- Contributed by
- People in story:
- Sidney Erwin Cox
- Location of story:
- Liverpool Egypt and Palestine
- Background to story:
- Article ID:
- Contributed on:
- 08 June 2005
This story has been submitted to the People’s War website by Anne Wareing of the Lancashire Home Guard on behalf of Sidney Erwin Cox and has been added to the site with his permission…
I was 16 in 1941 and gave the wrong age to enable me to join the Home Guard. I joined C company as my father was in B Company and I didn’t want him to know, so I hid my uniform and gun under the stairs and it was three weeks before he found out and I suppose by then it was too late anyway. I did the basic training learning how to fire the 303 rifles and practicing throwing Mills bomb. We also had to have training with what was known as ‘sticky’ bombs. These you had to practice sticking onto steel plates and then running like the clappers as you only had 5 seconds before they exploded. The idea behind this bomb was that they would be used on tanks, should it become necessary. But very dangerous things they were and eventually they became obsolete in 1943, along with the Mills bomb.
Following this I went on to join the Home Guard Anti Aircraft, firing at the enemy aircraft bombing the docks. We used to fire 64 rockets simultaneously, covering an area of half a square mile. The guns were set out in a half circle which covered Liverpool Bay and each one had two rods that carried the 4 foot rockets, it took a lot of coordination to get them to all launch together and during the 9 — 12 months I was on them, we only had one misfire.
I got called up in 1944 and went to Maryhill Barracks Glasgow where I did the six weeks basic training. I got posted to the Royal Army Service Corp Carlisle and from there we went to the East Coast where we got 2 weeks embarkation leave. We were issued with pith helmets and snake boots which was done to confuse any spies that were around. We were never going to use them, so they had to go back to the stores and we sailed across to Dover then went through France by train. The train we traveled to Toulon, on was a German train that had been captured and it still had the swastika on the sides. We sailed from there on an American Liberty Ship the Villa Deloran. It was very basic, like a tin can, but it got us safely to Alexandra in Egypt.
Then the Palestine War broke out and I stayed on there for over three and a half years.
During this time I caught severe typhoid fever from drinking the water. I was in hospital for 60 days and wasn’t expected to live. It was only much later that I found out that the Mother Superior and all the nuns at the Carmelite Convent in Birkenhead had all prayed for 3 hours for my safe recovery. I was so grateful when I knew of this that I bought a cross for the convent and I still have her letter of thanks to this day and I think what happened to me, proves how powerful prayer can be.
When I recovered I rejoined my unit in Palestine and we were on the Gaza strip when I drove over a land mine, I was thrown over thirty yards away from my vehicle. I was unconscious for two weeks and when I came round I was blind for four weeks and I had no taste or smell for a further six months, I also suffered a slight memory loss.
For most of my time in Palestine I was a full corporal running convoys of vehicles with troops, food and ammunition. Then I spent 18 months on desert patrols, guarding the oil pipeline between Haifa and Nazareth. I was demobbed in 1948
I joined the British Legion and in 1984 was given the honour of taking the Standard from Crosby to the Royal Albert Hall before the Royal Family.
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