Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Sunday 12th March 1939

I am now at The Windmill Inn, East Hanningfield – a country pub faintly reminiscent of The Red Lion at Thorpe, Surrey (dear old Red Lion and it’s memories!) Nothing need be said of yesterday’s move from Chelmsford except that each time I move, the job seems more unpleasant! However, everything has now been put away, somehow, in my rather small bedroom.

The turnover last week was £33 – best week this year.

Called 7:30 a.m. Breakfast in the kitchen. Uniform – uncleaned. Car to Chelmsford drill hall. On arrival, to my amazement, I was informed (not requested!) that I was to drive the 30cwt. Morris truck to Colchester, as the driver had another job to do.
So Norrington and the rest got in the back. Embleton and the Sergeant came with me in front and eventually I got her away. (Five bleeding gears and reverse! I didn’t double declutch in changing, but seemed to get them in alright.) A sunny, cold morning and I turned up the collar of my artillery greatcoat. How high up I seemed to be sitting! The steering was easy – not at all heavy. Every time I pulled over I had to crouch across the wheel and stick my hand right out. No trafficators! A large “20” at the tailboard indicated the maximum speed at which we should proceed but I rattled and bellowed along at 35-38 mph, as is customary with their vehicles. It was pleasant to rush through Witham, Hatfield Peveral and Kelvedon at 35! Arrived at Colchester soon after 10 o’clock.

Buzzer reading most of the morning for we “untrained” signallers, whilst the others worked at wireless (lucky sods!) I got five 100% messages the others being 97%, 99% and 98%. Too easy really! During the last two messages I even had time to eat my luncheon sandwiches with the left hand (this does not mean that I masticated with my left hand, an impossible feat, but used it to convey the food to my eager teeth!) whilst I wrote with the right. In the afternoon, the instructor being lazy, we did little work. Norrington and I played noughts and crosses. He did not loose a single game, although there were several draws…

Drove the class out to Blackheath where we had a short lamp signalling exercise. (I wheeled the Morris beautifully into line beside a W/T truck.) Left Colchester about 3:15 p.m. and drove as before, sucking an empty pipe. I was glad of a cup of tea when I reached the pub again, Slinky B having been put away in the delightfully accessible lock-up garage.

Quiet evening in the pub kitchen writing this, doing office work. It is now quarter to nine. I feel somewhat sleepy. Guess I’ll read a copy of “Tit Bits” which lies handy. A kettle is singing on the fire.


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