A collection of memoirs from the ladies during WWII.
Prepare yourself for a journey through life as it really was. You will not come across the glamour of the big screen here, nor its phoney plastic heroes, or for that matter, those strange and compelling characters of the well versed professional writers imagination.
This, I will tell you, is for real.
When you are eighteen, you are young, silly and just the right age to serve in the British Army, and fortunately, the imagination is not very vivid or active at that age.
1939 Found me and my friends approaching eighteen and in the 14th Bucks Company A.T.S. We had joined in 1938. Not for patriotic reasons, but purely because the company we worked for had promised us an extra week’s pay and leave to attend the annual Army summer camp.
I don’t think the company was quite so happy when I was one of the lucky ones scooped up before the actual outbreak of war. Our job was to help call up the male Territorials who had enrolled in the Oxon and Bucks Light Infantry. From then on, we were moved around fairly locally, until the beginning of 1940 found us attached to the R.A.M.C. at Boyce Barracks, Crockham, Hampshire.
During those times we were not supposed to go beyond our nearest town, which was Aldershot. My friend Geraldine, (Gerry) and myself, had other ideas as to where we wanted to go. Particularly on Sundays. We already had our own bicycles with us and had smuggled civilian clothes into our rooms.
It really was a wonderful, long hot summer in 1940 and what a joy it was to cycle away from those dusty, boring old barracks. We were quite adept at disappearing into the little wood close by, stuffing our uniforms into our bicycles’ capacious holdalls and emerging clad in flimsy, cotton comfortable dresses; no trace of the army left. We both lived in Windsor; quite a distance from Aldershot, but we thought nothing of cycling home to sample our mother’s respective Sunday lunches when we were free to do so.
This particular Sunday, we were rather late in leaving our homes and starting back. In fact, it was dark when we left and I think the air raid warning had gone. This meant we couldn’t take our usual route through Windsor Great Park for the guns there could be in action. We had to take a much longer route, which would add considerable time to our journey.
We must have been somewhere near Ascot when we first heard the bells, and daft as two brushes, we hadn’t a clue as to why they should be ringing. There was a big German Prisoner Of War Camp on our route and we could only conclude that some of these prisoners had escaped. Never had two cyclists pedalled so fast and furiously. Apart from expecting Germans to jump out on us at some point, we were far more terrified of our Sergeant Major’s reaction when we turned up so very late. Onward we went; through Camberley, Frimley, and Farnborough, by now certain that we would be in really big trouble. Still those bells rang. We didn’t see a soul.