Monday, August 18, 2008

Tuesday 9th April 1940

I have just had two teeth out. Reported “sick” this morning and after we had been fallen-in and marched to the MI tent, I made my desires known, also my age, religion etc. “Report here at 8:30a.m. bringing your small kit and gas mask” the orderly said, eventually. So I went across in full uniform, carrying towel, knife, fork, spoon, soap and what not and my respirator anti-gas! The dentists room was about five minutes walk distant. “That shook you!” exclaimed a fellow bombardier as I returned two hours later, spitting blood. “Yes, straight in the chair, no waiting,” I replied in similar laconic vein.

A day off duty: I took full advantage of this concession and got several things done. Had a kit inspection, scrubbed and dried my webbing equipment. The latter job took most of the afternoon. It’s to be done periodically and is the latest bit of spit-and-polish adopted by the Yeomanry. Then I cleaned my boots, leaving most of the brass work cleaning to be done before reveille tomorrow.

Spent the greater part of the evening discussing the latest rumours and trying to get definite news of the war. For, whilst the Essex Yeomanry has been cleaning-up in the East, things have moved in the West! My first news was from an Austrian Jew, working in the camp. “Krieg” he said, “Deutchland – Danmerk. Der Baltic – Norgeway, Englishe, France ships.”

Later we heard fairly definitely that Germans had over-run most of Denmark and had commenced attacking Norway. Oslo had been bombed and German and British planes had fought above the Norweigian coast. My atlas of the world, put in my kit as an after thought when I was called-up, has been in constant demand, during the journey and when any crisis such as this occurs. Just now a batman came and requested it for study by one of the officers. The bloody book has got quite famous in the Battery!

I’ve just been to the signals store tent where a select audience (including three officers and a sergeant-major) were listening to the 9:30p.m. news bulletin from Jerusalem (Ron Dean rigged up a set). Yes! Denmark over-run; Norway being invaded – Oslo occupied already. The German and British fleets were at present in action but no information was yet available.

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