Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Sunday 31st July 1938

Up 6 o’clock. Breakfast; eventually got my infernal uniform adjusted to my satisfaction. Called for Lieut. Jarvis at 8 o’clock, garaged my car. His wife drove us to the drill hall and showed me how to manipulate the car (an impressive jade-green coupe).

Fell-in for inspection (full marching order – haversack, water bottle, bandolier and spurs) after which the Company “en-bussed” - quaint phrase. We left at about 10:30 a.m. Ripping to be at the wheel. When we passed through Leigh on Sea, Lieut. Jarvis had already said, “We can drop the formality until we reach camp” and we were then able to talk conversationally, without any “Sir” business. Old Southend Road; across the Thames at Woolwich; Bromley and then Kentish country. We went over Biggin Hill, a long road I tramped once with Margaret and John on the coldest day of that year. Today there was no snow! It was terrible hot outside, but cool in the car; we were both clad in shirt sleeves.

Stopped for lunch at a pleasant café near Maresfield. Somehow we’d missed the traffic; roads nearly deserted. The Lieut. let me retain my independence and pay my share of the bill. We were in “Sussex-by-the-Sea” (“All England is a garden.”) and at last came through Lewes and Falmer, into the military zone. Lieut. Jarvis drove the last five miles (“L” plates up) whilst I crouched tensely beside him. Roedean Camp. Right on the main road, above the cliffs, between Brighton and Rottingdean.

Before I’d stowed my kit or even found a tent, I was seized for a fatigue. Erecting a marquee – clad in puttees, boots and breeches! Nobody found it very amusing!
We were glad when the bloody job was done and we were in comfortable clothes and having tea. My tent companions were:- Ginger Hurst, Spider Lawrence, Fayers, Woolmer, Corporal Smith, Upton and Camper. We wondered how the hell we’d find room for ourselves and our kit in the tent? And should we have to wear blasted breeches and puttees next day? (“Put your bloody feet orf my bed!”, yelled Camper.) It seemed we might all be asleep by midnight. But Camper snored and eventually Upton revealed that he also was awake by making one single blunt ejaculation – “Bollocks!”

We talked until the early hours of the morning, most of us.

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