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My Call-Up -Part 3


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14 December 2004

My call up -Part Three
On my return to my unit I was informed they were trying to get me on the permanent staff at the camp cinema
But because of the overstay of my leave, this had sort of blotted my copy book.
Now my transfer was processed, I was assigned to the 13/18th. Royal hussars, this entailed a trip to Belgium
anchored off Southend for one night due to enemy activity we proceeded to Ostend in Belgium ,enroute to Germany.
The unit was currently in Goch Germany and subject to frequent shelling from the Germans.
The Rhine crossing was to be the next main offensive, so practice runs were carried out, the plan was to drive the tank on to a raft pulled by a winch assembly on the opposite bank of the river.
I mind we pulled on to the raft and the ambitious officer in charge said try another tank on , the raft immediately began to sink and the officer said "no good! Pull back second tank", much to our relief.
Well came the night of the crossing, we stood outside the tank wearing what looked like a childs toy in the way of an inflateable life support, there was not a lot of activity at this stage , a couple of planes flew in no doubt observing the activity, on reaching the opposite bank we were directed onwards across the terrain.
Strangely we found we had been following a German half track vehicle, for some time, but this later we learned had been captured by our troops, and was being used by them.
There were a few incidents encountered after crossing the Rhine, but the war was rapidly coming to the end, I recall we were engaged in combat outside Bremen, there was a lull in the activity, we were all feeling a bit tired and quite hungry, five of us in this tank waiting to go on or pull back, longing for something to eat, I suddenly remembered the five tins of self heating cans of soup we carried on board , I mentioned to the corporal in charge we had these soups, he said they were only for emergency use, I reminded him we had not eaten for hours and surely this is an emergency! There was silence for a few minutes, then he relented and said "get them out then".
The soups were in the standard size tin, with an I.C.I. element in the centre, the idea was you pierced the tin, pulled on the central flap which ignited the heating unit, and within a minute or so the soup was piping hot they were delicious, we made a mental note to get them replaced sometime, but we never did, in fact we never saw these items again,they may have been withdrawn, they could have been a danger if you forgot to pierce the tin, going up like a small bomb no doubt, perhaps they were just on trial, anyone know of these? They were certainly most welcome that night.
The war ended at last, we were summoned on parade by an officer who was assigned to assist in the readjustment to the return to civilian life, he informed us some classes would be set up covering various subjects, these would be run by personel who were qualified to teach the different subjects drawn from
Army educational sources, but first would we complete a short questionaire to allow them to assess the different demands, the forms were distributed, and they consisted of four questions.
We had one chap whose Christian name escapes me, his surname was Wright, trooper Wright was a Londoner
A likeable chap, when you got to know him, he looked at this form, and filled it in as follows

1. What did you do before you enlisted ? ===================== nothing !
2 what are your main interests ?============================ none !
3 which course would you like to undertake ?=============== none !
4. What do you intend to do after demob ?=================== nothing!

