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Archive List > British Army

Contributed by 
CSV Action Desk Leicester
People in story: 
Mrs Norma Violet Flowers
Location of story: 
21 VRD RAOC Castle Ashby
Background to story: 
Army
Article ID: 
A4185669
Contributed on: 
13 June 2005

My amry service was as a driver and then mechanic on a Vehicle Reserve Depot, collectng vehicles from factories, Depots and workshops. As a mechanic my duties were static maintenance and anti-freeze. Oringinally only ambulances, fire engines and staff cars had anti freeze, but with the run-up-to D Day everything changed. All leave was cancelled for five months and only drivers were allowed to leave the depot. All vehicles had to have anti freeze and we worked until 3.00am, on duty at the usual time of 8.00am, until it was decided we could start at 10.00am.
We then transferred everything to Althorp Park, where a team of specially trained men waterproofed them. We then tested them by racing up and down hills and if they 'blew' they were returned for redoing. Then we'd move them at eight miles an hour with breaks every half hour to dock reception areas.
We must have had charmed lives, because we would pass houses on the way and find them bombed on our return. One day as we were returning along a straight road a V2 followed us getting lower. We couldn't make the driver hear just when it skimmed over head, he made the best emergency stop ever. We waited silently until it landed a couple of hundred yards away to the right.
On one of these days a crowd of women approached us carrying bowls and they handed out small packages of two woodbines and two matches. I gave mine away, but I was quite touched to think these people were being bombed, but found time and money to think of us. When we arrived a few of the young lads with us were told they were to go out with the vehicles. They would be kitted out first. They gave some of us their home addresses to notify their families. Later they wrote to them, and said my name was known allong the second front.
To anti freeze we had to remove the thermostat from the water system, seal the joiner and attach a signed label to the thermostat, which was placed on the drivers seat, hence my name being known.
When it came to VE day we were up at 4.00am and on the road at 6.00am. On arrival we found the gates locked and eventually we found a guard who told us it was all over, to go back and come tomorrow. We explained we only had petrol for one journey and we fuelled there. It was too much for him so he contacted his superiors and let us in. The journey was long drawn out, because the road was closed at St Albans and at Bedford we were held up by drunken revellers trying to overturn a car in front! In view of the fact we had neither foor or drink since 4.00am we were not amused.
I didn't have white hairs when I joined, but I certainly did finally. We used to sit on our beds removing one another's hair.

'This story was submitted to the People's War site by Sara-Jane Higginbottom of the Leicester CSV Action Desk on behalf of Mrs Norma Violet Flowers and has been added to this site with her permission. The author fully understands the site's terms and conditions.

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