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Herbert Henry Haddrell
Rank: Private
Herbert Henry Haddrell



4th Dorsetshire Regiment

England, Normandy, France

1939 - 1945

Survived the war?
43rd Wessex Division

43rd Wessex Division

Forty Three Days

Herbert Henry Haddrell was born on 27th March 1925 at Bristol General Hospital, Guinea Street, the son of Thomas and Georgina Haddrell. He was the youngest of twelve children - six boys and six girls - born to Thomas, a dock labourer and his wife Georgina (nee Lee). The family was living at 22, Tower Street in the parish of Temple at the time of the birth and Bert was the only child to be born in hospital - his brothers and sisters being born at home.

Leaving school at the age of 14 in 1939 Bert joined a printing firm, Burleighs Ltd, in Lewins Mead, as a Reader‚s Assistant, which involved reading Gallyproofs to the Reader who would then make the necessary corrections - effectively proof reading. Bert didn‚t stay long at his first job and found employment next at a Financiers Office, F.G. Price Ltd, High Street, in reality Money Lenders, where at times he was sent out to collect money from customers; something he didn‚t like doing. Bert then joined H.J.Packer & Co. Ltd, chocolate manufacturers, in October 1940 at the age of 15 as an office boy working in Carlyle Road, Greenbank, Bristol where both the offices and factory were located. He was to remain with the company - under various guises: Carsons, Cavenham Confectionery, Famous Names, Elizabeth Shaw - for 47 and a half years.

Bert listened on the radio at his sister's house in Hanham (Alice and Art Heales), to the announcement by Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain that Britain was at war with Germany, but didn‚t realise the full implication of what was being said at the time.

Once the war had started Bert undertook voluntary work during the evening taking apart gas masks. He also helped at home with the black out precautions for the house, sticking adhesive tape on the windows and helping put in black out curtains. At Packers Bert worked a shift, fire watching in case incendiary bombs were dropped on the factory. Having received no training he was issued with a stirrup pump as the only means to deal with any fires. Fortunately, no incendiaries dropped on the chocolate factory when he was on duty.

The Luftwaffe orders for the night of November 24th were for the first major attack on Bruder, the German code name for Bristol, but as there had been a good deal of fog over Northern France earlier in the day, and a chance that it might return, it was decided operations should be completed by midnight. A total of 148 aircraft, - three principle types of bomber, the Dornier Do 17, the Heinkel He 111 and the Junkers Ju 88, all twin-engined aircraft - were ordered to the City, 135 of which claimed to have attacked between 1830 and 2300 hrs with 156.25 tonnes of H.E.'s, (High Explosives) 4.75 tonnes of Oil Bombs and 12,500 I.B.'s (Incendiaries).

The concentration point was centred on the harbour and industrial plants on both sides of the City Docks, with the intention of "eliminating Bristol as an importing port supplying much of the Midlands and South of England". The aircraft involved in this operation were drawn from I/KG 1, III/KG 26, and III/KG 27, I, II and III/KG 51, Stab, I, II and III/KG 55, KGr.100, KGr.606, and LG 1. For the Germans it was a successful night and only 2 aircraft failed to return, a Heinkel of II/KG 55 shot down off Portsmouth by anti-aircraft fire and a Dornier from KGr.606 which crashed near Plymouth, as a result of which 4 crewmen were killed and a further 4 made prisoner, including one who was injured. The general impression given by participating airmen was that results were similar to those achieved at Birmingham and Coventry.

The attack, however, resulted in the death of 200 Bristolians, and injuries to a further 8909. It had concentrated on the central area, with further damage occurring in Clifton, Temple, Knowle, Barton Hill and Eastville, but greatest destruction took place in the heart of the City from Broad Quay to Old Market, while St. James' Barton and St. Philip's suffered severely. Exceedingly large calibre bombs were reported as having fallen at Eastville, Speedwell, Temple and Totterdown, while for the greater part of the night the City was blazing furiously and many well known buildings were totally destroyed and others gravely damaged (Penny, 2002).

