- Contributed by
- Elizabeth Lister
- People in story:
- Owen Thomas Forster
- Location of story:
- Background to story:
- Article ID:
- Contributed on:
- 18 August 2005
This story was submitted to the website by Ann Reilly at Bracknell Library on behalf of Owen Forster, who has given his permission for his story to go on the website.
I was called up on September 15th 1939 into the Queens Royal West Surrey Regiment based at Guildford. We were given 6 months basic training. About May in 1940 we were sent to France and landed at Calais. We were heading for the Menim gate in Belgium. When we arrived we were told we had to leave because the enemy were not far away and were advancing. There was a lot of confusion and we walked to different places for several days and saw evidence of enemy action, burnt out buildings and Stuka bombs being dropped.
We ended up at Hazebrook. Here we were told to dig in which meant we dug slit trenches in pairs. We could see the enemy a few thousand yards away. They were shelling our position. We were returning fire. One shell blew a tree onto our trench and killed my friend right next to me. We were told to get out and we marched heading for Dunkirk. On the way we rested near a small wood. I fell asleep and to my horror, when I woke up, my unit had moved on and I was on own. I went into a small clearing and met up with soldiers from other units. We were then shelled and many of these soldiers were killed. I had lain on the ground as we had been trained to do but my head was thrown back by the force of the blast. I was fortunate not to sustain a broken neck.
There were no officers with us so we had to make our own way from here. There was a thirty cwt truck which I managed to get a ride on along with several comrades who were wounded. We headed for Dunkirk but had to leave the truck on the roadside. We made it unusable and walked on to Dunkirk. We came across an abandoned NAFFI van and helped ourselves to some of its load of cigarettes.
We got to Dunkirk in the early afternoon. I sat in the dunes on my own. There were a lot of soldiers around but no-one that I knew. I had no food or water. I waited in the dunes and was there for two days. I guessed the enemy were advancing but I had no idea of what I could do at this point. Finally a sergeant —major appeared. He ordered us into line four abreast and marched us towards the quay. He kept us together despite the shelling and we arrived at the quay where there were three large boats. I have no idea were he came from but he knew what he was doing and I owe him a great debt.
We were being bombed as we embarked. Two of the boats went straight out to sea. We came back in to pick up more survivors. After all the time we had waited we were not happy to return and moaned a lot. We then headed for England and arrived in the early hours of the morning. We were put on trains and I ended up in Morcombe where I was well looked after. I finally re-joined my regiment in Lincolnshire.
Shortly after this I was transferred to the Royal Army ordinance Corps at Greenford in Middx and did not serve overseas for the rest of the war.
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