting journey via Malta,Egypt,Habbineyeh Iraq, to Colombo,
When I went on to Singapore it was via Saigon, as it was then called, and even at that time there was the stirring of coming trouble because when I and the other people I was with got into the truck to take us into town, we were told to keep our heads down as we could be fired upon,by some rebels we were told later, who wanted the French out of the country and who apparently didn't take kindly to anyone else that was allied to them.

We did as we were told, the driver put his foot down and we sped into Saigon,without too much trouble, somebody said they heard some gun fire and we did see some holes in the canvas covering of the truck when we got out,but the driver said they were old, whether he said that to allay our fears I don't know!
From what I can remember Saigon was an interesting city, very French in its buildings and layout, and what amazed me, which proved how insular I was at the time, was the fact ,which should have known,
that everyone spoke French!

Does anyone remember the day they arrived at their training centre.?

I arrived at Canterbury with the rest of my intake on a red hot July day.We got off the train at Canterbury East station, and were marched off to Chaucer Barracks, where we were kitted out,received our army numbers and AB 64's, then we were divided into squads and marched to the MI room for our innoculations, and this is why what happened stays so vividly in my mind.

For some reason I was detailed to take charge of a squad for our "Jabs" In good army fashion I managed to assemble them and their kits and we marched off, as there were so many of us the innoculations they were done outside by the medical orderlies, we were all very hot by this time and carrying all our kit didn't help matters, we were told to take our shirts off so we could get our injections and vaccinations.

I lined my squad up and the orderlies, who I'm sure were enjoying vevy minute of this came along sticking their needle's in us,
some of the men passed out before the needles went in, others afterwards,I called for help from the medical orderlies and they came along with stretchers on which they loaded the collapsed men, (I think there were 10 in all) piled their kit on of them, and then their rifle and tin hat to top everything off
I know I shouldn't have, but it looked so funny I had to laugh at the sight of all the men with thier kits on top of them being carried into the barrack room and deposited on the beds.

Our new platoon sergeant came in and nearly had a fit at what he saw, How was he going to train, he said a load of *#%@!! men, who fainted at the sight of a needle, He then proceeded to tell us with great relish and detail what to expect in the way of needles and how they would be administered to us when we went overseas,that certainly didn't cheer a lot of us.

I tried to explain to him that I thought it was to do with the heat. He turned on me, What's it to do with you? I told him I was put in temporary charge and thought it ws only fair to explain what happened, For that, he said you are now squad leader so get this lot sorted out!. So started my climb up the ranks!

Music ! I guess everyone remembers the music that was played during the war.
I have particular memories of at least two songs that when ever I hear them now immediately take me back to the time I was in the field hospital after being hit.

The two pieces of jazz music,(and they are still being played,) are "And the Angels Sing" with solo trumpet by Ziggy Ellman, and "Why don't you do right" sung by Peggy Lee, there was another song by Bing Crosby but I am not sure of the name but it was something to do with a 'Visiting Fireman"

Although I was not in a very good shape at the time to listen and maybe enjoy these tunes I know they were played over and over again. I think they were the only records on hand and I know they were played to cheer us up

I was pleased when I was moved on to another hospital at Assisi, I can't remember any music being played there.

I think that brings me to the end of my recollections, and I hope whoever has read them did get some enjoyment from doing so and that what I have written may have jogged other memories.

Should anything else come to mind I will cetainly add it to this archive.

I would like to thank the BBC for giving me this opportunity to write of my wartime experiences, because without this push I most certainly would not have put anything down on paper.

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These messages were added to this story by site members between June 2003 and January 2006. It is no longer possible to leave messages here. Find out more about the site contributors.

Message 1 - Out of action

Posted on: 03 August 2005 by Ron Goldstein

Hi Ray
So that's our lot?......I doubt it, that's if my experience is anything to go by :)
You may mean it at the moment but when you next read something on this site that reminds you of an identical situation you will dash to your keyboard to let him, and us, know all about it.
To cover my bet, and just in case you don't get inspired again, may I say how much I have enjoyed all of your writing.
All the best
Ron

 

Message 2 - Out of action

Posted on: 03 August 2005 by Trooper Tom Canning - WW2 Site Helper

Ray -
you can't quit on us just yet - there are still volumes within you, so get typing and take it from the second day in the Army - then the third etc
good luck -your stories ring a lot of bells - I was triggered off just last week when someone mentioned the Army Dentists ! - those were not happy memories
best regards
trooper tom

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