The Haddrell family residence, 68, Kingshill Road, Knowle, became one of the 10,000 homes damaged by the first major air raid attack on Bristol on Sunday 24th November 1940. Thomas Haddrell had, for reasons best known to himself, refused to have an air raid shelter installed in the house. Consequently, Georgina, Bert, Fred, and Cliff used the Anderson shelter in their next door neighbours garden, the Sanders family, whilst Thomas normally remained in 68 Kingshill Road during enemy raids. At the time of the raid on the evening of the 24th, Cliff was attending church.

"We knew there was a chance it might be Bristol's turn. Coventry and other cities had just had blitzes, so we suspected it might be us next time. I was 15 - I'd left school at 14 - and was the youngest of 12 children, six boys and six girls. I worked as an office boy for the chocolate-makers H.J.Packer in Greenbank. Father was a docker and mother a housewife and there were four boys still living at home in Kingshill Road in Knowle Park.

It had been a pretty usual sort of Sunday with church and Sunday school and a quiet afternoon. We had our tea at five o'clock - bread and butter and tinned fruit, we always had tinned fruit on Sundays - and we waited for my brother Fred to come home from work at the B.A.C. His tea was laid out for him. After he got back, he washed and when he looked out of the window, he saw flares lighting up the sky like daylight. He'd been through the big raid on Filton a couple of months before and he said: 'It looks like trouble. Come on.' We didn't have our own shelter. Father wouldn't have one. I don't know why. Parents didn't discuss things like that with children in those days. You were seen and not heard.
In earlier raids, mother and I went to a neighbour's shelter but my brother said the best thing was to make our way to the nearest public shelter which was by the shops at the top of Red Lion Hill. There was my mother, father, brother and myself, but before we could get out of the house all hell let loose when the bombs started falling. We took shelter under the stairs whilst the high explosives and the incendiary bombs were falling all around. The windows were all blown in and we just crouched there for what seemed an eternity. At last there was a lull in the bombing and my brother said he thought that we ought to try to make it to the public shelter.

We put on our outdoor clothes and were standing behind the front door waiting for my father to lace up his boots, which took a little while. We went on at him, 'Come on, Dad, hurry up", but he took his time. That delay probably, saved our lives because, as we were trying to get him to hurry up, a bomb fell in the road just outside the house. The blast threw us all backwards, the door blew in and fell down on my mother. If Dad hadn't been so slow, we would have been killed. We found out afterwards that a neighbour who was outside looking for his dog was blown to bits.
We crouched under the stairs again, covered in broken glass and debris, for what seemed like an eternity until there was another lull. Then we ventured forth. It took ages to get there. Mother suffered badly with her legs and we didn't know then that she'd been injured with a big splinter from the door. She kept saying, 'Leave me to die, leave me", but we wouldn't and my brother and I sort of dragged her along. At last we got there. It took us half-an-hour to do what would have been a ten-minute walk for most people.

I don't think I was frightened. There was too much going on to be frightened. It was when you had to sit there and listen to the bombs coming and thinking that the next one might have your number on it that you were frightened, not when you were busy. We spent the rest of the night in the shelter, staying there till dawn. When we got out, it was an incredible sight, mess everywhere. When we got back to our home the roof was damaged, door gone, windows all smashed in. We'd lost most of our possessions but I'll never forget seeing my brother's tea still on the table, the tinned fruit ruined. We never went back to the house. They repaired it later but father just wouldn't return. We went to stay with a brother at Bedminster and later we went to my sister's house in Hanham because it was a bit out of town.

I heard all about the damage in the city but didn't go down there for some time. Then when I did I just felt very, very sad for all we'd lost. What really upset me was losing the old Dutch House. As a little lad I'd been taken down to the old Wine Street, Castle Street shopping area and I was fascinated by the Dutch House it always made me think of something out of a fairy tale. It was so sad what had happened to the old heart of the city. There were so many lovely old shops there and it was so popular. But it was all gone.

