- Contributed by
- People in story:
- Sid Edwards
- Location of story:
- Western Desert and Italy
- Background to story:
- Article ID:
- Contributed on:
- 02 October 2005
22/3/1943 Sid Edwards (right)hands over the film of 'Desert Victory' to be flown back to Britain
As soon as I was 17 in the early months of 1939 I joined the Territorial Army, so immediately the war began I was called up and had to report to the Manchester Barracks. I was put into the Royal Army Service Corps and stationed at Old Trafford Cricket Ground. I was too young to be sent to France so was at depots in England until Spring 1941 , when my travels began.
We sailed to Egypt in the Troop ship ‘Stratheden’; not through the Mediterranean because of enemy shipping but via South Africa. After a stop in Cape Town we took a fortnight to reach Egypt. There we joined the 8th. Army at Alamein. A spell in hospital in Cairo with ‘Sand Fever’ resulted in a new job for me. When I was fit I was made Driver for the newly established Army Film & Photograph Unit. (A T P U) There were two Sergeants, one taking Cine-film and one still shots. This outfit was in the thick of fighting making a record of army life and action. Sometimes there were Correspondents with us.
There were lighter moments. We were always intrigued when we were in the flat totally featureless Western Desert. The convoy would stop for the night in an area with no visible sign of life or feature in the landscape but within a very short time Bedouins would arrive, apparently out of nowhere. Their interest was tea. Very brisk bargaining went on. We wanted eggs in return for a handful of tea. They were wise to tricks with leaves that had been used and then dried.
When Rommel was defeated we went across to Sicily and then into Italy. I saw the fighting as we moved up Italy. The most dreadful fighting was at Monte Cassino. In Egypt most fighting had been long range but there it was close quarters and so bitter. One night as we were advancing we decided to make use of a wood to give us cover. It was a mistake as the Germans realise what we had done and shelled the wood all night. We dug trenches but there were heavy casualities.
The end of the war came when we were in N. Italy. We then went over the Brenner Pass into Austria. The Italians and Austrians were welcoming and many of us became fond of the families where we were billeted. I eventually returned home to England to be demobbed in August 1946.
There is a picture of Sid handing over the film ‘Desert Victory’
to be flown back to Britain.
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