While I remember

Discussion in 'Veteran Accounts' started by Ron Goldstein, Dec 19, 2008.

  1. Ron Goldstein

    Ron Goldstein WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran Patron

    In May last year I started a thread under the heading of "What's your shooting like?" , see http://www.ww2talk.com/forum/weapons-technology-equipment/10691-whats-your-shooting-like.html

    During the run of this thread, I included the following small story that I'd previously posted on the BBC WW2 Archives, namely:

    Friday 13th. April 1945
    Moved over Santerno. Some M.G. nuisance and one H.E. about twenty yards away. Bags of prisoners, Kiss from Signora. "Liberatoris !". Chasing after tedeschis with 30 browning blazing!
    The Browning machine gun referred to was rarely fired in anger, the exception being on this one occasion when I nearly killed Hewie our Stuart Tank driver.
    We had been on the move all day and the Germans were surrendering left, right and centre. To our left, about two hundred yards away, German infantry were climbing out of slit trenches with their hands high and we were gesturing to them to get behind us and to make their way to the rear.
    Suddenly someone to our right opened light rifle fire at us and Busty (SSM ‘Busty’ Thomas) lost patience and yelled at me "Let the bastards have it!" Hewie swung the tank to the right so we could face the new threat and I started firing non-stop, without giving Hewie a chance to drop his adjustable seat down below the level of fire belching from the Browning. A horrified Busty yelled: "Get down you stupid bastard!" and to my immediate relief Hewie disappeared from view before I could hit him.


    In the early hours of this morning, after a fairly sleepless night, I found myself thinking about those days and realised that I'd never actually finished the story so, with your pernission, I'd like to add a postscript.

    The action described above had come to a bit of a standstill and the Squadron ground to a halt. As the local firing had died down, Busty told Hewie & I that we could dismount and attend to any bodily functions or make a quick brew-up.

    While we were making our minds up, Tommy gun in his hand, he walked ahead of our tank to examine a small area of bushes directly to our front. Before he actually got there about three or four Jerries emerged, hands held high.

    The oldest could have been no older than fifteen and they made a sorry sight, we were seeing for the first time examples of the Hitler Jugend.

    Busty, caught completely off his guard by the unexpected appearance of the enemy, however harmless that they might have been, grabbed hold of the first one, spun him round and half-heartedly kicked him up the backside shouting as he did so "You stupid effer!.... you could have killed me !"

    He was quite right of course..... Busty Thomas M.M., who had managed to survive the war in the desert, two escapes from a POW camp and countless enemy action in Italy could have been brought down only minutes before by these desperate youngsters who now faced us in abject submission.

    And probably me as well.

    It's funny what you can think about at 4:30 in the morning !
     
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  2. Owen

    Owen -- --- -.. MOD

    Thanks for finishing the story, Ron.
    I hope you get a better night's sleep tonight.
    63 & 1/2 years on and the war still has an effect.
    Those of us that have never been will never know.
     
  3. Smudger Jnr

    Smudger Jnr Our Man in Berlin

    Ron,
    Thanks for finishing the story. It is much appreciated.

    I was unaware that you were using Stuarts which happens to be one of my favourite tanks.

    I will look up your postings on the subject.

    Regards
    Tom
     
  4. Ron Goldstein

    Ron Goldstein WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran Patron

    Tom

    Be aware that the "Honey" in question was one of the many "basterdised" versions left over from desert warfare days. After the turrets had been removed they became more or less a heavier verion of a Bren Gun Carrier.

    The shock to my system (after training on Sherman Mk IVs and on finding that my new "home" was completely exposed to the skies) was considerable !

    There's quite a bit on the site about Stuart tanks. put Honey into the search box and enjoy :)

    Cheers

    Ron
     
  5. Smudger Jnr

    Smudger Jnr Our Man in Berlin

    Ron,

    I have a few photos of the turretless Honey, but 1/6 scale model taken at a meeting somewhere.
    It is a conversion from a 20th century Stuart tank, but extremely well done. ( I wish my modelling skills were as good).

    I have attached some of the model picture as you could would take it as real life.

    I hope it bears some resemblance to your roofless wonder!

    One of the crew is modelled as a Recce man.

    Regards
    Tom
     

    Attached Files:

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  6. Ron Goldstein

    Ron Goldstein WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran Patron

    Attached Files:

  7. Ron Goldstein

    Ron Goldstein WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran Patron

    Looking back on my numerous (some would say too numerous) postings, I see that in the main I have concentrated on the period 1942-1946 and written about my life in the army.