I've been back to Kingshill Road since then. I had lots of friends there and many memories. The house is still there and I always remember that last night we had there." Bert was 18 years old on March 27th 1943 and was called up later that year. Following an Army medical examination at Prewett Street, in Bedminster, he enlisted as Private 14600517 Herbert Henry Haddrell into the General Service Corps embodied Territorial Army on the 6th May 1943 and was posted to 64th Primary Training Wing; reporting to Goojerat Barracks at Colchester, Essex, - a primary training centre - where he completed his 16 weeks initial training. Issued with a rail warrant, Bert made his own way to Colchester by train, and after reporting to the barracks was provided with a meal prepared by the ATS (Auxiliary Territorial Service), described as "mess in a tin", but eaten as he had been travelling and was hungry.The bare barrack room that was to become Bert‚s home for the next four months, accommodated about 20 recruits, furnished with not much more than bunk beds and a stove. New recruits were issued with denims for working and battledress. The day started at 0700 hrs with breakfast at 0800; followed by the first parade of the day. Drill was carried out within the barracks on a daily basis, and not surprisingly initially Bert was not very good at the start. However, by the end of his basic training his drill had improved considerably, no doubt as a result of the considerable amount of practice.

Route marches also occupied a considerable amount of time for the new soldiers. Varying in distance, at the end of marches, the band was always brought out to march the troops back in to camp. Marching, especially for those unaccustomed to it, made feet very sore and Bert used two means to try and alleviate the pain. One method was to urinate in his boots prior to commencing the march in an effort to protect the feet; whilst the second method was to rub the feet with methylated spirits in an attempt to harden the feet. Every Saturday there was the Adjutant‚s parade.

PT (Physical Training) was also carried out to improve the fitness of individuals. An important aspect of this was the regular sessions on the assault course. This included climbing over brick walls and poles as well as having to go through water. On one occasion having run up a bank Bert fell off and injured his ankle, resulting in being "excused boots" for two weeks; which meant that he didn‚t have to put his Army boots on for a fortnight.

New recruits were issued with denims for working and battledress. The day started at 0700 hrs with breakfast at 0800; followed by the first parade of the day. Drill was carried out within the barracks on a daily basis, and not surprisingly initially Bert was not very good at the start. However, by the end of his basic training his drill had improved considerably, no doubt as a result of the considerable amount of practice.

"During my initial training one incident I remember well - while doing a mortar bomb practice on the South Downs, we had to align our sights on a distant electricity pylon. My first shot hit in the middle and it bent over in half!" N.C.O.‚s carried out basis training and were very strict, particularly the Sergeant Majors and RSM‚s (Regimental Sergeant Majors). Training always included lots of shouting from the trainers. Lots of "spit and polish" in preparation for regular kit inspections carried out by the Company Officer. ŒBlanco‚ was applied to gaiters and belts, all brass cleaned; spare boots were also cleaned. The rifle had to be cleaned and all equipment was laid out in a specific order on the bed. One trick Bert, and others, employed was to buy a spare cork for the water bottle, as they had a tendency to rust, and use the spare one just for kit inspection. In addition to physical and weapons education, recruits received weekly current affairs education from the Army Bureau of Current Affairs (ABCA).

Evenings were normally spent in the NAAFI canteen chatting over a cup of tea or a glass of beer; Bert preferring tea. There was no entertainment in the NAAFI canteen, but Bert never ventured out into Colchester to pass the recreational hours. On completion of basic training Bert joined the Dorsetshire Regiment on the 17th June 1943 and was posted to 14th Infantry Training Centre. He joined the Regiment at Margate where the whole draft were billeted in private houses, sleeping about four to a room on paliasses (straw filled bags). Bert volunteered for signals training when everyone was asked if anyone wanted to go on the course. This specialised course included instruction in: signals, Morse code, laying cables (telephone wires), semaphore, and switchboard operation. Eventually, he became a signaller within the battalion - A Company Headquarters - having been sent there to receive additional training.

"We went out on a scheme while we were doing signals training and it was getting dark at night. We‚d laid the cables - part of the job was to lay the cables for communication - and the scheme finished and we were told to reel them in. I was told to reel a particular lot in, so I go merrily along reeling it in. When I got it reeled in, I looked around and everybody had gone. There were no lights; nobody; no nothing and I was in the middle of a wood.

"I thought that I didn‚t think I could find my way out at night and I‚ve got two reels of cable and my rifle. So I laid down in the wood and stayed there all night and then when it was light I made my way out; I could find my way out onto the road. Once there I started walking back to Bexhill and part way along a jeep came along driven by an American soldier. He asked me if I wanted a lift, and I said Yes, please and he took me back to Bexhill.

