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Wartime Memories (part two)

by charles harbone

Contributed by 
charles harbone
People in story: 
writen by Leslie Harbone
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Article ID: 
Contributed on: 
06 May 2005

. What was happening elsewhere but we could hear the noise of the big guns somewhere, and all we could do is enjoy our moment of present bliss!
We were given the option of donning army uniform and sleeping in the barracks with the other lads, or keeping our Midland Red uniform, and sleeping in the buses, but we thought we were better off as we were, and adopted the second choice as we felt much freer as we were. Anyway, after our earlier lives as 'bus drivers in Birmingham it was like heaven being in the Army. I remember in the thick of things when I was a driver at Digbeth when there were a few drivers and guards called up for the forces, and a few of the lads who had gone into the forces came on leave and told us of their experiences of the war, it seemed as though a dark shadow had come into the lives of the remaining personnel at Digbeth of the remaining drivers and guards.
I can never forgive the garage foreman, foreman Davies, who sneeringly said to me, "Think yourself lucky that you are in brown uniform instead of khaki" so I immediately left the garage and went to the recruiting office in James Watt Street to .join up. When I got there, "Go back, lad, you are alright where you are." I said, I wish you would tell the garage foreman that." What happened after that, I don't know, for the circumstances of my being called up with a 'bus precluded any answer. I would like to know from curiosity what his answer was to joining the forces.
I must tell you of an experience I had when I was inducted into the forces with my 'bus. With my single deck 'bus as the leader of this convoy and an officer sitting beside me we stopped at a little place called Stratfield Mortimer. Where the baizes it was, because the convoy officer only knew, the Lord only knows, but to most of us it was the reassuring sound of the guns that told us we were still on course, wherever it may be.
Anyway, we pulled up at a farm gate, and there as large as life, as if from a comic album, was the owner of probably the most that he surveyed, nonchalantly chewing a straw, was the farmer, leaning on the gate. Also as if from fiction, the officer on my 'bus asked his permission to enter his field. The farmer (who I think was Lord so-and-so) refused, so the officer said "In the name of His Majesty I requisition this field for my field kitchens, drive on, driver."
I was aghast, the 'bus was much wider than the gate! "Drive on, driver," Said the officer, and down went the gate, with all of the other 'buses following mine. All of the young army trainees coming from the 'buses set themselves to work putting a kind of netting all over the vehicles that now parked all along the perimeter of the field, then set about cutting khaki uniforms up to weave into the netting for camouflage.

Please note this story was written by my farther Leslie Harbone.He is still with us but his memory now is not to good.

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