Sunday, December 30, 2007

Monday 19th July 1937

Awoke 5:30 (Mist on a great hill to the east!)

Dressed, (slacks) washed, cleaned buttons. Breakfast 7:30. Amusing how we are trained to behave like automata. We even march, like convicts, when going to the dining tent. After breakfast more polishing and arranging of kit for inspection. Dress of the day, slacks, tunics and boots.

The three Batteries marched to the top of the field and stood easy. After a lengthy wait the OC arrived and delivered a speech on camp discipline and sport. Half an hour passed slowly. At last a man in the front rank of the 161st fainted, just against the OC! As a result we were ordered to close-up, sit down and “carry on smoking”. The speech continued much more pleasantly!

Afterwards, “B” and “C” sections (in overalls) marched across the hill, through fields, to a small camp by the sea. The Gun Position. Some guns had to be moved but a rainstorm ensued and gave us a “cushy” in the tent. I smoked four cigarettes before we fell in again. We worked laboriously for an hour or two. Marched back to the main camp.

During dinner, Sergeant Dunster came through the tent, calling my name. I was instructed to move my kit down to the gun position immediately to look after the Battery instruments. I assured my tent mates that I’d be back the next day and they promised to prevent anyone else from taking my place. I did not like going, but suddenly realised the advantages of my new job when the word was passed, “Parade in five minutes!” I automatically began to scramble for my kit. “It’s alright,” grinned Sid Demmer. “That doesn’t mean you!”Topping the hill on the path that led to the cliffs, I paused and looked back, shifting the unwieldy bundles which I carried. “That’s the end of that!” I thought, looking at the camp.

At the gun position I found Allan (a cocky blighter, in private life a window cleaner) of the 193rd. One of us must be at the marquee containing the Battery instruments, all day. At night, we sleep in the marquee. Now it is half past nine. I’m lounging on my kit as I write. Allan has gone out, wearing his beastly irregular spurs. I’m quite lonely! In the Army, where there is no privacy! The tent measures twelve paces by six and there are not many instruments stored there. Plenty of room for our kit! I hear the tramp of the sentry, and the whisper of the sea below the cliffs. The wind flaps the marquee. Through the doorway I can see the guns; beyond the sea. Beyond to the west, a red sunset sky; to the north, a dim coastline – Wales. The 164th store man, who is in a marquee further back, assures me this is “cushy”. It’s a twelve our day but the duties are certainly not arduous!

Maine (of the 164th) has just been to the camp, to get a quick supper at the NAAFI (Meanwhile I watched both tents.) He brought back bread and butter, and tea. I’ll have a snack now and then make my bed.

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