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Ray Heslop's War Diary

by Bob Heslop

Contributed by 
Bob Heslop
People in story: 
Raymond Henry Heslop
Location of story: 
France and Northern Ireland
Background to story: 
Article ID: 
Contributed on: 
05 September 2004

The following is a transcription from a small red note book left in the belongings of Raymond Henry Heslop. The book is soft backed, the sort easily bought from Woolworth’s or the like, it is 2 3/4 inches by 4 inches. Many of the notes are in pencil and thus difficult to read. I have reproduced the pages and added my notes. I understand that Ray first enlisted in the Artillery but transferred to the Infantry (King’s Own, Lancaster) because he was not seeing any action!

Ray, one of three children, was born on 19th September 1916 of Robert Heslop and Helena Lily (nee Walker) in Darlington, County Durham.
Ray married Madeline Harper in Workington in December 1946 and they lived in South Shields and Carlisle.
He died in Carlisle in December 1979, having been a furniture salesman and a civil servant. Wife, Madeline died in 1969. Both Ray and Madeline were very active in the Scout Movement, Ray from being a Sea Scout in Darlington and Madeline from being roped in when the Sons joined.
They had two sons, Robert (b South Shields 16 January 1949 and Graham, b South Shields 3rd September 1951). This entry is compiled by Robert.

Ray’s pay book (Army Book 64) gives his details as follows
Raymond Henry
19th September 1916
(Place of birth censored)
furniture Salesman

parents nationality censored
C of E

Enlisted at COWLEY on 9th September 1939
For TA

No former service

Signed by RH Heslop

DM chamber test 12.9.41
Demolition and Booby Traps 24.1.42
R.E,Dundrum “D”

Attended No 9 course at ) 21.2.42
Watermanship School and ) to
Obtained result 86% V Good ) 25.2.42

Trade group class remarks date
Carpenter and B III tested and Mustered
Joiner within establishment 8.6.42
BO 127/2/1942

-ditto- B II Ref Pt. II 13/8 3/4/43

size of boots 8 medium

then a list of leave dates

Awarded the 39/45 Star 25 Oct 44

Medical A1 13/11/40

14/11/45 (discharge medical?)

17/8/42 Blood Group “B”

a list of Vaccinations

next of Kin Helena Lily Heslop, 12 The Broadway, S Shields. Co.Durham (in this Ray’s record from the MoD is incorrect, it shows Lily as his wife!)

Ray’s Discharge Book (Army Book X 801) shows that he was discharged to the reserve on 12 Dec 1945 in Edinburgh.

Ray was sent to France in 1940, the bulk of the diary concerns his movements there and his rescue from Dunkirk, though this latter is, understandably, sketchy.
Later he was stationed in Northern Ireland, then Workington, Cumberland.
It was in Workington, at a tea given by Mrs McKlucky in Moss Bay that he met Madeline.

Later Ray was sent to India, via Durban. He was ill in India, pneumonia, I think, and spent time in the hills recuperating. I suspect this might have been a cause of his collapsed lung in the 1960s.

There follows a transcript of his diary, with the pages containing names and addresses of contacts omitted.

The diary, pay book, discharge papers and photographs have been loaned to the regimental museum, Museum of the King’s Own Royal Regiment, housed in the Lancaster Town Museum, for copying.
See. links


Rifle Y.9128

G 51469.

1 Kitbag
2 Groundsheet
3 Palliasse
4 Sleeping bag
5 Blanket
6 Spare Stockings
7 Pyjamas
8 Pullover or Jersey
9 Slippers
10 Handkerchiefs
11 2 Plates
12 Knife, Fork & 2 Spoons
15 Notebook and pencil
16 ,
18 Hair brush & comb
19 ,
20 ,
21 Spare shoelaces
22 Tea Towel
23 Bathing Costume
24 Washing Gear
25 .
26 1st Aid Outfit

1 Beret
2 Mackintosh
3 .
4 .
5 .
6 .
7 Clothes


1 Tent
2 Rucksac (in place of Kitbag)
3 Billycan
4 Frypan
5 Paliass,
6 Candles and matches

To Waterproof a Tent

(there follow a few pages giving this info and some details of the make up of the Union Flag. These seem to be from Ray’s Rover Scouting time.

Keep records of serial nos etc of Certificates

Let us give praise to these
Fighters in dungarees
Filling our armouries
Our other army.

Britain has guns to feed;
See them supply the need,
Answer the call for speed-
Our other army.

