Leave !....Glorious Leave !

Discussion in 'Veteran Accounts' started by Ron Goldstein, Sep 30, 2010.

  1. Tom Canning

    Tom Canning WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    Bern -
    ALL trains in Britain during the war were crammed full of service people all coming or going somewhere else - and if you left your spot to attend a call of nature - you lost your space.

    My wife was in the WAAF and on going back to her home in Birmingham on leave, she was crammed next to a sailor - obviously from the Black country whose accent was as thick as porridge - he asked - " aryuagwingoom " it took her a long time time to realise that he was asking if she "was going home !"

    Similarly the buses were known as operating the "Banana" routes -owing to the black out....... as they all came in bunches...............boom boom !

    But people just laughed and put up with it.....bit different to-day .....

    JimHerriot likes this.
  2. Ron Goldstein

    Ron Goldstein WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    By May 8th 1945, as you all know, the war in Europe was over.

    My mob had roared up into Austria, after the last SS Cavalry Div had threatened to keep on fighting, and we had just spent a month doing guard duty at the POW camp we had set up in Ferdorf.

    By the time we had finished this thankless task and rounded up a few major war criminals we were all slightly at a low physical ebb and it was considered that a week's leave was would be a good morale booster.

    The authoriies took over the Mosslacher hotel in Velden and on Monday the 7th of July I arrived with a few mates for a week's stay.

    It was sheer bliss..... there was no other word for it.

    Beds..... white sheets...... three good meals a day and a lake to swim in ........ wonderful !

    A page in my Album reminds of an idyllic respite after a month of little sleep.

    Before you ask...... no, I have never been back.

    My lovely wife of 61 years, who suffered more than I did during the war, never had any particular desire to holiday in a German speaking resort and come to that, neither have I, but Page 28 of my Album is still there to remind me of a unique week in Austria.

    Attached Files:

    JimHerriot likes this.
  3. Ron Goldstein

    Ron Goldstein WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    What !................ another bloody day leave ?

    This was an unusual day off in Bari in Southern Italy.

    I say unusual, because in September 1943 it was within weeks of our first landing in Italy after having supported the initial landings from Sicily and was a spur of the moment treat by our OC, one Major Mouland.

    As usual it is left to Page 14 of my Album to refresh my memory.

    The more observant amongst you may note that I had a cigarette in one hand and my other hand, strictly against rules, was in my pocket. :rolleyes:

    Attached Files:

    JimHerriot likes this.
  4. Tom Canning

    Tom Canning WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    Velden - Marie Worth - Villach - Klagenfurt all great places for a holiday as when it was getting close to demob the regiment moved down to Villach where we availed ourselves of the amenities all around the Lake Worthesee in sight of the Karawanken Mountains- as I said great places for a holiday as we found once more on a trip we did in the early 80's - good food - friendly people - sunny skies -beaches - what more can we ask......
    JimHerriot likes this.
  5. Tom Canning

    Tom Canning WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    Getting away from the lakes and beaches - Vienna is a wondrous city as I have been back three times since the first visit in '46 for the Vienna Tattoo - the beautiful gardens of the Schonnbrun Palace where we were forced to live during our stay there - oh the hardships we had to put up with ......! The GOC - Lt. Gen. "Windy" Gale playing billiards !!! the other Palaces - Opernhaus - Spanish Riding Schule with the fantastic Lipzanner Stallions - San Stephans Dom - the vineyards and the wines of Grinzing - The statues of Goethe and Schiller outside the Rathouse - the Hungarian restaurants of the Karntenstrasse -the Sacher Torte in the famous Sacher Hotel - the hotels of Meidling - the Vienna Philharmonic with the Ballet showing us how to waltz like the Viennese - the cruise ship on the Danube Canal waltzing in time to the music ! .....just a great place to enjoy life...
    JimHerriot likes this.
  6. Niccar

