Our first location outside of Scotland was at Marlborough in Wiltshire. Whilst there we helped to put out a major fire in Savernake Forest .
The 'phoney war' [not phoney for the RAF or Royal Navy or for the Merchant Seamen who bravely helped to keep us armed and fed!] came to an end for the Army in the early weeks of May 1940 when the German blitzkreig speedily overran Holland, Belgium and France, stopping only at the Channel where they prepared to invade us by sea and air assault. Despite stubborn resistance to the advancing enemy forces, the British had to gallantly fight their way back to a beachhead formed around the port of Dunkirk from where a large part of the British Army (including my three brothers) were evacuated by the Royal Navy and a fleet of small boats. Whilst this was going on, I was in a slit trench with another signaller manning a No. 18 wireless set to keep the rifle company in touch with Battalion HQ. We were located near the village of Bradwell-on-Sea and overlooked mined beaches two hundred yards to our front. We were holding an important and vulnerable defensive position around the River Blackwater on the Essex Coast, lying south of Clacton-on-Sea and north of Southend-on-Sea . It was thought to be a line of attack if the Germans landed on the east coast, either to attack London or by-pass it and cut it off from the rest of the country.
Squatting in the slit trench where we spent most of our time, we occasionally switched the wireless receiver to pick up music but on the evening of 18 June 1940 we tuned in to hear the stirring words of Winston Churchill: "The whole fury and might of the enemy must very soon be turned on us. Hitler knows that he will have to break us in this Island or lose the war". My partner and I just stared into the darkness and now more anxious than ever, watched the beach ahead. We accepted what Churchill had said, like we accepted the War, and silently hoped we could play our part when the time came. Sadly, only a year of life lay ahead for my signalling partner. He was killed during a bombing raid on 13 June 1941 when we were in Lowestoft and he was on duty as a signal corporal attached to a rifle company near to the foreshore. He was a close friend, the first of many that would be remembered for the rest of my days with sadness and with joy to have known them.

It was one more event which we seemed powerless to change and army life went on as before. When I was a corporal, had responsibility for platoon training and administration. I also trained local units of the Home Guard to use wireless


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