Last Edited: 18/03/2007
What Daddy Did In The Second Great War
1942 - The Turn Of The Tide
Hirohito - My Part In His Downfall (with apologies to Spike Thingy!)
It is all very well for Generals and the likes of them to write airily "at 0400 hours on Monday 28th April 1942, I set out for ...", but the keeping of diaries by servicemen and women was discouraged, and in some cases, absolutely forbidden. Although the flood of memoirs by ex-Generals etc shows that they must either have kept diaries, or have remarkable memories (or imaginations). I suppose it was OK for Generals who never went near the enemy, unlike myself, who once saw a Japanese aeroplane flying over Calcutta. At least, I think it was a Jap. It may have been a Yank, as both struck terror into anyone on the ground! However, the next time I'm called up I shall keep a diary, and carry a camera (if films are available - which they weren't during the war).
What I am trying to explain is that while I went to all the places listed below, the dates given are only educated guesses (highly educated, naturally).
You may perhaps be surprised to learn that I wasn't a volunteer, dashing along to enlist on 3rd September '39. Although I was 18 on 11th October 1940, I wasn't called up until July 1942. There must have been a reason for the delay - my detractors claim that the military authorities were putting off the unpleasant task of dealing with me for as long as possible, but I consider that the King and Churchill were satisfied with the team they already had (Mountbatten, Montgomery, Harris etc) and were afraid that the introduction of another military genius might cause an imbalance or petty jealousies perhaps. The real reason is, of course, that I had great faith in the system, and knew that the King would send for me when the time was ripe.
Accordingly, I waited until the appropriate announcement appeared in the papers, and went along to register at the nearest Ministry of Labour & National Service (the Labour Exchange in the High Street) some time in early 1941. The next thing was an instruction (through the post) to attend for medical inspection and interview at the Lamb Memorial Hall in Southampton - this was early in 1942, I think. I went along and showed my chest etc to the medical staff, all of whom appeared to be naval personnel (ie sailors), so I began to think I was destined for the RN. I felt quite affronted when my call-up papers arrived - (June1942?) instructing me to report to No 7 Primary Training Centre, Ossett, West Yorkshire on a date round about the middle of July, for service in the Army.