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1944 - 1947

by nottinghamcsv

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Alan Harper Broadley
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15 September 2005

This story was submitted to the People's War site by CSV/BBC Radio Nottingham on behalf of Alan Harper Broadley with his permission. The author fully understands the sites terms and conditions.

I volunteered for the army aged 17 in 1944. I was posted to the Recce Corps. This was a wartime outfit trained for short intensive attacks. We were heavily armed and each squadron had armoured cars, Bren carriers and American harptracks to carry troops. We wore American steel helmets. I was an Assault Trooper. I was relieved when Hiroshima ended the War. Within months of the Pacific war ending our corp was disbanded.

I was posted to India. This was the last days of the Raj. I was first stationed at Poona at an Air Trooping Transit Camp. The purpose was to fly home troops railed out of Burma. This was not a good idea, many of the troops were disorientated and some were bomb happy. Dakotas were used. The service was disrupted for a period when the RAF fliers went on strike over their demob arrangements. Then the scheme was wound up and the Burma veterans were sent home in a more leisurely fashion by boat.

I was posted to a tank regement at Agra. In this I saw a lot of India, including the Taj Mahal. Service in India was peculiarly Imperial. All soldiers had a bearer who looked after several soldiers. They cleaned boots, made beds, tucked in the mosquito nets, brought tea in bed in the morning for about 10p a week. In addition there was a dhobi wallah who did your laundry, a charwallah who sat in the barrack verandah dispensing tea and fried egg butties. There was also a barber who with cut throat razors would shave you in bed in the morning. It was possible to wake up and find you had been shaved!

We were some of the last British Troops in India before independence. Returning to England I was demobbed shortly before my 21st birthday.

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