Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Wednesday 4th October 1939

The signals section seems to be run on a co-operative or communist system now. Most of the blokes had a go at taking the squad for marching drill today and everyone did some sending by lamp and buzzer to the morse classes. Hignall is rather easy-going – easy to get on with, anyhow.

Hellish bleakly cold on the recreation ground today. In the afternoon we all marched to the skating rink and worked there. Yes, I’m beginning to think that this unit is doomed to extinction, in it’s present constituency at least. Today Hignall had to send in a list of all signallers who held current driving licences – purpose not mentioned. Pond, Dean and I went on this list. In the afternoon we all had to fill in forms stating our previous employers and the position held. Seems as though still more men may be returned to civil life. God knows what is going to happen!

Rumour is the craziest thing! The other day I was seen carrying a rifle. Several acquaintances wanted to know what it was for? Tired of answering, I told one man shortly, “Oh, I’m going to be a sniper!” Yesterday Boden told me definitely that volunteers for a sniping section were required. “I heard you’d put your name down!” he said, surprised, when I denied all knowledge of there being such a section.

There’s a delightful song nowadays – from Gracie Fields’ film, “Shipyard Sally”. Haunting, gay yet sad; amazingly topical. Something about giving a smile as you go on your way… I’m proud to say that, when I first heard it played, a couple of days after the war began, I said, “By jove, what a song! That’s going to be the Tipperary of tomorrow”. Now everyone is singing or whistling that song.

The other night at the flicks, the news reel showed “men of the RAF entraining for service overseas”. And as men moved across the screen carrying kit bags, climbing into railway carriages, kissing their sweethearts – then train gone and station deserted – all this time, in the background rang that beautifully fitting song.
I nearly cried!

Whilst writing the above, Jacko called. He sat down and smoked while I finished the story of the song. Then we went out (a very black moonless night) and found Capt. Slinky B in the Market Square. Started the engine eventually – batteries are very run down now – and drove out to The Sunbeam. There we had our traditional supper – steak and chips and black coffee for Jacko, sausages, chips and white coffee for me.

It was quite like old times again. Jacko hasn’t changed, inside. Still the romantic, thank heavens. I introduced him to Rupert Brooke (The “Complete Works” was in my billets) and we discussed his ideas, ideals and lovely words at length. We couldn’t sit talking in the car till “dawns left hand was in the sky” however, as all 339 Battery personnel have to be in billets by 2159 hours. L/Bdr. SJ Dawson was a little late however. He reached his billets at 2225 hours!

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