- Contributed by
- People in story:
- J M Main
- Location of story:
- London France Belgium Holland
- Background to story:
- Civilian Force
- Article ID:
- Contributed on:
- 07 September 2004
The Station Master of St Vaast with his 2 daughters to whom I still write.
I joined the ATS in April 1942 aged 18. Did training and was posted to a “M” heavy Ack Ack Unit. My Grandmother who was also my Guardian was killed in January 1943, the same day as the children in Catford.
When I became 20 years old I applied for an overseas posting. A girl had to be 21 but with my uncle’s consent I was allowed to go.
November 1944 we were posted to St Vaast, just outside Dieppe. We were the BLA, as it was known then and under the command of the Canadian Corps. Our unit was
5 LOFC and was a great unit. There were 7 of us girls and of course the rest male. They looked after us very well.
After St Vaast we moved through France; many a sad sight was to be seen. Photos of loved ones by the grass verges. We moved through Belgium and then on to our objective, which was Holland.
Our ATS sergeant told us not to be afraid of the sights we might see en route, we did see a dead cow floating on the river. What happens?? Our sergeant flakes out!!
We were stationed at Grave, Andeldoorn, and Tilburg until we reached Rotterdam. It was in a terrible state, no food, and no tyres on bikes. The people of course were starving. Little tots with swollen tummies would follow us and say “chocolate for Mama” or “cigarette for Papa”, it was very sad to see. They would come around our swill bins to scavenge what we wasted.
The Dutch were a lovely people and even during the hard times they were very clean. The colonel used to have his driver to take us to Amsterdam when we had time off.
I had a 48-hour leave pass with my friend June and we went to Brussels. Whilst there peace was declared. What a 48-hour leave! All went mad!
Still in Rotterdam in August the Japanese gave in so we collected as many Gilders as we could and the men changed them into Francs. We bought some bottles and we celebrated VE Day.
I omitted to say that after the Canadian units were gone we were under the command of Monty and then known as B.A.O.R.
The attached photo is of the stationmaster of Vaast with his two daughters, whom I still write to to this day after 60 years, not bad going, we are all now in our 80’s.
All in all the war was a terrible thing but we made a lot of friends especially with the Dutch. Some of the French were all right, but some when travelling through France, were not at all pleased to see us.
Brussels had plenty of Forces Clubs but the best was the Montgomery Club, it catered for everything.
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