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Canterbury Libraries
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Contributed on: 
02 November 2005

This story was submitted to the People’s War site by Alan Jeffery CSV from Kent County Library Services on behalf of Dennis Corbett and has been added to the site with his permission. The author fully understands the sites terms and conditions.

An outstanding memory which I have recounted many times occurred during the very early days of the war. I had been evacuated from Gateshead to Hawes in Wensleydale, Yorkshire and during those very early days in Hawes I remember standing in a sunlit field watching an exercise by Local Defence Volunteers, who were later referred to as the Home Guard.
The person in charge was obviously a First World War veteran and local dignitary and could almost be described as a clone of Captain Mainwaring of Dad’s Army. The group he was in charge of were clearly local men and they were formed in a semi circle around him, armed with hay rakes and pitch forks as weapons! The person on charge was the only one of the group to wear any semblance of army apparel and that consisted of a tunic! From where I stood I could hear the conversation and I remember it went like this.
“What does it mean when I give this signal?” At the same time he made a circular motion with his hand over his head.
After a momentary silence one of the group called out “Retreat Sir”
The commander then roared at him. “Retreat! Retreat! You never retreat in the British Army. You retire. Now what does this mean?”
He repeated the movement. The men in unison called out. “Retire Sir”.
Although I was only eight years old I suddenly had a feeling that we would, after all, win the war!

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