Friday, 10 June 2016
Harold's Story The tale of an RAF Armourer in WWII
Harold's cousin, Daphne Davison discovered a collection of old audio recordings on a series of tapes.
The recordings were made by Harold so that his grandchildren would know of his part in the fight against the Nazi and their Axis allies.
Like many service veterans, Harold had not welcomed the opportunity to speak of what trials and tribulations he went through. But unlike most other veterans, Harold actually took the time and trouble to make an audio record of his experiences.
Daphne has merely transcribed the words of her cousin Harold. So the book is entirely his work.
It is also well, illustrated with photographs from the family album.
The story begins with Harold's early life in Seasalter on the north east coast of Kent, how Harold appeared in a carnival dressed as a penny collecting box and his sister dressed up as a butterfly.
Harold joined the Seas Scouts and the ordinary Scouts and attended summer camps and generally enjoyed themselves as young boys do.
He relates the amusing tale of how his grandfather, when using a new electric torch instead of his usual candle, attempted to extinguish the torch by blowing it out!
When Harold was about sixteen and a half he had a fancy to join the Royal Navy.However, his father dissuaded him from joining the Navy and suggested that he join the RAF, instead, which is what Harold did, a year or so before the beginning of World War 2.
However, he was too young to join under the Boy's Service scheme, so was advised to wait until he was seventeen and a quarter to join the RAF. Which he duly did.
The letter from the Air Ministry telling him to attend for a series of initiation tests at the Air Ministry in London.
He, and a large number of other young men, met in a large hall and took a number of different tests including a maths test and a medical test.
After the tests they were marched off to a Tube station and thence on to West Drayton in Middlesex where they began their training as RAF recruits.
The next morning they had a very good breakfast and ice cream at lunchtime and Harold began to think he might have made the right choice of military career!
After filling in forms, swearing allegiance to the King and getting a service number (648355) Harold was in the RAF. Complete with his own housewife! (You need to read the book to learn how and why this happened.)
After his initial training he was posted to Shrewsbury, Shropshire, where he was stationed when war was declared on 3rd September 1939.
Eventually he was posted to Pembrey in South Wales were his training as an armourer would commence.
Harold saw service in a variety of locations within the UK and abroad such as Singapore, from which he and his mates were evacuated in the nick of time, eventually arriving on a crowded ship in Columbo, Ceylon, now Sri Lanka.
They made their way to India where they saw service with American-made Mohawk planes which would sometimes shoot through their own propellers if the timing was set incorrectly.
Mention is also made of the problematic dhobi rash the cure for which was worse than the ailment!
The book then moves on to the post war years and is a moving and loving tribute to an extraordinary man and his loving family.
It is published by the Book Guild in hardback at £12.99 and is a very easy to read book.
It's available via the That's Books and Entertainment book shop, which you'll find just over the the right of this site.