The stories behind the story
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The late Eion McEwan was a member of the 5th Scottish Parachute Battalion. We’re going to hear about his adventures in France, Italy, Greece, Singapore and Indonesia. And what a great new set of revelations we’re about to learn about the war! There’ll be some paradoxical encounters with Greek resistance fighters and legal hysterics on the back of a mutiny by the British soldiers.
"Thanks so much for the wonderful podcasts! I've been a voracious reader of WWII history since I was very young. I happened upon one of your podcasts and am now completely hooked. I've made it through almost all of the episodes in the last two weeks. Wonderful stuff!
I've included a photo of my dad, Sam Ferguson, who passed away last year. He joined the US Navy at 17 years of age and served aboard the US destroyer escort DE-5 (Evarts) on several North Atlantic convoys to the Mediterranean in 1944-45.
Keep up the great work. Looking forward to many more fantastic episodes. I actually look forward to my daily drive now!" Chris Ferguson, Memphis, Tennessee
Sam Ferguson, who passed away last year. Served in the US Navy 1944-45 inn WWII.
Eion proudly showing his WW2 medals including Legion D'honneur
Eion McEwan wearing his coveted paratrooper's red beret and badges
Show notes for WW2 Podcast episode 38
Fighting Through Podcast - Episode 38 – Eoin (Pronounced Owen) McEwan
More great unpublished history! WWII
Sunday 26th March - We were informed the whole Brigade was being transferred from the East to the West to join the Poles in an attack on Cassino.
Monday 8th MayMassive attack on enemy - went in last night terrific barrage - shelling and machine gun fire
Friday 12th MayHeaviest barrage of history last night when we put in our big thrust for Rome. 2,000 guns opened up for 40 minutes NON STOP firing. Polish Division captured monastery hill.
Thursday 9th March - 19 ex P.O.W.'s brought in by 9 platoon patrol - 4 yanks - 2 N. Zealanders - 2 British - 11 Jugo's
Tuesday 15th AugSome small arms fire as we dropped - a thick ground mist led us to believe we had misjudged our timing. Bill Gooden called in the darkness and placed his hand on mine, it was all cold and wet. I said "my God Bill you've copped it already".
Thursday 23rd AugTravelled to Poom area for our first taste of jungle training, slept in the open in torrential rain
Tuesday 14th MayWhole Battalion on mutiny 0700 hours and refused all orders -
Eion McEwan was a member of the 5th Scottish Parachute Battalion.
We’re going to hear about his adventures in France, Italy, Greece, Singapore and Indonesia! And what a great new set of revelations we’re about to learn about the war! There’ll be some paradoxical encounters with Greek resistance fighters and even more legal hysterics on the back of a mutiny by the British soldiers.
I’m Paul Cheall, son of Bill Cheall whose WW2 memoirs have been published in hardback by Pen and Sword – in FTFDTH.
My dad fought at Dunkirk, North Africa, Sicily, D-day and Germany.
The aim of the Fighting Through Podcast is to give you the stories behind the story.
You’ll hear memoirs and memories of veterans connected to Dad’s war in some way – and much more.
Before we get in too deep with the show - have you come down to earth after listening to Captain Stan Perry in the last episode? Judging by the comments I’ve had, a lot of people enjoyed it.
I’ve got some lovely feedback to share with you about how Stan Perry’s episode affected his family who were listening.
Here you go:
Thank you. It is amazing and something for the family to treasure
Stan Perry and Kathy– that’s the man himself and his daughter
Nicola, Stan’s granddaughter who lives in Australia
I just finished listening to the two episodes of your podcast featuring your interview of him. They were absolutely wonderful. What an amazing memory they will make to pass down the generations. I just wanted to thank you for what you are doing. I think it's incredible. I'm now hooked.
Just wanted to say that the Captain Perry interview is brilliant, just about one of the best things I’ve heard. He sounds just like my uncles talking about the war, making light out of a horrific situation.
John also sent me a couple of great army jokes which I can’t use today – I can’t, I can’t – but maybe one day!
Oh go on then – twist my arm. Look it’s a mickey take about the Americans but I’m only going to speak it because it gives me an opportunity to negate it. But here goes – from John …
The tale about the Americans in Stan’s interview reminds me of my uncle Fred telling me about the Americans. He said when the British fired the Germans ducked, when the Germans fired the British ducked and when the Americans fired everyone ducked.
I hope we can all laugh at that cos there are sure enough retorts available to ridicule us Brits in equal and probably more truthful humour. If you want some examples tune into Episode 33, Women at War about the Wren working as a signals decoder in Northern Ireland.
But better still take a listen to another episode from the podcast Warriors in their own Words WW2, which totally belies any suggestion that the American troops were in any way not up to scratch. You just listen to some of the stories of determination, bravery and hardship that these guys went through. 106 – Hitting the beach on D-Day is my latest favourite, interviewing a paratrooper who landed in France on D-Day. Look it up on your usual podcast player.
Back to Stan
Danny Fontenot Facebook
Listened to parts 1 and 2 of Stan Perry yesterday and am planning a repeat of both today! This one is for the ages - absolute classic!!
Karl McDermott wrote:
Hi Paul, I just thought I'd write a wee note regarding your great interview with Capt Perry that I am listening to at the moment.
I research and archive for the Regiment so am especially delighted to spend my Sunday afternoon listening.
Thankfully [contrary to Stan’s suggestion], there are a few more than just 5 Sherwood Rangers left. Stan is not the last Officer...there is a Major! He’s Major Doug Nelson, who is now 98, and there’s also a couple of lads who served in Stan’s squadron.
It’s incredible as I’m still listening to your interview, and he’s mentioning all these chaps that are so familiar to me. Guy Sanders, Cpl Brookes, David Render ...
My grandfather was SRY also, but unfortunately didn't make it through alive.
Just wanted to say Hello and thank you for this great interview.
I have photographs of all these men on my FB page...
And listener I’ve put a link to Karl’s excellent SR Facebook Page in the show notes together with the full narrative of the email he sent.
Listener check out the show notes if you’d like a bit more on Stan Perry and also to find out why trooper Stevenson missed D-Day! All in Karl’s extended feedback on Stan Perry and the Sherwood Rangers!
And finally, I can’t think of a better way to sum up everyone’s feelings for Stan than in what Johanna Jung from Sweden has said:
“Please tell Stan Perry that he really is a wise, humble and amazing man. It would be so amazing to meet him, though I don't think that will happen. But I hope he will live a few more happy and healthy years!
Johanna thank you so very much for that lovely comment. And for anyone who missed it, Stans interview is episodes 36/37 of the FT podcast WWII
I think most of you would like to have shared a glass of Stan’s favourite tipple, single malt after listening to the multiple mentions of it during his interview. Well, I’m pleased to say you’ll now be able to in a virtual sense because after my visit I sent Stan a bottle of Highland Park to enjoy. So well-deserved, methinks – Cheers Stan and once again thank you so much for the time you gave me. It’s clear that a lot of people have thoroughly enjoyed listening to you and just for the record, so far, there’s been over 3000 listens to your interview!
And thank you to the following people for kind comments on the show in Apple Podcasts or iTunes:
Chris6207 both from USA
Bill James USA
Mark witica from UK
Tom Benjamin Facebook
Chris Ferguson - Memphis, Tennessee
Thanks so much for the wonderful podcasts! I’m completely hooked. I've made it through almost all of the episodes in the last two weeks. I actually look forward to my daily drive now!
And Chris included a photo of his dad, Sam Ferguson, who passed away last year. He joined the US Navy at 17 years of age and served aboard the US destroyer escort Evarts on several North Atlantic convoys to the Mediterranean in 1944-45. And what a great photo to treasure Chris – he looks like he’s straight out of the movie South Pacific in his white sailor’s uniform with his dapper hat and neckerchief. I’m posting it up in the show notes for all to see.
One final thing before we start – I recently put up a survey on my web site asking just nine quick and easy questions so if you have time to complete one I’d be grateful. Thank you so much to those people who have already responded via the link on Facebook and I have to say there has been some great feedback and ideas so far which I’ll be sharing with you soon.
The story of Sergeant Eion McEwan starts with Twitter.
Mr Ross Clelland had posted some photos of diary pages which his Great Uncle Eion had written and it had attracted a serious number of likes so I thought I’d wade in and have a read.
Ross started off saying:
“My Great Uncle Eion passed away a fortnight ago, August 2018, and when we were sorting his things we found his WW2 diary.
How good is that?
From 17yo he fought across Europe and Africa. A true British hero who gave my generation lasting peace.
Eion (pronounced like "Eion", McEwan
When he left school, Eion was an apprentice coach builder. In 1940, all his mates were getting called up. Some he knew were being sent to work in the coal mines but no way did Eion want to work in a pit.
On his 18th birthday he told his mother he was going to join up.
So he volunteered and joined the famous Black Watch 3rd Battalion Royal Regiment of Scotland.
In less than a year, he found himself chosen to join the crack, special forces, 5th (Scottish) Parachute Battalion.
Wiki: The Battalion was formed in May 1942 and became part of the 2nd Parachute Brigade.
It was deployed to North Africa and took part in the seaborne landings in Italy in September 1943. It actually operated as line infantry in Italy, jumped into Southern France in August 1944 and was part of the Athens occupation force in the winter of 1944-5.
Eion’s diary actually begins in 1943, so I’m not too sure what he got up to in the years before that.
There are roughly 1-3 days between each entry.
Monday 19th July 1943Joined Parachute Regiment at Chesterfield, [just south of Sheffield in Yorkshire, England]
First 2 weeks - an intensive P.T. course followed by one week Battle School
Sunday 8th AugDid a forced Para march to Ringway Aerodrome - 29 miles
Monday 9th AugStarted Synthetic Training – that’s simulated parachute jumping
Saturday 14th AugDid first and second balloon jumps - 800ft
Sunday 15th AugDid second balloon jump - 800ft
Tuesday 17th AugDid five aircraft jumps from Whitley a/craft
Wednesday 18th AugDid second aircraft jump from Whitley a/craft
Thursday 19th AugDid third aircraft jump
Saturday 21st AugDid fourth aircraft jump
Monday 23rd Aug Did fifth aircraft jump
Tuesday 24th AugDid night balloon jump
Wednesday 25th Aug/
Sunday 29th AugP.T. course
Monday 30th Aug1 week Battle Course
Saturday 11th Sept Embarked on ship "Athlone Castle" - Liverpool Docks Anchored in River Mersey all night
Sunday 12th SeptSailed to Glasgow Scotland and anchored in Rover "Clyde"
Wednesday 15th SeptLeft Clyde - bound for unknown destination
Thursday 16th SeptPassed Irish coast at noon
Friday 17th SeptSea very calm - First Pay Day 10/-d - Put watch back 1 hour
Saturday 18th SeptAll mail written and put off at Gibraltar
Thursday 23rd SeptLanded and disembarked Algiers
Sunday 26th SeptSet off in trucks for Phillipsville stopped at staging point for night
Monday 27th SepArrived at Phillipsville 1700 hours
Wednesday 29th Sept 1943Reveille at 430 hours - boarded "cattle trucks" and Travelled in Cattle trucks for Bizerte [on the Northern tip of Tunisia] arriving two days later where we camped in an African village
Sunday 3rd Oct/
Saturday 13th NovIntensive training - preparing for active service in Italy
Listener it’s interesting that at this point my Dad’s battle of Wadi Akarit in Tunisia had taken place back in March and by this time Dad had already landed and won the battle for Sicily in August 43, setting the scene for the next fight!
The battle for Italy began just a few weeks later on 3 September 1943 with the landings at Salerno – four years to the day from when Britain declared war on Germany.
So we’re now going to learn what Eion gets up to in taking the war to Italy. Eion told his local newspaper, the Kirkintilloch Herald, that his mission was to destroy all the roads from Italy to France. This meant the Germans had to move all their forces by boat and our navy was waiting for them.
