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- 31 July 2005
This story was submitted to the People's War site by Lin Freeman of Radio Derby CSV on behalf of Mr Maurice Smallwood and has been added to the site with his permission. The author fully understands the site's terms and conditions.
Serving with the 1st/5th Battalion Leicestershire Regiment in Kent during April 1942, I was given 7 days Home Leave. During that short time, and unknown to me, my Battalion was sent to North Africa. Reporting back after leave I was very surprised to find the place where I stayed had in that short time turned into an Officers’ Training Centre. I knew nobody and the Officer in charge told me there was no other Leicestershire Regiment left in the Country so I would have to stay with them until I got a War Office Posting. I was put in the Officers’ Mess. I was there nearly nine months when out of the blue one morning word arrived that I was to report to Whittingham Barracks, Staffs. Everyone there was surprised to see me as the place was for young men joining the Army; some had only been there a few days.
They did not keep me long, perhaps a fortnight, before sending me to Ist Battalion Worcestershire Regiment who at that time were stationed near Dover. With them I went over to Normandy, France on D3. Being Front line soldiers I can tell you it was Hell. We prayed everyday for Darkness, a rest from the Mortars and heavy Shelling. Every attack it was a case of Kill or be Killed.
I lost a lot of good pals, lads in their early 20s. I often wonder even today about what luck I had going through it all, like a cat with nine lives.
We don’t want any more World Wars; I would not like anyone, who ever they are, to go through what we went through. FULL STOP
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