I don‚t know whether anyone had missed me - no one ever said they had -, but I went to the sergeant Majors office when I got back. I always remember this, he was drinking a cup of tea and he offered it to me, which I thought was very nice. But they seemed quite amused that I had bothered to bring the two reels back, but in my mind I thought they were quite expensive. I was excused duty that day, but I don‚t know whether they would have sent anyone out for me or not!"

On the 8th September 1943 Bert was posted to the 4th Battalion, Dorsetshire Regiment, joining his unit at Bexhill-on-Sea, where the battalion had been stationed since the 4th August following a four-month stay at Cliftonville (Watkins, undated). Bert enjoyed his stay at Bexhill, going out into the town frequently for walks, visits to the cinema and "in for a cup of tea".

On February the 4th 1944 the Battalion marched to Hastings, where the whole of the 130th Brigade was inspected by General Sir Bernard Montgomery, Commander-in-Chief of 21st Army Group; on the 12th May it was visited by the Prime Minister, the Rt. Hon. Winston Spencer Churchill, the Dominion Prime Ministers, and Field Marshall Sir Alan Brooke, Chief of the Imperial General Staff, who watched a demonstration by its Pioneer Battalion.

The code word "Mary", sent out from Divisional Headquarters at Tenterden at 6 p.m. on the 12th June, to all units, placed the Battalion on six hours notice, and on the 14th came the order to move. All ranks of the Battalion were allowed out in the town of Bexhill-on-Sea until 2200 hrs on the14th June. Leaving Bexhill the Battalion transferred to a transit camp in Southampton for a few days. Even at this stage Bert didn‚t know where he was going. "The rules were relaxed a little to give the troops a chance to relax. There was entertainment available and we were allowed to go out, but I didn‚t"

The Battalion was to sail in two parts, the marching party from Southampton and the vehicle party from Tilbury. The marching party left Bexhill at 0940 hrs on the 15th, embarked at Southampton at 1200 hrs on the 19th, and lay for four days in the gale off Spithead. Space was very cramped. In many cases the troops had to spend over forty-eight hours on the stuffy Œtween decks. The battalion eventually landed at 0400 hrs on the 23rd June on the beach at Le Hamel, east of Arromanches, at the very spot where 1st Dorsets had carried out the assault landing on D-Day. This section of the beach was designated Item - Red on Gold Beach.

"As 'D-Day' approached we were sent to a transit camp at Southampton where we spent several days before setting sail for France. Bad weather kept us moored off France, but eventually we were able to disembark down over the side of the troopship and into small landing crafts - then to actually land in France. This was invasion and it was both frightening and dangerous."

Once the storm had subsided, Bert found the crossing was quite good, even enjoying sunbathing on top of the ship‚s deck. Disembarkation took place at night and required the Battalion members having to clamber down nets on the side of the ship into waiting small craft, to take everyone ashore. Captain R. H. Hall, 4th Dorsets, describes his experience thus: There was a heavy swell off the beaches and as we scrambled down the nets on the side of the Troop Carrier, the landing craft was rising and falling about 20 ft. We had to let go and jump on when the LC was at the highest point!

Bert recalls nearly falling into "the drink" as he clambered down the side of the Troop Carrier attempting to get safely into the waiting L.C.A. (Landing Craft, Assault). "Once ashore the Battalion formed up and we started marching".

Bert remembers being under heavy artillery bombardment at night and how frightening the experience was; men screaming as a result of the barrage. For protection, slit trenches were dug, which usually accommodated two soldiers, and were about 3 feet deep by 4 feet long and 18 inches wide. Bert found it difficult to dig using an entrenching tool as he had never done any digging in civilian life and the army had provided no training or practice. On active service sleeping was done on the ground wherever possible, with field rations containing Compo ration, hard chocolate, soup, and "dog biscuits" to sustain the troops. Corned beef was a particular favourite of Bert, something he has never tired of eating.