    I thought it might be an idea, while I am still able to, to redress the balance and write of life in wartime Britain in the period September 3rd 1939 until 1st October 1942 .

    On that date, the goverment of the time realised that if they were to finish the war sucessfully they had better call me up.

    I went back to my memoirs and found this item.

    I was living at the time in Sandringham Road in Dalston, North London and as one of the younger members of the family we had just returned to London after living in Hove,

    September 1940
    Saturday, 7th
    The long feared Blitzkrieg, promised to England by Hitler just over a year ago, finally arrived this afternoon with a bomber force of over 300 Luftwaffe planes filling the skies over London. By the time the waves of bombers had finished their work more than 400 people had been killed and over 1600 badly injured.

    Almost every evening for over a month we slept in our Anderson Shelters in the garden. Come the morning we would go out into the still smouldering streets and look with horror at the havoc that had been caused. We would make our way to work, by bus, if we were lucky and everyone at work would have their own story as to how they were lucky to have survived the night.

    Dad had said 'Enough already' and we made another move, this time to Dunstable in Bedfordshire and then, a few weeks later, to the nearby village of Houghton Regis.

    In Houghton Regis, some six miles from Luton, we lived in a small house immediately opposite the village pub and Dad and I commuted every day to the factory in Great Eastern Street in Shoreditch. If my memory serves me rightly, the routine to get to work and back was pretty horrendous by any standard.

    We would rise about 5am, get the 6.l5 bus into Luton, a journey of six miles, then catch the 6.45 train to Kings Cross, changing at St. Albans and arrive in London at about 7.45. From there it was a tube ride to Old Street station and finally a trolley bus ride to Great Eastern Street where we would arrive ready to start work at 8.l5 the latest. Repeat this process to get home at night and you will soon get the message that travel in wartime was not much fun.

    Dad would normally get in a carriage with his cronies and they would soon have a card school going, while I would equally try to get in a carriage with young people of my own age group.

    All my friends were waiting to be called up into the Forces, and although I managed to keep pretty busy work wise, apart from being an Air Raid Warden in the evenings, I eagerly awaited call-up to get out of the rat-race in which I found myself.
     
  8. Tom Canning

    Tom Canning WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    Ron -
    you're tale of thinking about the war in your "topless" tank at 4;30 a.m. is not that unusual as I have the same problem at times - one recently was when we were unexpectantly gathering prisoners, Trevor Williams our Commander "suggested" that the gunner Harry Gray and myself dismount and deal with around 20 of the 1st Paras who were milling around.

    So grabbing my Tommy gun - slapping in a magazine - I jumped down and waved the paras into some form of orderly bunch as Harry did the same.

    Suddenly one really big tough guy started to laugh and was talking to his mates who were also laughing their heads off.....puzzled I looked round to see what was the joke....and saw that Harry - while he had his Tommy gun aimed at them all - had no magazine fitted and his cleaning brush was still up the spout !

    Pretty soon we were all laughing - so we gave them a tin of players and some Italian matches and handed them over to the Canadian Infantry...then went on with the battle !
    Cheers
     
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  9. kfz

    kfz Very Senior Member

    Guys your posts are essential reading, lapping it up.

    Kev
     
  10. Smudger Jnr

    Smudger Jnr Our Man in Berlin

    Ron -
    you're tale of thinking about the war in your "topless" tank at 4;30 a.m. is not that unusual as I have the same problem at times - one recently was when we were unexpectantly gathering prisoners, Trevor Williams our Commander "suggested" that the gunner Harry Gray and myself dismount and deal with around 20 of the 1st Paras who were milling around.

    So grabbing my Tommy gun - slapping in a magazine - I jumped down and waved the paras into some form of orderly bunch as Harry did the same.

    Suddenly one really big tough guy started to laugh and was talking to his mates who were also laughing their heads off.....puzzled I looked round to see what was the joke....and saw that Harry - while he had his Tommy gun aimed at them all - had no magazine fitted and his cleaning brush was still up the spout !

    Pretty soon we were all laughing - so we gave them a tin of players and some Italian matches and handed them over to the Canadian Infantry...then went on with the battle !
    Cheers

    Tom,

    That really is a tale and a half. Great reading it TTC.

    Regards
    Tom
     
  11. Ron Goldstein

    Ron Goldstein WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran Patron

    During the few years that the BBC was collecting memories of WW2 for their eventual archives much was made by the moderators of the importantance of what they referrred to as "perceived" memories.

