'Seeing the World'

Group discussions

By Esther Gill

Abroad to Scotland

Lucky Jim Huke

Photo: Illustrative image for the ''Seeing the World'' page

'Seeing the World'

Crawley men served all over the world. The Veterans in this groups served in: the UK, including Northern Ireland, France, Belgium, Italy, Germany, India, the Cocos and Keeling Islands, Burma, Algeria, Egypt, Palestine, the Mediterranean. For most, going overseas with the Forces was their first experience of leaving Britain.

Who is this?

I enlisted in the Army on the 18th July 1963, at the age of Seventeen and a half years of age. The reason I joined was to see the world.

Bob Laurie

We landed in Algiers. Shipped over from Scotland. It took five days to get there and got bombed to blazes by the aircraft. We got put into a pig sty, there was no were else to sleep. We were all huddled up trying to keep warm with our great coats over us. I was there, what, five months, I suppose until the end of the campaign and then went over to Italy. I was at Cassino [Italy] for months. Laying smoke screens we were. It came to a stalemate. There was a big dip down there and down in dip were loads of troops being killed. But you couldn't go down there, only at night time. So we used to lay smoke screens and you'd go down there and bring a couple of your old friends up. But what finished up there was a thousand bomber raid. A thousand came over. It was a horrible place. I was with the Grenadier Guards then.

Lawrie Mullard

First of all I was in Ack-Ack command for four years. But when the war in Europe finished we were spare bods, so they sent us out to Egypt when I was waiting to be demobbed. And I thought why send me to Egypt when I am just going to be de-mobbed? But I waited another year before I was demobbed.

Maurice Steptoe

I got all the Burma gear. 1945 I was out there for Christmas. We were doing all the duties while the boys - the prisoners - got fit to come home.... Do you remember that programme It Ain't Half Hot Mum - it used to be on the telly? That camp, well I was in that camp.

Leslie Flanagan

I was stationed in Naples and we were in tents when we first went out there. But the weather was nice, it was lovely. I'd never seen the sunshine before. It was really nice. We used to go to the RoyalPalace, which was made a NAAFI, it was a huge place. And we had the German's in there playing all the instruments and waiting on us. Sitting in armchairs, I thought, this is the life. Anyway, we were there for a while and then we got stationed over the Greece and I had to work in the workshops, me and my twin brother, mending army boots. Fourteen studs in each boot, two rows of four, a row of three and a row of two.

Fredrick George Wicks

I was first sent to South Africa for six weeks, DurbanĀ  - a glorious time. Well, you come from Britain and you go there and they've got an abundance of everything. You could go into one of maybe ten charity places and get a meal for virtually nothing - as much as you could eat. It was marvellous - the six weeks came to an end too soon.

Audio transcripts
Transcript for 'Abroad to Scotland':

Jim Huke

I call myself Lucky Jim. I volunteered but was too young. So they sent me to the First Ack-Ack. I didn't know where that was. I found out it was in London, south side of London, and I was there from 1940 to I think it was July 1943, when the Blitz was just easing off. Then I went on a trip to Burma, or was. Got taken off of that before they got on the train to go the Liverpool and got pushed up to Scotland to start up a brand new workshop - the biggest in the army...

This page was added by Gina Da Cunha on 27/03/2008.

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