Sunday, July 06, 2008

Thursday 7th September 1939

Now that George has gone, there is only one bombardier in the signals (Hignall) and he has been attached to RHQ ever since mobilisation. That leaves Sergt. Quayle and four wretched lance-jacks as the only Battery Sigs. NCOs and I appear to be senior of those latter – possibly for alphabetical reasons (the others are Dean, Ling and Pond) as I remember the same thing happened to my Father during the last war.

Today, for instance, Sergt. Quayle was away. I arrived almost late for parade this morning and scurried through the ranks to my usual place. “You’d better take charge, Dawson” said Mr Adams, whereupon I marched briskly to the conspicuous position occupied by NCO i/c Sigs, on the right flank. During the subsequent inspection I had to walk around with the Signals Officer, inspecting the ranks and criticising any faults. This was fortunate for me as my own pockets were bulging with cigarettes, tobacco, message forms etc, thus rendering me not properly dressed.

Had to act as NCO i/c Sigs. All day. Quite enjoyable to be so important, if only for a few hours. Lance-jacks do not do guard duty but I wanted to for the experience so requested the Sergt. Major to get me a guard at some future time.

“You want me to give you a guard?” he said in amazement.
“Yes, Major,” I replied and gave the reason.
“Alright,” he said after a few moments thought, “I’ll give you a guard”

This somehow had a sinister intonation so I paused by the door.

“I’ll have a nice rifle and all that?”
“Oh yes, you’ll have a rifle – and live ammo in it too!” he said in the same sinister manner.

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