- Contributed by
- People in story:
- Wilfred Hall, (Wilf of Woodborough), Bill Hacett, Bill Hanson, Cliff Holloway from Mansfield and Jack Briely Sutton in Ashfield
- Location of story:
- Wiltshire, Scotland and Hampshire
- Background to story:
- Article ID:
- Contributed on:
- 08 September 2005
"This story was submitted to the People's War site by CSV/BBC Radio Nottingham on behalf of Wilfred Hall with his permission. The author fully understands the site's terms and conditions."
Born 27.3.1918, Southwell, Notts. Went to school, Holy Trinity Infants, 23 April 1923, Church of England 1924, left 1932, when I was 14 years. My first job, helping to lay a tennis court at the Kelham Monastery. Met my dear wife in 1935 at Epperstone, I was a painter and ecorator. We were married May 11th 1940, 59 years together. I lost my dear 5 years ago. I was a works inspector at Ransome and Marles ball bearing factory.
My call up paperscame in 1939. Went for a medical at Bath Street in Mansfield, passed A1.Joined to Army Jan 15th 1940 - 1946, went to Finsbury Barracks, Winterbourne Dauntsey near Salisbury.
We were kitted with uniforms and had all our medical inocs and injections. Gave us our Room N6 Hut Sept. 20 men, after 2 weeks we were put into Army waggons. 6 persons taken to Porton gas establishment, put into a gas chamber resperator on locked. We were to put 2 fingers near your face to smell the tears then pull them away. if you eyes watered then we came out. We had to sign the Secret Act, not to tell anyone what we were doing. They gave an exercise book to put down what they told us. Tear Gas, BBC, KSK, Chlorine Phosgene, Mustard and Lewestle dick? In Feb 2nd I was admitted to the Tidworth Military Hospital. Coughing for 36 hours non stop, had sick leave. Came back to take more experiments, had neat Mustard dropped on our arms, was given ASWABR ointment to wipe. Back to camp and wash it off, then if a blister came within 24 hours we would be discharged from service. April 1940 we had to go on parade, the Battalion of up to 1000 men. Lt.Col Costello, he told us to dismiss. But everyone stood fast he repeated this three times and asked why did no-one moved, we told him we were not going into the gas chambers no more. We got moved to Bulford. Had embarkation leave to go to France, but then we moved to Southampton. We lived under canvas on the common. The German's started to bombing Southampton, we were moved to Alder More School at Shirley. The Germans came around 3.30 in the afternoon. We put a smoke screen like the figure of eight, then at night it drifted over Southampton. We had to do 12 hours guard at night, to guard from looters.
Winston Churchill put a blackout on press bulletins, because they flattened it. I take my hat off to the brave heroes of Southampton R.I.P.
Jan 1941 we left Southampton to go to Chelmsford. The Germans were fire bombing London. We moved to Porlock, Somerset to test rocket. Stopped when Lt.Col.McLaren had half blown away. March 1941 went to Bath Hospital for a big OP. 64th Company posted to North Africa, lot never came back.
1941 posted to Barton Stacey, 1942 posted to Scotland for exercise, North Africa, 149 men killed. I made friends with a Scottish family, Mr. and Mrs. J. Williamson from Galston, Ayrshire. Still friends after 63 years.
1942 posted to Sherbourne, 376 Bridging Company. 1943 posted to Chatham, stayed their 3 and a half years. Had my wife lodging with Grocery and Veg shop at Brompton High Street. His name was Alf.
November doodle bombs started morning, noon and night. Around London was a Barrage Balloon Barrier, 27 x 30 miles. Saw 1000 planes going to France and Germany, went out in waves 250 at a time. Their was 4700 bombs dropped on Kent.
1944 Oct V2's started to pound us but kept missing. I saw the gliders going to France. D.Day I was a stoker at the Military School of Engineering for 3 and a half years.
Demob in March 1946. When I went into the Army 1940 my pay was a shilling a day, seven bob a week. The MOD admit I contracted acute Bronchic, I've got Glaucoma, right eye cateract and dry eye.
When I came out of the Army they assessed clothes at £86. I made a tape which is now in the Imperial War Museum in London. Also the exercise book which would make your hair curl. I passed A1 when I went in the Army came out B7!
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