Monday, August 04, 2008

Monday 5th February 1940

Antithesis of joy today. Never have I had such a terrible spell of duty as Orderly Bombardier. Endless journeys in rain and half-thawed snow-slush, - no “stand-easy” times at all. Only coal dust left to feed the orderly room fire, which eventually died dismally. Fearful and hopeless tramping along strange streets at night, locating seven men who were to be detailed for an emergency guard. And then – hurry home, assemble my kit and pack and stumble down through snow and water to Queen Street, where we fell in at 9:15p.m.

Rehearsal for moving off… Roll call, then in two ranks we marched down to the station. There was another roll call, then we returned. What useful purpose was served by this night parade, we could not imagine. Everyone was very depressed and yet the typical British Army sense of cynical humour was still very much alive as we lurched wearily along, weighed down by our equipment. “March at ease,” was given and immediately everyone sang, “Show me the way to go home, I’m tired and I want to go to bed…”

As we entered the station yard, the spectacle of 339 Battery apparently going to war proved stirring to some RAMC men who stood watching. “Good luck mates!” cried one. “We’ll soon be seeing you again” cried another proudly. Yes!” “Cheerio!” “We’ll be seeing you!” we yelled. They saw us five minutes later, when we marched back!

“Unlucky Dawson – that’s me!” I grumbled, when told my sub-section was to take rifles and ammunition. Apart from the extra weight, this perhaps means guards on the journey…

End with a pleasant note. My stripes and service star have been sewn on the battle dress blouse by a tailor (at cost of 8d) and it looks very smart and serviceable and is comfortable.

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