    Niccar WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    Leave during the Italian campaign was to me a cockney kid from Stepney in the east end of London a rather strange experience as for being a culture vulture I was as near to that as the Pope was to becoming Jewish apologies to Ron so not knowing anyone
    on the liberty wagon I teamed up with a bloke from the sixth armoured division and
    he was as useless as I was in the art dept so it was definitely not a do as the Romans
    do but do as you like and that was to get as legless as possible in the shortest time so
    we sat drinking vermouth from half pint glasses to wash all the shelling and mortaring out of our systems needless to say after four bottles we did just that then my new found friend decided by that time he wanted to pee so he got up from the chair outside the café and stumbled across the main road oblivious of any traffic and peed up a shop window on the other side of the road so to stop us getting in to any more trouble I told him how stupid he was and we found a patch of grass and went into the land of nod for a few hours we never learnt a thing about Rome but by God did we forget about the war for a few hours

    regards Niccar
    JimHerriot and Owen like this.
  7. Tom Canning

    Tom Canning WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    Niccar -
    That was the whole point of having leave - to forget the horror show - and it didn't finish at Rome either as you went on to Trasimeno - before heading for more Stella beer at Cairo.....

    good to hear from you again
    JimHerriot likes this.
  8. Owen

    Owen -- --- -.. MOD

    Great thread this chaps, keep those posts coming.
    Time for some of our other Veterans to chip in too.
    [hint hint]
  9. Tom Canning

    Tom Canning WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    One of my best weeks leave was at Torre Annunziatta on the Amalfi coast - sheer luxury with service - food -served by young maids - laundry - all amenities - swimming everyday in the Naples bay in clear waters - this should be regular living for all - unhappily it was only one week - then back at it once more .....

    JimHerriot likes this.
  10. Ron Goldstein

    Ron Goldstein WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    While we wait for other's to tell their own stories I thought of what had to be my most unusual leave.

    I know I've told you about this episode before but on the basis that any story about Churchill told by someone who was there at the time has to worth a line or two.

    The time was October 1946 and I was granted 7 day's leave to attend a special function in London

    I first told this tale on the BBC WW2 People's War Archives and, being the lazy bugger I am, please forgive me for doing a little copy & paste :)

    On the 19th of October 1946, my regiment, the 4th Queen’s Own Hussars, held its first post-war reunion, the last having been held in 1938.

    As our Honorary Colonel, the Rt.Hon.Winston Churchill, was considered as having played no small part in the allied victory, it was considered that the regiment was entitled to ‘do him proud’ and the necessary arrangements were made to celebrate the event. Churchill, like his son Randolph, had actually served in the Regiment.

    Apart from some 340 ex-servicemen who had already been de-mobbed it was decided to send home from Italy no less than 20 representative serving soldiers and I was one of the lucky chaps who’d been chosen.

    I see from my album that we left Monfalcone on the Wednesday, got into London on Friday evening and turned up at the dinner on Saturday. By Monday we were on our way back, arriving back at camp on Wednesday evening. Of course I was able to fit some time in at home, and the dinner itself, held at the Connaught Rooms in Holborn, with Winston Churchill in attendance, was quite an experience.

    After the meal the catering staff were ushered from the hall and Winston, having obviously enjoyed his meal and a few drinks, told us a few rather ‘blue’ jokes which were very well received by his audience

    In the photo above Churchill is fourth from top left, I am over on the top right, marked with an arrow.

    What with the recent Defence cuts, could you imagine the stink it would cause today if 20 men had been been shipped home from their Regiment for a week to attend a reunion dinner :)

    Attached Files:

    JimHerriot likes this.
  11. 17thDYRCH

    17thDYRCH Senior Member

    The following is from George Blackburn's " The Guns of Victory "

    Divisional commanders appear to agree with this consensus, for twenty-four-hour leaves to Antwerp are immediately introduced, and every day for four memorable days, a quota of officers and Other Ranks, enough to fill three or four 60-hundredweight trucks, proceed into the city, replacing an equal number who have spent the previous night in this beautiful city - so alive, so pleasant, so civilized - revisiting familiar haunts and looking up civilian acquaintances made while the guns were in position in the dock area back in September.
    Devoid of all official duties ( the Colonel having no need for an assistant while 4th Brigade is out of action ) you move into the Century Hotel to live in splendid luxury, represented by an incredibly soft bed with white sheets and pillows, a gleaming white bathtub with endless hot water at the twist of a tap, and something you had almost forgotten existed, a smooth clean floor beneath your bare feet when you get of bed and pad to the bathroom, and a warm toilet seat, properly formed to receive a human posterior comfortably.
    JimHerriot likes this.
  12. Ron Goldstein

    Ron Goldstein WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran


    Thanks for that !

