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15 October 2014
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The War of Ernest H Foard MM, 1939 to 1945, Part 3

by ClareTom

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People in story: 
Ernest H Foard MM
Location of story: 
France, Eqypt, Italy, France, Belguim, Germany
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Contributed on: 
07 November 2005


That really was the finish of the war in Germany as far as I was concerned, until we were sent to occupy the part of Berlin the Germans had been occupying. The area we were to occupy in Berlin was called the Spandeau area, but we only got as far as Brunswick before we were told that the Russians, who occupied that area, would not let us through. We were therefore held up there for 2 to 3 days whilst this debate went on. Eventually we were let through and went into Berlin as a unit of the 7th Armoured Division. A major victory parade was then held in Berlin attended by Montgomery, Churchill and Anthony Eden amongst other senior figures (about 30 lined up). The British Army went down the autobahn 8 vehicles abreast. It was a fantastic sight.

A few postscripts now as Germany was the end of the war for yours truly. A few points of interest, in the previous year to the end of the war, Field Marshall Montgomery had instigated a 7 day leave to the UK which I had in February. This leave was drawn by a lottery, separately for troops and officers. I drew February 1945 and had arranged to get married during that time. When I got to Calais there was no troop ship to take me over the channel but one of the officers told me that the Canadians had a ship heading over so I was to walk through, give my name and number but not to say too much. This I did and came back to the UK as a Canadian! I think they must have known but turned a blind eye.

When my time came to be demobbed, one could choose either a letter called Lilop (Leave in lieu of Python) or you could have Python, 8 weeks leave and then demob. I chose to be demobbed and was sent to Catterick for assembly and then down to Guildford. From Guildford I was released in December of 1945. I got a taxi up from Farnham station to Boundstone as my wife and I had the previous year bought two cottages. After we had been there for about a year, my wife bought the book of Field Marshal Montgomery’s Memoirs. I wrote to him and explained that I had a letter from him with a signed photograph of him presenting the Military Medal to me and asked if, at his convenience, I could take the book over to his house at Isington Mill for him to sign it. He wrote back a nice letter in which he said his letter would be far more valuable pasted into the inside of his book, which we have done.

I would also like to add that all the military medals (Military Medal, Africa Star, Italian Star and several others), a signed photograph from Field Marshal Viscount Montgomery and letter, a signal from the 7th Armoured Division Commander, a jerboa flash and compass have all been forwarded to the Military Museum in Aldershot. They have been given them to keep, providing that they will not be sold and that any of the family can view them at any time.

By Ernest H Foard M.M.

Royal Engineers No 2 Bridge Company RASC and 7th Armoured Division
Born: 5 September 1915 (now aged 90)

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Message 1 - The War of Ernest H Foard MM, 1939 to 1945

Posted on: 08 November 2005 by Peter - WW2 Site Helper

Dear ClareTom

You have done a really fine job in transcribing your grandfather's memories of his outstanding service in WW2. It is very well written and certain small lapses of memory only add a genuine touch of authenticity to the thrilling story he tells. He is far too modest, it seems to me, in telling in such a matter-of-fact way how he neutralised demolition charges on an Italian bridge forward of the front line. His decoration for bravery was well merited.

Three small points need correction for the sake of others reading his story; they are understandable lapses of memory after over sixty years.

In Part 1 (A6770883) you say "It begins in 1939. I was working in Aldershot amongst what were generally called Bevin Boys". There were no Bevin Boys in 1939 and the term hadn't been coined then. Bevin Boys were those chosen by ballot - one in ten of all men between the ages of 18 and 25 - to serve in the mining industry instead of the armed forces. They were named after the wartime Minister of Labour, Ernest Bevin, who introduced the scheme in December 1943.

In Part 2 (A6770883) you say that in North Africa "the British Army were preparing for the invasion of both Sicily and Salerno". At that point only the invasion of Sicily was being planned. I've no doubt that sappers, like your granddad, were training for all eventualities, but at that stage no decision had been made about a landing at Salerno. That decision was not made until the closing stages of the Sicilian campaign.

The third error is this: "[On 21 July 1945] a major victory parade was then held in Berlin to which all the Generals and Leaders of the World, including Mr Roosevelt, Mr Churchill, Mr Stalin and Anthony Eden (about 30 lined up), attended". Could I point out that this was a British parade, not an international one. Furthermore, by then President Roosevelt was dead; he died at Warm Springs on 12 April 1945. Moreover, Stalin never set foot in Berlin; at the time of the parade he was still in Potsdam, where he arrived on 16 July. It is a quite understandable mistake to make and a website here links claims to have a photo of Churchill, Roosevelt, and Stalin in Berlin in July 1945 at the British Victory Parade, together with other photos of Stalin in Berlin at that time, but they are completely wrong. Other websites have repeated this error.

Your grandfather might like to see photos of the British Berlin Victory Parade here links

My regards to both you and your grandfather,

Peter Ghiringhelli

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