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15 October 2014
WW2 - People's War

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Contributed by 
Trooper Tom Canning - WW2 Site Helper
People in story: 
Tom Canning
Location of story: 
Nth Africa/Italy
Background to story: 
Article ID: 
Contributed on: 
03 February 2004

Characters at War.

Paddy Quinn, from the South of Ireland, was a lance corporal in"A" squadron of the 145th regt R.A.C. during the fighting in North Africa and close to Medjez el Bab. On a day of "rest", Paddy was sitting on top of the turret of his Churchill Tank cleaning his machine gun, when a German ME109 had a go at strafing the whole squadron .Knowing there would be another pass, Paddy inserted a belt of ammo into his newly cleaned gun, leaned back on the turret,jamming the gun into his side and as the ME109 came over on another strafing run, Paddy fired off half a belt of ammunition at the plane. Some of the bullets damaged the controls in the tail assembly and the plane came down about 200 yards past the camp and killing the pilot.

Paddy was awarded the M.M.

Briggs(5'1") and Thirkill(6'2") from Yorkshire were our "stars" at many squadron concerts, as we had time for concerts prior to embarking for Italy from North Africa, and always regaled us with humourous songs in the style of 'Gert and Daisy' which went down well with all of the Officers and other ranks. One day the M.P.'s showed up with a complaint that 'someone' had been impersonating M.P.'s in the City of Bone and gaining free drinks - and other favours !

Briggs and Thirkill were awarded 14 days jankers!

Alf Goddard of Birmingham was an impatient type of man always on the go and barely avoiding trouble as he had an infectious grin permanently all over his face. One day during the winter stalemate of 1944 in the North of Italy, the Tanks were all bogged down and so the powers that be decided that the whole Brigade should stand on the winter line along the senio River - as Infantry.

On the South side of the river therefore we were in houses lining the river bank, and the German Infantry were also in houses along the North side of the river. Nothing was happening and boredom soon became paramount. This was not Goddard's style and so he made his way up to the attic,opened the window, leaned out, aimed his rifle, and fired a shot - which brought down the opposing house's chimney pot which rolled down and dropped on the front door step. Wherupon the front door opened, a German came out, inspected the broken chimney pot, slammed the door and could be heard running up the stairs to his attic.He also leaned out the window, and brought down Goddard's chimney pot.This looked like good fun and pretty soon all of the houses were minus their chimney pots. A few days later the Army Newspaper declared with banner headlines that 'heavy fighting had broken out at the Senio".

Goddard was awarded a good rollicking by his Troop Leader - for disturbing the peace !

But the one who took first prize was a Canadian from the Seaforth Highlanders also at the Senio when he discovered a small tree which looked like a catapult, and an inner tyre from a large wheel. In his boredom he cut the tyre, fixed it to two upright branches, placed a stone in the centre, hauled it back, released it and watched the stone curve it's way into the German lines. On discussing this with his Officer,they decided that they would sling a few stones over in this way - the Germans would be curious - inspect the stones - at which point the stones would be substituted with hand grenades ! This wounded a few Germans who did not appreciate the
innovation and laid on an Artillery Barrage for half an hour !

It is not known what the Canadian innovater was awarded !

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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 - Characters at War

Posted on: 03 February 2004 by Peter - WW2 Site Helper

Dear Tom,

Always a great joy to read your stories.

Talking about "characters at war", how any fighting was done with you around beats me. You must have had your mates falling around splitting their sides with your observations.

As to the stories, keep 'em coming. :)

Best regards,


Message 2 - Characters at War

Posted on: 04 February 2004 by Trooper Tom Canning - WW2 Site Helper

Peter, this might have been the case but I don't think they could understand my Scottish accent - they were mostly from Yorkshire - I could barely understand them !

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