As the 4th Dorsets prepared to go into action on the 10th July as part of Operation Jupiter, Bert was informed that he would be part of the cadre left behind as battle replacements, to follow on behind the action. A number of officers and men were always left out of battle, in case of disaster, to form the nucleus of the Battalion. Private Bartlett took Bert‚s place in the attack, and his concern at the time was that because he was much taller than Bartlett, his great coat wouldn‚t fit him; the great coats had all been piled together. Bert was told not to worry about it. Private 5735215 Roy Bartlett was killed in action on the 10th July 1944 aged 21 and is buried in St. Manvieu War Cemetery, Cheux. Bert‚s role in the Battalion was as Company runner, a responsible job, carrying out the requests and instructions of the Company Commander. Responsibilities included taking verbal messages (not written messages), and instructing men to move up if required during action. It was whilst carrying out these duties that he was seriously wounded.

"The morning of the 3rd August we were going into the attack and I was Company runner. We had started to advance when the Company Commander said to me, 'Where is No.2 Platoon?' I replied, 'Still in the trenches Sir', and I was told that they should be in the line of advance. I went back to where they were in their trenches where I stood facing them and gave them the Company Commander's orders. All the time the Germans were laying down a mortar barrage of six-barrelled mortars which fire six bombs in succession and were called 'moaning minnies', because they made a screaming noise as they were fired. They had a very demoralising effect on us and were very frightening. One bomb dropped behind me and knocked me out and when I regained consciousness I have been wounded in the back and was bleeding rather badly. All the men in 2 Platoon who were in the trenches and took the full force of the blast in their faces were dead.

After some time the stretcher-bearers, who were very hard pressed, picked me up and took me back to the medical post where they gave me emergency treatment for my wounds. All the time this was happening the mortar barrage continued and at one stage the Medical Corporal covered me with his body to protect me from further injury. I later learned that he too had been killed."

Lance Corporal William Anthony Malcolm Puddy, the son of William and Alice Puddy, of Parkstone, Dorset was killed on the 15th August 1944 and is buried in Tilly-Sur-Seules War Cemetery, Calvados, France. When he came to Bert said a little prayer to himself: "Please God, I don‚t mind dying, but please don‚t let me die in a foreign field."

At one point Bert found a jerrycan next to him with liquid in it. Thinking it was water he took a swig, only to discover that it was Calvados, an apple brandy that is a speciality of Normandy. After being tended to by Lance Corporal Puddy, Bert was admitted to No.10 Casualty Clearing Station where the Unit Medical Officer diagnosed multiple mortar wounds back - penetrating chest. The medical report of the 12th Sept 1944 states "received shell wounds (mortar) at 12.30 hrs". By 2300 hrs on the 3rd, Bert‚s general condition had improved, despite being very badly wounded. On the 4th August in 25th F.T.U. (Field Transfusion Unit) and then to 43rd Field Surgical Unit, where by 1400 hrs he had received three pints of blood.

Evacuated to 79th British General Hospital on the 8th August where operated on. Remained there for 28 days. "I was taken to a tent hospital near Bayeaux where I was operated on for severe chest injuries. After staying there for several weeks I was shipped back to the United Kingdom and landed at Southampton. After spending one night in hospital there I went on a special hospital train to Edinburgh Royal Infirmary and eventually to a special chest unit at Bangour Hospital, which is between Glasgow and Edinburgh."

Mortar fragments had penetrated the chest and damaged a lung causing it collapse. This necessitated a tube being placed in the collapsed lung to wash it out every four hours. As a result Bert was unable to lie down in bed and had to remain sat upright. He was strapped to keep everything in place, recalling the pain when elastoplas was removed to change the bandages. Bert couldn‚t sleep at night because of the discomfort and pain and would pray for the morning to come. There were several Germans at one end of the ward and Bert remembers them singing Silent Night (Stille Nacht) in German.

The journey from Bayeaux to Arromanches by Ambulance was particularly unpleasant as there was a chap in the bed underneath who was smoking. Bert was transferred from the 79th British General Hospital in France to the United Kingdom on the Hospital Carrier "St Julien", disembarking at Southampton on 11th September. He was admitted to Royal South Hants and Southampton Hospital for an overnight stay before being transferred to Chest Unit, Cosham on the 12th. Bert had to be transferred by boat because his condition would not permit transference by aeroplane. The "St Julien" was built in 1925 by Clydebank Engineering & Shipbuilders and was owned by the Great Western Railway Company, being used as a cross channel ferry between Weymouth and the Channel Islands. It became a hospital carrier in 1939 and was returned to its owners in 1946.

