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15 October 2014
WW2 - People's War

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Army Butcher from Aberdeen

by BBC Scotland

Contributed by 
BBC Scotland
People in story: 
Albert Kemp
Location of story: 
Middle East
Background to story: 
Article ID: 
Contributed on: 
13 June 2005

This story was submitted to the People's War site by Helen Oram, Scotland csv on behalf of AlbertKemp and has been added to the site with his permission. The author fully understands the site's terms and conditions.

I am a butcher to trade. I joined the Gordon Highlanders and did my army training at the Gordon Barracks in Aberdeen. I was trained as a slaughterman at
Aldershot with Italian POWs. I was sent to Tripoli for 6 weeks, then to Ben Gazi for a year and ended up in Tobruk.

We slaughtered cattle, sheep and pigs and butchered the meat for the army kitchens. Initially we had Italian POWs working for us. After they were sent home we were given German POWs. They did the slaughtering, skinning, etc of the meat. We picked the best of the animals - a lot of them were skin and bone.

It was quite dangerous. Libyan Arabs would come into the tents and steal. If caught, the Military police would shoot them.

I remember an incident in Tripoli while I was on guard duty at the pens where the sheep and cattle were kept. There was a lot of stealing of animals by locals and we had to chase them off. There were also wild dogs called "peyards" which would get into the pens and kill the sheep. I was dozing in the guard room when I was wakened by six German POWs shouting "Wild dog".

I got a Thomson gun, never having fired one before. The POWs were all watching. I took aim at the dog which was 10 yards away - and missed. It shot away along the fence. I used rapid fire and killed it. I threw it over the dyke.

I remember another time when I was on duty at a place in the middle of the Egyptian desert. Locals were in the habit of coming into the camp. A jeep which was patrolling round the perimeterof the camp went down the excement hole. We managed to getit out!

I missed a posting to Palestine at the time of an uprising there, due to sleeping in one morning. I heard a racket and realised I had missed the morning parade. I was taken up in front of the commanding officer. Instead of being sent to Palestine I was confined to barracks and spent seven days peeling tatties.

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