Monday, June 16, 2008

Sunday 14th May 1939

Signals Exercise. Not too successful, I should imagine. This unit strikes me as being a really ragtime Army. What a shocking thing to say by god! Rotten esprit de corps! Oh it’s jolly good sport but still – comic opera.

Sunny morning when the lorry convoy eventually got away from the drill hall – an hour late.
Braxted Park, Witham. When the “war” began, we in the command post section had a peaceful time at first, whilst the forward signallers got to their positions. Eventually “MI” personnel got going – Fenning, Rose and I, with Davis, a Colchester man. “Don’t fancy your job” said Fenning gloomily as I affectionately clutched the seven-plus-three exchange and extra bits and pieces.
It will be quite interesting when I understand it, although hard work and far from peaceful, with a hell of a lot of staff people around. A Colchester Sergeant was eager to put me right, so that he was always taking the instrument over – and helping mess things up.

Hectic rides in the truck when we changed positions, swaying madly through narrow tracks in the woods and across hellish bumpy ground. Becoming possessive about my instruments, I suffered quite a pang as they pitched on the floor of the lorry! The convoy went to a pub in Braxted at lunchtime. The village gaped. Military men filled both bars and the garden. I lounged on a low wall, beer and sandwiches beside me, Davis squatting below. “Strange, how uniform changes one,” he said thoughtfully. “I’d never dream, ordinarily, of sitting on the ground outside a pub, eating my lunch”. Extremely true, although it had never struck me before!

Sun went, warmth went, at 4 o’clock. Drive back in heavy rain. Gobey and I and a specialist snug in a canvas-covered wireless truck. Received our pay in the rain, in the yard.It rained all the evening.


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