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Those remembered words

History - EY History

It all happened so long ago, that distant time of war - a lifetime ago. Yet some words and remarks are still remembered:

September 3rd 1939. 339 Battery was assembled in the Chelmsford Market Place for a lecture by the MO. Instead, the Battery Commander, Major Ingledew appeared and at midday made what must be one of the shortest speeches ever delivered to the troops. In short clipped sentences he said, "We’ve been at war with Germany since 11 o’clock this morning. So we’ve got to fight the buggers. That’s all".

In that same autumn of 1939, during a drill order, a truck load of Yeomen halted beside the War memorial in a small Essex village. As they waited for orders, the men glanced at the Memorial tablet. There was a sad list of a dozen names and the inscription, "1914-1918 they died in war that you might live in peace". A gunner commented, "You died for bugger-all mates". Because he was a soldier, in uniform, the remark was not offensive. Also that autumn, a new PSI was appointed, Sergeant Tommy Essler. After his first visit, he returned to their hotel and his wife asked what he thought of the Yeomanry? He replied, "Good material".

The first two Yeomen to be wounded, near Bardia, were Bombardier Jim Hutley and Gunner Ron Hadlow, hit by fragments of the same shell. Hadlow cried dramatically "They got me!

They got me!" Hutley, a master of under statement, added, "I think I'm hit too, Sir".

One hot summer’s day during the Siege of Tobruk, Battery Captain Robin Boulton thoughtfully observed, "This war will go on for years and years. We shall all end up throwing bloody stones at each other!"

Sergeant Major Frank Carlo loved and cared for ‘his boys’ but sometimes used the wrong words. Once on arriving at a former enemy position, be warned, "Now, listen together.

Beware of the booby troops". Last words of the dying: Gunner Donald Bibby, near Tobruk – "They got me this time". Gunner Paul Baylis, near Sidi Barrani, to the MO - 'Just a touch of the old rheumatics, Sir". Battery Captain Robin Boulton, sitting beside his wrecked truck at the edge of the minefield, to the rescue party, "Hello sergeant, we’ve just been blown up". Let us conclude with the comment of the elegant Gunner Bax. At the height of the final bombardment of the German gunline. Quite detached, in atmosphere of noise and controlled frenzy, be observed quietly, "We do see life, don’t we"? Well, I suppose we did. At El Alamein and other places.

S Dawson

Extract from 2003 EYA Journal

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