Sunday 14th Nov 1943Left Bizerte and sailed for Italy
Wikipedia explains that eliminating Italy from the war would enable Allied naval forces to dominate the Mediterranean Sea, securing many lines of communication with other countries and regions.
Now I can appreciate this particularly when I reflect on Dad’s long journey to Egypt on the Queen Mary. The reason he sailed such a long roundabout route around the horn of Africa was that at that time the Med Sea wasn’t safe, otherwise it would have been the easiest thing ever just to sail across the Med.
Another effect of attacking Italy was that Italian divisions on duties elsewhere, such as France, would have to be withdrawn
and the Germans would have to transfer troops from the Eastern Front to help out.
Forces of the British Eighth Army, still under Montgomery, landed on the 'toe' of Italy on 3 September 1943,
That same day the Italian government agreed to an armistice with the Allies. So interestingly we didn’t actually fight the Italian army on Italian soil.
So the German forces now had to defend without Italian assistance, and only two of their divisions weren’t tied up disarming the Royal Italian Army.
I’m not sure I can summarise this campaign much better than quoting the blurb from a new book that’s out through Pen and Sword. It’s called Monte Cassino by Richard Doherty and he says:
One of the bloodiest European battles of the Second World War was that from January to June 1944 for the Gustav Line, anchored on Monte Cassino, famous for its Benedictine Abbey. Better known as the Battle of Cassino, the campaign only ended when Rome was liberated. With General Sir Harold Alexander in overall command, the Allied Army Group in Italy, consisted of Fifth (US) and Eighth (British) Armies. Both were truly multi-national with some 20 allies nations involved. There’s a link in the show notes ww2
On 9 September 1943, forces of the U.S. Fifth Army, under Lieutenant General Mark W. Clark, expecting little resistance, landed against heavy German resistance at Salerno in Operation Avalanche;
At the same time, British forces landed at Taranto in Operation Slapstick, which was almost unopposed. (Our man Eion – they must have known Eion was coming!)
The Allies had hoped that with the Italian surrender, the Germans would withdraw to the north, But this wasn’t to be.
For a while, the British Eighth Army made fairly easy progress up the eastern coast, capturing the port of Bari and several important airfields.
But the Germans nevertheless came close to repelling the American Salerno landing on the other side of the coast.
The main Allied effort in the west initially centred on the port of Naples
As the Allies advanced, they encountered increasingly difficult terrain comprising mountains, ridges and rovers which at times were relatively easy to defend.
It took four major offensives between January and May 1944 before the line was eventually broken by a combined assault of the Fifth and Eighth Armies (including British, American, French, Polish, and Canadian corps) concentrated along a twenty-mile front between Monte Cassino and the western seaboard.
So, a long nine months of grinding Italian action awaits Eion and his comrades
So I hope all of that is a helpful backdrop to Eion’s diary, which I’ll now carry on with.
Wednesday 17th Nov 1943 Docked at Taranto [SE end of Italy]
Saturday 20th NovJoined 5th Scot. Battalion at Aquaviva [a few miles inland]
Wednesday 24th NovHad interview with Comm. Officer - Capt Hunter and was posted to 5 Section, 9 Platoon
Thursday 2nd DecBattalion moved by truck to Goya arrived 2200 hours (20 miles from enemy lines)
Sunday 5th DecWe then moved up closer and defended bridge over Marino river (no opposition)
Tuesday 7th DecWe moved up and joined rest of Company in front line - one man killed and one injured (captured)
Wednesday 8th Dec"C" Company patrol killed one Jerry and captured four (injured). We moved further up the East side of the country to Rocasolegna
Thursday 9th DecSent Reccy patrol to an occupied zone - was informed our prisoner held there
Friday 10th DecSaw Jerry burn and destroy a town - Torrecella presumably preparing to withdraw
Saturday 11th DecMoved into "Sangro River" area.
Listener this is about half way up the country now and on the opposite side of the land to Rome, so getting way in there now.
Sunday 12th DecMoved to left flank – an area known as Hells Corner
Monday 13th DecJerry only about ½ mile away and we were under constant shell and mortar fire (most uncomfortable) - In trenches constantly now. On alert day and night - also on patrol frequently
Sunday 19th DecSaw the R.A.F. bomb Ortona
Monday 20th Dec" "
Tuesday 21st DecMoved to German flank - still under heavy mortar fire
Wednesday 22nd DecMoved back out of line for a few days rest
Friday 24th DecLeave cut short - Jerry located in next village Palambossa - ordered in - killed and captured several
CHRISTMAS DAYBully and Biscuits for breakfast - in trenches day and night - pouring with rain
Monday 26th DecMarched seven miles in sleet and rain to Castel De Sangro
Wednesday 30th DecMoved further back to Castel Frentano 6 miles
Friday 1st JanSnowed up - had to clear one mile of roadway to get rations through
Saturday 2nd JanWent to assist "C" Company out of snowed up position
Sunday 3rd JanMoved into concentration area Lanciano
Monday 4th JanMoved up between N.Zealand and Canadians - near Pescaro. Pinned down and could not move during daylight hours (freezing) could not have any hot meals or drink
Saturday 9th JanLt Brammall shot in leg whilst on reccy
Tuesday 11th JanDive bombed by R.A.F!
Wednesday 12th JanOn Fighting Patrol - wounded and captured two Jerries who gave us valuable information
Thursday 13th JanJerry dive bombed and machine gunned our positions only minor injuries - rum ration
Friday 14th Jan1 Polish soldier surrendered to "D" Company
Saturday 15th Jan10 Platoon - captured 1 prisoner and killed one Jerry using armour-piercing shells
Saturday 16th JanFrenchman surrendered to "D" Company
Monday 18th JanWe were relieved by "C" Company and moved back about two miles
Saturday 22nd JanGood news today - Commando landing 30 miles south of Rome
Sunday 23rd JanBack in line again - we relieved "D" Company
Monday 24th Jan 1944Shelled like hell - rum ration
Tuesday 25th JanReccy Patrol - Romano Ridge
Thursday 27th JanWent with Lt Christie on fighting patrol. Ran into a house full of Jerries who let loose with everything - I got wounded.
Ross observed - Jan 27th was the first time he was wounded. Less than a year after joining the Para's.
Friday 28th JanBill Drake went missing from patrol but remained in enemy lines all night and returned following night
Saturday 29th JanWe are relieved by 4th Battalion and moved back into reserve
Sunday 30th JanTo Lanciano for 3 days rest with Joe and Bill. Got new clothing and hot bath. Listener this was on the opposite side of the land mass to Rome so presumably was a safe area and somewhere the troops could take a break.
Tuesday 1st Feb 44Still resting
Wednesday 2nd FebBack in line - heard that "D" Company patrol of 22 were captured
Thursday 3rd Feb"D" Company sent patrol to Romano Bridge and killed 53 Jerries
Sunday 6th FebMoved back in line again - snowing like hell
Thursday 10th Feb10 platoon ambush Jerry platoon - capture 2
Saturday 12th FebRelieved "D" Company
Wednesday 16th FebTonight we were relieved by the Indian Division and we experienced the worst night march ever. We left our positions at midnight and marched all night through flooded rivers and mud up to our hips - finally boarded trucks at 0500 hours the following morning.
An Indian driver drove us to our billets but en route drove partially over a precipice. We had to abandon the truck and wait for another - finally arriving at our destination at 0730 wet, cold and bloody miserable.
Monday 21st FebWent to Lanciano for afternoon for a break
Wednesday 23rd FebBack in line again - relieved Indians in Casoli area
Thursday 24th FebManned an O.P. in forward position
Friday 25th FebStill in O.P. - Joe Cape (ex butcher from York) killed and dressed a goat for an Italian family and in return they provided us with wine and eggs
Sunday 27th FebThe next day they sold us a large turkey for 440 Lira (110 each)
Tuesday 29th FebDaylight patrol - picked up 2 P.O.W.'s
Wednesday 1st March 1944Relieved by 4th Battalion and moved back to village just outside Casoli
Saturday 4th MarchBack in line - relieved 4th Battalion. I could not join platoon as my boots were worn out and there were no size 12's to fit me - so had to remain with rear H.Q.
Tuesday 7th MarchNew boots and joined platoon
Thursday 9th March19 ex P.O.W.'s brought in by 9 platoon patrol 4 yanks - 2 N. Zealanders - 2 British - 11 Jugo's
Saturday 11th March0400 hours - stood to, following warning of Jerry platoon approaching - we opened fire and to our horror Jerry pushed Ity children in front of them and ran. We captured 4
Tuesday 14th March"C" Company patrol capture 1 Jerry in a house armed with a Schmeisser
Thursday 16th MarchPatrol to Guardiagnelle - were out in enemy occupied territory but area seemed to be deserted
Friday 17th March 1944Occupied a house to use as an O.P. and observed about 10 Jerries moving into a shack. We directed our Artillery on to target and it received several direct hits. No further sign of Jerry - Good show
Artillery remained in York house for about a week until we were relieved by the Indians and were transported out by truck - about 10 miles
Friday 24th MarchMoved off by truck at 0700 hours. Travelled all day passing Termoli and arrived at Guardio 1400 hours
Sunday 26th MarchWe were informed the whole Brigade was being transferred from the East to the West to join the Poles in an attack on Cassino.
Listener Cassino is towards the west coast about half way between Rome and Naples. This was a huge battle over a strategic location on the way to Rome and took place Jan-May 44. It involved four assaults and 75,000 allied and German casualties.
During the battles, the ancient abbey of Monte Cassino, where St. Benedict first established the Rule that ordered monasticism in the west, was entirely destroyed by Allied bombing and artillery barrages in February 1944
So following is Eion’s part in the proceedings … from the dates it looks like Eion joined part way through the fighting.
Monday 3rd April 1944Packed up ready to move to the 5th Army front
Tuesday 4th AprilMoved forward in advance of Battalion to Cassino area to erect "B" echelon
Wednesday 5th AprilErected tents for "B" echelon and rest camp. Battalion moved right forward to Cassino area
Thursday 6th AprilI was first to attend rest camp
Saturday 8th AprilWent into Naples for day
Listener I don’t like interrupting but I can’t resist the temptation to observe what a strange life the troops were having at this stage. One minute fighting for their lives and the next they’re off to visit nearby tourist centres!
Sunday 9th AprilMoved up into Cassino front line
Monday 10th AprilOnly in one night and were relieved by Rifle Brigade
Tuesday 11th AprilResting - went up into mountains and saw a pile of dead Jerries (about 15)
Wednesday 12th AprilBack into Cassino - positions always under a cloud of smoke (smoke screens)
Thursday 13th AprilTerrific shelling and mortaring - defending bridge - 'stood to' all night
Friday 14th AprilStill defending bridge - 2 killed and 4 injured from "D" Company at Castle Hill
Saturday 15th AprilGinger Statham's trench received a direct hit but although unhurt himself, lost his rifle.
Sunday 16th AprilRelieved tonight by R.W.K. Royal West Kent Regiment at about 0200 hours. We were moved to Venafro (2 days rest) RWK was the Queen's Own Royal West Kent Regiment - an infantry regiment of the British Army
Wednesday 19th April Moved up to Meile head - slept at side of road in the mountains
Thursday 20th AprilMoved up to relieve N. Zealanders entrenched in the mountains (and caves)
Friday 21st AprilMoved forward during night into slit trenches. No water and not much food.
Saturday 22nd AprilStill living in caves - 2 men from 6th Battalion killed by mines
Monday 24th AprilNew officer in 8 Platoon injured. Still in caves. 5 men from 6th Battalion injured
Wednesday 26th AprilJerry attacked "C" Company - but ran away with their tails between their legs. "D" Company attacked - Cpl Stanton injured
Saturday 29th AprilSgt Pedan - shot through head and killed - by Bren Gun fire
Sunday 30th AprilShelled and mortared all day. Heard from Bill Drake back in Blighty but he has T.B.
Tuesday 2nd MayLt Christie and Duggie off to Goya today – not far from Naples and Mt Vesuvius
Wednesday 3rd MayPoor old Todd killed (8 platoon). Direct hit on dugout
Friday 5th MayHeavy mortaring still - but still smiling!
