Dispatch Rider Diary WW2
November 1942 — Initial training in Ossett, Yorkshire for 6 weeks.
Thursday 24 December 1942
Arrived in Prestatyn @ 2:30pm. Billetted in residential Golf House. Very nice place. Went to the NAFFI and wrote home and to Joyce.
Friday 25th December 1942
Had a damned good day. A very fine Christmas dinner. Walked to Rhyl at night along the beach. Went to the YMCA.
Saturday 26th December 1942
Moved into the holiday Camp. Smashing place. Three of us in a little chalet. Went to the NAFFI at night in the camp.
Sunday 27th December 1942
Went on Church parade. Good service. In the afternoon I went for a walk up a mountain. Lovely view. Went to a concert.
Monday 28th December 1942
We had a lecture in the morning. Afternoon we got our bikes and tool kit. At night wrote to Joyce and did a few notes.
Tuesday 29th December 1942
Lecture on engine parts and carburettor in the morning in the afternoon did some maintenance.
Wednesday 30th December 1942
Lecture on the frame, forks, chains, transmission, brakes and a haircut after break. This afternoon we had our first run. First we went round a field then went for a run on the road, about 25 miles.
Thursday 31st December 1942
Drill parade for 1 hour. Lecture till dinner time. All afternoon did maintenance. At night I sewed my gloves as they were all split.
Friday 1st January 1943
Morning we went for a run to Flint & back via St Asaph. It threw it with rain and my boots were full of water. We had a nice ride. Lecture on the magneto in the afternoon.
Monday 4th January 1943
We handed our BSA’s in & tools and got our 350 R. Enfields which had only done 10 miles. They were filled with petrol, oil and grease. Lovely job. Got 2 letters from Joyce.
Friday 12th February 1943
Great day came 1st on our riding test with 59 marks out of 69.
Wednesday 17th February 1943
Great day. Jack & I passed DIII. Others passed Group E One bloke got his leave cancelled.
DII = 1/- per day; DIII = 6d per day; E = 3d per day
Thursday 18th February 1943
Got home on leave for 7 days at 15:00 hrs. We got 2 wweeks pay, ration allowance & Railway warrant. Let off at 11.8 train. Had a good nights sleep.
Tuesday 23rd February 1943
Went with Dad to work. Had a very interesting day. At night went with Ma to the Queen Hotel for dinner. Saw Derek & Audrey (nice girl). Had a good chat with Derek.
Friday 26th February 1943
Had a FFI this morning. Then messed about until 16:00. had a lecture by the Commandant on ‘Going overseas”. That shook us.
Saturday 27th February 1943
Route to Tavistock: Chester, Shrewsbury, Leominster, Hereford, Bristol, Taunton. Got in 20:30 hrs tired and hungry on arrival so we got some food off the cook.
Sunday 28th February 1943
Wrote home. Had a look around. Went to canteen for tea. Afterwards went to the pictures with the boys to see ‘40000 horsemen’ about the Australian cavalry in Egypt in 1916.
Friday 26th March 1943
19 today. Got my washing, 2 letters from home& 1 from Auntie Minnie. Had bath & change. Wrote letter home. Went to the NAFFI for supper. Lovely day.
Saturday 10th April 1943
On DRLS my bike (500cc BSA) got run over by 30 cwt army truck. Much damage done. Irvin & two lads came with a lorry to cart it away.
Monday 26th July
Moved this afternoon to Ripe another little village. Very cold at night though not wet. I was out riding all night to Div HQ. Collected the meteor at 04:00 hrs. Drew 1½ galls of petrol.
Tuesday 27th July 1943
Moved out of Ripe this morning at 08:00 hrs & set off up country to Salisbury Plain via Winchester. Caught a glimpse of Stonehenge in the gloom of the night whilst travelling to the RA ranges. (Part of Exercise Gallop which ended at 12:00 on 30/7/43) I returned to Bexhill very much impressed at what artillery can do. It miust have been like at El Alamein.
Wednesday 18th August 1943
Put 350 Matchless on an improvised ramp and gave it a thorough clean. My bike running ok now again. In the afternoon we had a small sports day. Long jump, high jump, 100 yds sprint, 1 mile. Points were given & I got 24. Had a cold shower afterwards and felt good. On guard at night. I was on first shift. The 8th Army & Yankee 7th Army enter Messina, the tip of Italy.
Thursday 23rd September 1943
At 07:30 arrived at Larkhill via Winchester. Larkhill is the home of the Artillery & Airborne troops. Moved our kit into a big marquee. Had dinner at 21:00 hrs. I got to bed which is quite comfy all round.
