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The Dunkirk Survivors in Alfreton

by ambervalley

Contributed by 
People in story: 
Mr Frederick Alletson, Mrs Mary Ellen Alletson and Mr Bernard Titchfield Alletson
Location of story: 
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Contributed on: 
16 June 2004

I remember the British Expedition forces coming in to Alfreton in 1939/40 by rail to the station and were mainly billeted in the Assembly Rooms which is adjoined to what was then the George Hotel opposite the memmorial at the top of King Street. The first food was made and served at an old school down Chesterfield Road which became the regular cookhouse for all of the troops in alfreton. I can remember the lads emptying a lot of their cigarettes, which were in cardboard packets, into the tin dustbins, only the tinned 50's survived the soaking. These chaps never complained about their 'lot' they were so tired and 'beat' that many didn't go down to eat even they just needed to rest and recuperate. My mother and father having remebered well enough the first World War invited many of these chaps to our house and gave them food from their own rations and a place to rest and relax and write letters. I remember we had a piano and by way of socialising and relaxing we had many a sing song with them.One soldier was very ill with chest problems, pneumonia, he was not eating and my mother boiled him some fish which he thought at first was mashed potatoe and declined to attempt to eat it until my mother told him what it was and ajoled him into eating and eventually he made a full recovery and he came back to my mother and thanked her very much. All the bugle calls for reveille etc were done on the corner by the George Hotel and then again along the High street at the Town Hall. I remember one particular Seargent called Les Cooke who came from Felixtowe. He was a very humane man and old by comparison to the rest, perhaps about 26 - 30 years old and a man who would rather talk to his men as opposed to barking orders at them. There was an incident where a cap badge went missing and he dealt with it by asking all the men to wash their hands in an old stone sink full of earth and water, a kind of sludgy mess, and told them that if the cap badge was found then that would be an end to it. This was typical of how he dealt with misdemeanours and problems with his men. I also remember a soldier with the RASC who wrote letters everydaay to his wife which I posted, the address stays with me on account of how many times I'd taken them to the post.

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