Leave S.S 9-28 a.m. (SS=South Shields)
Leave n/castle 10-45 a.m. (n/castle =Newcastle upon Tyne)
Arr K.X. 5.0 p.m. (KX=King’s Cross)

They have done deeds as fine
In workshops and the mine
As in the battle line-
Our other army.

Honour the noble score
Of this great labour corps
Strike a new medal for
Our other army.

Insurance card
No. B39=2
Agents address
C. Quick
10, Woodlands Ter.
South Shields

Unemployment card
No. 64,684 (ZE)

Office South Shields

“Got any rivers
they say are uncrossable?
Got any mountains
You can’t tunnel through?
We specialize on the wholly impossible,
Doing the things that
No man can do.”

Extract from
“Glen of the High North”
by H.A.Cody.

K E S Pomeroy (perhaps a list of platoon members)
4 Orion buildings
(Road Name)
Nr Hounslow W

J. V. Haddock
(Road Name)

R.T. Wright
(Road Name)

R.T. Cook
(Road Name)

S.J. Barnes
c/o Gilles
(Road Name)
Brixton S.W.9.

Bus to White Horse
Angel Road.

B.H.Q. Chigwell 2496
,, 137 Hall

TROOP H.Q. Ingerbourne
Claybury Buckhurst
Cont. Room. Kensington
9446 or 4465.

Miss Lewis
(address given)
North Wales.
Miss Pat Wills.
(address given)
P K G Lister Ord Seaman
Class, 136. Top Term
H.M.S. Royal Arthur

J. Woodhead
(address given)

Mr & Mrs T Partridge
(address given)
25 Thursday
26 Fri
27 Sat
28 Sun
Maisie Dermott
(Town given)
Co. Armagh

25/4/40. Thurs. left Braintree
weather fine and warm.
Arrived at Southampton
1 o’clock. Embarked.
26/4/40. Fri. Arrived at
Le Havre. Train to
Monte Villier. Went out
on beer. Slept in
27/4/40 Sat. Still at
Monte Vill. Went out at night
with Joe and Fred Kroft.
Only small place,
several beer houses.

Beer 2f. and 1f.75.
Vin Blanc and Rouge. 1f25.
28/4/40Sun Rifle
Drill in morning.
Beer houses placed
Out of bounds on
a/c of fellows being
rowdy last night.
Weather still good.
29/4/40 mon. Estaminets
placed back in
31/4/40 Tues Rained
all morning. Left
Monte. V. by train

12-46 — 5.0
2-41 — 6.35


Ein Unbekanster
Deutcher Krieger.

Seen on German
Tombstone at Cresp

1/5/40 Wed After
sleeping in trucks
on train, arrived
at billets at Roeux Pas-de-
Calais. Visited the
Roeux Cemetary.
Crump Trench.
Brown’s Copse Cemetary
10/5/40 Fri.
Air Raid on Roevux
Left Roeux about 12.30.

Took over guard duty
On dump at 2.30. for
48 hrs. at Ecoust St Mein.
12th May 1940 Sun. left
Ecout St for Croisdles.
Stayed there till Tuesday.
14th May 1940 left in
for Groirdles.
Til Tuesday
14th May
Joe and Marjoram
9.30 am to
about 4pm.

To station

(nb the above page and that following are in pencil and are very smudged)

Slept night in
15th May Wed. Arrived
in Belgium. had
Tea with P.E. Demster
Joe and I had a
Night out. with
Belgians who
Us drinks
Understand them
Fairly well.
16th Thurs
sleep and sandbags

about 7p.m. told
to pack ready
to leave. Left about
8.30p.m leaving
Joe and some of
others under Sgt.
Ackland to carry
on working.
Walked about 3
mls. Were billeted
but no grub. Had
sleep. Had to
move off again
after dark.

Walked about
5mls when company
under Capt. Cohen
got lost. Had
to retrace our
steps. After walking
a long time
met our convoy
and found our
village about
3.30 next morning
slept in street.
17th Fri. Joe &
other party
up about (smudged pencil again)

Disused &
Moved off after
Tea. Stopped in
Wood. Had meal
and night on
(nb pencil again)

18th Sat. after breakfast

moved off about
2 mls. To
picked up by
passed through
town where
were minding
arrived at billet
village. Boch
ml away
our position.
Rode on lorry,
Passed hundreds of refugees. Saw
towns blown to
hell. Sun Had several
air raids. Lost convoy far side of Tournay.
Had grub from R.A.S.C. at Tecelles
Continued on our
Way. Saw plane
Shot down by

Bren Gunner battery
In truck.
Arrived at billet
At Temenner about
Mon 20th
Usual routine
Sorting out.
Several men missing
Including 5 of
9 plat. Also 3 men
injured, 1 dead.
Tues 21st
Message of reassurance

Sent to us by
Our Division of R.Es
To which we are
Sat 25th
Arrived at Estures
and were billeted in cloth
factory. Town badly
shelled during night.
Sun 26th section of men
Under L. Cpl. Sinclair
took up position in
derelict house on other
side of bridge.

