- Contributed by
- People in story:
- James Wareing
- Location of story:
- Le Havre 1944
- Background to story:
- Article ID:
- Contributed on:
- 19 April 2004
By 2nd Lieutenant James Wareing, 141 RAC, The Kentish Regiment (The Buffs), 79th Armoured Division, 2nd British Corps, 1st Canadian Army.
I had not been very long with The Buffs when we were ordered to Normandy so I did not get to know many of the officers or men. However one of the officers, a certain William Douglas Home soon came to my attention. He did not go into any action as far as I am aware and when we were not in action he did nothing. I really don’t know how he came to be there at all in such an elite regiment.
In the field he ate by himself and slept under a tank. He did not seem to be in charge of anyone. However he was put in charge of a group of tanks for the attack on Le Havre. This created something of a situation because he refused to go into action but at the same time was claiming that he could capture Le Havre without firing a single shot. The CO accordingly put him under close arrest under the supervision of another officer.
Whilst under arrest Home had written to the editor of the Maidenhead Advertiser who published an exclusive on how Le Havre was captured without firing a single shot. Unlike the letters from other ranks the letters from officers were not subject to 100% censorship but to random screening.
In any event when the War Office saw the newspaper article they immediately investigated the source of the information. The initial upshot was that our CO was relieved of command and demoted to Major although he continued in combat until we reached Brussels. Here he faced a Court Martial and managed to win his case and be reinstated. It was suspected that Home had used his influence with his brother, a member of the Government, the future Lord Home and future Prime Minister, Sir Alec Douglas Home. This could have explained the demotion of our CO. Justice was finally seen to be done because William Home was sent to prison.
He served 8 months, initially in Wormwood Scrubs, then completing his term in Wakefield Prison. In the space of a month or two after his release he wrote two plays which were successful in London in 1947. The first one was based on his experience in gaol and in the latter some of the characters were drawn from his family. He would go on to write several other successful plays, particularly The Reluctant Debutante and The Secretary Bird.
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