Saturday 6th May 1944Water very scarce now - have to wash, shave and wash clothes in 2 pints of water – listener it’s funny but in his memoirs Dad mentioned that same two pints for all purposes!
Sunday 7th MayAttended Church service - Padre came right up to front line to conduct service amid shell fire
Monday 8th MayMassive attack on enemy - went in last night terrific barrage -shelling and machine gun fire
Wednesday 10th MayCompany H.Q. - direct hit - Gardner & Kemp injured
Thursday 11th MayItalian corps of Liberation [which was fighting on the Allied side] captured MT Maria at 1430 hours - 12 hours ahead of schedule with no casualties - got 12 prisoners
Friday 12th MayHeaviest barrage of history last night when we put in our big thrust for Rome. 2,000 guns opened up for 40 minutes NON STOP firing. Polish Division captured monastery hill.
Saturday 13th MayAnother barrage today on our right flank (40 mins)
Sunday 14th MayGreat disappointment - all packed up to move out when word came through to unpack - no explanation
Monday 15th MayRelieved tonight and moved back into Battalion H.Q. for rest - some rest - strafed by Luftwaffe tonight
Friday 19th MayBack at front - Robbo and I decorated our dug-out tonight with pin up girls and photos
Saturday 20th MayRiver where we get our only water supply nearly dried up
Tuesday 23rd May2 ME 109's dived on our positions this p.m. but did not open up (THANK GOD)
Thursday 25th MayShould be relieved - but cancelled once more
Friday 26th MayShould be relieved by 4th Battalion but for second time cancelled
Ross said: “I've been told by those who have served in different branches of the military that one of the toughest things they have to deal with is when the promise of being relieved from the front line is cancelled. It happened to my Uncle. A lot.
Saturday 27th MayAt last Jerry w/d [withdrew] from Croce, after 6 weeks of hell - we feel great relief
Sunday 28th MayAfter six weeks of silence and darkness Jerry has at last w/d from Croce - we went forward and had a look round his positions and got bags of loot - sweets, chocs and cigarettes
Monday 29th MayIssued with R.D's and had the luxury of a bath at the rest centre. Heard rumour that we were to be withdrawn from front line and returned to base
Listener that’s pretty much the end of the Italian campaign. We’re now at the beginning of June 1944 – Just a week from D-Day in Normandy, France, though Eion’s duties weren’t in that arena – just as well because:
Thursday 1st JuneWas cleaning my tommy gun today and accidentally fired two shots and was accordingly charged and went before Company Commander and was remanded for C.O.
Saturday 3rd JuneTravelled all day by truck - passed Naples and Salerno arrived at Pontegnano - 7 miles beyond Salerno at 1630 hours. Listener at this point the troops are going South away from Rome and Naples.
Sunday 4th JuneStart parachute training again - See Thursday 1st (above) (Tried by C.O. - 7 days stoppage of pay)
Wednesday 7th June 1944Training in earnest now - 16 mile march this morning and start P.T. at 0615 hours every morning
Listener so D-Day was yesterday! I guess Eion knew it had happened because it was in the British newspapers pretty soon, so they must have told the troops. It’s fascinating to think that because there were allied troops in Italy, Hitler had to engage resources who’d otherwise have been sent no doubt to defend against the Normandy invasion.
Thursday 8th JuneWent into Pompei and visited the famous ruins
Sunday 11th June3 day scheme starts - 5th Battalion are playing the enemy and 4th Battalion are the British Para's!
Monday 12th JuneOn fighting patrol but encountered no enemy
Tuesday 13th JuneEnd of scheme 12.30 and back at camp 15.30
Wednesday 14th JuneMet Sgt McLeod (Glider Pilot) had a good night out with him
Thursday 15th JuneMade my first jump from a C47 - Reveille 0400 hours drew chutes at 0800 hours and dropped at 0920 hours after flying out over the sea and over Salerno - (soft landing)
Friday 16th JuneA full days training again
Monday 19th JunePrepared for another drop today but cancelled as wind was too high. Back at camp did a spot of boxing - matched against Capt Corby again
Tuesday 20th JuneReveille 0315 hours - dropped about 0800 hours and left D.Z.[drop zone] about 0915 hours on a small scheme
Thursday 22nd JuneBattalion sports - I won the mile in 5 mins 22 secs and our platoon won the relay
Friday 23rd JuneField firing today, followed by Company attack exercise. Ginger Statham joined us today after long spell in B.G.H.
Sunday 25th JuneAll day on firing range - poured with rain
Monday 26th June15 mile route march
Tuesday 27th JuneMap reading walk in mountains - ended the day swimming at Salerno
Wednesday 28th JuneOn range all day - fixed classification on rifle
Thursday 29th JuneOn night scheme in mountains - marched all night and returned to camp 0500 hours
Friday 30th JuneOn range all day - fixed classification on Bren and returned to camp 21.30 hours - then went to beach for moonlight swim
Saturday 1st July 1944On range - fixed classification on Tommy gun and .45 colt. Down to sea again for a swim by moonlight
Sunday 2nd JulyTo church a.m. and then to Pompei
Monday 3rd July15 mile route march including a boxing match? Then swimming in evening
Tuesday 6th JulyReveille 0400 hours - firing on open range. Afternoon free - to Salerno for swim
Friday 7th July17 mile route march - dip in river. Football 5th Battalion v 6th Lost 2-5
Monday 10th JulyAll day scheme
Tuesday 11th JulyAnother company scheme - haversack rations
Wednesday 12th JulyBattalion sports - I won the 1/2 mile and was selected to represent Brigade and won - not so good in the 1 mile - came 5th
Friday 14th JulyMoved off at midnight, travelled all night to new Brigade area, passed Cassino and some of our old front line positions at 0630 hours.
Passed through Rome at 1430 hours, arrived at camp site 6 miles east of Rome at 1500 hours
Monday 17th July 1944Dug a range this morning - wrote to Bill in Aden for loan of camera
Tuesday 18th JulyTo Rome for day - visited Vatican City and Coliseum [Listeber, so back to Rome yet again – I wonder if the soldiers were allowed to send postcards home – even if there was such a thing]
Wednesday 19th JulyBill and I volunteered to erect dining area for Company - good move - excused all normal Company parades
Friday 21st JulyCompany exercise "Company in attack". Left camp 21.45 hours, marched all night, arrived at battle area 04.30 hours, had breakfast before the attack
Saturday 22nd July/Marched 45 miles in two days, went swimming in a beautiful lake (Lake Branciano) - 6 miles wide and 28 miles long.
Sunday 23rd July
Monday 24th JulyDay off - to rest our weary feet
Tuesday 25th JulyMet an Italian Senorita - 8 miles North of Rome - Elvira
Wednesday 26th JulyMet Elvira again, spent an enjoyable afternoon and evening with her (Auntie as chaperone). Went into Rome visited Vatican City
Thursday 27th JulyWhilst splitting logs to build dining area badly cut my leg with axe - had 4 stitches. Ouch!
Friday 28th JulyCompany scheme all day - I was excused duty and stayed in camp. Elvira came and fetched a big basket of fruit
Saturday 29th JulyStill resting leg. Elvira brought her sister down to meet me, loaded with freshly picked melons and grapes
Wednesday 2nd AugStitches taken out
Thursday 3rd AugAircraft jump today - left camp 1700 hours, arrived Aerodrome 1930 hours and slept the night under aircraft. Reveille 0430 hours, breakfast 0500 hours, emplaned and took off 0600 hours, flew for 2 and a half hours and finally had to land - too much ground fog and pilot could not see D.Z.
Saturday 5th AugSix of us selected to represent our Brigade on a secret mission - left Aerodrome at 1800 hours and flew to Naples (CAPA DACHINO) Airport. We were then driven to 36th American Division, H.Q.
Sunday 6th AugOur job was to visit the whole Division to explain to American troops what a British paratrooper looks like in action. How much he weighs, what he carries, and in general explain our job to them in preparation of any future combined action
Monday 7th AugBank Holiday. Arrived back at base camp and had day off to get our kit sorted
Wednesday 9th AugHad to get packed and stack our kit ready for a move. Later in day General Maitland Wilson inspected our Battalion.
Thursday 10th AugDay off to make up our kit deficiencies. Wrote letters home [ah, not postcards then!]
Friday 11th AugDay off - visited Rome and went to see the magnificent new "Forces Club" (Alexandria Club)
Saturday 12th AugBriefed for an operation - lasted 2 and a half hours. Rest of day off. Went to Brigade concert tonight.
Sunday 13th AugLecture by Brigadier today - rest of day off
Monday 14th AugSent parcel home. To Aerodrome, slept in aircraft, breakfast at midnight took off for Southern France 0220 hours, flew over enemy coast at 0500 hours, dropped at 0510 hours.
Operation Dragoon - was the code name for the Allied invasion of Southern France on 15 August 1944.
The French High Command had pushed for this previously postponed operation, that would include large numbers of French troops.
The goal was to secure vital ports on the French Mediterranean coast and increase pressure on German forces by opening a second front.
After some preliminary commando operations, including the British 2nd Para's landing behind enemy lines to secure vital transport links, the US VI Corps landed on the beaches of Southern France under the cover of a large naval task force, followed by several divisions of the French Army B.
They were opposed by the scattered forces of the Germans, weakened by the relocation of its divisions to other fronts
Hindered by Allied air superiority and a large-scale uprising by the French Resistance, the weak German forces were swiftly defeated.
The Germans eventually withdrew from southern France and established a stable defense line further North.
But Operation Dragoon was considered a success by the Allies. It enabled them to liberate most of southern France in only 4 weeks, while inflicting heavy casualties on the German forces, although many of the best German units were able to escape.
The captured French ports were put into operation, allowing the Allies to solve some supply problems
So this is Eion’s record of what happened:
Tuesday 15th AugSome small arms fire as we dropped - a thick ground mist led us to believe we had misjudged our timing and had dropped over the sea (quite frightening!) However we did to our relief land on terra-firma and initially met little enemy opposition.
One fright however - Bill Gooden called to me in the darkness and when I joined him he placed his hand on mine, and it was all cold and wet. I said "my God Bill you've copped it already". "No, no" he replied, "we have landed in a grape vine, do you want them or not?" I took them from his hand most gratefully and we had a good grape breakfast before moving off, ready for anything now.
We arrived at Rendezvous at 0730 hours. Gliders arrived at 0820 hours unopposed and more arrived at 1800 hours flying overhead for over an hour (176 planes and gliders) what a lovely sight.
Wednesday 16th AugMoved out of Le May to Brigade area. Went on patrol with C.O. in captured car to contact French Maquis (F.F.I.) met them at Draguignon and Callas crossroads.
FFI = French Forces of the Interior, no longer called the resistance now that France was being liberated rather than under occupation.
Thursday 17th AugTackled about 200 Germans at crossroads. Bob and 1 Maquis killed, myself wounded [the second time as Nephew Ross remarked]. I was taken to French Hospital in Callas and on arrival I found Sgt. Ramsbotham also there injured.
Fright number 2 - during late evening German patrol seen approaching Hospital but fortunately we were safely hidden away and they went off again, empty handed, I'm pleased to say
Friday 18th AugCapt Dalby arrived with transport, and took us to 12th F.A. [First Aid station] where we were operated on and transferred to 11th American Evacuation Hospital
Saturday 19th AugMoved to American Hospital Ship (Ernest Hinde). Sailed from St. Raphael at 1730 hours bound for Naples
Sunday 29th AugAt sea - issued with washing and shaving kit. Being well looked after. Had lovely chicken dinner and plenty of fruit and ice cream. The Americans certainly do it in style
Monday 21st AugLanded at Naples and taken to the 65th British General Hospital
Tuesday 22nd AugLeg x-rayed and bullet removed from shin. Remained in hospital for three days until discharged and taken by field ambulance to No. 7 Convalescent depot.