    In other words, even if the stories submitted were factually incorrect they were just as important as stories that were completely correct.

    Tom & I were never fully in agreement with this line of thought and we often clashed swords with the powers that be who ran the site.

    Ealy in Jan this year Tom, Gerry Chester & I met up for a meal and understandably we covered a fair bit of ground in our cross table conversation.

    Tom was talking about apalling living conditions that he had encountered during his service and mentioned, as an example, Gibralter Barracks at Bury St.Edmunds saying that he froze to death in the antiquated barracks.

    This threw me immediately because it ran counter to my own memory of the place (you need to know that Tom & I have crossed paths all over the place and we had both done our Basic Training at Bury St.Edmunds).
    http://www.ww2talk.com/forum/veteran-accounts/15625-ron-toms-%22follow-me-around%22.html

    During my stay I remember vividly that my billets were one of the old fashioned Nissen huts and these were at the Northern end of the parade ground as one entered the main gates.
    BBC - WW2 People's War - Early Army Days, October 1942

    Now, re-examining my memory, I recall that the "indoor" training was indeed in what must have been the original barracks of which Tom complained about the sleeping quarters, whilst the Nissen huts where I slept must have been erected around the parade ground as a temporary measure for the increased intakes of 1942.

    The only reason I now post this item is to show that sixty six years after those heady days, as a result of a lunchtime conversation , I have had to re-adjust my memories of those times.

    Thanks Tom

    Ron
     
  12. Ron Goldstein

    Ron Goldstein WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran Patron

    I know that have mentioned before the name of "Loopy" Kennard but he was such a crazy "one-off" character that I hope you don't mind me writing of him again.
    After he died I did a bit of browsing on the internet and found the following profile in Burke's Peerage:
    Lt.-Col. Sir George Arnold Ford Kennard, 3rd Bt. b. 27 April 1915, d. circa 13 December 1999, #26559
    Pedigree
    Sir Coleridge Arthur Fitzroy Kennard, 1st Bt. b. 12 May 1885, d. 7 October 1948
    Dorothy Katherine Barclay d. 15 January 1953

    19 Aug 2006

    Lt.-Col. Sir George Arnold Ford Kennard, 3rd Bt. was born on 27 April 1915. He was the son of Sir Coleridge Arthur Fitzroy Kennard, 1st Bt. and Dorothy Katherine Barclay. He married, firstly, Ceclia Violet Cokayne Maunsell, daughter of Major Cecil John Cokayne Maunsell and Wilhelmine Violet Eileen FitzClarence, on 12 October 1940. He and Ceclia Violet Cokayne Maunsell were divorced in 1958. He married, secondly, Mollie Jesse Rudd Wyllie, daughter of Hugh Wyllie, on 30 September 1958. He married, thirdly, Nichola Carew, daughter of Peter Gawen Carew and Ruth Chamberlain, in 1985.<SUP>1</SUP> He married, fourthly, Georgina Wernher, daughter of Maj.-Gen. Sir Harold Augustus Wernher, 3rd Bt. and Anastasia Mikhailovna de Torbay, Countess de Torbay, in December 1992 in London, England. He and Nichola Carew were divorced in 1992.<SUP>1</SUP> He died circa 13 December 1999.
    Lt.-Col. Sir George Arnold Ford Kennard, 3rd Bt. gained the title of 3rd Baronet Kennard.

    "Loopy", to refresh your memory, was a POW for most of the war, having been taken prisoner in Greece but returned to the 4th QOH in 1946 to command "A" Squadron and, as Tech Corporal of the Squadron I got to know him well.

    He was known for, amongst other things, as the CO who put a letter in the Times to say that he would stand surety for any of his former troops who were looking for a job (see below)

    He was later to command the regiment and after his retirement wrote his autobiography "Loopy" The Autobigraphy of George Kennard. I re-show below the letter he wrote to me at the time

    RIP Loopy !

    Ron
     

    Attached Files:

  13. i wonder if all surviving ww2 vets think about it after all these years
     
  14. Tom Canning

    Tom Canning WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    Michal -

    some Vets did manage to switch off their memory banks - others cannot - for example I could al'ways see the ridiculous and funny side of it all - see message # 8 - now these men of 1st Paras were not easy to deal with and usually fought to the last bullet - then came again with a knife - so here are two Tank men accepting their surrender - one with an empty gun ......now that to me was very funny - as it was to the paras - probably hysteria had lot to do with it as well..but it was funny !

