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15 October 2014
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Wartime Memories of Robert Field Part 2

by BBC Southern Counties Radio

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Contributed by 
BBC Southern Counties Radio
People in story: 
Robert Field
Location of story: 
Manchester and Glasgow
Background to story: 
Article ID: 
Contributed on: 
11 July 2005

This story was submitted to the People’s War site by Karolyn Milam of Uckfield Community Learning Centre, a volunteer from BBC Southern Counties Radio on behalf of Robert Field and has been added to the site with his permission. Robert Field fully understands the site’s terms and conditions.

Our last work in Ceylon was RAPWI – Repatriated Allied Prisoners of War (India). It was a heart breaking experience. Piles of .303 ammunition boxes packed with £1 notes, all of which we had to count, had been received, together with large quantities of clothing. As the POWs arrived at the appropriate depot they were handed £2 and led to tables containing the clothing. The men looked awful, thin, pale, some shaking, barely able to speak their name. All were dressed in mere rags. One man looked a particularly sorry sight – he just couldn’t get any words out. A soldier near him said “that’s our C.O. he is our hero, taking terrible punishment for standing up for us when we did not do as we were told”.

Finally, to Blighty. and even the return journey had its moments although “air raid precautions” were no longer in operation. Our ship was the Duchess of Bedford and Commander Davies was well known for leaving port only in daylight – up anchor and away before dark. His nickname was “Daylight Davies” and the Drunken Duchess”, the ship having been designed for cruising in sunny climes. We left Aden as evening approached. Rope as thick as a man’s wrist to tow us out of harbour, as it took the strain it snapped like a piece of string. Within half an hour the sailors had spliced it and you couldn’t see the join!
Eventually we sailed up the Mersey to Liverpool in time for Christmas!

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