Saturday 2nd Sept 1944Robbo joined me at Convalescent depot today and we were both anxious to re-join unit and decided to discharge ourselves
Sunday 3rd SeptSo, two days later we deserted Convalescent depot and made our way to nearest Aerodrome (American). They supplied bedding and good food for one night and agreed to try and get us on a plane to Rome the following day
Monday 4th SeptLeft Naples by plane 10.30 hours and arrived back at camp at 19.30 hours
Tuesday 5th SeptLeft with Battalion (in cattle trucks) bound for Taranto
Wednesday 6th SeptHaving an uneventful trip - passed through Foggia, Trani
Thursday 7th SeptArrived St Pancrazzia at mid-day - 25 miles from Taranto and went to Transit camp
Friday 8th Sept Doc passed me unfit for jumping for 5 days
Sunday 10th SeptFinal leg of journey to Taranto
Monday 11th SeptOur platoon spent day off in Taranto. I had to remain in camp - Doc excused me from jumping for a further 14 days and I had to remain in camp, resting until Saturday 16th September
Sunday 17th SeptWent To Bari for day - on the way home poor old McCue fell from back of truck and fractured his skull
Monday 18th Sept -
Monday 9th OctSpent training and small parties attending rest camps
Tuesday 10th Oct 1944Discarded Tam-o-shanters and issued with Red Berets again
Listener For the Italian campaign the 5th Scottish Paras were operating as line infantry so they proudly wore the traditional headwear of a Scottish infantry infantryman the Tam-o-shanter, a stylish, even jaunty-looking sort-of-beret though it’s not really a beret. It has a pom pom on top and large feather or a badge at one side.
But the return to traditional paratrooper duties meant a change in role, and so back to equally exhulted Red Beret of the paratroopers.
Mainland Greece was liberated in October 1944 with the German withdrawal in the face of the advancing Red Army
Wednesday 11th Oct 1944Packing ready for another operation
Thursday 12th OctBattalion flew over and dropped on Megaro airfield 25 miles from Athens in Greece, met very little opposition but suffered 25 per cent casualties on D.Z. due to very high winds, making it difficult for the lads to release their chutes
Friday 13th Oct"D" day scheduled for 5th Scottish Briefed to drop today - but postponed due to high winds over D.Z.
Saturday 14th OctTo Brindisi airfield - slept next to aircraft but once again operation postponed due to extremely high winds over D.Z.
Sunday 15th OctReturned to camp - very miserable but in hopes of dropping in Greece tomorrow
Monday 16th OctReveille 0230 hours, arrived Brindisi airfield 0600 hrs and took off 0730 hours and dropped on Megaro airfield at 1020 hours – [Finally] moved into Athens 1900 hours. Received a tremendous welcome, all Athens turned out.
Tuesday 17th Oct 1944Camped in Greek Barracks 10 miles outside Athens which was occupied by Germans just a week previously but apparently when they saw our parachutes floating down they were soon off their marks
Wednesday 18th OctSpent evening in Athens, people gave us a wonderful reception, they held dances and celebrations in the clubs, it was just like London
Thursday 19th OctDrafted into Dock area to supply guard for rations until more troops were drafted in
Saturday 21st OctMoved to new area - marvellous billet in a big private house. Met some very nice Greek people
Monday 23rd OctWent on 18km march, we received a terrific welcome from all the villages we passed through. The Greeks were obviously pleased to be liberated and freed from presence of German troops - we were showered with flowers, packets of cigarettes and glasses of wine as we marched through all the villages en route.
Tuesday 24th OctSgt McNally received orders to get packed prior to returning to the U.K. for de-mob.
Thursday 26th OctSaw Anthony Eden a senior British politician, in Athens.
Podge and I met a couple of very nice Greek girls in Athens
Monday 30th OctTen mile march and then played football for Company against Sergeants - we won 6-1
Tuesday 31st OctFour mile road walk and run - put my name down to box against a Greek team next Sunday
Thursday 2nd NovSix mile road walk and run. Tabloid/mixed sports in afternoon - Our section won easily. Boxing match for Sunday cancelled
Friday 3rd NovIssued with 24 hour ration pack
Saturday 4th NovReveille 0400 hours - arrived Pieraus Docks and embarked "Prince Henry" by 11.30 hours - food aboard first class - first freshly baked bread for three weeks
Sunday 5th NovSailed from Athens at 0530 hours, bound for Salonica. Briefed at 1600 hours and ordered to carry life jackets at all times as we would shortly be passing through a mined area
Monday 6th NovWeather very rough and ship beginning to roll a little. We are now passing through the mined area but thanks to a good job by the Naval lads, they have cleared paths for our passage, shown by flags attached to buoys
Tuesday 7th NovVolunteered to work in galley today, a good move, plenty of good food, washed down with rum
Wednesday 8th NovArrived in Salonica. As we disembarked, Halifax bombers were dropping hundreds of propaganda leaflets near our billets, which turned out to be very comfortable, only 4 men to a room. Now on 24 hour Guard Duty
Thursday 9th Nov"B" Company on a ceremonial march through Salonica preceded by the Pipe Ban. They made a very impressive sight in full ceremonial regalia. I managed to scrounge a nice spring bed (never had such comfort for a long time). We also installed a fire in our room - only four of us - Robbie, Podge, Bill and myself - we can put up with plenty of these luxuries
Friday 10th NovSpent day in town - went to pictures - then to a night club for a few drinks
Saturday 11th NovMoved out to guard over 2,000 prisoners of war, Italians, Belgians, Russians and Germans - on 24 hour guard duty, off at 1700 hours and then took 20 Jerries out on fatigues
Tuesday 14th NovRelieved by the Royal West Kent regiment and ordered to pack kit in preparation of move back to Italy - later cancelled!!
ITALY AGAIN, STILL 1944
Wednesday 15th Nov 1944Marched 12 miles - spent day field firing
Thursday 16th NovMarched down to docks and embarked on L.S.T. and set sail for Taranto (Italy)
Friday 17th NovSlept on deck all last night, perishing cold. Woke up to be informed that our trip was once again cancelled and we returned to harbour, disembarked and returned to our old billets in Salonica
Monday 20th NovMet a girl partisan tonight, very intelligent, speaks 5 languages - felt I had to be careful in conversation with her
Wednesday 22nd NovBill and Hughes drafted to Motor Transport section to drive "C" Company to Bulgarian border
Thursday 23rd Nov We packed and prepared to move to Bulgarian border but the move was cancelled
Friday 24th NovDid a spot of boxing tonight - bought photo of Pipe Band - 3/-d
Saturday 25th NovMet Loutchia - she gave me a snap of herself and a letter but it was written in Greek!!!
Monday 27th Nov10 platoon moved off to frontier. I did spot of boxing. On 24 hour guard tonight
Wednesday 29th NovWe moved off, bound for frontier, but en route could not cross a river so we slept at side of the bridge for the night
Sunday 3rd DecLeft Salonica, boarded troopship (HMS Worcestershire) bound for Italy
Monday 4th DecSailed at 1230 hours - I was put on M.P. duty for duration of journey
Tuesday 5th DecDocked at Pieraus at 1200 hours and disembarked - we had declared war against E.L.A.S. at 1530 yesterday. During darkness we entered Athens and patrolled the streets all night
Listener, ELAS was the Greek People’s Liberation army – the resistance - It was considered to be one of the strongest resistance movements in Nazi-occupied Europe. I puzzled for a while as to why we would be fighting the Greek resistance – after all Greece was on our side wasn’t it? We’d liberated it in Oct 43.
But ELAS was just one of three resistance groups. When the country was liberated by the allies, ELAS didn't want anyone else to govern the country so they began to fight with basically everyone else - the allies as well as the other resistance groups.
Wednesday 6th Dec 1944General stand to at 0300 hours - "D" Company attacked Acropolis. Lt Conway was killed in vain as the attack wasn’t successful
Thursday 7th DecWe attacked with tanks and armoured cars and we were in position in the Acropolis and we had great fun sniping at the E.L.A.S. troops on top of the buildings. We had our own casualties though (Oldfield, Craven, Lacey and Major Hunter were wounded. Spitfires strafed the enemy all day long
Friday 8th Dec9 Platoon attacked Monument Hill, E.L.A.S. had been firing on us continually during the day, we killed 4 and wounded 8 with no casualties to ourselves and then we returned to the Acropolis
Saturday 9th DecReports came though that E.L.A.S. were massing for an attack and had brought mortars up in support. We hurriedly prepared dug-outs
Sunday 10th DecE.L.A.S. attacked us at 0500 hours this morning but never breached the gates of the Acropolis because Don Company intercepted them. We then brought mortar and machine guns to bear on their positions and they soon retreated leaving many dead and wounded behind; unfortunately poor old Ricky (Cpl Rise from Sheringham in Norfolk) was killed in this skirmish. Corporal Ricky Rix Sheringham –
RIX, RICHARD DONALD
Service Number 5775182
The Parachute Regiment, A.A.C.
Son of John and Rebecca Rix, of Weybourne, Norfolk. Just along the coast from Sheringham.
Monday 11th DecVery quiet day - The Armed Forces Film Unit attended and were filming on and off during the day.
"D" Company was attacked again tonight but successfully drove E.L.A.S. back
The R.A.F. started bombing the E.L.A.S. positions today with great accuracy and success
Tuesday 12th DecFairly quiet day - An E.L.A.S. General presented himself at General Scobies' H.Q. today to negotiate terms for a Cease Fire - but whatever the terms they insisted they be allowed to keep their arms - he was soon shown the door. R.A.F. are bombing and strafing all day and every day now
Wednesday 13th DecWe were visited by Movietone News today. R.A.F. continued bombing and strafing E.L.A.S. strongholds
Thursday 14th DecHouses going up in flames all over Athens now as a result of the R.A.F. attacks and our tanks blasting holes in the houses to drive the enemy from their positions
Friday 15th Dec"D" Company took 60 prisoners - E.L.A.S. mortared our position - 1 man wounded
Saturday 16th DecWe were told by 2 deserters that E.L.A.S. were massing 3,000 troops to launch an attack on the Town tonight. However our R.A.F. and tanks proved too much for them and in consequence we had a quiet night
Ross noted that this next entry is heart breaking:
Monday 18th DecSoon after dawn broke we launched an attack on Monastery Hill in an attempt to rid the hill of the E.L.A.S. troops which overlooked the Acropolis and caused us too much discomfort during the daylight hours. However we met with some very stiff opposition, when machine guns and mortars were brought to bear on us as we topped the crest of the hill.
Poor old Cpl (Joe Cape) was killed instantly by machine gun fire in the face - his No. 2 on the Bren was so mad that he stood his ground and fired a full magazine and so made sure of Joe's assailants suffering the same fate
Service Number 2760776
The Parachute Regiment, A.A.C.
Monday 18th DecDuring the same attack Farghy was killed and Sgt. Scoon was injured (lost one finger). However when he was being flown home he was killed when his plane crashed. This mad war is so sad in many aspects
Private FARQUHARSON, HERBERT JOHN
Service Number 10552350
The Parachute Regiment, A.A.C.
Son of Herbert and Mary Farquharson, of Banff.
We were pinned down all day until being relieved by "C" Company at 1900 hours - we were tired very cold and very hungry as well as being terribly upset over our losses during the attack
Tuesday 19th DecWe settled down today in a private house and slept most of the day after yesterday's experience. Joe and Farqy were buried in the Palace grounds today
Wednesday 20th DecBattalion moved into Town today
Friday 22nd Dec"C" Company house clearing today along with tanks and Platoons in support
"B" Company took up positions other side of Acropolis again - were advised that an E.L.A.S. division had pulled out in the early hours - we move back again to original position
Xmas Day 1944Glorious morning and it seems very quiet today (Thank God). On guard duty for only one hour 0900-1000. Strange - but had quite a nice day, had a good dinner and .
Some well-deserved R&R before the next push, observed great nephew, Ross. Rest and relaxation!