    A perfect quote to confirm what it was like to have a taste of luxury after months/years of living in squalor

    JimHerriot likes this.
  13. WhiskeyGolf

    WhiskeyGolf Senior Member

    Ron, I have to agree with Jim, don't apologise for the number of posts you (and the other veterans) put in this forum. I thoroughly enjoy reading through them, as it gives me a better understanding 'first hand' of what you all endured, rather than just reading books to try and understand. So please continue, and I will sit here and smile at your good times, and yes I will also reach for the tissue box as I read those not so good times.
    JimHerriot likes this.
  14. Tom Canning

    Tom Canning WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    Wendy -
    Kleenex can't make enough tissues to cover the bad times this is why we tend to dwell on the good times....

    like the time when six of us wireless operators were sent for the whole week-end to the top of Mt. Terminillo in Central Italy - by no mean on leave but serious stuff like keeping in touch with the Brigadier's Mclean's mission in Yugoslavia and the HQ in Cairo..

    We were given all the frequencies needed - rations for the three days and peculiar instructions to behave and cause NO damage - and so the three ton Bedford wheezed it's way to the top and dumped us and all our kit and wheezed it's way below once more.

    Gathering our belongings we beheld a millionaires mansion - empty of said millionaires but happily the refrigerators were full of good looking food which put our bully beef
    sandwiches to shame - and on inspection the six bedrooms looked luxurious - the three bathrooms in marble with gold taps and accessories - you know - sort of stuff one can put up with.

    Suddenly there was a cry from one of the back rooms to which we rushed - to be told that there were NO wireless sets in the whole mansion - this tragedy was met after a minute of contemplation with very wide smiles - as the three ton Bedford driver did not hear our cries to return.....there was nothing else to do but just put up with the situation -

    after 70 odd years I can no longer remember the meals and general luxury living during that week-end but the sunrises - rising through the lower clouds made the whole world turn into a fantastic aura of pink for many minutes which is still seen in memory...
    JimHerriot likes this.
  15. Tom Canning

    Tom Canning WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    It was at Strassburg in the beautiful Gurk Valley in Stiermark Austria when I reported to the Squadron Office that I was indeed back from the latest course when the SSM informed me that he had volunteered me for yet another course - when I protested that I could use some clean laundry he told me to take it with me as it was all arranged and the truck would be here to take me to Villach Train Station after a cup of tea which he kindly poured for me.

    Sure enough a 15cwt truck deposited me in Villach one hour later and some ten hours later, I arrived at a rail station which was near to Milan - Vaprio de Addo in fact.

    Along with seven other mainly Infantrymen we were to live in the beautiful mansion of a member of the Pirelli family who were reputed to have a few bob in the bank.

    The week was almost indescribable in luxurious living with meals, served by a Butler supervisng the upstairs staff, on damask linen and silver cutlery - laundry done over night - uniforms sponged and pressed nightly - shoes polished - nothing too much of a bother - the week passed like one day and suddenly I was back at the squadron office volunteering to go on any course the SSM saw fit to send me.

    To this day I have absoluely no idea what that course was all about- but I certainly enjoyed it ...

    [Edit: attachment added]
    NOTE the shoeshine and the crease in the trousers

    Attached Files:

    • IMG.jpg
      File size:
      300.3 KB
    JimHerriot likes this.
  16. Niccar

