Anyway we arrived in France and we were allotted to the 5th Queens and I think it was A Company I was allotted to. We soon got involved because it was just after that we were involved in a 75 mile walk in 3 days. One thing that staggered me was, I don’t know if other people have noticed, but the regular soldiers did not have much time for territorial soldiers and the militia, they were Saturday night soldiers and militia boys. But after that 75 miles I can’t, I didn’t hear anybody doing it. They changed their mind. They realised we did have stamina. They appreciated it.
Was there a reason for that march?
That was to make the Germans think there were things going on. It was quite a march. Yes I always thought that stamina we showed then, showed up in a lot of ways during the war, that even though they were Saturday night soldiers and boys, they did make the grade. After this, I think it was around June, we were digging in. It was a terribly hot day and a bit naïve as young soldiers we took our shirts off and whilst we were there digging these defences a Lysander came over hedge-hopping. A pilot waving to us, we waved back then we realised how naïve we were because it was a captured plane with a German pilot. A little while later, not probably incorporated with that, a Dornier bomber came over and the rear gunner had a go at us and that was our first experience of having bullets whipping around in the grass beside you. I suppose it was a bit disconcerting the first time we had it. I think the Queen’s history relates along to all the things that went on and as regards that I don’t think I would want to relate to Dunkirk. I think it is personal experiences. Of course then we got down to the retreat to Dunkirk, a lot went before us. From [Oudenaarde] to Dunkirk, something which remains in my mind if not everybody else’s mind all the things that went on and what you saw and what happened. Then when you got back to Dunkirk very personal thoughts, when the bombers, shelling and machine gunning which was very frequent. You either found yourself behind a sand dune or you just dropped down where you were. When they had gone and you got up out where you were, looked around and you saw that some did not get up. It passed through your mind, you know, why him and not me. Terrible thoughts you used to have. One thing that always stuck in my mind during on the beaches as all that was going on there was a padre smoothing out the top of the sand dune laying out an altar cloth with altar cups and soldiers filing out to take Communion. That was going on whilst a lot of the bombing and shelling was going on and nobody seemed moved by it.