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English Veterans


Mark

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Having just read Joris's thread on the vets in Holland tour, I found a question wanting to be asked,

Are there any English/UK veterans still alive today and who are they and what did they do.

 

Just a thought ?

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Hi Mark,

Well the one that immediatly springs to mind is Henry Allingham, 1st ww vet, airman who say battle of jutland, etc. I believe he's 111 years old, (although I may be wrong on that score)

 

There are certainly aircrew from the Dambusters raid, still alive and kicking,the author's Patrick Delaforce, (troop leader,11th armoured Div, normandy and FOO holland), Ken Tout OBE,(1st Bn Northants Yeomanry).

 

I'm guessing there are STILL quite a few Veterens living out their days quietly;............and quite possibly NOT talking about their experiences,.....mores the pity, for those of us, like myself, who want to learn of such.

 

Andy

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There are plenty of them still about. One of them just sent my Father an e-mail with some of his reminiscences. Quite interesting.

 

Houndstone. A little History. Before the War it was an army camp for the new draftees. It was an anti aircraft training camp.

Many of the recruits came from the London area and quite a few played in the big bands of that Era.

They soon formed a band called the "Searchlight Swingers." Played often at the Westland sports club."

Some songs had words very not BBC. Made the girls Giggle.

When the US came into the War. They took over Houndstone.

Lo and behold they too had a great band. They played at the camp though, and imported bus loads of Girls and any men in uniform from the UK Army. Hence I went often.

One night, a raid developed. Really not on Yeovil but the stream used to pass over Yeovil on the way North.

The guns really opened up. The US army was also an antiaircraft training camp.

The noise was terrific. The building swayed, very few went to the air raid shelters. The band played on,

With the concussion and banging the girls clutched tighter. The men were grateful.

Looking back how mad it was. The lights swaying and flickering, and for all we knew some of the noise was actual bombing.

We at Westland's HG were sort of mixed up with the GIs. I was in charge of a small group on one exercise morning. The enemy, Regular British infantry had already moved on so I got the Confused GIs to sit still in the sunny side of a hedge and wait it out.

 

We shared a firing range with the US army. They let us have ammo which would fit the guns of those with US arms. This were done without paper work, Westlands one time had lines of half tracks, US ones, pour into the yards where lines of welders attached some brackets to each one. Quite a sight.

 

I did not see any paper work enacted. We were all one.

Tim (too)

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Great posting Tim (too)

Exactly the sort of 'titbit' type infomation,.deemed not all that important in a load of respects,.....................but to us who are willing to absorb it,.......'pure nectar'.

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There were several hundred British vets in Normandy in 2004 and all were keen to talk about their experiences, however I found that they fell into 2 distinct groups. One group were those who had returned to Normandy previously, some had been back every year since 1945 and these guys treated things very lightly, staying with the same Norman families every year and thoroughly enjoying the (liquid) hospitality. I also met a number who had returned for the first time and had never been able to talk about their horrific experiences to anyone, not even their wives and families.

One afternoon in Courseulles I was talking to a party of vets, none of whom had met each other before, one guy started to tell me about his experiences and while he was talking his wife kept pulling my sleeve to get my attention, eventually she said "I've never heard any of this before, only bits shouted out in the nightmares every night." I sincerely hope that being able to talk together about their experiences would at last bring some peace to troubled minds.

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True , very true and to let them Know they did what they needed to do to survive the conflict they were in . That luck or God or fate had a plan for them . that while others around them had tragic things or lucky things happen to them , They should not feel guilt or blame . that what they did is appreciated by all of us.

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Know enough to ask an intelligent question and listen quietly, thats my rule. I was doing the VE/VJ in London trying to get a camouflage net over the truck cursing merrily as usual, a vetran came past stopped and was grinning,. i smiled back and said 'I hate these things' he laughed and said 'I know a bloke hates them, more'. We invited him in for a brew and he told this story.

 

Just at the end of the war he and his company had stopped in a wood in Germany. Because the fighting was still in progress they had cammed up, show no lights. An air raid alert was sounded and everyone dived for cover and the neareast ditch.

 

No bombs dropped but they still spent a couple of uncomfortable hours. Eventually all clear was called and they started to grope their way back to the trucks. As they got near a horrible groaning and wailing was heard.