Boxing Day 1944Briefed today on a session of house clearing tomorrow. Tanks in support
Wednesday 27th DecCleared a very large area - took many prisoners, also found lots of weapons and arms. Cpl Thomas killed - Lt Brammell and Sgt Walker wounded
Corporal THOMAS, HUGH
Service Number 3912033
The Parachute Regiment, A.A.C.
Son of Charles and Laura Thomas, of Erwood, Brecknockshire.
Thursday 28th DecHouse clearing again - captured many more prisoners. Sergeants Scrimgour and Crow injured (main Pierous Road)
4th Battalion attacked tonight but they easily repelled this attack
Friday 29th DecBilletted with the M.P. for Athens - had a nice drink of Cognac. General Alexander complimented our Battalion for the job we had fulfilled in Athens. Curly Braeburn killed, Shanks injured by sniper
Private BRAEBAUM, DONALD EDRIC
Service Number 3448214
The Parachute Regiment, A.A.C.
Saturday 30th DecCompany Commanders orders today - asked to accept promotion
8 and 10 Platoons went to clear a couple of blocks, we provided covering fire. Came under heavy mortar fire from E.L.A.S. (one officer wounded and many civilians)
Sunday 31st DecBrought the New Year in, in grand style. Had a party and the people we were billeted with brought out some very old champagne and some lovely liquers
Monday 1st Jan 1945Started off the New Year with a glorious day and peace terms imminent - good billets and in good health. Ginger Statham and Bill Cairns joined us tonight
Tuesday 2nd JanCaptain Corby promoted to Major and took command of "B" Company; Major McCall posted to H.Q. Company
Wednesday 3rd JanHouse clearing again, Battalion suffered heavy casualties 6 killed, 17 wounded. Alex shot in wrist. We relieved one house of 1 bottle Drambui and one bottle whisky – helped to drown our sorrows
Thursday 4th JanHouse clearing again today - Don Company captured 15 Jerries - Bill's rifle fired accidentally - wounded 2 men. We went right through Athens today with tanks in support intending to clear village from E.L.A.S. but met no opposition
Friday 5th JanBill for C.O. today, went to a farmhouse 4 miles north of Athens but all activity seems to have ceased
Sunday 7th JanReturned Athens
Monday 8th JanBill up before Commanding Officer - remanded for Court of Inquiry
Tuesday 9th JanBill's case result – admonished ie given a good telling off
Wednesday 10th JanMac and I went into Athens on pass, had a few drinks. Mac was stopped and charged by Bland
Saturday 13th JanSgt. Longmuir joined our section today
Sunday 14th JanRe-allocation of N.C.O's - I was transferred to 10 Platoon
Monday 15th JanOrderly Corporal this week
Wednesday 17th JanPut on fizzer [disciplinary charge for being improperly dressed] today by Sanders - result - case admonished
Thursday 18th JanWent into Athens - took photograph of Ricky's grave
Friday 19th JanInjections today - T.A.B. and Tetanus
Saturday 20th JanFinished Orderly Corporal today
Sunday 21st JanOn patrol to Kalamos 50 miles from Athens
Monday 22nd Jan 1945All N.C.O's to one billet to start on N.C.O's cadre. Collected photograph of Ricky's grave and wrote to Nada enclosing same. Went to cinema in Athens saw "Broadway Melody 1941"
Wednesday 24th JanSpent day in Athens, saw "Pacific Liner" and "Pin-up Girl" Major McCall visited our billets to bid us farewell as he was returning to U.K. tomorrow 25th.
Thursday 25th JanWent to see "Up in Arms" at the garrison theatre
Friday 26th JanBill and I went to see "African Star" in Athens
Saturday 27th JanBill left for Blighty, and took some presents home for me to deliver
Monday 29th JanCelebrated my 21st birthday in an Athens wine bar, had a grand time and had to be assisted back to camp
Tuesday 30th JanBetter after a nights rest - went into Athens and saw "Swiss Family Robinson"
Wednesday 31st JanToday we treat as Christmas Day - had a grand dinner and day off
Thursday 1st FebTwo hour road walk and run - got rid of some of the fat of Christmas Day. On town picket tonight
Friday 2nd Feb15 mile route march
Saturday 3rd FebPaddy and I met a sergeant we knew - he treated us to a smashing Christmas dinner. Went to see "Christmas Holiday" and then in the evening went to Y.M.C.A. to see a variety show
Monday 5th FebWent into Athens - saw "We Dive at Dawn" and "Roaring Twenties"
Tuesday 6th FebTwo hour road walk and run. In evening Podge and I met two Greek girls - Helena and ? !!!! We’ll call her Troy should we?
Wednesday 7th FebOut on compass march - 10 platoon did it in quickest time
Thursday 8th Feb15 mile march
Friday 9th FebPlayed football - Met Helena again in the evening
Saturday 10th FebLeft billets at 1000 hours and embarked "Princess Kathleen" bound for Italy - sailed 1800 hours
Ross: “Back to war... this time at the other side of the world.
Sunday 11th Feb 1945We were thrown around like a cork - hell of a lot sick - I borrowed 10/- from Robbo to buy some stuff from ships canteen
Monday 12th FebDocked at Taranto at 0800 hours and went to a Transit Camp and had a meal. Boarded a train at 1830 hours bound for Rome.
Tuesday 13th FebTravelled all day, cooked our own meals - had bags of fresh fruit and nuts
Wednesday 14th FebArrived in Rome and installed in new billets by 0800 hours - Heeby joined us again
Thursday 15th FebHad quiet day - interview with company cadre re cadre results - quite pleased. On guard duty tonight
Friday 16th FebWent into Rome on day pass
Saturday 17th FebPaid 2,000L and ALSO received a free NAAFI allowance. Met glider pilot McCleod again
Sunday 18th FebStart P.T. again - 0645 hours - before breakfast
Monday 19th FebBrigade played Rugby against S. African team in Rome - we lost by 1 point
Tuesday 20th Feb[Next day] Played "C" Company - first game in league - lost 7-1
Wednesday 21st FebCurly on 7 days leave. Lt Christie returned to U.K.
Thursday 22nd FebSaw "Invisible Man's Revenge" in Rome. Met L/C Burr
Friday 23rd FebStarted Synthetic training again.
Saturday 24th FebSgt McNally, Cpl Bungay and Reid departed for U.K. posting
Sunday 25th Feb5th Battalion played R Company - we won 10-0
Monday 26th FebWe played R.A. group and won 4-3. New officer joined 10 platoon - Lt O'Brien
Wednesday 28th FebRobbo, Podge and Ginger went on leave in Rome. Curly returned to Battalion. Went swimming in sea "Ostia Lido Roma"
Thursday 1st MarchWe played 6th Battalion and won 5-2. On Rome picket today
Friday 2nd MarchPlayed H.Q. Company - we lost 4-3
Saturday 3rd MarchRoad walk and run 10 miles. Sgt Craw slashed in the throat by some Italians in Rome - 12 stitches
Sunday 4th MarchOn 24 hour guard
Tuesday 6th March15 mile route march
Wednesday 7th MarchPlayed hockey "B" Co. v H.Q. Co. lost 2-3
Thursday 8th MarchPlayed hockey "B" Co. v "C" Co. - lost 1-2
Begin 7 days leave in Rome rest camp
Friday 9th MarchWent to see "Welcome Show" in Rome
Saturday 10th MarchWent to see "Meet The People" in ENSA cinema
Sunday 11th MarchFootball, played 6th Battalion in Brigade final, won 3-2
Monday 12th MarchSaw a good show at the "Argentina" theatre
Tuesday 13th MarchDay in Rome - saw "Shadow of a Doubt"
Thursday 15th MarchReturned from 7 days leave just in time for briefing for exercise "FAITH"
Friday 16th MarchLeft camp at mid-day for Tarquinia airfield arrived 1700 hours
Saturday 17th MarchReveille 0415 hours, drew chutes at 0600 hours, emplaned 0730 hours, took off 0820 hours and dropped over Roma-Lido at 0855 hours - very good landing
Sunday 18th MarchDay off - issued with new battle-dress. Paid for promotion as from today
Monday 19th MarchWatched 6 Battalion drop today - Ginger S left for Blighty
Tuesday 20th MarchDid some boxing. On guard duty tonight
Wednesday 21st MarchAdvance party left today. Went on scheme - lasted all day
Thursday 22nd MarchOn Rome police picket today
Friday 23rd MarchWent to do recovery for H.Q. Battalion drop
Saturday 24th March10 platoon to Rome station to load and guard Battalion stores prior to moving south
Sunday 25th MarchBattalion joined us today and we set off for the south at 1400 hours. Ginger and Harry missed the train
Monday 26th MarchTravelled all night, arriving Troia at 0500 hours (15 miles north of Foggia)
Tuesday 27th MarchWent to Foggia for evening - saw "Up in Arms"
Wednesday 28th MarchPlayed football "B" Company v "S" Company - we lost 4-0. Box promoted to L/C
Thursday 29th MarchVery quiet period - food very good, now on Battalion feeding
Friday 30th March5 mile road walk and run. Saw a very good Italian variety show
Saturday 31st MarchReceived parcel from Mum, containing my boxing kit. "B" Company won semi-final of hockey match
Sunday 1st April [Pacific Battle of the island of Okinawa with Japan taking place right now between America and Japan]
Typhus jab today - Battalion cross-country run "B" Company won. Football v 4th Battalion. 5th won 1-0
Monday 2nd April3 mile run in F.S.M.O. Took 33 minutes
Tuesday 3rd AprilOn scheme today - paid L1200 - 1/6d per day rise, back dated to 19th March '45
Wednesday 4th April"B" Company won finals of hockey match- "C" Company 0 "B" Company 5. Drew jumping kit
Thursday 5th AprilOn range all day
Friday 6th AprilFootball 8 platoon v 10 platoon - drew 0-0
Saturday 7th AprilSpot of P.T. this morning, rest of day off. Podge charged over 'ops' room. 5th Battalion v R.A.S.C. football, won easily 12-2
Sunday 8th AprilOn 24 hour scheme - left camp at 1400 hours, dug in and slept in trenches all night, poured with rain
Monday 9th AprilReturned to camp - had a good hot shower and welcome change of clothing - then went into Foggia - saw "On a wing and a prayer"
Tuesday 10th AprilFootball "B" Company v "D" Company - drew 1-1. Joe in dock - ruptured kidney. Got packed up for Operation once again, confined to camp from today
Wednesday 11th AprilFinal packing and clearing up today. On guard tonight. Briefing for Operation "Mary" - postponed for 4 hours - now drop at 12.10 hours
Thursday 12th AprilFurther briefing today, moved to airfield, drew and fitted 'chutes and took over aircraft - take off time now 10.10 hours Friday.
Friday 13th AprilOp cancelled but we were briefed for Operation "Jane" dropping further north. Advised that this "Op" also cancelled. We were told at a later date that Jerry somehow learned of this 'drop' and had moved up a brigade of their crack force (Panzer Grenadiers) and tanks and they were waiting on the D.Z. to "welcome us"
Saturday 14th AprilReturned to camp, spent rest of day writing letters home (with a feeling of great relief)
Sunday 15th AprilDay off - went into Foggia. Visited J.L. in dock. Bill returned from Blighty
Monday 16th AprilFootball "B" Company v "D" Company - we won 3-2. Podge up before C.O. regarding his Ops room offence? - I gave evidence for him - case dismissed
Tuesday 17th AprilWent to Manfredonia for day - lovely beach and a glorious day. Played baseball, football and then in for a dip, went to visit Joe again in the evening
Thursday 19th AprilPacked up and briefed for scheme
Friday 20th AprilFurther briefing and left camp at 13.30 hours. In position and dug in for night by 21.00 hours
Saturday 21st AprilSpent very cold night in trenches - returned to camp by 0930 hours - spent most of day sleeping
Sunday 22nd AprilInternational football match 5th Battalion v 4th Battalion - due to high wind match postponed. Got packed up again for operation. Ginger Geeson went home on leave
Monday 23rd AprilInternational football 5th Battalion won 2-0. Played R.A.S.C. in evening we won 2-0. Briefed for operation "Dragonfly"
Tuesday 24th AprilAll packed up to move to airfield postponed 24 hrs. Played R.A.S.C. again - we won 4-2
Wednesday 25th AprilAll packed ready to move off - but operation cancelled
Friday 27th AprilOn day scheme - returned to camp 19.30 hours. Bill Richardson left for Blighty
Monday 30th AprilSaw film "Broadway Melodies of 1945"
Wiki: As April 1945 came to an end, the German Army was retreating on all fronts and having lost most of its fighting strength, it was left with little option but surrender in Italy.
