Bombs dropped in the ward of: Thamesfield
Total number of bombs dropped from 7th October 1940 to 6th June 1941 in Thamesfield:
- High Explosive Bomb
Number of bombs dropped during the week of 7th October 1940 to 14th of October:
Number of bombs dropped during the first 24h of the Blitz:
No bombs were registered in this area
Memories in Thamesfield
Read people's stories relating to this area:
Contributed originally by ageconcernbradford (BBC WW2 People's War)
This story was submitted to the People`s War site by Alan Magson of Age Concern Bradford and District on behalf of Malcolm Waters and has been added to the site with his permission. The author fully understands the site`s terms and conditions.
The war against Germany was declared in 1939.
My parents had already separated, fortunate for me I stayed with my Father and my Sister Nora went with Mum.
Nora was really my half sister 6 years my senior yet I never looked on her other than my whole sister.
Nora’s name was Robinson, my Mother’s maiden name. Nora eventually left home to join a circus.
Dad, an ex regular soldier, who served with the Northumberland Fusiliers in the first world war, there was very little he could not put his hands to. He baked all our bread, a brilliant gardener, was a very good cook and kept our home spic and span.
Sadly he rarely talked about his life so I really never found out much about him. I know he was a Geordie and had a brother Billy, but what part of Newcastle I have no idea.
End of January 1940 was a very bad winter. Dad jumped off the running board of a bus, slipped and struck his head on the kerb. He had a stroke and died on the 10th February in St Johns Hospital, Keighley.
Going down Airwarth Street my Uncle Joe told me my Dad was dead. His last words were the start of my Christian name MAL then he passed on. I must emphasise the point my Dad was a brick, he lived for me. I did cry at night when I was alone, realising I would never see or hear his face or voice again.
My life changed so much that at times I lived with my schoolmate Ken Smith, we both worked in Edmondson`s Mill, Keighley as doffers. The foreman threw a bobbin at me as I was sat on a bobbin box and I threw as many back at him and got the sack.` I left to work in a steel works shovelling steel into a foundry, then I did some lumber jacking at Oakworth, Keighley. I ended up at Doublestones Farm in service above Silsden for the Fothergills. I spent six months from 5am until 11pm at night building walls, shearing sheep, dipping sheep, harnessing the horse, burying dead sheep, milking the cows, feeding and mucking out.
Keighley was normal, one hardly knew a war was on, working on a farm was even more remote. After six months farming, I asked Fothergill, can I go to Keighley Fair on Saturday afternoon. He said, “what am I going to do without you”. So I went to the fair and never returned to farming.
Mum and I went to London after the Blitz, even then night and day bombing was daily. You could hear the distinctive drone of Jerry as they gradually got nearer and the bombs got nearer. When we arrived in Fulham we had no money, looking for a Mrs Quinn who had left her flat leaving no forwarding address so Mum and I went knocking on doors until a Mrs Lampkin put us up. Mum was probably desperate having no money and no job. I must have been a burden to her.
I went to school at Ackmar Road with some of Mrs Lampkin’s boys. I adapted to life quickly and made the best of it. Mum then decided London was too dangerous, so she sent me to Ponterdawee South Wales as an evacuee. I well remember saying good bye to Mum stood on Paddington Station with my overcoat on, a label with my name and destination, my gas mask, identity card, ration books and teachers who were taking care of us. We arrived at night time in a schoolroom in Ponterdawee where our names were called out, a person stepped forward and took my hand a man and his son were my carers. I cannot remember their names, but his son was about my age so he taught me the ways of the Welsh. I quickly adapted getting free coal from the slag heaps. Taking the cows to the bull and getting diced cheese with brown sauce. I enjoyed my stay in Wales. I was treated very well.
Mum had established herself in Fulham she had a flat, then Nora came back into our lives again. She had blossomed into a bonny young woman who looked after me. At Ackmar Road schoolboys used to play pitch and toss, this was new to me as in Yorkshire gambling was not even on the cards. I can remember on Christmas going out singing carols to get Mum a Christmas card. She cried.
Nightly, the sirens went the whole sky was lit up with searchlights, I got fed up with getting out of bed. When Nora shouted of me to go down into the basement I said okay, you go on, I’ll follow you.