 

The hairs were standing up on the back of people's necks, and a torch was risked. There was seen a man hanging upside down in the nests, pleading to be got out. the poor guy had taken a running leap out of the back of the truck and got caught in the netting by his boots.

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ON THE SUBJECT OF VETERANS,

 

ANYBODY WHO HAS COMPLETED MILITARY SERVICE OF ANY LENGTH ARE ENTITLED TO CLAIM A UK FORCES VETERANS BADGE AND BE CLASSED AS VETERANS, THERE IS A WEB SITE WHERE YOU CAN DOWNLOAD THE APPLICATION FORM. QUALIFYING DATES ARE 03/09/1945-31/12/1994,

 

ADDRESS; http://www.veterans-uk.info/vets badge.

 

Barry.

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on the subject of camo nets and veterans,..............was at a small local do, earlier in the year,.............in the prosess of 'persuading', said cam net to drape over bedford, (its a hessian jobbi,........bl**dy heavy)......it was doing the usual, ie catching on just about everything it could, when I became aware of this chap, with younger lassie (his daughter) watching with a grin on his face...................

Eventually, I'd sort of got it as I wanted it,............. :whistle: and got talking to him,.....first thing he said was along the lines of,...........'don't drape camo nets over vehicle, but hoist them above it,......tis designed to hide vehicle thats underneath,..............not mould its self into shape',..........makes sense when thought about, really. :roll:

 

Anyways, turns out he was 8th army,.............and certainly didn't shy away from the calvados, when I offered him a tot. :-D

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On the boat returning from Normandy 2004, early hours of the morning, 3 of us left in the bar (closed), got chatting and turned out he was a tankie accompanied by son. Early in the landings they rolled into a village, sniper just missed commander, gunner 2 rounds HE target church tower, result no sniper, no church tower. He returns every year to be met by the mayor complaining "You shot my church tower" then they fall on each others necks and roll away for 10 days of free hospitality. Strange thing was when I got home a neighbour had left me a couple of 6th June newspapers and who was grinning at me from the front page but my 'church tower' tankie as he was pictured lined up to meet Charlie.

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In 2004 I had a veteran quartered at my home for the Arnhem commemorations. He was from the 4th Dorset and landed after D-Day as a replacement. He spent the next month in the back of various vehicles only to be told to row acros the Rhine to help relieve the 1st Airborne trapped at Oosterbeek. He got captured after a nights fighting with 90% of the 4th Dorset and spent the rest of the war in different POW camps.

 

He wrote a small book about his war-stories, it's available in the Imperial War museum, London and is called "We regret to inform you" by Norman Francis.

 

To add to this, he lives in Anstey, Leicestershire and I would love to have him ride a WWII vehilce once. Anyone who can help me?

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Not only male, when in Jersey in 2005 an old lady came up in a wheelchair, with her daughter. We started talking about the 19 set and HRO's , she obviously recognised them and knew her stuff. She casually mentioned she had in the Middle east with the RAF and I got a tingling and asked was she near 'the Grove' , she promptly went very quiet and nodded yes. i asked the daughter if her mother had ever said anything, she said'no, only that her mother had been a radio operator'. Well The Grove was the SLU Special Liason Unit handling all the broken Enigma traffic from Bletchley to Middle east GHQ. There followed a fascinating conversation and you could see the daughter's eyes going out on stalks.

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Great posting Tim (too)

Exactly the sort of 'titbit' type infomation,.deemed not all that important in a load of respects,.....................but to us who are willing to absorb it,.......'pure nectar'.

 

 

I couldnt agree more with you. He did not have enough info for a book, but little things like that are of great interest. I have driven past the Westlands factory a thousand times, but never once imagined that the car park was once full of half tracks.

 

There are tens of if not hundreds of thousands of veterans still around and they all have an interesting story to tell. In most instances it will be passed just to family members and eventually forgotten. It is important to try and record them while we can. The IWM recorded a great deal of oral historys in the 60's and 70's of WW1 veterans, but i guess that they were just a minority of those who served. I am sure that they are doing the same with WW2 veterans.

 

One old friend of mine who i know has lots of interesting storys to tell, but generally wont tell them has let slip a couple. One which is quite funny was how he cadged a lift in a Dakota which had been doing supply drops in Burma and didnt have a loading door fitted. Being a pilot himself he wore a parachute (habit i guess). While he was sitting in the back, the pilot did some eratic manouvering and he (along with one other) slid down along the floor and out through the open door. The moral of this story is that not all habits are bad i suppose.

