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My Preparation for Army Service

by CSV Action Desk/BBC Radio Lincolnshire

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Contributed by 
CSV Action Desk/BBC Radio Lincolnshire
People in story: 
Eric Kelsey
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Contributed on: 
21 September 2005

This is a photograph of Eric Kelsey

This story has been submitted to the People’s War Website by a volunteer from Lincoln CSV Action Desk on behalf of Eric Kelsey and has been added to the site with his permission. Mr Kelsey fully understands the site’s terms and conditions.

I was born on 18th June 1922 in Upton near Gainsborough. I passed my driving test in Lincoln in 1939 and as a result I was invited to accompany my uncle and family. My uncle was ill and so I was able to drive if he felt unwell. I saw the demobilised soldiers returning from Dunkirk to be billeted in boarding houses in Skegness. I decided to join the Home Guard and this is where I learned to be a soldier. I learned all drills, assembling kit and I could strip a bren gun, Lewis gun, a Browning automatic and also a Tommy gun. I could hit a bulls eye on the range so when I was called up on 30th April, 1942 I had a head start. I had also been driving a milk truck for two years which helped too.

I arrived at Sutton in Ashfield at tea time. I was in the RASC and billeted in a church hall and issued with a straw filled palliass, blankets etc. I had a medical and saw the dentist and told that we would be spending time drilling and marching etc. Within the week, the Corporal instructed me to march the squad back to our billets; eventually all our squad reached the required standard and after the Passing Out Parade, we went on to our mechanical training. I found this easy. We did lorry driving, convoy work, night driving etc. During the time the drivers had to wait until the non drivers passed their test we were sent into Sherwood Forest cutting saplings for the Signal Corps. Eventually we were to be sent to army units as drivers. At roll call my name was not called so I returned to my billet. My CSM threatened to put me on a 252 (charge) for missing my transfer. I told him to check the list since my name had not been called.

I had to catch a bus to Sutton in Ashfield then I was transported to an empty chapel used as a pick up point during the day. There was no forward transport until the morning so I put two pews together and slept. The next morning I was picked up and taken to a holding company at Rochdale and billeted in an empty cotton mill. I was to do routine vehicle maintenance. A young housewife advised me not to go with the young prostitutes hanging around. I thanked her but had no plans to stray.

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Message 1 - rasc

Posted on: 21 September 2005 by driverharrymath

Hello Eric
Just read your story. I am from Waltham near Grimsby. I am nearly 82 now. I was in the home guard before getting called up in June 1942 We had some weird weapons.One called The Blacka Bombard spelling may be wrong. It looked very dangerous to use. As I was a good shot I was put in charge of another weird weapon called The Northover Projector. It seemed to be nothing more than a drainpipe on legs. Fired bottles of phospherous.I was called up to Burton Road barracks in Lincoln and did my infantry training for 3 months. Didn't think much to it so when they asked for volunteers for the RASC I put my name in and was sent to Carlisle to train.
I have some stories up on this site but can't remember the numbers of them so will look them up and send you them so you can read them.
Best Wishes

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