    Cheers
     
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  15. Ron Goldstein

    Ron Goldstein WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran Patron

    A day in the life of Trooper Ron Goldstein

    What follows is my version of “A day in the life of” story and sets out to describe a typical day in the line in Northern Italy in WW2. It is an amalgam of events, loosely based on a potpourri of memories of my own life during my service with the 4th Queen's Own Hussars in the closing stages of the war.

    Because all the events that I describe did not take place on the same day, this article could be described as a work of fiction, but I stress that I have written nothing that is not an actual personal memory of those times and wherever possible I have corroborated the events by personal and official diaries.

    Finally, because I at heart I am a lazy person, I have borrowed excerpts from stories previously posted on this and other forums but amended to bring them into the present tense. I repeat that in every case I have relied on actual memories..

    1st April 1945

    02:00 hrs.
    I've drawn the short straw and am on the 2 till 3 guard shift. Armed, apart from the pistol in my holster, with a Tommy Gun, I am patrolling the camp laager and stamping my feet to keep out the cold.

    03:00 hrs
    I shake Hewie's shoulders until I am sure that he is awake and within five minutes I am back in my blankets. Hewie, short for Trooper Hewitt, is the official driver of our Stuart Honey tank and I think he arrived at the 4th QOH the same time as myself, only a few weeks ago. We get on well together despite our two completely different backgrounds and as we are the only two crew members, apart from the CSM, we are happy to do our own jobs on the Honey without any need to say much to each other whilst in action.

    04:30
    Reveille is accomplished by the simple procedure of the last chap on guard doing the rounds of waking up every one he can see.

    05:00 hrs
    I make a brew-up of scalding hot tea and Hewie & Busty help themselves to a mug while I dish out a quota of hefty door-stop sandwiches I have just picked up from the cookhouse.

    Busty, of course, is our tank commander, SSM Thomas W, MM (to give him his full title)

    Welsh to the core, well over weight, he loves his position as Squadron Sergeant Major and woe betide anyone who he feels is falling short of what is expected. The tea making, incidentally, falls to me as apart from my duties as wireless operator I am the unofficial cook for two tanks, the other tank being that of Lt.Walmsley, 2nd I/C and therefore directly responsible to the Squadron Leader one Paddy O.Brien.

    05:15 hrs
    I switch on the 19 set and join in the standard procedure of Netting, that is the tuning in of all the WT sets in the Squadron so that we could communicate with each other. The same mikes and headphones are also used by the crew to speak to each while we are in the tank.

    05:30 hrs
    The familiar "start-up" signal is made visually from the Squadron Leader's tank, a rapid circular motion made by the right hand, and this is followed almost immediately by "move off" being announced over the net.

    07:00 hrs
    With the Squadron Leader’s tank leading the way, we move off in fairly close formation initially through what appeared to be an orchid of blackened tree stumps.
    Today our Kangaroos are carrying the 43rd Royal Marines Commando in Operation Roast and we have high hopes of a good day’s action.
    There is some spasmodic shelling taking place but this appears to be taking place ahead of us and there is no slackening of pace. The immediate area stinks, there is no other word for it, and we soon see bloated carcases of cattle strewn around our pathway and Hewie is obliged to make swerving action to avoid running over the beasts and thereby un-necessarily soiling our Honey tracks.

    08:00 hrs.
    We are now coming under fairly continuous fire from directly ahead.
    Unlike conventional tanks, the Honey has no turret and therefore no canon. As part of a war office decision a large number of Stuart tanks had been converted to the needs of reconnaissance and the hulls had been savagely altered to meet this role. As a direct result the vehicle in which I am now traveling is completely exposed to enemy fire and our sole armament is a 30 Browning mounted in front of the turret ring and a 50 Browning mounted aft.

    09:00 hrs.
    We have reached the banks of the river and are moving left towards our first objective, a serviceable and at present undamaged bridge that will allow us to cross to the Northern side of the Senio. Within seconds a dispatch rider is driving towards us waving frantically for us get over to our left. As we try to pull over we see coming towards us about half a dozen tanks each one bearing severely wounded men piled up on the rear of the turret casing while their comrades are trying to staunch the severe bleeding that is taking place.
    For the first time in my life I realised that ahead of me lays possible untold terrors and that I am being asked to face the same dangers that the poor buggers on the backs of the tanks are now retreating from. Surprisingly I feel little or no fear, my feelings are more of wonderment, anticipation of how I will cope and concentration on the messages pouring through my radio headset.