 

Tim (too)

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I couldnt agree more with you. He did not have enough info for a book, but little things like that are of great interest. I have driven past the Westlands factory a thousand times, but never once imagined that the car park was once full of half tracks.

 

There are tens of if not hundreds of thousands of veterans still around and they all have an interesting story to tell. In most instances it will be passed just to family members and eventually forgotten. It is important to try and record them while we can. The IWM recorded a great deal of oral historys in the 60's and 70's of WW1 veterans, but i guess that they were just a minority of those who served. I am sure that they are doing the same with WW2 veterans.

 

One old friend of mine who i know has lots of interesting storys to tell, but generally wont tell them has let slip a couple. One which is quite funny was how he cadged a lift in a Dakota which had been doing supply drops in Burma and didnt have a loading door fitted. Being a pilot himself he wore a parachute (habit i guess). While he was sitting in the back, the pilot did some eratic manouvering and he (along with one other) slid down along the floor and out through the open door. The moral of this story is that not all habits are bad i suppose.

 

Tim (too)

 

:-D :-D :-D
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there is a site, think its 'peoples war'......or something similar, where there are a load of recolections written down........

 

 

Re talking to the ladies,..............ALWAYS an enjoyable experience, ;-) I was once approached by this lady, who wanted a pic of herself behind the wheel of Bedford...............which was duely accomplished, she then went on to say during her service, in the ATS she was based at Beaumanor Y Station.

 

I'd never heard of this station, so did a bit of digging;.................basically it was the most important intercept Y station in the group.

As important as Bletchley Park, buy certainly NOT as well known.

 

Amazing what conversations we have whilst surrounded by our vehicles. :-)

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there is a site, think its 'peoples war'......or something similar, where there are a load of recollections written down........

 

 

Re talking to the ladies,..............ALWAYS an enjoyable experience, ;-) I was once approached by this lady, who wanted a pic of herself behind the wheel of Bedford...............which was duely accomplished, she then went on to say during her service, in the ATS she was based at Beaumanor Y Station.

 

I'd never heard of this station, so did a bit of digging;.................basically it was the most important intercept Y station in the group.

As important as Bletchley Park, buy certainly NOT as well known.

 

Amazing what conversations we have whilst surrounded by our vehicles. :-)

 

oh oh oh the first Y station was at chatham dockyard. there were also stations in the Far East, everyone now knows of enigma and Bletchley, no one asks 'Where did they get the messages from?'. the answer is y Service, and information is still classified in many cases. they worked out the standard approaches to DF , Frequency and traffic analysis. goldbeach has been given space at Bletchley park to put on an exhibition of Y Service including Phil Webb's Bedford QLR the sole surving original mobile Y Service station. I'll post pictures if you like.
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Next week we'll meet BRITISH veterans from the Welsh div.

One of them I call grandpa (Bob Atkinson) and his wife grandmom.

Another one is a close friend (Emrys Davies).

 

Bob told me a story once about a arrogant German officer captured in France.

He kept saying Germany would win the war. After prodding his behind with a bajonet he shut up...grandma's comment;

"you never told me that Bob"

 

Great men, looking forward to the events!

 

I know more veterans and have memoires of a few of them, 1 is on this forum.

 

Memoires of a 43rd Recce, also a friend of mine , click in Jori's 2nd reply.

http://www.hmvf.co.uk/index.php?option=com_smf&Itemid=38&topic=2007.0

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oh oh oh the first Y station was at chatham dockyard. there were also stations in the Far East, everyone now knows of enigma and Bletchley, no one asks 'Where did they get the messages from?'. the answer is y Service, and information is still classified in many cases. they worked out the standard approaches to DF , Frequency and traffic analysis. goldbeach has been given space at Bletchley park to put on an exhibition of Y Service including Phil Webb's Bedford QLR the sole surving original mobile Y Service station. I'll post pictures if you like.

 

 

 

please Tony,

 

a book about this service, written by Joan Nicholls (ATS 1942-1945 Beaumanor Y Station) was given to me by one of this ladies friends, at another event;

To my great shame, I've yet to read it.

 

details as follows.

isbn 0-9538186-0-8

pub. Joan Nicholls.

print. Rother Valley Press ltd.

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