Friday, August 01, 2008

Tuesday 26th December 1939

Boxing Day, again a holiday and bugger me! I was detailed as guard commander. I did a guard only eight days ago. Things at the inspection and changing of the guard went slightly better this time. The lorry dashed through the Town, in mid afternoon, men of the guard sitting in the back grimly attired and armed, I sitting beside the driver with steel helmet, rifle and all that, with my mind suitably full of Service thoughts. We were passing Eileen’s house – and there she was at the window! She was wearing some dress I’d not seen before. God! How lovely she looked! A terribly fleeting glimpse and a wave and we were gone. All sorts of sweet feelings raced through my heart for a moment. Something too beautiful in that instant –

The lorry stopped by the gun park; there was the old guard, waiting. I just couldn’t switch off all thought of Eileen for a moment. “Do me a favour,” I said swiftly to Bombardier Rockall, the driver, “Go up the road to no. 9, ask for Eileen; ask if I could borrow “Socrates”. It’s a book”. “Yes, all right,” he said, kind-hearted blighter!

Then, rifle sloped, I marched across the gun park and fell-in for guard changing. Quite soon after we’d settled in the guard room, Rockall came back with the book. “Crikey! She’s marvellous! Asked me in – I blushed! All right!” Dear sweet Rockall, bombardier in the drivers section.

Eight o’clock in the guard room. We’d been – all the Battery – given permission to stay out of billets until 2:30a.m tonight, because of the special Boxing Night Dance.
Eileen and I had been going. And here I am in the guard room and my feet are cold and I’ll have to cough or perhaps blow my nose in a moment and there’s no “stick” (attending man) mounted on guards now and oh hell!

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