DATA BASE REF: M/A 1005

REGINALD NORMAN HILL

BORN MAY 25th  1922 AT 25 PETERBOROUGH ROAD CASTOR

2nd  SON OF CARLO AND HILDA HILL

 

I was called up in 1942 and sent to Kimmel Park in North Wales spending 3 months there in training with the Royal Artillery Driver-Training  Regiment. Training included boxing, rope climbing, gymnastics and cross country running.

            From there I was sent to a Holding Unit at Cleethorpes – the only person from the Regiment! My first posting was to the Orkneys travelling by train to Aberdeen and onwards by ferry. Here I joined the 19th Light  Ack – Ack Regiment which had static Bofur guns on Scapa Flow. Three weeks later I was sent to the Isle of Wight (on Christmas Day) stationed on Osbourne Beach. Static guns there, were 20mm Wilcons as well as Bofurs 40mm.

            One incident I recall when on the beach in day light and on duty was seeing a Dornier come flying up the Solent, on it’s way to bomb Sanders Row Mosquito factory. The guns opened fire and the Dornier was shot down.

            After the I.O.W. we were mobilised and sent to London. Some guns were launched to the top of Canada House and others positioned in Hyde Park and Green Park. Our H.Q. was in Deans Yard, Westminster Abbey. I was based in Canada House alongside the Canadians in rooms at the top. We eventually ate meals with them too – a big improvement from being under canvas in one of the parks!

           


On leaving London the Regiment moved to Haltwhistle – Northumberland for a tough six week battle course. It nearly killed us!! Revellie at 5am – P.T and breakfast at 6.30am – out on the moors training all day with live rounds being fired overhead – marching through rivers – returning to camp at night and getting wet clothes dried ready for parade the next morning. I was later posted to Doddington Park followed by another move to Holyhead – Dawlish in Devon and on to a firing camp at Aberaeron then for battle training, with guns, to Pembroke. The Regiment left here for Sudbury and from there we were sent to South Wales, myself driving one of the lorries

On leaving Wales we were stationed on the Isle of Grain giving gun protection to the Shell fuel tanks and also Biggin Hill airfield. I can remember arriving late at night at the Aerodrome and being told there would be no food until the morning and being shown a pile of straw in a corner to stuff paliases with before we could bed down for the night!

            In June 1944 – 14 days after D.Day our regiment landed on the French Coast at Arramanches and at 3am the next morning we were off to Caen. The Germans were firing shells from Caen so our guns with H.E shells – Ante tank and armour piercing one because there was no aircraft support.

            We crossed the Sein at Elbeuf where a lot of German prisoners were taken – and again at Rouen until we reached Dieppe. I remember a really bad battle  with a lot of men and vehicles lost – at Cassel.

            From there we went on to the Ardennes and the Battle of the Bulge, and then on to Mardic near Dunkirk staying there until the end of the war. It was here  I saw my best friend killed. We were both laying telephone wires through a block house at Lune Plage, Harry was ahead – entered the house and it was blown to pieces as I stood just outside, I shall never forget the terrible sight I saw of wounded men, and coming across a shelled Canadian tank with all the crew inside dead, with not a mark on them.

            At the end of the war I was with the Army of Occupation and ended up at Schleswig Holstein at Eckenford near the Danish border and the Keil Canal. The next job I had was transporting Displaced Persons who were in camps – mainly women and children – to Ludenscheid. Some were taken by boat to Oslo so I had to go on the ferry as part of their guard.

            During my last month at Eckenforde I was detailed to drive a Salvation Army van for two “mature” English ladies who were in charge of a Bedford canteen van selling hot drinks to the troops! I used to help them wash up so they were very upset when they knew it was my last week!

            I was finally demobbed in April 1947 but not before I was requested to stay on in the Regular Army but I had had enough and wanted to get back home. For the whole of my time in the Services I was under canvas – never in Barracks, but I wouldn’t have missed the experiences I had for the world. There is no comradeship anywhere like there is in the forces.

            In September 1948 I married a Land Army girl working on Walter Longfoot’s farm – Phyllis Brawn – from Moulton, Northampton. We had three children – Margaret, Colin and Wendy. I now have seven grandchildren. As I write I have been widowed for 18 years.

            One other thing I recall which gave me a shock! In 1951 I was called up again – during the Korean War, for class Z Reserve – and had to report to Risdale, Northumberland, from there we were sent to Carlisle and issued with full kit – slept under canvas – did two weeks general training and also on 25 pounder guns and were then told we were no longer needed and – thankfully – were sent back home. So once again I was able to buy my battle dress to wear for work! I read a report later about the Korean War which said 3,000 British troops were killed in the conflict so we always felt very fortunate that hostilities ceased as they did.

            Our family home is at 14 Thorolds Way where I still live today. We moved there in 1953.

                                                May 2001.