I could hear the bombers getting nearer and nearer, still lying in bed. Then I heard a whistling bomb that landed too close for comfort, my first reaction was to dive under the bed, my next reaction was to get down them stairs post haste. Nora was stood looking out of the back window, we were surrounded by buildings on fire. We were transfixed in awe at the blazing buildings, fire engine bells ringing, police cars whistles blowing, but we soon shot into the basement. Mum was on night work but the old lady always made us welcome. It got so bad at times we went to sleep on Piccadilly Station 75 feet below ground. Nora joined the ATS, I saw very little of her till later in life. One of the most frightening experiences was the mobile, ack ack guns that went off right outside our front door shaking all the windows. Most houses had stirrup pumps and buckets of sand just in case an incendiary came close.
Mum remarried a Peter Johnston from Tipperary In Ireland, he was an RSM in the Royal Engineers. He always respected me and was a real good family man, he always brought something home for me, but I am really a loyalist. I loved my own Father so much I could not accept another Dad, sad in a way, because he was a father of eight children who went in the Children’s Home in Keighley. They were all good children who’s mother fell down the stairs and broke her neck. Mum and I went to live in Townhead Glasgow to be near Peter who was stationed in Inverary. I went to school in Townhead I joined the Boys Brigade and was also a Lather Boy in a Barbers Shop. We got a bus from Robertson Street to Inverary went up the Rest and be thankful to arrive to see some real military movement. Assault craft, vehicles running backwards and forwards obviously getting ready to go to Dieppe. I slept in a huge bell tent while Mum and Peter went off to a Hotel. Peter was a very musical man he ran the Isle of Capri Band up Woodhouse, Keighley, an accordion and kazoo band who were very very good, they won many cups and shields, parading them around the Wood house Estate (pre War)
Back in London again in OngarRoad, Mum had a flat. Peter committed bigamy so Mum was on her own again. I remember going back to Keighley to spend my last days at Holycroft Board School, then back to London again. I got a job with the Civil Defence at Chelsea Town Hall and joined the London Irish Rifles Cadet Corps at Chelsea Barracks as a cadet soldier. As a messenger boy in the Civil Defence I cycled round the streets in uniform and my steel helmet on to various people of notoriety including the Chelsea Pensioners. Mum got a job in Peterborough looking after a man and his son, again his son was around my age, he was a brilliant young artist. He drew Peterborough Cathedral very professional. One day I went to Yewsley right next to the American Fortress Base. Looking up in the sky I could see and recognise a Jerry plane diving straight toward the street I was in. I ran like hell resting behind an Oak tree in a church yard watching the plane strafing the main street with cannon shelling, a close call.
I also worked in Dubiliers factory at Acton, making gallon petrol cans and we listened to " Music While you Work ". I also in Grosvenor House,Park Lane as a paticia`s assistant and the Americans occupied the hotel in the war years.
While in the Civil Defence I saw vapour trails of V2 rockets that landed somewhere toward Westminster. I went to Romford one night to stay at Harry`s, my mate`s house, as usual the sirens went moaning Minnie. It was like watching a film show looking over London with the bombers dropping canisters full of incendiaries. I commented to Harry, someone is getting a pasting, I found out Fulham had been hit again, a friend of Mum’s showed me his burnt shoes caused by kicking an incendiary out of the house. Everywhere was devastation, doors burned, windows blown. One chap, playing the piano had an incendiary pass through the roof straight between him and the piano into the next floor. I went to Putney one day, as normal, sirens sounded, my bus stopped on Putney Bridge, coming up the Thames was a V1, a buzz bomb, I watched it from the top deck coming right above the bus. The engine stopped. I watched it glide into a block of flats at Barns Bridge. I had the windows open, I felt the blast on my face from approximately half a mile away. One day I saw a squadron of 13 V1’s passing overhead in Gloucester Road, South Kensington.
The Army used to train on Harden Moor leaving unexploded bombs lying around. Two of my schoolmates playing with an unexploded PIAT bomb were blown to pieces in Lund Park, Keighley. Another friend Alec Joinson tried to saw through a grenade detonator, his face and arms were pitted with splinters he was covered in Sal volatile and was partially deaf.
I was very very lucky boy to be here to tell my story, I picked up a pop bottle that looked like bad eggs, fortunate for me I did not have a bottle opener so I through the bottle into a quarry. You should have seen the bright yellow phosphorous I’d picked up a Molotov cocktail, a phosphorous bomb.
