BBC HomeExplore the BBC
This page has been archived and is no longer updated. Find out more about page archiving.

15 October 2014
WW2 - People's War

BBC Homepage
BBC History
WW2 People's War Homepage Archive List Timeline About This Site

Contact Us

Training To Be A Driver/Wireless Operatoricon for Recommended story

by Ron Goldstein

Contributed by 
Ron Goldstein
People in story: 
Ron Goldstein
Location of story: 
Whitby, Yorkshire
Background to story: 
Army
Article ID: 
A2065853
Contributed on: 
21 November 2003

1942 Whitby in Yorkshire My first army photo

During my first few weeks in the army we were given various aptitude tests and it was discovered that I had an affinity for reading Morse code for when the course was finished I found myself posted to the 52nd Driver/Wireless Operator Training Rgt. at Whitby in Yorkshire

I arrived at Whitby in mid November '42 and first impressions were very favourable. It appeared as if we were to be treated like adults here as opposed to the training camp we had left behind at Bury St.Edmunds

We found ourselves billeted, six to a room, in small houses scattered around the town. First thing every morning the troop corporals to whom we had been allotted called round each of the billets in turn and we 'fell in.' outside and joined an ever lengthening group of marchers. When we were all finally assembled we marched to a local church hall where breakfast was ready for us.

After breakfast we marched to an imposing ex-hotel on the cliff top, the Metropole, which was to be our training college for the next three months. Here we were to learn the rudiments of both radio transmission and driving, in almost equal measure.

We soon learned that the purpose behind the course was to train us in the then newly established role of Driver -Operators and to send us out to the Middle East to join Anti-aircraft units. Apparently the War Office had decided that communications in the Artillery needed speeding up.
In the past, whenever a unit commander wished to pass a message to one of his gun crews he would use a motor cycle dispatch rider who would deliver the command and then return with a confirmation. The new idea was that every battery would have a small wireless truck as part of its establishment and this truck would be in permanent communication with both H.Q. and every other battery in the Regiment. Each truck would have a crew of three men and all the crew would be able to both drive and operate the radio.

I enjoyed the course, I particularly enjoyed learning to drive and the hilly roads of Yorkshire were ideal for this purpose. At least three times a week we would be marched to the Metropole car park and formed up in the centre of the square which also doubled up as our parade ground.
Round the outside of the square a wide variety of army vehicles would be lined up and on the command "To your vehicles --- dismiss!" all assembled would make a dash for their favourite vehicle or instructor.

Almost at the end of the course I was due to take the driving test that would enable me to call myself a qualified army driver. As luck would have it on the same morning as I took the test I had a dental appointment and so by the time this had finished it was about eleven a.m. before I could get to the car park where I was due to meet my examiner.
To my horror when I arrived the only vehicle left in the car park was a huge tank transporter.
When the examiner saw the petrified look on my face and I had explained the reason for my lateness he laughed aloud, took pity on me and gave me a two minute course on how to handle this monster with its complicated gear changes and its huge turning circle. He also gave me a pass at the end of what must have been for both of us a very alarming ride!

Quite apart from our training we were also called upon to man pillboxes along the coast against the always threatening German invasion of England. Despite our best intentions we could never take this very seriously particularly when we found ourselves manning a pill box on a deserted strip of the coast outside Whitby armed with only a Lee Enfield rifle and five rounds of ammunition.

At the end of the course my comrades and I proudly sewed on our Driver/Op. badges, a stylised hand grasping forked lightning and we were posted to various anti-aircraft regiments around the country.

© Copyright of content contributed to this Archive rests with the author. Find out how you can use this.

Forum Archive

This forum is now closed

These messages were added to this story by site members between June 2003 and January 2006. It is no longer possible to leave messages here. Find out more about the site contributors.

Message 1 - Training to be a Driver/OP

Posted on: 17 January 2004 by Jim Holder-Vale

Hi Ron
Like you I was a Driver/Op with a LAA Regt. I trained in 1943 at Congleton in Cheshire, I thought it a dismal unfriendly place and disliked it. When we passed out we were allowed to put up our badges which were the crossed flags of a signaller, no way as flash as yours! I was then posted to the 92nd LAA Regt in the 3rd British Infantry Division. We were issued with Bedford Wireless trucks which were the latest issued by the army. We moved to Scotland and soon found out we were to take part in the forthcoming invasion of France. I was not too pleased to find that for the D-Day landing I was to be posted to one of the Troops with SP Bofors. I put the details in my story which is named Fox Troop on Pegasus and Horsa Bridges.
What vehicles did you have, and were you on 22 sets?
Regards
Jim Holder-Vale

 

Message 2 - Training to be a Driver/OP

Posted on: 03 March 2004 by Ron Goldstein

Hi Jim
A thousand apologies for replying so late, I just didn't check to see if there was any response to that particular submission. Might I suggest that if you want to contact me again you drop a message in my message box on my personal page, that way I will see it right away.
I'm going to contact my old friend Larry who was also trained at Congleton because I think you may have friends in common.
Please look at my 'Ron's Grand Tour' to see where else we could have met up in England and no, we didn't use the 22 set, only the good old 19 set.
Will contact you again as soon as I have a minute
Best wishes
Ron

 

Message 3 - Training to be a Driver/OP

Posted on: 09 May 2004 by Jim Holder-Vale

Hello Ron. My apologies for not getting back to you before but like you had failed to check for replies. I will do as you suggest and get back to you again.
Regards Jim

Archive List

This story has been placed in the following categories.

British Army Category
North Yorkshire Category
icon for Story with photoStory with photo

Most of the content on this site is created by our users, who are members of the public. The views expressed are theirs and unless specifically stated are not those of the BBC. The BBC is not responsible for the content of any external sites referenced. In the event that you consider anything on this page to be in breach of the site's House Rules, please click here. For any other comments, please Contact Us.



About the BBC | Help | Terms of Use | Privacy & Cookies Policy