Friday, January 11, 2008

Tuesday 20th July 1937

Up 6:30. Cleaned my uniform, washed and shaved, had a run around the gun park with Maine. No parades! No rushing to answer bugle calls! When Allen came back from breakfast, I went across to the main camp. Kipper (cold) and tea (warm) Also bread and margarine. Back at the gun position, hectic moments whilst stores were being issued, then a slack interval.

Crouched in the doorway, watching the 167th shooting. Live rounds, not dummies. “Fire”, from the GPO. “Fuse one oh!” from a Number Four”…. “Fire!” “Fire!” from Number One. Then the roar of the explosion! The gun jerks back viciously, flame belches from the muzzle, the shell whines away into the sky, the tent shakes, a blast of air makes the eyes blink. A few seconds later there is a puff of smoke 10,000 feet up; again a few seconds pass, then comes the sound of the distant report. By that time the same gun will have roared again and again. One round every four seconds! My eyes blink 40 yards in rear of 3 inch guns. Shows I am new to gunfire.

As the firing continued, I began to feel nervous, to hope that I should not have to go on the gun. Was I the only 193rd man that felt like that?

Had tea (Somerset cream and bananas) at the Civilian canteen, a snug place just outside the entrance of the main camp. Then I put on my grey bags, tweed jacket and tartan tie. My evening “off”. I discreetly left the gun park and walked into Watchet, scorning to obtain the requisite pass. Bought some “baccy”; had a Somerset cider in a pub with a Gunner from the 167th.

When I returned to camp, four of us played Pontoon and Brag in the marquee, by candlelight.

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