Nora, my Sister, was in an air raid shelter that was hit and became flooded. She developed pneumonia then consumption. She spent many years in hospital and despite doctors warnings she had two children. At 43 neglected by her husband, she died and was cremated in Norwood Crematorium. She was a very very good mother who wasted away to a living skeleton. She spent many months in Brompton Hospital, I made all the funeral arrangements, the husband pleaded ignorance. I always enjoyed going to see her in London when I returned to Keighley later in life. I loved Nora very dearly and she never complained about all she suffered. Tommy Junior and Jenny still live in London, at Herne Hill. I occasionally call to see them.
The spirit of the Londoners in those dark days was second to none. We sang on the stations. I sang on Keighley Station when Ken Smith’s Father in Full Service marching order was off to Dieppe. Everyone sang “ wish me luck as you wave me goodbye” and “for a while we must part but remember me sweetheart “. Vera Lynne, Ann Shelton, Tommy Trinder, Arthur Askey, Flanagan and Allen and the Crazy Gang all made for good entertainment. Not forgetting George Formby and Grace Fields.
I am now 76 years old. Today I doubt the law would look on a single man like my Dad and the Gentleman in Wales as being capable of taking care of a family.
Contributed originally by gerry_boxall (BBC WW2 People's War)
On June 3rd 1943 my military career began at Prestatyn Holiday Camp in North Wales.
In the following six weeks we were introduced to the rudiments of army life. The weather was mostly warm and sunny, but on the odd occasions when it did rain, it was a torrential downpour and we were usually struggling up some distant hill clad in PT shorts, ammunition boots and the all enveloping oilskin gas capes. This elegant outfit made you quite wet inside from trapped perspiration and we would arrive back at camp like a pack of drowned rats. This exercise was known as a road walk but consisted of a ten mile hike, running and marching alternately.
The culmination of our basic training was the dreaded assault course. That's where I received my "baptism of fire". After negotiating all the usual hazards the course ended at the sand dunes. There we had to drop to the ground and fire ten rounds of live ammunition at a target which was on a raft in the sea.
We were doing the course in groups of six. Unfortunately the team before ours contained a not very bright lad who had difficulty in following instructions. He managed to be facing the wrong way and was firing back up the course. We suddenly realised that there were live bullets whistling past our ears. We were pleased when he had finished firing and somewhat relieved that none of us had been hit.
Next day was passing out parade and those of us who were joining the Royal Corps of Signals were sent off to Royal Signals Depot at Catterick Camp. Here we were all interviewed by a Captain who held the exalted title of "Trade Section Officer".
My own interview went as follows:- I marched in, saluted and stood smartly to attention. "Now then Laddie," said the TSO, "so you want to be a wireless operator?"
"No Sir," I replied. "Why not?" asked the officer, somewhat incredulously. "It would drive me quite potty sir, all those dots and dashes in my earholes. Sir, I couldn't stand it."
"If you don't want to be a wireless operator, what do you want to be?"
"Well sir," I replied. "With respect, if you look at my notes on your desk, you'll see that when I joined up I expressed a desire to become a dispatch rider."
"Good heavens man, you can't be one of those."
"Why not sir?"
"You're too intelligent. Your aptitude tests show you must go into a grade B trade and dispatch rider is only a grade D trade. Anyway the War Office are not training any DRs at the present time. I'll put you down as a keyboard operator, that's a little different." End of interview.
I was no longer a private. I was now a Signalman and later that day we were issued with Royal Signals cap badges. Also some trainee dispatch riders had been issued with goggles and crash hats. Ah well, c'est la guerre.
I discovered that keyboard operator was teleprinter operator or OKBL- operator keyboard and line. The line part referred to Morse Code, so I had to face the dreaded dots and dashes after all. We were to be trained in London. We arrived in Putney and were billeted in large empty houses. For the next five months we ate in the local Territorial drill hall and for five days a week we were back to school - Mayfield School for Girls. We were free in the evenings unless we were on guard duty or the Defence Platoon. This consisted of twenty men and an NCO. I never quite found out what we were supposed to do, but I think the general idea was that we were supposed to defend London in the event of an unexpected enemy attack.
Because we were not in barracks, there was no roll call at night and we could return to billets when we liked so long as we appeared for morning parade at 8.00 A.M. next day.
On Sundays there was a big church parade complete with a military band. After church we were free for the rest of the day. I used to catch the train to Windsor to visit my family. The last train back was just after nine, but I would always catch the earlier train so I could meet up with my mates in the Black and White milk bar in Putney High Street before returning to our billets.