    Niccar WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    I know the first part of this post is slightly off thread but it will lead on to an unofficial leave that I with another wayward soldier decided to take, so to start as the troopship we were on was nearing Algiers we were being harassed into getting all our kit together and collect our sea bags as everyone was dashing about the bags were all mixed up so grab the first bag you saw that contained tropical gear along with a pith helmet so we all got dressed and formed up on the quayside well if there had been a spy anywhere near he could have told the Germans you have nothing to fear from this lot, there was tall men with shorts that looked so tight god knows how they got into them and small blokes with shorts that hung beneath there knees and the toupees or pith helmets was a sight to behold if you got a large one your ears would stop it falling over your face or a small one would be perched on the top of your head so anyone who remembers “ it aint arf hot mum” gets the gist of the situation but anyone that was laughing soon had the smile wiped off their faces as we started to march the metal studs on the soles of our boots got hotter and hotter after about ten miles an Officer with a pistol in his hand was threatening to shoot anyone that dropped out from the heat and exhaustion and as I was carrying a Bren gun my nose was getting closer to the ground after every mile then at about twenty mile I was just about to sit down and be shot when the column turned into a vineyard where we were to be billeted (of course there was nobody shot but we were told we would be marched everyday day till we could march in the heat) that evening while nursing our badly blistered feet I got talking to one of our despatch riders although a few years older than myself he was very interesting to talk to and he had been evacuated from Dunkirk so he wasn’t giving me any bullshit he asked if I had ever tasted vin blonce
    Muscatel or any other French wine after saying I had probably drank two Brown ales
    In my entire life and no more he informed me you can drink these French wines till
    They run out of your ears so low and behold the next day we went AWOL and hitched
    a lift back to Algiers to do some wine tasting from there oblivion I remember nothing but was told I sang my head off ( I have a voice like a nutmeg grater) played marbles with some Arab kids and was violently sick somewhere when we got back to our billets the orderly sergeant was having a roll call so was told to march across the field
    properly the sergeant marked us as though we hadn’t been away but he could see I was hopelessly drunk and told a couple of the lads to make sure I was safe because we were sleeping on the top of some wine vats about fifteen feet high with a railing round the top it had a bar about eighteen inches at the bottom and the top one about three feet high the lads hung me over the top and entwined my feet through the bottom rung
    so I spent the night bent over like a hairpin next day it was agony to stand up straight
    and I swore never to touch another drop of wine I will add that I scrubbed that idea
    because there were so many good wines to taste in Italy

    with tongue in cheek but absolutely true

    JimHerriot likes this.
  17. WhiskeyGolf

    WhiskeyGolf Senior Member

    Love the posts Tom, keep them coming. I'm sure you tried really hard to put up with the fresh linen, butler, the best food, silverware etc :D (But I'm sure you definitely deserved the best after what you had put up with!)
    JimHerriot likes this.
  18. Ron Goldstein

    Ron Goldstein WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    There was an article in the Times yesterday about the Trevi Fountain in Rome.

    It mentioned, amongst other things, the practice of throwing coins in the fountain to guarantee that the thrower would return to the City in due course.

    It also told of the gangs of thieves who turn up very early in the morning to sweep up the coins, normally given to charity, while policemen turn a blind eye in exchange for a share of the proceeds.

    I wrote to the Editor, as follows;


    Did I detect an amount of credulity regarding the efficacy of coin throwing into the Trevi Fountain ?

    As Frankie Howerd might well have said "Scoff thee not!"

    As a young British soldier in 78 Div, I was first in Rome in June 1944.

    British Military Authority money being in common use at the time, I remember having to pay five lira paper money for a couple of old lira coins that I dutifully threw into the fountain.

    In 1968, no doubt as a result of my former contribution, I returned with my wife and she in turn tossed her own offering into the fountain.

    Finally, in 2005, en route to Monte Cassino, we returned once again and despite the huge crowds managed to pay our customary dues.

    Fully paid up member

    Ron Goldstein

    As is usually the case, they failed to publish my comment so I thought I'd inflict it on you here :)

    JimHerriot likes this.
  19. Ron Goldstein

    Ron Goldstein WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    Back in 2013, in posting No.13, I wrote about my first Day leave in Rome in 1944
    The other day, some 75 years later, I saw the following article in the Times.
    Ron Article in Daily Express re Rome trinket sellers.JPG
  20. PackRat

    PackRat Well-Known Member

    Ron, not sure if you've answered this before but were you 'allowed' to keep your diary? The pic on the first page of this thread shows you had a proper pocket diary, printed up with days and months. I'm sure that I've read elsewhere that keeping a diary was expressly forbidden, the rationale being that it could reveal compromising information if the man fell into enemy hands. Did you ever get any warnings about that? Did you have to write in it surreptitiously, making sure that an officer didn't clock that you were keeping one?

    Thank goodness you had the foresight to write one, all those little details you recorded at the time are priceless now.
    JimHerriot and Chris C like this.

Share This Page