Were shelled and bombed
All day. Relieved
About 6.30p.m.
After getting to bed
Were roused to fill
In and make noticeable
Several shell crators
In town.
Mon 27th saw truck
Overturned in field,
Having been bombed.
Man dead under-
neath, couldn’t get
Him out.

Returned to billet to
Find men all gone.
Took equipment and
Went over bridge,
None of only 2 of 9
Platoon there.
Were told by Sgt. Shelley
To proceed along road,
Did so with several
Of 8 platoon. Officer told us
To remain in this position.
After time, none of
Company turning up,
All except 1 other and
Myself, decided to

Proceed further along
Much later, we are
Told and can hear
Estaires being shelled
and bombed so decide
To move.
After walking for
About 2 hours, meet
4 men of Tank Corps.
Decide to try to
Reach coast.
After going through
Bailleau, I lose the

others,. After asking
Ambulance convoy for
Lift which I am refused, I meet soldier who
Invites me to spend
Night in his billet.
Do so.
Tues. 28th Am wakened
By soldiers telling me
They have to leave
Billet as Jerry is
Advancing. King Leopold capitulated.
See some of C. Company
Outside, so join them.

After bombing raid
In village, 2 of us
Under Lieutenant lose
Rest of Company.
March for several
Miles across country
To avoid convoys, getting
Eggs, our only food
Since dinner yesterday
Except biscuits, from
During severe storm
Regain road to split
Up onto different

Lorries, myself and
Several others under
A sergeant riding
On a gun limber.
After a time, as we
Are continually being
Held up by traffic
We decide to walk.
Walk to Poperinge, where
3 of us get separated
from rest in traffic
jam, streets being in
a terrible state owing
to having been bombed.

Get lift in lorry.
After about an hour
Hardacre of A Coy. Joins
us in lorry.
After several hours we
Get off lorry and walk
To past hundreds
Of lorries which are being ditched.
Get lift in Ambulance
To point about 6 kilos
From Dunkerque.
See officer, who tells
Us to rejoin our

Division next morning.
Sleep Rest in French
Lorry for about ½ hr.
But finding it too
Cold decide to push
On towards village.
Fail to find Division
So sleep in barn.
Wed.29th. meet other
soldiers all proceeding
to Dunkerque, so do same.
Arriving there, we
Meet Edis and Denman.
We then lose Hardacre

As he is not armed.
We are told to proceed
To beach. Do so and find
Hardacre and Mountford.
Queue up to get on
boats. I lose the others
when we are shelled
on jetty.
Get onto English boat
and are brought to
Margate where I again
join Hardacre. We
Are taken by bus to
Station and given tea
and food. he is now back in England, though he doesn’t say much, his cousin says his boots had to be cut away from his feet. She said that he was “a bit of a hero”)

At several stations
We receive tea,
Food and cigarettes.
Travel all night and
arrive at Trowbridge on
Thurs. 30th Are billeted
In drill hall & after
Sleep are given breakfast
and then have particulars
taken. Dinner.
4.00 p.m. Tea. Pay Parade.
Joe Hardacre and I go into

Town and are well treated.
Phoned home.

Fri 31st. Joe and I again
go into town at night
are stood drinks.
Sat. 1st June
Go on beer again, funds
getting low. Still no
word about leave.
Sun 2nd
Church Parade-Padre
From B.E.F. spoke very
Went into Park at night.
Then into pub. Met
Gent who invited us

To visit his house any
evening, 28 Aenix Rd.
Colonel of some Pioneer
Battalion spoke to us
on keeping our mouths
Fri.7th moved to
Halifax. Saw “Wuthering
Heights” a play, in
Town, free.
Sat.8th. moved to Paignton
Devon. Arrived about
2 p a.m. but lost
Sunday 9th.