One Sunday I was walking to Windsor Station when I ran into my old friend Jim who was in the Fleet Air Arm. He asked me to have a drink with him. At first I refused saying I had a train to catch. He had lots of news to tell me, having just returned from the USA and it might have been a long time before our paths crossed again. Eventually he persuaded me and we went into the Royal Oak. We had a couple of drinks and a chat, then we shook hands and I went off for the last train.
When I walked out of the station at Putney, I was amazed to see not the usual gloom of the London blackout but a red glow and some very bright lights down the road. As I approached I was confronted by a scene of utter devastation. Thirty minutes before, an enemy bomber had dropped a single bomb, presumably intended for Putney Bridge. The bridge was still there but the Black and White Milk Bar and the crowded dance hall above it were just a mass of smouldering debris. The lights illuminated the firemen and the rescue squad sifting through the ruins, but there was no hope of finding anyone alive. They never found out how many lives were lost. I lost many of my comrades and would certainly have been with them had it not been for the persuasive powers of my friend Jim. Wherever he may be today, I can only say, "A million thanks Jim. I owe my life to you."
As a postscript to the above story, having contacted the London Metropolitan Archives, I discovered that they have a book in their library entitled "The Blitz Then and Now" which refers to the bombing of the Black and White Milk Bar. It happened on 7th November 1943.
Contributed originally by Bournemouth Libraries (BBC WW2 People's War)
29th August 1916 was a very hot summers day in Wandsworth, London and in the largest bedroom of a small terraced house in Bendon Valley I was born. It was so hot the midwife had to remove her collar, so mother told me many times. It was 4 o’clock in the afternoon and the children were just coming home from school. I was the eighth child born to Rebecca and Charles Ewins. Brother Fred was the eldest and the first born, Mother lost three boys, the next living child was Harry, then Annie and Gladys. I came next, followed by Pat six years after. She was the youngest.
My father, Charles Fredrick had lived in Wandsworth for many years. Born in 1874, he married mother nee Hanner Rebecca Barratt at St Anns Church, Wandsworth around 1894. He had been a policeman, then a Drayman at Youngs Ram Brewery, then a Stoker at Wandsworth Gas Works, where he worked until he retired. His age and work stopped him going into the army in World War 1. At the time I was born my eldest brother Fred was 17 years old. He went into the army. He was on a course when the rest of his regiment were sent out to France, they were all killed. It was just before the end of the war when he was demobbed he went to work in WanGas with his father. Harry joined the army under age 3 times, twice my parents got him out but the third time he changed his name to Smith and was in India by the time my parents found him.
Annie and Gladys were at home. Even in this tiny house in Bendon Valley, my mother would take in lodgers. It was a very cramped existence but compared with others around us we were comparatively well off as father was always in work. Mother did a part time job in a laundry nearby when she could. The house was lit by gas as there was no electricity then. An outside toilet in the small backyard, where we also kept rabbits and chickens. These were kept and fattened for food. Mother looked after them. She wore an old peaked cap and a sack apron around her waist. At Xmas the big cockerels were killed for dinner. Father would never let anyone see him doing this. I went to just one school from the age of 3 to 14 years. We graduated from Infants to Juniors then to Big Boys. The infants were mixed but after that it was all boys or all girls.
Lots of children in our school were very poor, they had no shoes on their feet and they wore tom or patched trousers. Some were dirty and from poor homes. I was able to go home every day for a good hot dinner, but the children from poor homes, or whose fathers were out of work were given a green ticket. They took this along the road to another school where they got a free dinner.
I suppose I was one of the best-dressed boys in the class. My father always bought me good strong lace up boots and my grandfather on my mother’s side used to repair them when they needed it. My schooldays were happy days, I loved going. We respected our teachers, our parents and the police. It was a pleasure to help them. I remember very often being left in charge of the class if the teacher was called away to a meeting. I felt very important doing this and would pace up and down the rows of desks keeping them in order with a ruler in my hand although I never used it.
I was often called upon to read to the class. I suppose it was because I had a loud clear voice and was a good reader. I enjoyed most though, the sporting activities. Cricket in summer, football in winter. These were my chosen subjects, English and Maths were next on my list. I am 82 years old now and my mental arithmetic is excellent still. I did not do much swimming. In summer after an afternoon of cricket on Wandsworth Common, usually a Friday afternoon, I used to be allowed to take the bag of cricket gear home with me for the weekend and take it back to school on Monday morning. It was very heavy and a long walk from the common to Bendon Valley. But I was so proud being in charge of the bag. In winter it was football. We played on Clapham Common in a spot called the Frying Pan. I was in our school team. I also played for the Wandsworth and Putney schools team and was also selected for the South London schools team.
