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Journey into the unknown - Part 01

by wneled (William Ledbury)

Contributed by 
wneled (William Ledbury)
People in story: 
wneled (William Ledbury)
Location of story: 
U.K., Algeria, Tunisia and Central Europe.
Background to story: 
Article ID: 
Contributed on: 
30 June 2005

On the day on which I became 21 and eligible for war service on Sunday 23rd July, 1939, my sister Josephine and I set out on a G.W.R half-day excursion to St. Peter Port, Guernsey.(fare 12/6d each return) from our home town Trowbridge, Wilts. via Weymouth. Very soon afterwards my call-up notice arrived.

Exactly six weeks after visiting Guernsey came the dreaded announcement by the Prime Minister, Neville Chamberlain at 11a.m. on Sunday, 3rd September, that we were now at war with Germany, I was looking at the peaceful scene of the Westbury White Horse only 5-6 miles away and bathed in the glorious sunshine of that fateful day.

My notice had required me to report to a military depot in Taunton on Wednesday, 18th October, where I was confronted by an army officer and greeted with the words "Welcome to His Majesty's Army."

Now on by coach to the garrison town of Okehampton, Devon, to join the Royal Devon Yeomary Artillery (384 Barnstaple Battery), where we spent some 7 months, including the coldest winter since 1881!

Shortly before we were due to move to Robertsbridge, East Sussex in May, 1940, my brother, Tony, a driver with the R.A.S.C. at Catterick Camp, Yorkshire, had just been transferred to Higher Barracks, Exeter, Devon. He paid me a surprise visit prior to leaving for Egypt(via South Africa!)

Whilst having a drink of NAAFI tea in the canteen, we tried to kid ourselves that the war would not last longer than six months. Upon seeing him off by train back to Exeter, little did I think that I would never see him again. because on 27th May, 1942, he was killed whilst transporting ammunition and is buried at Knightsbridge Cemetery, at Acroma, Libya (near Tobruk)

Upon being transferred to Robertsbridge in Sussex, we were now regarded as being on active service and were permitted to send letters home post free.

Our next move was to Horam Road, north of Eastbourne, where some of us slept in an oast house for the first time. We were required to examine passengers' passes on public transport, for security reasons.

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