General Heinrich von Vietinghoff, signed surrender on behalf of the German armies in Italy on 29 April, formally ending hostilities three days later on 2 May 1945.
Of course that was followed up by the final surrender in Europe six days later on 8 May, now known as VE Day.
But for Eion, work of various sorts continues:
Tuesday 1st MayBrigade exercise - "Applecart"
[Beach, cinema, football, beach again]
Wednesday 2nd May10 platoon v 9 platoon football - we lost 1-0. Saw Italian ENSA show "Florentine Follies"
Thursday 3rd MaySaw "Can't help singing" - Deanna Durbin
Friday 4th MaySpent day on beach at Barletta
Saturday 5th MayEngland v Scotland with men picked from Brigade England won 3-2
Sunday 6th MaySpent day on beach at Manfredonia. Terrifically hot hot day - I got sunburnt
Monday 7th MayNews came through of "V.E." day tonight. Immediately wrote a long letter to Mum. Had a grand display of coloured fairy lights and illuminating flares
Tuesday 8th MayV.E. day. Went to Manfredonia for a glorious day on beach. Pipe band played "Retreat" tonight. We were all a wee bit tipsy. Saw "Dangerous Corner" by J.B. Priestley
Wednesday 9th MayHad complete day off, laid in and missed breakfast to get over last night.
Friday 11th MayA group of us obtained permission to use a 15cwt truck and a jeep to have a sentimental trip around our positions - we were out for 48 hours and covered 380 miles
Saturday 12th MayVisited our old positions in Cassino, also had a swim in the river Sangro
Sunday 13th MayHeld Brigade Thanksgiving service and march past
Monday 14th MaySpent a lovely day at Manfredonia
Wednesday 16th MayWent away for 5 days rest to a little village by the sea "RODI" arrived 1400 hours
Thursday 17th MayHad an early morning dip in the sea at 0600 hours
Friday 18th MayAnother dip at 0530 hours this morning
Saturday 19th MaySwimming again, after breakfast today (lazy devil) 1330 hours recalled to camp, arrived back at 1730 hours for loading aircraft going North with food supplies
Sunday 20th MayReveille 0430 hours to start work loading food into aircraft for journey North - naturally helped ourselves we didn’t go hungry. Had letter from Bill
Mon 21st/Sat 26thWe are to be engaged for most of next week loading food on trains at Rome sidings - eight hour shifts - just like being back with L.T.
Sunday 27th MayJoe came third in cycle race - 10 miles in 34 mins
Monday 28th MaySpecial assignment, a section of us were detailed to travel to Leccera to pick up and escort 100 detention prisoners to a military prison in Brindisi - arrived and slept in billets 1930 hours in Bari for night
Tues 29th/Sat 2nd JuneArrived back in camp 1930 hours - mission accomplished
Spent a lazy week mostly indulging in sport of one kind or another, but very enjoyable
Sunday 3rd JuneWent to Battalion polo practice and was delighted to be picked for the Battalion team. Returning to camp to be informed that I was flying back to Blighty in morning, prior to being drafted to the Far East.
I had very mixed feelings of joy and despair
Monday 4th June 1945Left camp 0730 hours, went by road to No. 7 transit camp in Naples where we had dinner, and then continued our journey to No. 5 transit camp. We were told we would wait here until an aeroplane was available to take us back to Blighty. A very comfortable camp, had their own cinema and in the event we went to see "Shine on Harvest Moon".
Tuesday 5th JuneStill waiting - getting impatient
Wednesday 6th JuneStill waiting and getting thoroughly bored and frustrated, we daren't move away from the camp for fear of losing the opportunity of being on the first available plane. 1700 hours - Hooray! Air tickets arrived and we will be on our way at 0500 hours tomorrow
Thursday 7th JuneWe didn’t require any waking, in fact I laid awake most of the night, thinking of home. We finally took off in a Hudson aircraft at 0800 hours - only eight seats and all officers, myself the only exception, what a royal way to return home.
We passed over Corsica at 0930 hours, landed at Marseilles for dinner. Now passing over the Rhone Valley, with Lyons to the west and continued on to Paris. We landed here and had another meal (tea and sandwiches). Excitement is reaching fever pitch now, for once leaving Paris the next stop is Blighty - BUT- we still have not been advised of our final destination.
This must be about the happiest moment of my life, looking down I have seen the familiar red colour of the London Transport trains and I feel sure it is a train emerging from the tunnel at Golders Green - I just cannot believe my luck for we are now descending and have been told that we are landing at Colindale aerodrome just about 15 minutes' walk from home.
The next part of our journey is Kings Cross into Hardwicke, however as I was so near home, the officer in charge of our trio gave me permission to go home for the week-end and to report back to the barracks on the Monday.
I walked home through the familiar streets and would you believe it, came home to an empty house. I had a chat to our neighbour and within half an hour Mum arrived home having been shopping - I thought the excitement or should I say the shock of seeing me was going to be too much - however she soon recovered and we didn’t stop talking until it was time for bed. I couldn’t get over how small the house appeared to me.
I was swept away by excitement and had such a full programme I completely disregarded army orders for the first time in my Army career - I felt anyway I must be entitled to at least 14 days after being abroad for so long.
Thursday 21st JuneSo after a fortnight I felt I should report back, so I said my goodbyes having no idea what may be in store for me when I returned. I arrived back at Chesterfield at 2000 hours and was advised by the Sergeant of the guard that I was to report to the C.O. at 0930 hours next morning - felt sure I was for the high jump [End of battle of Okinawa over in the Pacific with 82,000 Amrican casualties, half as much again the enemy]
Friday 22nd June0930 hours - all smartened up, marched in by the Orderly Sergeant and waited for the balloon to go up. However - how lucky can a man be - it turned out that C.O. was an officer I had served with in Africa. He gave me a mild rebuke and instructed me to report back to the Orderly Sergeant. He advised me that I was to take a further 14 days embarkation leave prior to being with a new battalion for the Far East.
Spent the next fortnight going round meeting many members of the family and some of my friends who had returned from active service and had a thoroughly enjoyable time
Saturday 7th JulyLeft Kings Cross late Saturday evening and arrived at Hardwicke about midnight.
Sunday 8th JulyWe were advised that we were to be posted overseas in a few days and were issued with all our extra kit.
Tuesday 10th JulyLeft depot at 0730 hours bound for Larkhill and reported to "B" Company 13th Battalion
Sunday 15th JulyIssue of K.D.'s. Attended Brigade Church parade
Monday 16th JulyMarked all our kit with draft number - ready for overseas posting
Tuesday 17th JulyAll heavy kit stacked up ready for journey
Thursday 18th JulyWrote and despatched last letter home prior to embarking on journey - destination unknown. Left camp 0700 hours, entrained 0800 hours and departed for Gourock in Glasgow via London. As we passed through Willesden Junction we threw letters on to the platform hoping they would be forwarded
Friday 20th JulyArrived at Gourock 7am and embarked S.S. "Corfu" by midnight for a dawn sailing
Saturday 21st JulyPassed Irish coast late last night, when we awoke we were well out to sea
Monday 23rd JulyWeather really fine, we were inoculated against Cholera today - won a full house at Tombola - won 18/-d [Housey like Dad played – I think 18/- would be a massive win because I think Dad said it cost a penny a go, so 18/- would have been 216 pennies!]
Tuesday 24th JulyPassed Gibraltar and entered Mediterranean about 1030 hours.
Wednesday 25th JulyPassed Algiers during night - I bought a money belt and pair of socks from ships canteen. Won a full house at Tombola again tonight - 60/-d [Wow] That would have been a month’s wages for Dad.
Started wearing Tropical Kit today - passed Phillipsville
Thursday 26th JulyPassed Cape Bon and Pantellaria today
Friday 27th JulyAdvised last mail goes ashore on Saturday next. Put watches on 1 hour
Saturday 28th JulyPut watches on 1 hour again. Won another 11/-d at Tombola
Sunday 29th JulyArrived at Port Said 0900 hours and sailed again late afternoon, passing through Suez Canal overnight evening and night
Monday 30th JulyIn the Gulf of Suez today, entered the Red Sea 1800 hours. Slept on deck all night - won Tombola again - 31/-d.
Tuesday 31st JulyWeather surprisingly rough today but still extremely warm
Wednesday 1st AugStarted issuing free mineral water today. Passed a couple of islands today - must be fairly close to Aden - pity I couldn’t pull in for a while and see pal Bill. Film tonight "Lily Mars" Listener does mention of that movie ring any bells? It should because of course it’s also the name of the ill-fated Lancaster whose story I told in a previous episode!
Thursday 2nd AugPut watches on 1 hour. Saw jolly concert on tonight
Friday 3rd AugPaid 10/-d - sea very rough, waves washing right over deck
Saturday 4th AugExchanged English money for rupees - advance watches one hour. Drew arms from ships armoury
Sunday 5th AugAdvance watches one hour
Monday 6th AugDocked at Bombay at 1030 hours [6th/9th Atom bombs dropped]
Tuesday 7th AugDisembarked S.S. "Corfu" 1100 hours, drew 9 rupees. Boarded train and travelled for one and a half hours to camp site
Wednesday 8th AugIssued with jungle kit, including brown boots
Thursday 9th AugPaid 35 rupees
Saturday 11th AugOn day pass to Bombay, plenty of food. I particularly enjoyed ice cold real pineapple juice
Monday 13th AugSent parcel to Mum whilst on leave in Bombay - cost 39 rupees
Tuesday 14th Aug 1945C.O.'s orders - promoted to full Corporal. World Peace today - we held a thanksgiving service - very moving and I am sure we were all filled with gratitude
Listener of course this was Victory in Japan day, of VJ day. So what’s Eion going to be doing out here? We’ll find out …
Friday 17th Aug - heat almost unbearable
Saturday 18th AugOn 24 hour camp guard
Sunday 19th AugInspection by Camp Commander who told us we were originally bound for Malaya
Monday 20th AugPlayed 5 platoon basketball - we won 8-5
Tuesday 21st AugOn company scheme today
Wednesday 22nd AugHanded B Packs into stores. Played 6 platoon football - we won 4-3
Thursday 23rd AugTravelled to Poom area for our first taste of jungle training, slept in the open in torrential rain
Friday 24th AugMarched all day across country and alongside rivers and finished with a mock company attack. Slept under the stars again.
Saturday 25th AugReturned to camp, dep 1630 arrived 2130 hours
Sunday 26th AugPaid 30 rupees
Monday 27th AugWent into Bombay for day - had my favourite fresh iced pineapple juice - what a luxury
Tuesday 28th AugPlayed signals basketball - we won 8-0
Wednesday 29th AugPaid 30 rupees
Thursday 30th AugTo Bombay for day - this is a lovely life just now
Friday 31st AugHad drill parade to pick guard of honour
Sunday 2nd SeptPlayed basketball against the officers and we lost 8-6 but of course we had to didn’t we? LMAO! Just when I was about to say he seems to win absolutely everything!!! Including the housey
Wednesday 5th SeptTo Bombay for day - bought a beautiful table centre for Mum
Friday 7th SeptReveille 0415 hours - left Kalyan from St James sidings 0830 hours and boarded S.S. "Chitral" at noon
Saturday 8th SeptPulled out from the harbour
Sunday 9th SeptSet sail for unknown destination at 1400 hours
Monday 10th SeptPhysical training on deck this morning in terrific heat
Tuesday 11th SeptToo warm below, we slept on deck tonight
Friday 14th SeptPaid in Malayan money today - 7 dollars 20 cents
Saturday 15th SeptStill very hot - our convoy reformed today?