Road from station,
So slept in roadside
Until about 5a.m.
Found camp where
I met Joe and a lot
Of the other boys.
Joe working in Y.M.C.A.
So got job there too.
Tues 11th met some very
Nice girls at Y.M.C.A.
One of whom, Pat, invited us to tea tomorrow.
Wed 12th went to tea
At Pat’s taking Eddie
(ec Sergeant)Butter) , with

us. Had very nice
time, meeting Pat’s
mother and grandad, and
very very sorry to
have to leave early,
(5.30) to get back to
our job.
Fri 14th. Left Paignton
For North Wales. 8-30 a.m.
Arriving at Pwllheli,
About 5.30p.m.
Went to Palladium, saw
“Oklahoma Kid”

Sat 15th Parades & Leave
Starts again. Went
To other Picture house,
Saw “Gunga Din”.
Sun 16th. Foot drill
On a Sunday morning,
Bloody scandalous, by
The R.S.M. went for
Bathe after dinner.
Pubs all closed, terrible.

Leave York.


13th Dec. 1940
Left Stamford for
Stranraer at 6.30a.m.
Arrived about 8p.m.
Embarked, travelled all
14th Landed at
Went to pictures with

Also the Naafi.
T. Holland, seems a
Nice place with
Plenty of nice girls.
15th. Church Parade.
Went walk with
Jim and Ernie, went
Into canteen.
16th. Take over job of
Pioneer Storeman. Also

To assist clerks in Coy.
Office. Stayed in at night.
22nd Sunday. Went on

23rd came off Guard
5.30pm. going
to church hall meet
girl, Molly, arrange to see her Sunday 7.0p.m.
went to pictures alone.

24th On piquet, what
a Xmas Present. Still I’m
got some not like
one fellow here. He has
just received news of
on of his children
seriously ill.

Walker went home
Xmas Day
25th Xmas Day.
Went to concert at
Church Hall. Took girl
Home. Arranged to see
Her at canteen Tuesday.

26th Boxing Day Met
Walton, went walk
On sea front. Went
To concert at night.

27th. On Guard

28th Went to pictures.

29th went out with
Walton. Went to concert
At Church Hall.
30th Received parcel
from home. Went out
with Walton to pictures
saw “The Rains Came”,
for second time.
31st Went route march,
about 18mls, very hilly,
beautiful views, came
back by sea front.
Duty clerk and piquet

At night but relieved
By Raby. Went out
Alone, as Walton’s
feet were bad, but
Met Scotsman and we
had drink together,
In about ten o’clock,
How dreadful for
New year’s eave. Better
Luck next year, i
Jan 1st. on ordinary
Duties just imagine
Working on New Year’s


Last train York to
Gilling 17.20 hrs (Gilling is a village about 13miles north of York, Ray’s Aunt lived there. His Mother was probably staying there for the duration)
Last bus 21-15hrs.

10.15 Essendise
12.41 Grantham

21st. Jan Pte. W. awarded
10 days .C.B. 6 daysW. 4 days py. Overstayed
leave but sent tel. 1st when
child was to undergo op. and 2nd
when child died. Both refused
although 1st sent by capt.
Mj. N. altered charge to 5 days
Absent although W. was
Actually 11days. Overdue, said
W. need not have stayed
To bury child. No wonder
Men are dissatisfied.

Mrs. Wm Whittaker (Ray’s Sister, she was married to a fireman)
48, Stuart Cres.
Hayes End
meet Stan
nelson’s monument
3 pm Monday

Marble Arch to
Sheppard’s Bush
No. 17
Trolley to Hayes End
No. 607
Chilton St
Manchester Sq
Fire Station.

Phone Paddington 2222

Wed. 5/2/41
A.P. moved off to-
Tues. 11/2/41
Moved off on first
stage of journey to
B. travelling on Pioneer
Truck. Rest of Platoon

Marching. Stopped
Wed 12 night at
Moved Templepatrick.
Wed. 12th
Moved off on 2nd
Stage of journey,
Convoy following
Markers. Pioneer
Platoon went ahead
On truck to do job
At B.
Wretched day
Raining all time &
Trucks keep stopping
To allow men to get ahead.

Gunnery Heslop
471 Battery
75th Searchlight Reg.
Dowley Place
Nr Uxbridge
cook 1485761
Wright 1484400
Empire. Spend night
At Soldier’s Home, Clifton

Stop for dinner
About 14.00 hrs and

Move off about
An hour after men,
Carrying straight
On to B with no
Stops. Arrive at B
About 17.30 hrs.
Sat.8/3/41 Week-end
Pass. Visit Belfast
Alone as Webb is
On short pay. See
“A Spot of Irish” at

Clothes Brush
Button Stick
Knife. fork, Spoon.
Plate, mug.

