Bob's Memoirs - 1940s - 2
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Our Regimental Headquarters was established at Wilford House on Clifton Lane in Wilford. D Troop was moved there to provide RHQ guard and fire piquet duties. There we had dry wooden huts, so we considered ourselves luckier than the other three troops who remained on the Ruddington Lane site.

I was on guard duty just before Christmas 1941 when a Mr. Briggs, who lived only a few minutes walk from Wilford House, invited the sentry on duty to bring a comrade and spend some time on Christmas Day with him and his family. Of those on guard, three of us, Charles Jones, Fred Gibson and I, visited 'Wave-crest' in Roland Avenue, Wilford, and I met Una for the first time.

In early 1942, 181 Battery became operational, but we did not have GL (Gun Laying which meant radar, a name which for security reasons was never used). We got all our operational information from a nearby HAA Gun site (Heavy Anti-Aircraft) and sometimes I went there to listen to their bearings and elevations. I would convert those on a circular slide rule to compensate for the different locations and phone the results to our battery.

D Troop was still based in Wilford and when air raids were likely we were rushed to the battery site in civilian type enclosed vans which we got from American Lend-Lease. One night an exercise was held to check the efficiency of the battery and so no prior warning was given. In spite of our two mile handicap, I was in my command bunker in time to set fuses, load, elevate and begin to give a creeping bearing, but not early enough to get the initial briefing that it was not for real. Through my headphones I heard an agitated voice say "Dog Troop, this is Dummy Dummy Dummy!" My next command would have been "Fire!" and with fingers ready on buttons it was lucky that whatever word I said then was not misunderstood. I thought I would be in trouble but instead the next voice I heard was the CO congratulating me! I never fired a rocket in action, but that time I almost caused sixteen to be fired in error.

In the summer of 1942 I was transferred to Regimental Headquarters (RHQ) in Wilford House where I was on the establishment as a clerk, but I was really there because I could do technical drawings of equipment and plans of buildings and sites. I had started to produce reference books on aircraft recognition as a hobby, and my interest in the subject resulted in a number of trips to attend study courses. While I was having this 'cushy' time our Batteries waited for the raids that didn't come, and battles were being fought in North Africa.

In late 1942 the RHQ moved and occupied a house in Magdala Road, off the Mansfield Way, and another a short distance away in Cyprus Road in Nottingham. I was now further away from Una's home but I was able to meet her in Nottingham city centre and go to a cinema or to the Theatre Royal, and I was very often invited to an evening meal at Wilford.

ATS women were introduced into AA units and our title changed yet again to become 15(M) AAZ Regiment. The ATS were given equal rights with the men and did all the duties except operating the projectors.

In 1943 the American bombers began attacking Germany, the British bombed the Ruhr dams and Allied forces invaded Italy. I can remember very little of what I was doing except that in August 1943 I went to 5 AA Group School, at Oakham in Rutland, for an aircraft recognition instructors course. In order to attend I was 'promoted' to Lance Bombadier while I was there. I was unable to go further after this because the next stage was a War Office course and only senior NCOs could attend.

Early in 1944 I caught the common skin infection impetigo. The spots on my face were treated with gentian violet and I was told to keep out of sight until I was more presentable! I was bored and I decided to help some of the lads who were painting the interior of the house. I was not aware that they had removed the counter-weights in a sash window and it fell trapping my right hand. I was treated at an army first aid station in Ruddington. I returned to the RHQ via Wilford and Una remembers my visit because now I had spots on my face and my arm in a sling! Because I could not work I was given 48 hours leave and I went home to Watford.

Troubles, I am told, come in threes. While at home I became ill with a sore throat and a high temperature. The local army MO was called and he diagnosed diphtheria and sent me to Watford Isolation Hospital on the 11th of March 1944. There were many Canadian soldiers in the hospital who had caught diphtheria while being treated for wounds they had suffered during the battle for Anzio in Italy. It was found that I was actually free of the illness, but in spite of being able to go home each day the army insisted that I must be quarantined for 21 days. After that time I would be returned to duty and be sent to another unit via Colchester. Returning to duty after hospital was called "Y Listing" in Army Regulations. I did not want that so I telephoned and asked RHQ for help. I was pleased that they didn't want to lose me, and Captain Carter the Adjutant issued an order for my return.

The next move, ordered by Brigade, was to 'Leylands' Broadway in Derby. It was a splendid Georgian house with nice gardens. The men slept on the top floor of the stable block which in summer was covered with wisteria, the perfume from which was almost overpowering. Not far away from Leylands was another of our batteries: 120(M) AAZ Battery. My official job at Leylands was filing clerk, but in addition I had many other tasks, and one of which was drawing plans of the house and gardens for the Nottingham Police who had plans to use the house as their County HQ after the war.

The Colonel's orders were simple and common sense. Life was easy and no one stepped out of line. Nowhere was out of bounds, and the men took it in turns to get up, make a bucket of tea and wake everyone up - I have often said that I had seen more girls in bed than most men! Nor were the men shocked when our dispatch rider, Margaret, would come into our sleeping quarters in the morning while the men were getting dressed, and she would shout to our other dispatch rider "Help me Bill, I can't get the bloody Norton started!".

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