The officer went really mad, and told him he had got to enter for a course, so he did!, he put down for mathmatics, when the courses started there were three others in this particular class, the tutor couldn't touch him, he was so advanced, we did hear his sister was a wren officer, the father was well up in government, and he was the black sheep, he obviously had some form of chip on his shoulder.
The man was clever, I mind the leader magazine used to feature a crossword puzzle known as a double crosstic, solving it revealed the name of an author and a passage from his book, some of the clues were a little tricky, i've seen him get stuck on a clue, fold the puzzle paper and place it in his top pocket, then on another occasion you would be talking to him, this perhaps a day or two later, and he'd suddenly say "just a minute " take out the puzzle from his top pocket bring out his pencil fill in the missing answer and with a really satisfied look, strike through the list of clues.
He always said what he felt, I remember I was due to go on regimental guard with about four other members of our troop, he said to me "that lot! Have been polishing up their gear for days" indicating the other lads, " give me your boots", a couple of hours later he handed them back to me, the toe caps were like mirrors , I thanked him and later paraded for this all night guard duty.
The parade location had been changed since I had last been on this particlar guard duty, requiring two paces forward instead of what was originally one pace, I faultered slightly leaving me askew with the line, I awaited the right dress order for us to re align which came, then, the duty officer walked around inspecting us , finaly returning to the head of the parade, for a word with the sergeant.
The next moment the sergeant came up to me and said " what's your name ?" on my answering he returned to his former position, and in a loud voice called out "commanding officer's stick orderley trooper Dann, stick orderley take post!"
I just could not believe it, "me" the best on the parade deemed the stick orderley, and excused the actual guard duty, returning only the next day with the white pouch and band given, duly cleaned, then on parade as the guard was dismissed.
Trooper Wright was well pleased his efforts had won the day not just for me, but had put one over on the others, despite their attempts of the last few days, of constant spit & polish.
time marched on, and then a notice appeared on our information board, "cinema operators required" this was like a dream to me, I could not put my name down fast enough, I remember on learning of my intention one of the office orderleys said " you'll be back" and I said "I don't think so"
I proceeded to Hamburg Germany, where I entered the course, passing out with 90% theory and 94% practicle,
I was told I would be invited back to enter a further course for service engineer which .would have meant three stripes and a crown promotion to staff sergeant.
I recall one evening whilst on this course in Hamburg I walked back to the billet with another soldier, as
We walked a shot rang out, a bullet whined close by, we immediately took evasive action, dashing over to one side, it was quite dark at the time and we could not see anyone, taking no chances we took a diversion from our normal route, we came across an armoured scout car parked up on the side of the road, I went up to it, tapping on the side of the vehicle a rather eccentric looking officer poked his head out and just said "yes ?" I said " we appeared to have been shot at sir ," then the next event really did amaze us, he said "shooting , good heavens ! I'd better close down" then he dropped back inside, closing the cupola.
Such behavier remains a mystery to this day, whether he was entertaining someone inside we don't know,
But due to the previous situation we did not hang about, and went on our way.
I was duly assigned to the army kinema services, which was a unit of the r.a.o.c. all looked rosy, but
then an announcement was made ,the army kinema service was to be taken over by a civilian company the army kinema corporation, this meant all further courses were cancelled, it was some months before the take over came to pass , during which time I spent many happy times with 37 army kinema service section.
We usually spent ten days out on the road giving film shows to various units, then back in for two days maintainance, and two days off, then out again for ten days.
We used a 15cwt, truck , carrying a petrol generator, a 16 mm projector, films and records.
this was so very enjoyable away from the unit, the only drawback being any mail to you was delayed, but never the less a very happy period in my army career.
I remember when the time came to move out of the kinema section and we had said our good byes a collegue was assigned to drive me to my new unit, a returned stores depot in the r.a.o.c.
As we drove in the main gate he spotted a sign " camp theatre" and he said "you want to get in there!"
But first on my arrival a sergeant major said " what's your trade ?" I said "cinema projectionist" he came back with " no, your army trade!" I replied "projectionist cinema" this set him back a moment, in the r.a.o.c.
The groups were usually, clerk storeman or general duties, but kinema sections had also been added.
strangely three days later the colonel sent for me , it appears the camp theatre was his pet and the references my last commanding officer had provided plus my experience in cinema entertainment both in civilian life and the army appealed to him "just the chap I need " he said, and I landed a nice number.
This was additional to my daytime assignment, regulating the intake of various equipment items brought in by units returning to the U.K.
I remember after making out the various receipts for these items I started to help off load the returned gear , to assist the other couple of lads, but the sergeant in charge said " theres no need for you to do that, I’d like you to stay in the office and just take care of the paper work" and so this coupled with my association with the camp theatre excusing me any guard duties, was another good little number.
The unit was not the same as the kinema section, but it was better than I could have ever hoped for.
We usually had Wednesday afternoons free, this was handy, as it gave us time for writing letters and to sort various things out, but sadly this came to an end, brought about by an over keen officer, who was sports mad!, and who felt we should take part in sporting activities on these free Wednesday afternoons, but more on that when I submit part 4 of this fascinating saga "my call up part 4."
Ted Dann.

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