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Regimental Signaller in training and VJ day memories

by BBC Cumbria Volunteer Story Gatherers

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Archive List > British Army

Contributed by 
BBC Cumbria Volunteer Story Gatherers
People in story: 
Ted Relph
Location of story: 
Ramgarh, in Bihar Province, India
Background to story: 
Army
Article ID: 
A4886841
Contributed on: 
09 August 2005

MEMORIES OF V.J. DAY - 60 YEARS AGO from TED RELPH

I did not join the Army until December 1944. After 6 weeks Primary Training at Fort George, Inverness - a very bleak place in winter, - we did 10 weeks Corps. Training in the Border Regiment at Durranhill Camp, Carlisle. From there we went on Embarkation Leave, and were in the Atlantic in a Convoy of ships when Churchill announced the end of the war with Germany. Our destination was India. After several weeks in transit camp at Deolali and acclimatisation training and assessment near Nasik, a number of us were selected for training as Regimental signallers. We were despatched on a three day train journey, 14th July to a place called Ramgarh, in Bihar Province, to the British Basic Specialist Training Establishment. [B.B.S.T.E.]
Even in the middle of the Monsoon season, this was a much better place with brick-built barrack blocks with wide verandas [but no electricity]. The course was very interesting to me and ran to a timetable very much like a school, except that we had PT.or Drill and lamp or flag signalling before breakfast.

My letters home were written while ‘SITTING ON A SPARE CHARPOY[bed] ON THE VERANDAH, WITH MY TIN TRUNK ON END FOR A DESK, WRITING LETTERS IN THE EVENING LIGHT

The Signal Class comprised lads from all over the country, there were 2 from the same platoon as me at Durranhill and also a chap from Calthwaite [wonder where he is now ????, don’t remember his name, if I ever knew it!]

In my almost daily letters home, which I still have, there is only brief mention of the Atomic bomb on Aug 8th, with the comment ‘the News seems hopeful just now.’

Wednesday, Victory Day 15th August All over bar the shouting!
We got the first news of victory in an unusual way! We were on ‘lamp reading’, and when the news came through on the wireless, the Corporal who was ‘sending’ to us broke into his text message and sent [blocks on] THE WAR IS OVER [blocks off], which was promptly taken down and read by us from the lamp signalling.
The CO officially announced ‘Peace’ at 12 noon, ‘we have the rest of the day, tomorrow and Friday off!!’

We had ‘quite a celebration’ that evening in the YMCA or rather the Chinese Restaurant adjoining it. Six of us went over together, the others being Welsh, Scottish, Gloucestershire and two Lancashire.. lads.
We started off with Eggs and chips ( 4 eggs each ), Iced orange squash, cold custard and pears followed by Jam pancakes, bread and butter and another oragne squash all round. The total bill for the six of us was Rs. 24/2/0 [ about £1.20 ] !!!!!! - We considered that a lot of money, but as the Scots lad said, “It’s only once in 25years !”

A terrible downpour of rain came on as we were coming back to our quarters and we all got sopping wet! No beer had arrived, so we went to bed decently!!!

I think we eventually had 2 cans of beer each, so on Thursday night we had a grand victory sing-song, with all the songs we could think of, including “When the lights come on again, all over the world” and “When they sound the last ‘All Clear.”

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