Friday 26th November 1943
Packed up our bed & kit & prepared to leave for Bexhill after dinner. Sorted out all my kit which was quite a task. Applied for a pass to go on leave Tuesday morning instead of at night. Met our new Officer (Mr Lynes)
Thursday 24th December 1943
Tidied up our garage for Christmas. Got some bees wax & paraffin oil (medieval) to make some hair cream. Went out at night with some of the boys but couldn’t find a pub open, in all we had a lousy night. 2,000 tons of bombs on Berlin on Christmas Eve.
Saturday 1st January 1944
Messed about this morning clearing up our garage for the CO.’s inspection. In the afternoon Irvin & I fixed an inspection lamp over our bench. Wrote Home.
Wednesday 5th January 1944
Finished Irvins bike. Duty DR all day. Started to make a chain tonight. Went to the NAFFI & had a good chat with Gnr Rastron R.A. from Burnley. Russian Armies enter Poland. German rout very immanent.
Tuesday 11th January 1944
Very nasty day. Removed the rear wheel this morning & found it very rusty. Finished the engine off this afternoon. Count Ciano executed under the orders of Mussolini. American bombers went over western Germany in daylight.
Wednesday 2nd February 1944
Messed about all day with the bikes in general. Topped my gearbox up with oil. Got a new brake cable. At night I mended my alighter & Sgt Coopers also a set of petrol pipes. Allies 19 miles from Rome. Russians 8 miles from Estonian border.
Tuesday 15th February 1944
Got up early about 07:00 hrs & finished my packing and set off on leave with Irvin at 09:00 hrs. Got to Stranraer at 19:00 hrs and arrived in Leeds approx 01:45. I got a lift to Huddersfield at 04:00 hrs I then slept by my bike in the hut till breakfast time and missed seeing my Dad. Berlin receives the heaviest bomb load. Also the Cassino monastery is smashed at last. Allies hold onto the Anzio beachhead, south of Rome. The final doom of the German Divs is completed by the Russians.
Sunday 26th March 1944
20 years old today. Worked in the cookhouse all day with the lads. At night we went to the NAFFI and wrote home. Had a shower and change. Heard Mr Churchill on the wireless about the war. Russian Red Army reach the Rumanian border. 900 miles from Stalingrad in almost a year.
Wednesday 5th April 1944
Messed about with my bike this morning adjusting tappets & carburettor also cleaning it. In the afternoon I went on the DRLS run to the other airfield. Got back at 16:00 hrs. At night we were busy putting some lines onto poles. Went to the NAFFI. All leave is cancelled from 6th April. The German warship Tirpitz is bombed and set on fire in Norwegian waters this week by A/C carrier and planes. Lovely weather al week.
Sunday 23rd April 1944
Bob & I did a bit of soldering this morning to a MT funnel. Afterwards we went to Sopley and ran out of petrol & had to push the bike back. At night we walked to Bournemouth and back, very tired and footsore. Mosquitos on our airfield destroyed 2 Jerry raiders. Good show.
Monday 29th May 1944
Wrote to Irvin & George in N Ireland (109 Fld Regt) Messed about in the morning. In the afternoon went for a swim in the river & enjoyed it. Went to Group HQ in Portsmouth and had a rotten journey. While I was on my return journey from Portsmouth there was an air raid on the dock areas so a smoke screen was laid in which I got mixed up with a truck, result bent mudguard. It was thick.
Thursday 1st June 1944
Messed about parcelling a box of junk to send home & put the letter in which I wrote last night. Got it censored & paid 1/6 to post and register it. I was SDR & went to 83 Group near Portsmouth set off at 21:20 & got back at 00:20, 105 miles
Sunday 4th June 1944
Started to oil my cables & was called out on a SDR to Kidderminster at 11:30 hrs. Through Salisbury, Devizes, Swindon, Cheltenham, Evesham, Worcester. Got there 16:30 had some tea in YMCA & got back at 23:30 hrs. Ran out of petrol & begged some off the Americans.
Monday 5th June 1944
Checked my bike over and tried to Bob’s lighting system work, but the battery is buggered so they still won’t work. Went to NAFFI and said goodbye to Eileen, the sweetest girl I’ve met yet, who fell for Johnny Devon, a good lad from Burnley.
Tuesday 6th June 1944
Got up at 04:00 hrs and packed the rest of our kit & we moved up to a place near Salisbury. I’ve never seen as many A/C at once in all my life. Also hundreds of A/C towing gliders went over. We were told all about the opening of the second front which started at midnight with colossal allied forces. The show is on from Cherbourg to Le Havre. Also the Allies entered Rome. This place near Salisbury is a concentration area and rest centre. Weather unsettled. Went to the camp pictures then to bed.
Wednesday 7th June 1944
Messed about during the morning till we got paid £1 in Francs. Also changed 30/- into Francs in preference to sending it home. Had sleep in afternoon. Went to pictures after tea and after that to a camp show then to bed.
Monday 12th June 1944
This morning Bob & I were put on a charge for refusing to volunteer for the cookhouse. So most of the day was spent in the Officers Mess cookhouse. Tonight went to the pictures and saw Tarzan. Then went to bed.
