Monday, August 04, 2008

Friday 9th February 1940

We waited in a big station near the quayside for many hours. Went to the EFI (Expeditionary Force Institute) which was packed and had no chocolate or candles. However we bought tea and cakes, after a struggle. I also bought ink and changed some money into francs. Discipline was pleasantly slack and there has been no button cleaning since we left Southwell. I noticed that the French soldiers did not march or salute as smartly as the English. A route march round the town after lunch. Cobbled streets, quaint houses with shutters.

On our return to the station we were shown our train, which was standing ready for our departure at night. My travelling companions were Burford and Leonard (specialists) and Gibbon, Willoughby and Sid Pond (signallers) The rest of Sid’s section were in the next carriage forward and the rest of mine in the next carriage aft. We stowed our stuff away on the racks and beneath the seats. It was a second class carriage and not so bad. Sid, Willoughby and I, hearing of a kind-hearted MP went out in the evening – no respirators and I wearing gym shoes! – and found the notorious policeman. Sure enough, he was thoroughly fed-up and allowed us to enter a nearby cafe. We had tea, fried eggs and chips – six francs pour un – and were back at the station for entrainment parade at 9:15.

At about ten o’clock as we were playing the first round of knock-out whist, the train jerked suddenly – and kept moving. “How uninspiring!” exclaimed someone, “”We didn’t go, we just pissed off!” We finished the next round of whist then all fell asleep as we sat.

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