When I was 13 years old, the grocer in a shop on the main road Garret Lane, asked me if I would like a Saturday job. I always wore a peaked cap with a button on the top. He would tease me, pulling it down over my eyes whenever I went in. This day he said ‘would you like a job boy?’, ‘Yes please’ I said. So that next Saturday I started my part time job. I would weigh up Soda, Rice and Sugar, etc. Food in blue bags, non-food like soda in grey bags. After a few weeks I had a stall on the pavement outside selling eggs and broken biscuits. Later I used to boil York hams in a big copper at the back of the shop. They used to have frozen rabbits in from Belgium, which I was taught to skin. Skinning cheeses used to make my fingers very sore. On Saturdays I worked from 8am to 9pm. During the evening I would take the deliveries out on a big old iron bike with a big basket on the front.
Quite often when I knocked on the door the lady of the house would shout out, ‘come in boy’ and I would pull the string and enter. The mother would be bathing the children in a big tin bath on the kitchen table in front of the fire. I would take in the groceries and she would give me a sprasy. That was a small silver sixpence, this was my tip which I put in my pocket. My wages I gave to my mother and very proud I was to do so.
Another memory is of joining the Sunday school held in an old iron hut at the end of the road and called the ‘Mission’. I attended well before Xmas so that I could go to the Xmas parties. Derby Day also brings back memories of the Charabancs going and coming home from Epsom races as they passed along Garret Lane. We would shout out ‘throw out your mouldy coppers’. Then we would all scramble and fight to pick them up.
My mother always had a day out on Derby Day. She and her friend would go. She used to dress beautifully, with huge hats and ribbons and feathers. She loved the horses and used to bet, but we never knew if she won or lost. Dad on the other hand, if he lost would be a misery and take it out on everyone. He was very fond of a pint although never drunk, but he liked the pub atmosphere. Mother on the other hand, enjoyed parties at home with good food and used to get very cross if in the middle of a Saturday night party, dad and all the men would clear off up to the pub for an hour, leaving all the women and children. They came back merry and would gather round the piano in the front room, singing songs till well after midnight. Dad used to do shift work, so it he was on night shift, he would have to leave to go to work which did not please him.
There were factories at the bottom of our road and lunchtime and knocking off time, the siren would sound and all the workers would come rushing out. It was like a football crowd turning out and as children, if we were playing marbles or fag cards in the road, we would gather up our bits and go indoors until the rush had passed to get out of the way. During school holidays, mother would pack me sandwiches and a bottle of pop and with my mates, we would go to London on the tram. We would spend all day in the museums in Kensington, the Science, Victoria and Albert and Natural History, which were all free.
Other days we would spend on Wimbledon Common fishing for tiddlers in the lakes and taking them home in a jam jar with string tied round the top for a handle.
Other days we spent in St Georges Park. On some waste ground near the park we would have brick fights. We would get sheets of corrugated iron to make shields for protection. It was all good, clear fun. We never abused people, in fact we were only too willing to help older people by running messages for them, helping them cross the road. The police we also respected. They used to wear black leather gloves which they carried. If you were doing anything wrong, they would clip you around the ear with them and you would laugh and run off. Summers Town Football Club was also very close. I enjoyed going to see them play. Over the back was a knackers yard where horses were brought from all over London to be slaughtered for cat and dog food. We would stand on the top of the bank and watch them.
My father worked in the furnaces in Wandsworth Gasworks and sometimes I had to take him his dinner. This was on a plate covered with another to keep it hot and was tied in a red and white cloth to carry it. Most days he took sandwiches, they had no canteens then. They all had an enamel mug and could boil water so mother would put a teaspoon of tealeaves in a spoonful of condensed milk. This would be put in a piece of greaseproof paper and screwed up. He called this his ‘tommy’. He only had to put it in his mug and add boiling water and had a good cup of tea.
One day when I took him a hot dinner the foreman said ‘would you like to see where your dad works’ I said ‘yes please’ and he took me into the retorts. I could not recognise my father, all the men’s faces were black with soot. You could just see their eyes, but I knew dad by his voice. It was so hot in there. They used to have to rake out the red-hot clinker from the ovens where the coal was burnt to extract the gas. The residue that dropped down below this was coke and was sold later. It was a cheap fuel. People would queue up outside the gates with prams and barrows to buy it.
