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- 08 September 2004
I was called up to the Service Corps. During my training we were confined to barracks for six weeks until we looked like real soldiers. After that we went to Rochester. Even though the beach was out of bounds, it was lovely. From there we went to Bournemouth, which was even better. We were billeted in guest houses, so had tea made for us. The army had specific guidance for those of us who had to share a room. We had to sleep head to toe to avoid any untoward happenings!
Well, we then went over to France. We were in the Cherbourg area trying to break through the German ring and relieve the Amiens area. We couldn’t, and were forced to run for Brest from where we were evacuated.
After a couple of years back in Britain, I was sent out to Quetta to join the Indian Army. We left here as Privates, and arrived there as Sergeants. It was something to do with no white soldier being of a lower rank than a sergeant — a taste of the Raj I suppose. Anyway, Quetta was lovely. We all had menservants, and even got a shave in bed everyday! Then we somehow managed to get caught up in the jungle trouble in Burma.
It was a very different kind of war there. There were no trenches with areas of no mans land. There could be a Jap behind the next tree. You only remember the good times, but there were many bad ones.
I do remember we once had a visit from an American Radio company who wanted us to help record some authentic battle sounds for their broadcasts. I can still see us firing tommy guns into the ground, and a few howitzers going off. Nothing like the real thing, but they seemed happy. I always remember that whenever I hear firing on a film or television programme.
I also remember Christmas 1943, and I was chasing a pig around. I did catch it in the end, and it tasted delicious.
For a while I was diving motorbikes around, and can remember a couple of incidents. One time I was up near Poonah and was travelling up a very rugged track. I overtook a parked van and ran straight into a passing cow. I was rather shaken, as cows are sacred over there and I had all sorts of visions of what might happen to me if I got caught. Luckily, I was able to get back on the bike and ride off.
Another time I was travelling along and came across a work party who were hanging telegraph wires over the track. They had got one side up, but the wire was training across the track. I was left hanging there for a while when I ran into it, and lost a few teeth as well!
We were the forgotten army out in the jungle. We didn’t get any news through, and didn’t even know that there had been a D-Day.
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