- Contributed by
- Eileen Head
- People in story:
- Eileen Head, Vic (Jock) Coles
- Location of story:
- Mytchett Barracks, Aldershot
- Background to story:
- Article ID:
- Contributed on:
- 21 July 2005
The marriage of Eileen Violet Head to Albert Victor Coles October 1945
Tuesday May 8th 1945:
V.E. Day, we had big celebrations on the following Saturday, including a female football match, Drivers versus Office staff. I didn’t know the first thing about football, few of us did, we were told which was our goal then the whistle blew and we were off. I think we lost track of which goal was ours, we were too busy chasing the ball. All I can remember about it really, was seeing all the men watching, rolling on the ground helpless with laughter. Our side won, I don’t quite know how but we got a big cheer, so did the losers. I don’t think the men had had such a good laugh for long enough.
August 6th 1945:
We drop an atom bomb on Hiroshima and another on Nagasaki, it was horrific and we were all stunned and shocked by the news. It was an awful way to end a war. On August 15th Japan surrendered, the war was finally over. There were no celebrations for V.J. Day.
We had an obnoxious Lance Corporal who was often on Camp Patrol, nosing around after dark when you were having a goodnight kiss and moving you on. We all loathed him. A little bit of authority went straight to his head, what a big head he was. I was sitting in the Utility car outside the guard room one dark mizzy evening having a quiet chat to a very nice Scot I had just met, everyone called him Jock but in those days you were either a Jock, a Paddy, a Taffy or a Brummie, depending on where you came from. Then there were the Loftys, Tinys, Smittys, Blackies, I could go on forever. Everyone had a nickname and if you were disliked you were called something else. Anyway we were chatting away when suddenly a torchlight shone on us and someone bellowed; “OUT!”, it was that obnoxious Lance Corporal doing his rounds, I didn’t want any trouble especially for my boyfriend, so we very sheepishly climbed out of the car. I told him we were only chatting but he was quite sure we were up to no good and told us so which infuriated me. I retorted that we couldn’t get up to much with a long gear leaver between us but he moved us on.
A few days later he came into the Dining Room for breakfast sporting a real “shiner”, someone had smacked him one on the eye, I can see him now, head held high walking past our table glaring at us and daring anyone to laugh. Never found out who had lopped him one but we did have a good chuckle over it later. We had all had words with him at some time or another.
Farnborough, where they now have the big air shows wasn’t far away from us. They were developing the jet engine while I was there at Mytchett. The daylong whine of the engines nearly drove us mad.
Between Mytchett and Farnborough was a place called North Camp. I often used to walk there to catch a train home at the weekends. It was a very slow stop at all station to Tonbridge and the return journey in the black-out was a nightmare for there were no names on the stations and very dim lights. One had to listen very carefully at each station where the name was called out to know where you were. Then there was a long walk back to camp. Up a very long road through the woods skirting round the lake to get back to base. I was never scared funnily enough but I wouldn’t do that now.
North Camp boasted a cinema and a pub and of course the Y.M.C.A where you could get beans on toast very cheaply, a real treat. Other than that it consisted of Married Quarters for soldiers families, at least there was some civilisation there, for there was nothing at Ash Vale, the other side of camp, only houses and a station.
We drivers really thought we were the “Cats Whiskers”. When we cleaned up to go out on the town we looked so different with our battle dress and the leather band on the front of our caps was worn over the top of the cap. I don’t know why. We drivers were easy to pick out by our dress, I never liked the “blouson” effect at the back of our battledress and seeing the Americans around town with their beautifully tailored uniforms. I felt so envious, why couldn’t we have something like that? So I sat on my bunk and unpicked my jacket round the back and pressed the gathers into a tailored pleat, Yankee style. It looked great and soon the other girls wanted theirs done too, so I was kept busy.
I don’t really know how we got away with it and if I was lucky enough to be given a pair of nylons I would take them home and dye them khaki ready for my next date.
Jock and I were going steady by now, his name was really Vic and come October we wed and of course married couples weren’t allowed on the same camp so he was posted to Aldershot.
Our lovely C.O. promised it wouldn’t be far away and it was quite easy for us to still meet up at North Camp and have our beans on toast.
Before I left the forces, I had to hand over my lorry, spotless, inside and out and have my tool kit checked off, spanners, foot pump etc. Sarg was ticking off the items and asked where my footprints were, having no more tools left, I pointed to the rubber treads on the clutch and brake thinking it had to be them.
There was a guffaw of laughter from Sarg, “That’s alright love”, he says, and to this day, I don’t know what a pair of footprints look like. Was it all a big joke at my expense, I wonder, I will never know.
It wasn’t long before all married women were demobbed and I was home for Christmas. Being discharged on 14th December. While I was waiting for my train at Aldershot station, some lads waved to me further up the platform. I thought I recognised them as some young lads who had been on the Hygiene course at Mytchett. We walked towards each other. Then I stopped and stared, I couldn’t believe these yellow skinned, wizened boys in the wide brimmed Burma hats were the same lads I had known, I could have wept. They looked so ill and were so pleased to see me. We chatted until my train came in. They had been sent home from Burma to recuperate, I hoped they would never be sent back.
So although I was happy to be starting a new life in “Civvy Street” I felt I left the forces on a sad note. I never forgot those 4 lovely boys and often wondered what became of them. I missed my friends, we kept in touch for a while for we had some good times together and were very close but over the years we lost track of each other.
Vic was transferred back to Mytchett once I had left and stayed there until his Demob a year later, by which time he had 3 stripes, a Sergeant now. He did well for he was a mere Private like me when we first met.
And so ends my story, I have enjoyed reliving those happy days as I hope you will enjoy reading it.
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