- Contributed by
- Elizabeth Lister
- People in story:
- Madeline Murrel
- Location of story:
- Background to story:
- Article ID:
- Contributed on:
- 18 November 2005
This story has been submitted to the People’s War site by a volunteer from CSV Berkshire on behalf of Madeline Murrel and has been added to the site with her permission. Madeline Murrel fully understands the site’s terms and conditions.
I was in the army in the Royal Artillery Unit (HAA) from 1943-1946. What I’d like to share with everyone are the three lucky escapes I had during the war. I’m sure there was a guardian angel watching over me.
The first lucky escape I had was when the artillery unit which I belonged to was given 14 days embarkation leave for going abroad (Antwerp). We were never told in advance where we were being sent. When I went back to camp I received a phone call that my brother (who was also in the army) was very ill. Later my brother died and I was given compassionate leave. This meant that I did not go to Antwerp with the rest of my group. All others in my group did go and most were killed in crossfire between the Allies and the German forces. I lost my best friend in this crossfire too.
The second close shave was on a gun site in Hampstead Heath. I remember a “doodle bomb” came over the site and circled overhead for a while and then decided to turn itself back and leave.
My third lucky escape was again in Hampstead. I remember my unit was put in a big house. Once again I had a day’s leave and the day I was away the house got bombed. Most of the people living in that house were killed that day.
There are a few other memories from my army days which I’d like to share. I remember being put on charge twice (actually the second time around I was let off with a warning). The first time I was put on charge was for wearing my hat on the back of my head instead of having it flat on the head.
The second time was after one of my days away from base. We were allowed to take a day’s leave as long as we returned to base a minute before midnight. I remember taking the day off and going to Chester with a friend. We were meant to catch the train that would bring us back to base by 11:59pm. Unfortunately we missed the train and returned back to base only at five in the morning. Around half past six the sergeant came in and called out our names (I was called Gunner M. Slater in the army). We were marched down and charged for being late. But later I was let off because the sergeant was charmed by my smile and felt sorry for me.
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