My first military experience was when I joined the Home Guard – aged 16 years. Later I was promoted to Platoon Sergeant. We used to guard Wansford Bridge – over the A.1 – to keep a vital link open for the Regular Army. Every 4th night we were billeted in a room above the Cross Keys pub and in the early hours watched the planes returning from bombing raids in Germany – many with holes in the wings or fuselage – limping back to base at Kings Cliffe aerodrome. Once I was sent – with others on a Sergeants Training Course – to Dorking in Surrey for a month. While we were there was the time when the Germans first sent over pilotless planes called Doodlebugs. They were meant for London but the first lot dropped all around us – day and night. During daylight they flew in very low – the engines stopped – and we dived to the ground as they exploded, very frightening at the time because they were so unexpected and came over at all different times.

The blast above ground was unbelievable




I was called up in the army aged 19 and had 6 weeks initial training at Brittania Barracks, Norwich. From there we were posted to the Old Barracks in Northampton. My father was also there – with the Northamptonshire Regiment – in the First War. Later I went to Shrewsbury for special training on the 3// Mortor Gun. I also went on the Army Driving School there on Motor Bikes, Army Trucks, Bren Gun Carriers and Tanks. Good fun at the time – up and down the Welsh Hills – crossing rivers etc. I gained my driving licence after 12 weeks there. Returning to Northampton Barracks I met my good friend – Geoff Trasler – whose parents lived in the town. He used to take me home with him where his mother would cook us a good meal! One weekend I bought Geoff home and he took a fancy to my sister Edna and after the war they married and have lived in Northampton ever since. Geoff and I were posted to London for a time and lived in flats in Sloane Square and one day were sent to an Aerodrome near Cambridge. Here we were crowded into converted Lancaster Bombers and took off for the Middle East – a ten hour flight – and arrived in Tripoli, North Africa. Outside the canteen there were sacks of oranges and bananas we had’nt tasted for a very long time. Next day the queue for the toilets was endless! The next stop was Egypt – stationed near the Pyramids. The Arabs would come down in the night and raid the camp, many being shot by the Gurka Guards. From there we were sent to India – refuelling in Iraq – finally landing in Karachi. As the clock struck midnight Geoff wished me Happy Birthday – it was my 21st! A few days later we travelled by train across India to Madras stationed in Fort St George Barracks – a huge stone building with a moat all round – built by Robert Clyde in the 1600’s. the train journey took 10 days and nights. After transferring to the Manchester Regiment India Command we moved to several places including Karongivasler, Poona and Bangaban I played football here for my Battalion  - in an Indian League against all nations, now I boast about playing for Manchester, all good training for when I played in goal for our local team at home later. Our days were now spent training on Vickers Machine Guns and landing craft ready for attacking the Japs on the many islands they occupied. Thankfully for us the H Bomb was dropped and ended the war.

            Eventually the day came to begin the journey home. I boarded the ship “Strathnavenda” at Bombay, it was full of servicemen – many married with families – whom they had not seen for most of the war. We sailed via the Suez Canal, the Meditteranean and the Bay of Biscay docking at Southampton early in the morning – after 16 days at sea. I was demobbed at Chester, given a demob suit and sent home. As I arrived my mother was serving up the evening meal – rabbit pie – wonderful!! Starting work again in civvy street I joined my father in his building firm and later worked for Milton Estates for many years renovating farm buildings and Milton Hall which was infested with woodworm etc removing oak beams etc and replacing them with steel, a big job which took a long time. Later on I did contracts in Peterborough Development Corporation and many more before retiring.

            My wife Joan and myself were married in July 1947 at Castor Church by the Rev. Adler – the same year as the Queen. On our Golden Wedding we received a certificate of congratulations from the Queen and Prince Philip. We had two sons – John and Richard, sadly Richard died while still a schoolboy in 1969. we gave in his memory – an electric clock for the church belfry presented to the Rev. Adler as the plaque underneath it states. Richard was a very keen bell ringer and I hope the clock is still going strong and is of help to the present ringers. John lives with his family at Maxey and we have two grandsons Paul and Jonathan. They are all very good to us in our retirement in Silvester Road.


                                                MAY 2001.