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Memories of Arthur Turner: Part 2: With 7th Armoured Division

by Huddersfield Local Studies Library

Contributed by 
Huddersfield Local Studies Library
People in story: 
Arthur Turner
Background to story: 
Army
Article ID: 
A2625446
Contributed on: 
12 May 2004

This story has been submitted to the People's War site by Sarah Harding of Kirklees Libraries on behalf of Arthur Turner and has been added to the site with his permission. The author fully understand's the site's terms and conditions.

Memories of Arthur Turner - Part 2

Now we the 7th Armoured Division Desert Rats 8th Army are heading from Tripoli with the 1st Royal Tank Regiment plus our Light Aid Detachment Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers helping out the 5th American Army who are on the invasion of Italy also with our help from the Gurkha plus Royal Artillery Infantry and Support Groups under the command of the American generals. The boat that landed us on the beaches of Castellammare was not used to landing troops, so we were left stranded in deep water with all the tanks, guns, lorries, etc. submerged in the water, we spent days recovering the equipment having to check water damage. All the time we were under fire from the Germans who still had strong army so for a while we were bog down until the forces got into formation and drove wedges into opposition. Many battles took place around Casoria, S. Giorcic, Cremana, Sorrento then it was a big battle taking place fighting our way into Naples, many planes overhead Stuka dive bombing and our planes were involved in many dog fights, also ack ack and RA hammering away with their 25 pounders. All the time we had to keep digging slit trenches for our protection against shrapnel and bullets from German machine guns etc. At no time did we have proper quarters but took over farms, tram depots and many times we just dosed down in the ditches, being bitten and swarmed with mosquito and one was bitten all over, if one was lucky you may come to a mosquito net which the Germans had left in a hurry. Sometimes we camped in orchards among all the trees for camouflage, and of course we helped ourself to the apples, pears, tomatoes and walnuts which were plentiful and of course the grapes were very nice, having had no nice fruit for years, except the dates in the desert. After many months things seemed to have moved forward and going to plan for the Americans.

Now the 1st Armoured Division are on the move again for the Desert Rats are required to go back to England thinking we are in for a rest, but no we put down at Brandon, near Cambridge. In middle of a forest with all its trees, so Royal Engineers came sawed the trees down which then became our camp in bell tents, the REME then had a little job to do water proofing tanks, lorries, guns etc. ready for the invasion of France, Holland, Belgium, we had to grease all engine parts, extend the exhaust system so that it would be safe to land off the ships, on landing craft, as the ships were unable to get too near the beaches as the Germans had fire and gun power ready for the attack. After the water proofing we are on the go again this time it was the proper days of invasion, the 7th Army Desert Rats were at again with tanks, guns, RA and infantry making a forward attack in Belgium, Holland and France, fierce battles at Eindhoven, Tilburg, Turnhaut, Clinder Erp, Brussels, Mechlen, Maastricht, Cenk, Brugge, Bayeaux, Caen, Nijmegen, Shertogen Bosch Osnabrick Arnhem Bridge, airborne in their thousands of gliders roaring and diving all over the sky on their onslaught of the bridge. All the time the Germans were hammering back with gun power, machine guns and ack ack, with Tiger tanks in full support, we joined up with the Guards tank division, who suffered many losses with their tanks, Churchill’s Chieftains and Shermans, and many repairs were called on for, Light Aid Detachment working day and night keeping the tanks and guns in action. During one action I came across my eldest brother who was manning an ammunitions depot, so I managed to have a couple of hours with him, but alas a battle of tank engagement took place so was called back to work through night repairing tanks, so left him in my small bivouac all night, seeing him back to his unit in morning, taking him back in a tank I was testing, ready for action again, by now we were getting a little war weary, so we are pulled out for a few days having a rest, Monty still in charge, with the American general and his aides over all, British, Canadians etc. By now we were overrunning Germans and on our way to Berlin. Now I was told to report to Bruges, where I was informed that I was going back to England on a staff sergeant course at Arborfield which involved taking a drill course, mechanical, on all new tanks, guns etc. So for a lovely spell of a few months it was lovely to be away from all the conflicts of war, it was quite near Reading and able to get to London, after all those years abroad it was heaven, away from the bombs guns and toils of war.

After my staff sergeant’s course I was posted to Barton on Humber in charge of motorbikes, being delivered by trains which had to be road tested, and equipped with batteries and tools by ATS girls in the workshop which was a commandeered garage, then they had each to be road tested by dispatch riders for twenty miles then issued to the different army units. By now a bus load of English soldiers who had been in Japanese prisoner camps who were no longer fit to soldier on so they were in Nissan huts relaxing check by Army doctors and able to have hobbies of their choice, and we took over Barton on Humber lifeboat station which we turned into a recreation room with a little bar, also managed to get hold of table tennis and anyone who had a gift for painting, art etc. it was all there for them. One thing we had no electric so I had a brain wave put my rubber boots on and gloves climbed on top of an army lorry and tapped into the live wire of the overhead cable.

Before I finish my hectic war years I had a little mishap, one of the dispatch riders rang in to say that the motorbike he was testing had seized up and would not go, so I had to go out with my driver in the motorbike and side car B.S.A. and see what was going wrong, so I jump on the seized motorbike and got it going for a few yards then it seized up again and threw me over the handlebars and lucky for me into row of sugar beet, which was stored at the side of the road if it been the road I would have been killed, but luck was with me resulting in a main bone in my right arm so it was a hospital job in Scunthorpe Hospital which the army had taken partial over. Then my army days were demobbed but I had to keep going back to Scunthorpe for re-plastering, 6th month of a job before I got right and working again. On demobbed I received six medals and awarded C&C’s certificate for good service signed by Monty, Africa Star with 8th Army clasp Italy Star, France and Germany, 1939-45 Star and Defence Medal.

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