Sunday 16th SeptInstructed to prepare for disembarkation
Monday 17th SeptAnchored just off the Malay coast at Port Swotenham
Tuesday 18th SeptReveille 0400 hours, disembarked and landed on assault craft, having to wade ashore for the final 200 yards. Later in day we were advised that the Japanese had surrendered in Singapore and we were under orders to return to the ship
Listener the Japanese had bombed Hiroshima and Nagasaki on 6 and 9 August. I just checked back on these dates in Eion’s diary and nothing happened that gave the slightest hint of the bombings
Wednesday 19th SeptAdvance watches one hour
Thursday 20th SeptSailed at 0800 hours and docked just outside Singapore at 2 o'clock.
Friday 21st SeptEntered dock and berthed at 0700 hours and we were ordered to pack and prepare to disembark
Saturday 22nd SeptWe remained on board overnight and spent most of this day white blancoing belts and slings and generally smartened up in preparation for the ceremonial march through Singapore once we disembarked
Sunday 23rd SeptReveille 0430 hours marched off about 0530 hours and arrived at Raffles College at 0800 hours
Monday 24th SeptOn ceremonial guard tonight (rehearsal)
Wednesday 26th SeptMounted our first ceremonial guard on Government House at 1230 hours and was inspected by Lord Louis Mountbatten and General Dempsey
Thursday 27th SeptDismounted at 12 o'clock - tired but very excited and proud
Friday 28th SeptPlayed hockey v R.A.F. and won 3-2 – GOOD LADS!!!
Sunday 30th SeptOn 24 hour guard duty at the Palace - inspected by Sir Keith Parker
__Sports Lectures and Church!!________
Monday 1st OctPlayed mortar section basketball and we won 8-2
Tuesday 2nd OctPlayed 5 platoon basketball and won 8-0
Wednesday 3rd OctPlayed Battalion H.Q. basketball and won 4-2
Thursday 4th OctOfficers and N.C.O. attended a lecture by General Dempsey - paid 15 dollars
Friday 5th OctOn 24 hour guard at Government House
Saturday 6th OctPlayed 5 platoon basketball - won 4-0
Sunday 7th OctAttended Church Parade
Monday 8th OctOn ceremonial guard - turned out for Brigadier Sgt Hope takes over C.S.M.
Tuesday 9th OctPaid 44 dollars
Wednesday 10th OctPlayed B.H.Q. basketball - won 2-0
Thursday 11th OctTransferred to 6 platoon - 6 platoon v 9 platoon - won 8-2
Friday 12th OctBattalion played 12th Yorks regiment and won 4-1
Saturday 13th Oct"B" Company v "A" Company - we won 4-2
Sunday 14th OctOn 24 hour ceremonial guard
Monday 15th OctOrders to pack and prepare to move to a rubber plantation for guard duty. We were disgusted at the way the English overseers treated the native workers
Tues 16th/Wed 17th OctGuard duty and sport
Thursday 18th OctOrders to pack, prior to moving to Sumatra - but move cancelled
Fri 19th/Sat 20th OctMore guard duty and sport
Sunday 21st OctDay off - went to Pegasus Club in Singapore and saw "In which we serve"
Mon 22nd/Wed 24th OctStarted N.C.O's drill cadre
Thursday 25th OctDay in Singapore
Friday 26th OctMoved to new camp site about 15 miles north of Singapore
Sat 27th/Tues 11th DecMiserable period - on almost permanent guard duties over oil and paint supplies with the odd days off in Singapore
Wednesday 12th Dec1500 hours depart Singapore on S.S. "Queen Emma" bound for Java – which, listener, is an island in Indonesia, just East of Singapore
Thursday 13th DecHeat unbearable - Captain stopped ship in mid-ocean and advised us we could go overboard for swim - with a warning that the waters were shark infested - also dangerous ray fish - but for protection the naval crew lined the decks with rifles to protect us and the more foolhardy went overboard - but it was well worth it.
[I suppose that was a cake walk compared with some of the fighting these lads had gone through. I guess they pretty much felt invincible by then!!!]
Friday 14th Dec12 o'clock arrived and disembarked "Queen Emma" at Batavia
Saturday 15th DecIn local billets overnight
Sunday 16th DecMoved to Battalion area
Monday 17th DecRemainder of Battalion moved in today
Tues 18th/Thurs 20thPreparing area and settling in
Fri 21st/Thurs 27th DecCommenced Senior N.C.O's drill cadre
Completed " " "
Friday 28th DecVisited and inspected by General Masservy who advised us we were here to round up and capture Japanese troops remaining in surrounding areas [and who’d been] killing and torturing the natives
So this was December 1945, three months after the Japanese had surrendered, yet there were still issues with errant soldiers who refused to come quietly. Evidently the last Japanese soldier to surrender did so with some reluctance in 1974 – it’s quite a poignant story! Link shownotes
Saturday 29th DecWent out to capture police station - no resistance and we handed over to the Dutch troops
Sunday 30th DecReveille 0400 hours - out on another raid - captured 3 or 4 Japs
Monday 31st DecReveille 0400 hours - out on another raid
Tuesday 1st JanReveille 0345 hours - out on another raid
Wednesday 2nd Jan" 0500 " " "
Thur 3rd Jan/Sat 5thRest period plus one 24 hour guard duty
Listener it was this week when my Dad was demobbed after 6.5 years. He was on his way home when Eion still had work to do. It must have felt strange to Dad being back home and maybe reading about stuff that was still happening on the other side of the world. Anyway back to Eion …
Sunday 6th JanChurch Parade - marched through Batavia with band - crowds turned out on a brilliant day - threw the mace for first time in public
Monday 7th JanPacking - ready to moving to Samarang – Listener, still part of Indonesia
Tuesday 8th JanArrived and embarked "Orduna" at 2230 hours
Wednesday 9th JanAnchored in harbour all day
Thursday 10th JanSailed at 1030 hours
Friday 11th JanArrived 1930 hours stayed on board overnight
Saturday 12th JanDisembarked Samarang at 0930 hours - billeted in the Bank
Sunday 13th JanLecture and pep talk by Brigadier
Monday 14th JanMoved into new billets
Tuesday 15th JanOn 24 hour dock guard
Wednesday 16th JanRelieved 0700 hours from guard duty
Thursday 17th JanRaided an Indonesian Junk entering Samarang - captured two Japs
Friday 18th JanReveille 0400 hours - called out to some houses - Japs reported being seen - too late they had fled
Saturday 19th JanPlayed soccer match Battalion v Chinese XI - lost 5-2!!!!!!!!!11
Monday 21st JanWent in search party to Indonesian settlement following report of Japanese cutting off ears, legs and arms - nothing evide nt on arrival
Tuesday 22nd JanDay off - spent cleaning kit
Wednesday 23rd JanGrand opening of our own Pub/Club "The Red Rose"
Thursday 24th JanOn 24 hour dock guard
Fri 25th/Sat 26th JanWent on raids in search of Japs - captured two
Sunday 27th JanOn 24 hour dock guard
Monday 28th JanMoved to new billets
Tuesday 29th JanFootball match Battalion v 225 F.A. - lost 5-4
Wednesday 30th JanBattalion v H.Q. - won 2-1
Thursday 31st JanMoved to "C" Company area to join cadre course
Friday 1st FebStarted cadre course today
Sat 2nd Feb/Sat 16th FebCadre lecture in morning - afternoon off
Passing out parade - drill 0930-1130 hours. Written exam 1400-1600 hours
Sunday 17th FebReturned to company
Monday 18th FebAdvised I had finished in 2nd place in Cadre of 20 men - R.S.M. asked me if I would accept position of Drum Major (I thought he was joking!) Listener that’s the rank equivalent of Sergeant I believe – so quite a decent promotion.
Tues 19th/Sun 24th FebSpent time at H.Q. Company with retiring Drum Major - met the band and spent all week practising to throw the mace
Monday 25th FebReported sick with eye trouble [Did the Mace land on his head do you think?]
Tuesday 26th FebFlew to Batavia to see eye specialist
Wednesday 27th FebSaw specialist again - stayed with R.A.S.C. for night. Arranged to travel back on Thursday to return to unit
Thursday 28th FebCaught plane 0615 hours and flew back to Battalion
Tuesday 5th MarchInstructed to attend interview - Lt Prior asked if I was prepared to accept Drum Major position
Thursday 7th Marchbut my Company Commander refused to let me leave the Company HOWEVER his refusal was overridden and I was transferred to H.Q. Company to take over the D.M's role
Tues 12th/Thurs 21stIntroduced officially to band and spent time drilling and handling mace under supervision of retiring D.M.
Friday 22nd MarchTook "Retreat" for first time, terribly nervous - but successfully threw mace three times, followed by several days of rehearsing
Tuesday 26th MarchRehearsing all day
Wednesday 27th MarchRehearsing all morning - in the afternoon band played during the half time interval of football match - I dropped mace for first time on parade - fortunately it went unnoticed, the point stuck in turf and I was able to control it and continued as though nothing had happened. (Got out of buying drinks all round in Sgt's mess)
Thursday 28th MarchWe had a Full dress rehearsal for Saturday which went off well
Friday 29th MarchBeat Retreat for second time - no problems
Saturday 30th MarchBig Day - Band played during Brigade march past - General Stopford took the salute. Very proud of band today - they excelled
Wednesday 3rd April29 Group left for Blighty today (including old D.M.) and I was officially promoted to the post and paid as from today
Thursday 25th AprilActivity as far as Japs concerned has quietened down considerably now - spent time trying to knock band into shape - drill parades all day and every day and they are beginning to shape up - so we can relax a little and can now enjoy some relaxation - football, basketball and swimming etc.
Friday 26th April"Beat Retreat" watched by Brigadier. Complimented by R.S.M. for the general performance and appearance of the band.
Wednesday 1st MayLuncheon at B.H.Q. attended by local dignitaries to bid farewell
Thurs 2nd May/Fri 3rd MayEmbarked "Empire Pride" bound for Singapore
Saturday 4th May10 o'clock docked in Singapore and stayed aboard for night
Sunday 5th MayDisembarked 1530 hours, conveyed by truck to Meear - arrived 2100 hours
Monday 6th MaySpent day unpacking band kit and instruments
Tuesday 7th MayTo village to order suit (green drill) 40$
Wednesday 8th MayAllocated 170$ from P.R.I. to purchase additional band equipment
Thurs 9th/Mon 13th MayR.S.M. ordered all units to smarten up generally - all uniforms to be cleaned and webbing blanco'd and daily drill parades to be introduced
Tuesday 14th MayWhole Battalion on mutiny 0700 hours and refused all orders - 1630 Devonshire Regiment called in and took them all under close arrest and were taken to an ex Jap P.O.W. camp to await trial
Wednesday 15th MayOnly officers and N.C.O's remain on camp at Meear now
Listener this is a whole new chapter
At the end of the War a revolt took place among the armed forces of Britain in South East Asia that is little remembered. The soldiers realised that Britain was retaining them to fight new colonial wars, against peoples they had supposedly just "liberated".
The soldiers sympathised with the peoples of South East Asia who sought genuine liberation. It led to a revolt that affected the army, the navy and the air force with strikes spreading among troops from South East Asia to India, the Middle East and North Africa.
And I think the following explains what the final straw was for Eion’s battalion:
In May 1946, the Parachute Regiment rebelled in Malaya. Under the Peacetime Regulations, a kit inspection parade had been called. But spit and polish was impossible in the jungle mud.
The Paras held a mass meeting and twice refused to obey orders; 258 were arrested and taken to Kluang airfield for a ‘mass trial’, some appearing in handcuffs. Over 240 of them were sentenced to between three and five years prison.
When news reached back home there was outrage that these heroes were being treated in such a way, and the striking Paras were soon released and the convictions were quashed.
Furthermore, rather than the strike being subdued by the repression, it began to spread to Britain's colonial forces.
Tuesday 16th MayTo Malacca, played for Battalion against a Chinese XI which we won 8-1 [Life goes on???!!!]
