Monday, July 28, 2008

Thursday 7th December 1939

The only NCO in the Signals this morning. Stan was in the stores, Ron, Sid and George Hignall had gone to the range. Went to the chapel and had some buzzer messages first. It was very cold – frosty in fact – so we had early break and then went for a route march – a new idea in the squad.

“March at ease” as soon as we were clear of the town, then we marched through winding lanes, where frost hoar hung on the hedges. A thin mist around us. They sung, talked and smoked. As we came back into the Southwell streets I ordered “March at attention” and they all became soldiers again. The thudding halt and right turn as they dismissed… The squads getting much more disciplined lately, since the orderly new draft men joined. Quite a pleasure to take them! We all felt nice and warm; our breaths rose steaming in the crisp, still air.

Stan Ling and I found a snug café, where coffee and biscuits was only 2d, and played chess beside a cheery fire. One game each. I still lead on the aggregate – 2-1.

Met Ron and Sid again at lunchtime. They hadn’t done too well at the range. Ron scored nil and 3, Sid scored nil and 1!

Afternoon, Oxley, the Rugby pro, took us for PT. Cartwright and I had a wrestle. I won eventually. He’s very game. I was winning all the time and hurting him, but he wouldn’t give in. Must be fairly tough; I felt I’d had quite enough when we finished.
Felt pretty fit after all that!

Shan’t feel so fine tomorrow. Battery orders reads:- “0900 Full Battery Parade for dental inspection and inoculation”. Ominously, there are no further parades tomorrow except for pay parade which is being held at 1100 instead of at 1530 hours as is normal. We should have had this second (double) dose ten days after the first. Owing to some hitch in supply of the serum, there will be a lapse of fifteen days for myself and about sixty others. Anyhow, the general opinion is that we shall be given a bad time on this occasion.

Went for a walk with Eileen tonight. (Sometimes I call her Olga or Thora or Lucy or Witch – but Eileen is her real and rather nice name.) She took me along the road which we march upon each morning before breakfast. Coming back, I felt weak with hunger so we went into the Plough Inn at Halam. Through the bar into a snug room beyond. We had cider – and I had pork sandwiches – and played darts. She throws a neat dart.

Back in Southwell by 10:30p.m. and in the billets by 11 o’clock. An hour after “curfew” but somehow I do have late nights with Eileen. I’m going to see her again on Saturday night; “Unless I’m held back by iron chains or cannot walk”- “or go to the dance by yourself!” she finished. The snakes are rather amused about Eileen and I.

Twelve o’clock. Ye gods! I’m tired and sleepy!

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