Tuesday 13th June 1944
Got up at 04:30 hrs and prepared to move. We had a very slow journey to the docks & arrived finally on the boat. It was an exciting moment boarding it. Bob & I put our bikes on lorries and we travelled in a jeep.
Wednesday 14th June 1944
Stayed on the boat all day. Bob & I on cookhouse fatigues all day. They are American barges and sailors. The food is smashing, they have the facilities. Knocked off at 20:00. Then went to bed.
Thursday 15th June 1944 (D+9)
Still at anchor until dinner time then proceeded in convoy to France. I’ve never seen as many ships in all my life. The voyage was quite calm. The weather also was champion. Arrived in France on the beaches in Normandy near Arromanches at 23:00 hrs. We waited until the tide went out and then we went on and into France. It was pitch black and we couldn’t use any lights...…….
Friday 16th June 1944 (continued on)
………..At last we arrived at the marshalling area in the early hours. Bob & I got down under a truck. Got up at dawn and saw two of our Spits after a Jerry only about 100 yds away. The rest of the day we spent in getting our position.
Saturday 17th June 1944
Messed about most of the day digging slit trenches in our orchard as well as lavatory a ‘desert lilly’. Got a letter from home. Also wrote home. At night we made a brew of tea also a bit of supper before going to bed.
Monday 19th June 1944
On guard duty all day in pouring rain so very miserable job. After tea while I was ‘off’ I went to a French class given by our Section Officer & learnt quite a lot. War on all fronts doing well.
Tuesday 20th June 1944
Stayed in bed till 10:30hrs then went on the DRLS to the other airfield. Arrived back for dinner. Had a sleep in the afternoon & started to rite home. Got a boil coming on my neck.
Saturday 24th June 1944
SDR today & went out with a lineman mending faults while dinner time. Also on guard. Saw our Spits shoot 3 Jerrys down this morning. Started to write home.
Monday 26th June 1944
Cherbourg is finally captured by the Americans along with a General, an Admiral & 29,000 prisoners. Did the DRLS. Helped Bob to fix his clutch in the afternoon. Messed about at night in the tent as it was tipping down with rain.
Wednesday 28th June 1944
Messed about today making some waterproof gloves to go over my leather ones. On guard at night. Our Typhoons went out smashing bridges all day. Good weather throughout the day.
Sunday 2nd July 1944
Did the DRLS. Got a letter from home in reply to my first letter from France. Had a sleep in the afternoon. Wrote home. On guard at night, last shift. We have now 9 German Divs against us in our (Caen) area.
Wednesday 5th July 1944
Did the DRLS. Came back with my bike covered in mud. There’s a village near Cruilly flooded through a tank breaking the road in on an underground river so the water is about a foot deep. Went looking round for a sten gun but was unlucky.
Friday 7th July 1944
Got an exhaust valve from the TMO staff that came this morning. In the afternoon I helped Ian Jones the IM to do some wiring up for a teleprinter. On guard at night on last shift 04:40 till 08:00 Sat 8th. On Friday night I watched the biggest air raid I’ve seen. It was on Caen 3 miles away. I saw one of our Halifax’s come down in flames, but they knocked the hell out of it. Afterwards the Artillery took over and for the rest of the night you couldn’t hear yourself speak. There were about 500 Halifax’s and Lancasters.
Sunday 9th July 1944
SDR all day. British & Canadian troops take Caen & make bridgehead across the river. Wrote to George & Jagg at 109 Fld Regt RA. Also wrote home and thanked Mother for her parcel. Our Typhoons on our ‘drome continued to knock hell out of Jerrys.
Friday 14th July 1944
France’s national day. Bastille Day. All the houses display the Tricolour flags. The people dressed up in their Sunday best. Got paid 340 Francs. Did the DRLS & my bike seems twice as fast. . Wrote to Auntie Nellie in the afternoon. I put up my wash table which turned out successful.
Tuesday 18th July 1944
My Dad’s birthday, 47 today. Got transferred this dinner time with 4 operators to the other half of our section at 124 airfield which is the best of the two. Big advances made in Normandy at the beginning of the week. The Russians pushing on towards East Prissia.
W/C 23rd July 1944
The Russian advance this week has brought them 20 miles from Warsaw. The advance here has been very slow but very effective. Our Typhoons have been very active knocking out Jerry tanks.
24th August 1944
Got up about 07:45 after a very restless night popping out to the lavatory. About every hour. Went sick again and had some medicine throughout the day every 2 hours. Paris has been liberated by the FFI (French Forces of the interior.) American patrols have entered Paris and at last the city is liberated. The Russians are pushing on into Rumania. Our forces in Southern France have entered Lyons, Marseilles. The remnants of the German army are being annihilated or captured.
In : WW2 Dispatch Riders
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