My elder brother Fred also worked in the Gas works all his working life, apart from two short spells in the army. In the First World War he was called up. He was very lucky to be on a course when the rest of his squad were sent to France and were all killed. This was in 1918, almost at the end of the war. He married and had two daughters, Lily and Lottie and continued to work in the Gas works. He became a Foreman. Harry was in India. Annie and Gladys went into service like many girls did at that time, working very long hours for very little pay. I continued at school and by the time I left was Head Boy. My first job was at the Colombia Gramophone Company in the machine shop. We wore short trousers until we left school. My first long trousers suit which I had to start work was a second-hand one.
By the time I was 16, the Columbia had amalgamated with HMV and I had become redundant. They offered me a job with HMV in Hayes but it was too far to cycle, so the Manager approached a firm called Corfields in Battersea to see if they could take me. They did and I went into the machine shop there making tone arms for gramophones. Then after a while I was again made redundant. I next went to Mullards at Wallington, they made radiograms. Then again there was talk of closing down so I came away from that industry and went into painting and decorating. Then building and carpentry becoming a jack-of-all-trades and a master of none!
My brother Fred was doing well in the Territorial Army and advised me to join his regiment saying war is coming and if you join you will get training and you will be with chums you know. This I did, I joined the 54 City of London Regiment. The drill hall was in Putney we had to do three drills each week and one summer camp a year. We were paid £5 per year for this. I did two summer camps, 1936 and 1939. When we returned from this camp we were all called for war service. We were all taken by lorries to a stadium and billeted under a football stand. It was dark and we were not told where we were. As soon as it was light and I looked out. I knew we were in Woolwich. I remembered playing on that pitch when I played for Wandsworth & Putney at school against Woolwich Boys. We were in the army stadium on Woolwich common. I told everyone where we were.
There were four 4.5 heavy anti aircraft guns on Woolwich common outside the stadium. We did 24 hours guard duty and 24 hours off, resting in the stadium while the huts were being built. We were part of the defence of London. My job was on the height finder. Many tales are written about those days but only if you were there could you know what it was like. Night after night on watch with very little rest during the day, so tired that you could sleep on bricks. You would lay down anywhere and drop off to sleep. My brother was a sergeant in our regiment but I got no favours from him apart from making sure I was not on duty when our parents visited us. Most of us were the T.A. boys from Putney, we also had conscripts drafted in to us. Our parents could visit on Sundays in the early days. They came on the train a good hours ride. There was a big iron hut on the site, it was taken over by the church army, we could take visitors in there. It was warm and we could buy mugs of tea and cocoa.
As time went on and we settled in, our huts were finished and they called them spiders. Everything was connected by corridors. While at Woolwich Xmas 1939 our officers decided to organise a dance to which they invited nurses from the Brook Hospital. This changed my life for I met my wife, (read the story of Lillian), I will continue with my army story.
I made two very good friends in those early days, one was Teddy Bence who was in the T.A. in Putney, he also married a Charlton girl who he met in the church army hut. I was the best man at this wedding. I still see him as he lives near me and it is now fifty years on. He lost his wife a few years ago. My wife invites him to lunch sometimes and we have a good chat. Another good pal was Sid Doze, he was one of the conscripts from Bethnal Green in London. He had never been away from home so I took him under my wing and helped him all I could. He told his wife after the war that I was like a mother to him. He was the best man at my wedding. He passed away some years ago. I had planned to be married at Easter 1942.
In 1941 they started bringing A.T.S. girls on to the gun sites, training them to do our jobs, leaving us free to be sent overseas. In the middle of December we were kitted out with tropical gear and we were given two weeks embarkation leave. My wife who had been planning a big white wedding at St Thomas’s Church the following year did not want to wait until after the war so, it was a special license and we were married at Greenwich Town Hall on 18th December 1941.
After my leave when I rejoined the Regiment we were all held back as Singapore had fallen and that’s where we had been bound. The troop who had gone before us and were already on the high seas were taken prisoners as they stepped off the ships. So we had to wait awhile on various London gun sites and it was not until May 1942 that we were rekitted out and sent to Leeds. From there we were sent to Liverpool to board the Troopships. We had to do a lot of zigzagging about to dodge the U boats. We called in to Scotland to pick up more troops. We also had a lot of tractors and farm vehicles which were off loaded on route. The ship was the Athlone Castle. There were three to four thousand troops packed in. Our first stop was Sierra Leone, they got rid of a lot of the farm vehicles there. We did not stay there long, it was a terrible place.
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