Friday 17th MayTo Malacca, played hockey for Battalion against Indians we won 6-1
Saturday 18th MayTo Jahore, played for Battalion (football) v Recce won 7-0. Spent evening in Singapore at Recce camp.
Sunday 19th MayLeft Jahore 0900 hours, arrived back at Meear 1300 hours
Monday 20th MayLecture by Brigadier
Tuesday 21st MayWatched Battalion play cricket v Meear XI - won by 40 runs
Wednesday 22nd MayCricket - Battalion officers v sergeants - officers won
Friday 24th MaySports meeting Meear - won 880 yards
Tuesday 28th MayFootball - Battalion v Chinese - Battalion won 2-0
Thursday 30th MayTo Malacca - football v Malacca XI - we won 4-1 - they entertained us to a wonderful dinner
Friday 31st MayBasketball H.Q. v B Company - H.Q. won 10-4
Sat 1st June/Sun 16thTo Malacca - played Indians at hockey we lost 3-0. Unlike the rest of the Battalion (under close arrest) our days are spent indulging in all forms of sport, lectures and leisures
Monday 17th JuneFor a change we went on a pig shoot, bagged two good size boars - meat ration for a month! [I wonder if they had to resort to using a bren gun for the kill, like we heard about in a previous episode of this podcast]
Wednesday 19th JuneMajor Seal died in Singapore
Thursday 24th JuneMajor Seal's funeral in Jahore Bhara
Friday 5th JulyStill no positive action - but days spent at sport and entertainment. Asked if I would be prepared to transfer to Kluang to be I/C of officers mess – agreed and upon arrival was allocated a nice bungalow, with 4 Jap P.O.W.'s to work for me in preparing officers accommodation
Wednesday 17th JulyAll officers to Brigade Mess. Brigade pulled out for Palestine
Thursday 18th JulyWent on pig shoot again - no luck
Friday 19th July1600 hours Brigade sailed from Singapore
Wednesday 24th JulyInjured foot playing football
Thursday 25th JulyTo Jahore for x-ray on foot
Friday 26th JulySigned written statement re Mutiny
Thursday 8th AugustElectricity installed - Prosecution arrived and settled in today
Sunday 11th AugustDefending Officers moved in today
Court Martial opens tomorrow
Sunday 18th AugustMet couple in next bungalow - arranged for food and drink for a party to celebrate their child's christening - had a lovely party
Friday 23rd AugustGave evidence for prosecution today
Thursday 12th SeptWent to hear closing speeches for both defence and prosecution
Monday 16th SeptWent to hear JUDGE ADVOCATE GENERAL deliver his summing-up speech
Tuesday 17th SeptWent to court to hear verdict. There were only three men acquitted at this stage – but the actual trial has yet to take place
Wednesday 18th SeptOfficers Mess closed
Saturday 21st SeptReturned to Meear WHERE I handed in jungle kit and drew 150$
Tuesday 1st OctHad Medical - packed already to go in transit - cancelled last minute for F.G.C.M. Field General Courts Martial
Wednesday 2nd OctHad interview with Company Commander and Commanding Officer
Saturday 5th OctTrial postponed once again - now leave on Thursday next. Sergeants Mess Function tonight
Thursday 10th OctDeparted Meear at last, went to Royal Scots barracks for Court Martial
Friday 11th OctAll men were freed – I suspect due to overwhelming public uproar back home
I went to Neesoon transit camp
Saturday 12th Oct 1945Drew battle-dress etc. and bought a suitcase - now for Blighty?
Sunday 13th OctSent cable home!
Monday 14th OctBought pair of sandals
Wednesday 16th OctPaid 100$ - bought pair of slippers, razor and two pairs of stockings - went to see McLacky
Saturday 19th OctWrote to Mum and Mrs Adams - went to E.N.S.A. show - "Bird's Eye View"
Monday 21st OctPlayed hockey v Lincolns - won 7-0 - went swimming on Jahore beach
Tuesday 22nd OctStacked kit bags - issued with good old English currency - really feel as though we are on our way now?
Wednesday 23rd OctReveille 0600 hours - 0730 hours embarked "Otranto" sailed out of Singapore 1600 hours - Blighty here we come. Took last snap of Singapore. [Listener it’s funny that Eion returned to England on HMT Otranto, cos it’s the very same ship, the Otranto, that returned Dad home to Britain after the fighting in Africa in 1943. How good is that?!]
Thursday 24th OctSailed through Malacca Straits
Friday 25th OctEntered Bay of Bengal - took some snaps of Eric, Arthur etc.
Saturday 26th OctStill sailing through Bay of Bengal - extremely hot
Sunday 27th OctPassed tip of India and entered Arabian sea
Monday 28th OctStill in Bay of Bengal - fairly rough today - saw film "The Corn is Green"
Tuesday 29th OctPassed Dutch ship p.m. Entering Boxing Tournament - matched with Sgt Tuffs - won on points
Wednesday 30th OctEntered Gulf of Aden
Thursday 31st OctPlenty of sharks! Following boat - 16' long
Friday 1st NovStopped at Aden to pick up two Army officers
Saturday 2nd NovEntered Red Sea - extremely hot
Sunday 3rd NovPassed two merchant ships - saw film "King Henry VIII"
Monday 4th NovEntered Gulf of Suez
Tuesday 5th NovDocked at Port Suez at 0700 hours (13th Battalion to disembark) CANCELLED. Set sail at 1100 hours after refuelling. Took some snaps
Wednesday 6th NovArrived and docked at Port Said - 13th Battalion disembarked and we sailed at 1400 hours
Thursday 7th NovStart wearing battledress
Friday 8th NovPassed Tunis and Bizerta
Saturday 9th NovPassed Algiers
Sunday 10th NovVery cold today, ran into bad storm
Monday 11th NovPassed Gibraltar 0600 hours sailing through a calm Bay of Biscay
Wednesday 13th NovPrepare for disembarkation
Thursday 14th Nov0700 hours tied up at Southampton, disembarked 1530 hours. Arrived Aldershot 2130 hours
Friday 15th Nov 1946Left Aldershot and then home on leave for 28 days
Great Nephew Ross observed: “After three years of fighting the war is almost over. Eion never saw large scale warfare again. Thank God”.
And I’ll say thank you, Eion McEwan, for your unforgettable contribution to the first hand history of the French and Italian Campaigns and beyond.
Just to wrap up Eion’s diary, you might like to know what became of him:
Eion recently told his local Scottish newspaper the Kirkintilloch Herald that he was married to late wife Cathie McParlane for 50 years. They emigrated to America in 1960, where they both helped to set up a Jewish community centre in New York. And both returned to Scotland in 1980.
?? During his service in Italy, Eion was also invited to the Vatican. He said: “During the war the Vatican was an open city. Although I’m not catholic, I was given a blessing by the Pope.”
In 2017 Eion McEwan, then 95, was awarded the Legion D'Honneur by the French government for his part in liberating France during WW2.
Ross said on Twitter:
Great Uncle Eion’s life was like a war movie. I find it hard to imagine regular folk like me in such a situation. But, that's who he was, just a regular person fighting for freedom. #Beautiful.
Of all the war stories, the one he LOVED to tell us was when he spent time in London: During a Nazi bombing raid he didn’t know where to go and a young London couple showed him a shelter in the Underground. They danced and sang the night away.
#British spirit against German bombs.
After the war he met his wife Cathie and they moved to the United States. After many happy years they moved back to Scotland where Cathie died in early 2000, so that was almost 20 years ago.
Very sadly, Eion died just a few weeks ago in August 2018. RIP Eion
Wherever he and Cathie are now, they must have a lot to catch up on.
Definitely Dunkirk! I must apologise to Facebook visitors who might have read my hint that I was doing Dunkirk but I REALISED had so much material I needed to collate and research that I decided to opt for today’s episode which I thought would be quicker. But quick hasn’t ended up being easier – or quicker! And even now we’ve ended up with two parts to it.
Anyway back to Dunkirk Revisited. I’ve got some great bits of news and short stories coming out of all the other Dunkirk epsiodes for starters, but above all I’ve got some more poignant stand out, standalone stories about some British and French fighting veterans whose stories overlap with Dad’s in the most remarkable way. I can’t say anymore but I nearly fell off my chair when the coincidence dawned on me – so do listen in to episode 40? Dunkirk – A Frenchman and Two brits! And I’m hoping to share a story of a mystery soldier who sneakily infiltrated the Green Howards in order to get on board a ship to England.
Also coming up in the not too distant future is going to be the final meeting I had with the late veteran wilf shaw. And I have an historic recording from sailor Ray Fitchett who was sunk out in the Pacific. Another episode I’m incubating is a gargantuan memoir from someone who was so young when he fought in the first world war, that he went on to fight in the second world war too!
I’ve already read and prepared part one and I promise you it’s GREAT Unpublished History and now I’m just waiting for his daughter to dig out part two from her attic. More WW2 news to follow.
If you’d like to support the show for free, then at least try and subscribe to it through your listening app. Apple Podcasts is always good and of course Google Podcasts are now live on the Android phone so look out for them and a warm welcome to you if you’re listening through GP for the first time.
If you’d like to support the show financially, then I’m pleased to say I’ve just added PayPal to the options, where you can pay a one-off sum to treat me to a coffee or more, or you can make a monthly contribution. Any sum will be welcome but I promise you won’t burn in hell if you don’t do anything! Look out for the Donate links to Patreon and Pay Pal on the home page at FT Podcast. WWII
I’ve gotta go. Drive carefully, work carefully and live a full life. I won’t be producing another episode this year, so I’ll say have a great Christmas or whatever seasonal celebration you undertake, have a glass of something you like, say cheers to veteran Stan Perry, and have smashing new year 2019. If you’re listening to this in 2119, then, wow, how good is that – have a happy new year too!
Thank you so very much for supporting me throughout this year. I really do appreciate it. If you get a minute during this busy time, please fill out my survey on the web site. FT Podcast wwii
Before we finish, for my PS, I want to share with you a lovely piece of feedback I’ve received just two days ago on Apple Podcasts from Jenny Lynch in USA. Jenny’s given the show 5 stars and said:
This is by far my favorite podcast ever. I sit for 10 hours a day doing quality control; and this is my go to content to help the time pass by. It is so gripping; I have been so choked up so many times; and constantly get goose bumps all over my body listening to these stories....
Wll Jenny thank you so much for that. I’d like to think your comments reflect the views of many other listeners so I thought people would like to hear it too.
It’s been an early Christmas present for me and really made my day.
You’ve inspired me greatly in my choice of story to put in the PS – it’s a complete tale, not a cliff hanger, for once, and it’s a foretaste really of things to come in the next episode, 40, A Frenchman and Two brits!
OK – last story now – Last Green Howards out of Dunkirk - this one’s taken from the Green Howard Museum’s magazine which tells stories of the Regiment from early to modern times as well as news of any current events – there’s a link in the shownotes, as usual.
Thank you for listening. Do hear me next year for some more GREAT Unpublished History with the Fighting Through Podcast.
Juat some of the dead soldiers mentioned in the diary:
Service Number 2760776
The Parachute Regiment, A.A.C.
Private FARQUHARSON, HERBERT JOHN
Service Number 10552350
The Parachute Regiment, A.A.C.
Son of Herbert and Mary Farquharson, of Banff.
Service Number 3912033
The Parachute Regiment, A.A.C.
Son of Charles and Laura Thomas, of Erwood, Brecknockshire.
Private BRAEBAUM, DONALD EDRIC
Service Number 3448214
The Parachute Regiment, A.A.C.
Put on fizzer [disciplinary charge for being improperly dressed] today by Sanders - result - case admonished
New! Highly Recommended:
With thanks to listener Salim Parak
YouTube video on great TV drama which explains about disarming bombs. It talks about how to diffuse the German unexploded WW2 bombs. A perfect accompaniment to episode 13 -Danger UXB.
Sam Ferguson, who passed away last year. Served in the US Navy 1944-45 WWII.