Private Eric Reeves, 1/5th Battalion, the Queen's Royal Regiment, remembers the high spirits and confidence of victory when war was declared.
Eric Reeves
Private Eric Reeves

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I did Falmer, Wannock, and then in August 1939, it poured with rain, remember? For a fortnight. That was my other mishap, because being of small frame I can’t drink a lot and because it was so wet and we were out getting wet through they came around with one of the big army ladle spoons and they filled it up with rum and sloshed it in your enamel mug. That was the first rum ration we ever had was'nt it? I was one of the boys. Oh, what, had been in the army for two years. When I got up I ran straight into a flagpole in a marquee. I thoroughly enjoyed my time, yes, before the war, and of course I was working as a plumber’s mate because the brewery had sold up and we got made redundant. So I got a job as a plumber’s mate and we were working down locally and the guy we were working in his house he said "It has just come over the radio that they are mobilising the Territorial Army". My mate, the plumber, said "You're in the TA are you not?" I said "yes". "Are you, well you have got to report by midnight". "Oh I have got to get all my gear ready". So the plumber said "Can we knock of?" "Yes", the guy said. He said "I will come back tomorrow and sort this lot out". No, no, it was a Friday, Saturday tomorrow. So that was it when we all reported fully gowned, with our kit bags and all our stuff. We were going to tear these Germans apart, mate, with our bare hands, you know. We all got in the canteen and had a wonderful time. Married guys' wives, other guys' girlfriends, all turned up and we had a wonderful party in the canteen. What we weren't going to do to those Germans. And then that was it. He has the best bit about that. We stayed there till Friday, Saturday, Sunday, Monday and then when war was declared on Sunday at that time we were digging an air raid trench along the side of the drill hall, taking it in turns and the sirens went. So somebody decided they were going to put a Bren gun up on the roof of the drill hall. Never did get it up there, did they? Rifles, waiting for them, we were going to shoot them down as they came over. Then the all clear went. Oh what a disappointment.