Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Tuesday 14th March 1944

So far there is no more news of the move; I've not even had the FFI (medical exam)yet. Will it not occur until next week? Ready for my departure however, a third NCO now shares the shifts at the station, so whilst things continue in their far from perfect state we are each working one day on duty and two off!

Occasionally a murmur of things hateful reaches me when I'm in barracks - (“Where are you going, Bombardier?” “To get my dinner.” “Well, have you got a chittie? You can't go to meals on your own unless you've got a chittie from the office...”

“Bom., the officer says yer've gotta hide one of yer kit bags next time 'e comes inspecting.” “Why?” “Don't know why, but that's what 'e says. Maybe you shouldn't 'ave two kit bags beside yer bed.” “Where do I hide a kit bag then?” “Don't know Bom., but you gotta do it. That's what the officer says.”) - but being at the station or roaming at large in the town nearly all the time, I don't suffer too much these days.

Telephone conversation with my wife tonight. I thought we were talking about 20 minutes but unless there is something wrong with the clocks we were actually on the phone for over 1 ¼ hours! It must be a record, even for us.

Propaganda placard: “Telephone less – for Victory, says the Post Office.”

At the collectors box, I notice that holders of season tickets always look very smug and self-confident. They are never hurried or flustered, like the people with ordinary tickets; they flourish their little green cards with a sort of proud nonchalance as they pass the barrier. Some people ask collectors the most ridiculous questions. For instance, today two men came along and without showing their tickets said, “When's the next train, please?” “If you tell me where you're going or want to go I'll tell you when the train goes there!” replied the collector in desperate patience.

Then there was the soldier who said, “Next train to Ramsgate please?” “Over there,” replied the collector, “11:38 and get in the front part of the train.” The soldier went down to the platform indicated, came back a few minutes later and said, in the same dull tone of voice, “Next train to Ramsgate, please?” The collector again repeated the information. To my horror, the soldier retired doubtfully a few paces, looked around, came up to the unfortunate official a third time and asked stupidly, “Next train to Ramsgate, please?” At this the collector spat out a torrent of angry words and ended by saying, “Over there! 11:38! Get in the front part of the train! And don't you dare come back and ask me again!” The soldier slunk away, crestfallen, and appeared no more.

Air raid tonight. Much AA fire and many planes droning, but nothing fell in this locality. All the same,as usual, many men got out of bed, dressed and went downstairs to the chilly shelters. I dozed off, towards the end of the said raid but was awakened by the panic party returning, clumping in, in heavy boots, talking loudly. I was just about to make some sarcastic complaint when I was sleepily amused to hear someone say, “Look at the bombardier there! 'E 'asn't stirred in 'is bed!” “Never does!” said another voice in tones of awe, “He's got no feelings at all!” Slightly flattered, I remained silent and un-sneering, beneath my pile of blankets!


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