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15 October 2014
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The Day I was Called Up

by ageconcerndurham1

Contributed by 
People in story: 
Les Smith
Location of story: 
Grange Villa, Co Durham
Background to story: 
Article ID: 
Contributed on: 
29 March 2004

This story was submitted with the permission of the author, Les Smith, on behalf of Age Concern Durham County.

The postman brought a letter one morning. It was my calling up paper and I had to report to Manningham Lane, Bradford on July 4th 1940. I was making breakfast when the postman came. I ran up the stairs. It was hard to tell Doris, my wife, about the letter because the bairn had just come. She was about six weeks old at the time. We called her Freda Elizabeth. Doris said, "What has to be will be." It was what was expected. I wasn't in a reserve occupation at the time. The month passed over until the 4th July and then I had to pack my bag and go. Doris couldn't come to the station with me on account of the baby so my father-in-law came down to take me to the station. In that month before I left I just hung onto Doris and hoped the baby would be alright. Doris had many good friends who promised to look after her.

It was a long journey to Bradford. There was no-one else from my village on that train. My feelings were all about home. I was sent to Green Lane Barracks in Shipley to train as a driver for the army. I was a member of the Salvation Army and I made good friends with the local branch. It was a good help. In the place where I was staying the lady of the house was very kind. She said, "You can bring Mrs Smith and the baby down to stay for a weekend if you like." So Doris and Freda came to stay but that was the last time I saw them properly until the end of the war.

I served in France and Germany. Peace was declared in May 1945 and I was demobbed in September. It couldn't come soon enough. When Freda saw me at the station coming home you'd think we'd never been parted because I had been talked about so much. She was five and a half, a little girl not a baby. She looked smashing. She had a tartan kilt on. She wouldn't look at anybody else. Apart from those years when the war was on Doris and I were never parted for 65 years.

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These messages were added to this story by site members between June 2003 and January 2006. It is no longer possible to leave messages here. Find out more about the site contributors.

Message 1 - The Day I was Called Up

Posted on: 25 April 2004 by Peter - WW2 Site Helper


I enjoyed your story. What a fine contribution!

Best wishes,



Message 2 - The Day I was Called Up

Posted on: 25 March 2005 by annatomic

I loved this, too. Thanks Les.

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Conscientious Objectors Category
British Army Category
Wearside and County Durham Category
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