DATA BASE REF: M/A 1028
I was born in a small thatched cottage in the Main Street of Ailsworth and was still living in the Main Street but a different house when I joined up. I was 17 year’s old when the war started, but as soon as I was 18 which was January 1940 I started the process of joining the A.T.S. and was enlisted at Durham on the 8th March where I spent my initial 3 weeks training. From there I along with several other rookies I was posted to the Duke of Wellington’s Barracks in Halifax where we took over the duties of cleaning, cooking and washing up etc, releasing the men from such things, we were known as orderlies and our title was volunteer, not Privates as we eventually became. At first we were billeted with families and after about 6 months a large house overlooking “Peoples Park” became our home and we journeyed each day on the trams to the barracks.
Toward the end of 1940 the Duke of Wellington Regiment were moved to Barnard Castle and the Barracks became known as the number 6 A.T.S. Training Centre so we members of the A.T.S. already there were trained in various ways and became the nucleons of the permanent staff to train the 1,000 of girls which were conscripted into the army for their initial training, which started off with a medical, and being kitted out with their uniform, then Drill, Gas Lecture, P.T, route marches, lectures etc etc.
In about 1943 the Training Centre was closed down and I was posted to Chesterton where we billeted in the Rectory which became the H.Q for 3 Ack – Ack Batteries which fired salvo’s of rockets, 1 unit was at Cambridge, 1 at Peterborough and 1 at Leicester, I was later posted to Cambridge from where I took my discharge for family reason’s in August 1944.
My first home was at Cambridge, then in 1956 I moved to Helpston to be nearer my parents, and where I still live.
SPECIAL MEMORIES: the first when our troops came back from Dunkirk and 1000’s were sent to the Barracks and had to stay whilst all information and documentation took place, before they were allowed to go home, the place was full to overflowing, every available place taken up, many harrowing stories told, and during the day they just lay about especially on the lawn overlooking the Officer’s Mess was just a sea of Khaki, which in normal times was treated as hallowed ground, and only the grass cutter was allowed to put a foot on it.
The second memory was whilst at Chesterton we would catch an occasional sight of every young girl’s heart throb “CLARK GABLE” who used to go to the Wheatsheaf at Alwalton.
I would like to add, although the war itself was a terrible time for some people, I did enjoy my life in the services.