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15 October 2014
WW2 - People's War

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Shaking Hands with the Queen

by Neal Wreford

Contributed by 
Neal Wreford
People in story: 
Michael Henry Foster
Location of story: 
Bedfordshire
Background to story: 
Civilian Force
Article ID: 
A3043126
Contributed on: 
24 September 2004

I was born just before WW1 in January 1914. By January 1940, I was too old to volunteer and was exempt anyway as I was a farmer. Instead, I joined the Home Guard, being appointed Lieutenant in charge of the Gravenhurst platoon. My younger brother was an engineer apprentice and joined the Navy Anti Submarine Unit, and my sister became a nurse. My father, who had been an ambulance driver in France during WW1 helped ferry small boats around our coast in WW2.

On the farm I had at successive times three Italian Prisoners followed by three Germans. I remember on a foggy day a German bomber flying low overhead to drop a string of bombs which just missed RAF Henlow. Later in the war, RAF Wellingtons flew low over in droves to bomb Germany.

My Home Guard Battalion commander was Lt Col. Michael Bowes Lyon, elder brother of the Queen Elizabeth, who paid a special visit to inspect the Battalion at Biggleswade. As an officer, I was privileged to shake hands with her.

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