The hospital ward in Southampton contained both British and German wounded; the Germans being segregated at one end. The sister came on to the ward and spoke and Bert responded with "Good Morning Sister". Her somewhat surprised response was to ask "What are doing here?" as he‚d been put in with the Germans. On the 14th September Bert was transferred by hospital train to the Military Wing of the Royal Infirmary, Edinburgh (Thoracic Unit) and from there, on the 26th September, to Bangour Emergency Hospital, West Lothian (situated 14 miles from Edinburgh in hilly woodlands near Broxburn). Located 2 miles west of Uphall and 4 miles east of Bathgate, Bangour Village Hospital was officially opened on the 13 October 1906, as a Lunatic Asylum and in 1915 was taken over by the War Office as a military hospital. After the war, in commemoration of the vital role played by the hospital, Bangour Village Church was erected and opened in 1929. Bangour re-opened as a psychiatric hospital in 1922. However, at the outbreak of war in September 1939 the hospital transformed, once again, into the Edinburgh War Hospital, with an additional emergency medical services annexe built on the hilltop site. Five blocks, each consisting of eight wards, were constructed at the Annexe - as it was first known -

Bert continued having washouts to take the fluids out of the lungs and Vaseline gauze was applied every day to help heal the wounds on his back. "I received wonderful treatment from everyone in Scotland as well as in France". Local families were asked to visit the wounded service men in hospital and on one of his regular visits to the hospitalised Methodists, the Methodist Minister, the Rev. Arthur Valle (who was afterwards transferred to Redfield Methodist Church, Bristol and helped officiate at Bert and Joyce‚s wedding) explained to Bert that he knew a lady who worked in the shop down at the hospital and that he was going to ask her to come and visit. Bert didn‚t get any visitors as he was so far from home, although he was visited once in hospital by his sister Alice and brother Cliff who stayed overnight.

"I remember three ladies coming into the ward dressed in fur coats bearing all sorts of gifts. This was a wonderful family, that were so kind to me and when I was better they invited me into their house." Bill and Lena Baynham, Charles (Chic) and Bunty Fleming, Marshall and Nan Henderson, and Davie and Millie Henderson, who all lived in Bathgate, visited Bert during his stay at Bangour. It was Bunty who worked in the shop at the entrance to the hospital.

When Bert was able to get up and about after seven and a half months in bed he was transferred to Wall House, a big private house in Torphichen, for convalescence. Here, he was allowed to go out for the first time. Bunty was friendly with the Matron and would ring her up and ask if they could have Mr Haddrell out for the day. Bert on his visits out would be dressed in his hospital blue uniform with red tie.

Another trip out were invitations to the Usher Hall in Edinburgh on Sunday nights to see variety concerts and Isabol Bailey singing "Messiah". The patients were transported to and from Edinburgh and when they walked down into the hall the spotlight was put on them, as they were wearing their "hospital blues". On another occasion, the girls at P.T.‚s (Patrick Thompsons), a large store in Edinburgh invited the soldiers for a meal at their restaurant and then took them to see a show at the theatre afterwards. Whilst at Torphichen two ribs that had been operated on in France where causing Bert some discomfort, so the Surgeon Mr. Noel Gray said to go back in and he chiselled out the jagged piece of the ribs. "My memory of VE Day is rather sad: like everyone else I was glad that the war had ended but it was a rather sad occasion for me. I was in a convalescent home in Torphichen, near Bathgate, West Lothian. I had been in hospital for a year (seven and a half months confined to bed) after being wounded in the invasion of France, but was making progress.

Whilst in hospital I made friends with another young fellow who came from Dunfermline (also named Bert) and as I came from Bristol I did not have many visitors. When his mother visited him, she would talk to me as well and invariably brought me some fruit, sweets, etc., which I greatly appreciated, being so far from home. When her son, Bert, went home for a weekend I was invited as well and she was very kind to me, making me most welcome as only Scots people can.

I met her other son, who was in the Army, and stationed somewhere in England. Soon after this he was on Army exercises, and was tragically drowned. I had only known him slightly but I think that, perhaps because I had been in the Forces, they asked me if I would attend his funeral. I felt it was the right and proper thing to do out of courtesy, and the funeral was fixed for what turned out to be VE Day.

