Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Thursday 5th October 1939

Battery Drill Order tomorrow and equipment had to be ready overnight. The lance-bombardier mugs were chosen for this unpleasing evening-of-a-half-holiday task. Shead was supposed to come but did not, the little rat. Went out with his girlfriend instead. (Dean had a “date” too for that matter, whilst I – oh heavens! had arranged to see April at 7 o’clock. That had to be cancelled, so now she cannot say good-bye to Slinky B (Captain) before his withdrawal into a country residence.)

Dean and I turned up at 6:30 and Sid Pond came also – bless him! – although not supposed to, as he was Canteen Orderly. We gloomily contemplated the work to be done. “We’re the bloody lackeys in the outfit” said Pond. The vehicles – RA, GA, GB, M2 and M3 – came at about 7:30p.m. and we fitted them up, slowly and laboriously, in the dark. Inefficient and inadequate equipment and darkness.

Once Dean and Pond were in a wireless truck, having trouble, whilst I squatted on the roof tying an aerial mast with cable – there being no screws, bolts or fixtures.
Terrible language began to float up from below – this in Chelmsford’s’ London Road! – and I laughed aloud. We all became grimly humorous and said we were “browned off” (an Essex idiom for being “fed-up”) and didn’t care a bugger what happened. We used night-light attachments to help us – the lamp signalling being slung weightily around our necks – and longed for some zealous air-raid-warden to accost us.

Mr Adams, somewhat contrite, went at 9:15p.m and assured us that it wouldn’t happen again. Shead called at 9:30, just to read orders and left hastily. “Good night gentlemen” he said as he passed us. There was no reply from the grim toilers.

We finished at 10:20p.m with many smiles and jokes, despite our tiredness – parade timed for 6:30 a.m. and equipment still to be cleaned. An agitated driver appeared as I walked out. “An officers’ left his respirator in my lorry. What shall I do?”
“I don’t bloody well know and I don’t bloody well care!” I said happily. After all, I had learnt a bit about wireless sets!

Couple of sandwiches for supper, then cleaned my equipment and talked to Tiny of psychological subjects. Bed 12:30.

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