Thurs. april.24th
Inspected by H.R.H
The Duke of Gloucester,
Given rest of day off.

Sun. May 4th. Went
Walk with Walton.
Ask way at house,
& are invited to have
glass of lemonade and
listen to news on
wireless. Do so and are
asked to call again.

5.7 D.Cook
7.9 Barton
9.11 R Heslop
11.1 D Cook
1.3 Barton
3.5 R Heslop
5.7 D Cook
7.9 Barton
9.11 R Heslop
11.1 Cook
1.3 Barton
3.5 R Heslop

(whole page crossed out)

Mon.5th May, leave camp
To go on leave. No
Boat leaving Belfast,
So have to return
To camp.
Wed.7th May Leave
Camp 16.00 hrs, on
Leave. Leave Banbridge
17.50 hrs, en route for
Fri. 16th May. Come back
From leave.



Richard H

Tues 3rd June 1941
Bn. Scheme. With
Mr. Rawcliffe, giving
Demonstration of
Liquid gas. G2D and
Tear gas C.A.P. Bombs.
Fri.6th June 1941 Telegram
From Mary, Janet
died this morning. (Mary was Ray’s other Sister, Janet her Daughter. They lived in South Shields.)

Bus 11.00
Leave S.S. 11.25
.. N/Castle 12.25

Leave York 14.21 hrs

Coy office 34
Store 35
D Hut 36
Ga Room 37
Meet ATS at 19.00 hrs
At Pill Box, Marsden
Tuesday 13th

commercial Hotel.
Bus to Ellison St

Received from Pioneers:-
30 Light Suits A/G
30 pr. Overboots Returned RH
30 pr. Gloves
6 Signs Warning Gas

I derive certain
Comfort from friends
Calc. that if one
Pigeon to 90 inhabitants
Of London. If 100,000
Pigeons so rarely
Score a hit direct hit
Why worry about Jerry.

Mam card and present
Mary ..
Walter .. & ..
Jamesy .. & ..
Pat .. & ..
Robin present
Janet .. (page crossed out in pencil)

Here’s Champagne to
Our old real friends
And a real pain
To our sham friends.

845636 L/Cpl R Lawson
C. M. Police
160, High St.

Cpl. Mitchell 3
Cpl. Torney 3.
Slater 2.
Hibberd 3.
Mathews. 1.
Conroy 3.

O’Donoghue 3.
Lawe 3.

(name “Ritchie” in another handwriting)

Cash Owing to me.

By. Jack 2/-
Prest. 1/-

S. C. Nixon.
c/o Mrs. Jones
(address given)

At 1000 yds (these 2 lines seem to be carried from the Bren info below)
Is 100yds x 9’

Leave S.S. 11.27
.. N/Castle. 12.25.
Arrive. Glas. 17.00.

Bren Gun

cone of fire.

At 500 yds from
Bipod has
Effective beater
Zone of 175yds
At 1000yds
113yds x 12ft.

from bipod has
EBZ at 500yds
Is 150yds x41/2 ft

(then a page of writing giving details of the Great Dane dog from Pear’s Encyclopaedia, p978)

Owing to
Harris 6d
Flaherty 6d
D. Marjoram 2~7
J Ward 1.6
Wells 5.0 (page crossed out in pencil)

Phone 82336
Miss P. Wills

(addresses given)

Ampleforth 236.

(address given)

Soldiers Home
Clifton St

Roeux. British Cemetary
206791 Pte
C Tyson
Royal Lancs
12th May 1917 Age 26

40674 L.Cpl.T.A.
Shilito. Lincs Reg
28/4/17. Age 21
Brown’s Copse Cemetary

Crump Trench.

Chanter to disery (last word indistinct)

Le annees passent

Le souvenir reste.

Mowbray Rd Bus 10.0
Train to n/castle 10.27
.. to Penrith 11.35

(last page is in smudged pencil again, it reverts to Scouting. No wonder it is smudged, it must have survived all the previous adventures in Ray’s pocket)

12 May 1938
7th South Shields
(Queen St) Rover Crew
C Hymers.
3 Southfield Rd (GSM)(RSL)
W Smith. 64 Marsden Rd
(ASM) (Rover Mate)
S C Nickson. Marine App.
R H Heslop 46 Henry
(ACM) Nelson St. (means 46 Henry Nelson St)
R Taylor 16, The Broadway
R Dowell. St Aidan’s
W Phillipson.

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