I had to make my own way from Bathgate to Dunfermline by public transport, which was a restricted service, and took quite a long time. However, I did get there in time for the funeral and paid my respects. The family treated me very well, even in the midst of their grief, were most particular to look after me, and were very grateful for the fact that I had attended. After the service I had to make the return journey by public transport, and arrived back quite late at the convalescent home at Torphichen.

My VE Day memory was tinged with sadness, but it is a day I will never forget. The war in Europe was over, I had survived, though wounded, whereas many of my comrades had paid the supreme sacrifice, and looked forward to going home. I was just 20 years old, and was discharged as unfit for military service on the 26th July 1945."
Bert left Scotland after spending a year in hospital, including convalescing, and travelled back to Bristol by railway from Waverley Station, Edinburgh - and had to stand all the way.

Bert was discharged on the 26th July 1945 as "ceasing to fulfil Army medical requirements" with a 100% War Pension. Assessment - 100% for Gunshot (sic) Wounds Chest, attributable to War Service.This was reduced as his health improved, but later increased for Bilateral Sensori Neural hearing loss due to Artillery fire.His service with the colours was from 6th May 1943 to the 26th July 1945, and for his service in the North West Europe theatre was awarded the 1939/45 Star, the France and Germany Star, the 1939/45 War Medal, and the Defence Medal. He was also awarded the World War II ŒFor Loyal Service‚ disablement badge, which he wears with pride.

Bert recommenced employment with H.J.Packer and Company in September 1945 as a clerk, who were very understanding and helpful allowing him to work part-time with no loss of wages. His medical history records that Bert "has a day or two off every couple of weeks because of pain and difficulty with breathing in close weather."

He married Joyce Lilian Annie Hale on 11th September 1948 at St. Agnes Church, Bristol. They have a son, Ian, a daughter Claire, two grand-daughters, Georgina and Sally, and a grandson Benjamin.

The Dorset Regiment

In the Second World War, the regiment expanded to eight battalions.

The 1st Battalion was a regular army unit and part of the 231st Infantry Brigade, alongside the 1st Hampshires and 2nd Devonshires, for the duration of the war, fighting in Malta between 1940 and 1942, Sicily in August 1943, and Italy in September 1943. The 1st Dorsets landed on Gold Beach on D-Day in June 1944 as a part of the 50th (Northumbrian) Infantry Division and fought with the division in the Battle of Normandy and North-West Europe, until the division was withdrawn in late 1944 and used as a training division. The battalion had troops 327 killed and 1,029 wounded.

The 2nd Battalion was also a regular army unit and was part of the 5th Infantry Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division, throughout the war, participating in the Battle of France and the Dunkirk evacuation in 1940. In 1944, it took part in the Battle of Kohima during the Burma Campaign of 1944–1945, still with the 2nd Division.

The 4th Battalion was an original 1st Line Territorial Army unit and, in 1939, raised a 2nd Line duplicate, the 5th Battalion, when the Territorial Army was doubled in size prior to the commencement of the war. The 4th and 5th Battalions were both part of 130th Infantry Brigade in the 43rd (Wessex) Infantry Division, participating in the Normandy Campaign, Operation Market Garden and the Rhine Crossing.

The 30th Battalion, previously the 6th (Home Defence) Battalion, was with the 43rd Infantry Brigade in North Africa and the invasion of Sicily, after which it spent the rest of the war in Gibraltar. The 7th Battalion, which was raised in 1940, was later converted to the 110th Light Anti-Aircraft Regiment, Royal Artillery. The regiment served with the 43rd (Wessex) Division in North-West Europe from June 1944 to May 1945.

The 8th Battalion, which was also raised in 1940 as 50th (Holding) Battalion, was initially assigned to the 210th Independent Infantry Brigade (Home) and was on home defence. Later, the battalion converted to the 105th Light Anti-Aircraft Regiment, Royal Artillery. The regiment was sent to North Africa in late 1942 and fought with the British First Army, It later served in the Italian Campaign supporting US Fifth Army.

Veteran's personal file

Dorsetshire Regiment

Personal photographs

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Remember each and every sacrifice, made for your freedom!

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