    14:00 hrs We seem to have been on the move all day and the Germans are surrendering left, right and centre. To our left, about two hundred yards away, German infantry are climbing out of slit trenches with their hands high and we are gesturing to them to get behind us and to make their way to the rear.

    Suddenly someone to our right opened light rifle fire at us and Busty loses patience and yells at me "Let the bastards have it!" Hewie swings the tank to the right so we can face the new threat and I start firing non-stop, without giving Hewie a chance to drop his adjustable seat down below the level of fire belching from the Browning. A horrified Busty yells "Get down you stupid bastard!" and to my immediate relief Hewie disappears from view before I can hit him.

    Within seconds the rifle fire is replaced by more hand-raising, and we are able to proceed without further incident.

    15:00 hrs
    [FONT=&quot]Things have eased off and Busty has just told Hewie & I that we can dismount and attend to any bodily functions or make a quick brew-up.

    While we were making our minds up, Tommy gun in his hand, he walked ahead of our tank to examine a small area of bushes directly to our front. Before he actually got there about three or four Jerries emerged, hands held high.

    The oldest could have been no older than fifteen and they made a sorry sight, we were seeing for the first time examples of the Hitler Jugend.

    Busty, caught completely off his guard by the unexpected appearance of the enemy, however harmless that they might have been, grabbed hold of the first one, spun him round and half-heartedly kicked him up the backside shouting as he did so "You stupid effer!.... you could have killed me !"

    He was quite right of course..... Busty Thomas M.M., who has managed to survive the war in the desert, two escapes from a POW camp and countless enemy action in Italy could have been brought down only minutes before by these desperate youngsters who now face us in abject submission.

    [/FONT]19:00 hrs
    Things have quieted down and we are back in Laager for the night.
    “A” troop have come back cock-a-hoop because young Jefford has been told he will be awarded a medal for his bravery in today’s fighting.

    Must try and write home tonight !


    Ron
     
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  16. sapper

    sapper WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    The weight of the Bren that stopped me from growing tall, Stunted me 19 year old growth! for me was deadly accurate, it always fired shorts bursts of five a little circle with often one in the middle. I liked the Bren. Biut I did have at one time, out on a "watching patrol" with me Bren set up on a window sill. and watched a German patrol pass by down the deserted village street. We were there, not to fight... we were told to watch. Seemed bloody stupid to me...have any of you Vets done something similar? Like yours Ron....... HI Tom mate ...
     
  17. Tom Canning

    Tom Canning WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    Brian
    as you can imagine - it was always difficult to watch anything from a Tank so we were only asked to fight and leave the watching to the infantry - who were soon on the telephone welded to the back end of our Tanks if anything interesting was going on -

    make sure that the saintly one has a good Christmas
    Cheers
     
  18. sapper

    sapper WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    And you Tom my old fieind and you!.This memory thingy..I do get rather annoyed when any one questions my memory, for it is first class..Specially in the days of war...... Sadly as we get older, so our memory tends to lead us away. BUT NOT THE WAR TIME ONES! Those memories and recall are spot on, clear as a bell, But ask me what I had for lunch yestrday and I cannot tell you. I used to play Chess a good deal. I never play now.The ability to plan and see several moves ahead is now a bloody shambles.
     
  19. Ron Goldstein

    Ron Goldstein WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran Patron

    I'd forgotten I had written a review on Loopy's autobiography on GOOGLE BOOKS.


    User reviews

    My review
    I start by confessing a vested interest in “Loopy” Kennard
    As a WW2 veteran, now in his late eighties and someone who had been a wireless operator/gunner in the 4th Queen’s Own Hussars, I first met him at Opicina, a village overlooking the Bay of Trieste. The time was late 1946.
    He had just re-joined his (and my) regiment, the IVth QOH, after being captured in Greece and being held as a POW between the years 1941 and 1945 and “Loopy” , newly promoted to Major, had been brought back to command “A” Squadron.
    I, as a lowly Corporal in charge of the Tech Stores, was to serve under him until my eventual posting home in January 1946.
    I’d never come across a Baronet before and only really learnt about his past many years later when I took up computing and did a bit of research on his background.
    Do as I did and look up his entry on Debrett’s Illustrated Baronetage.
    It will tell you that his full name was Sir.George Arnold Ford Kennard, 3rd Baronet born on 27th April 1915, educated at Eton, and that on retirement he was Lt.Colonel commanding 4th Queen’s Own Hussars.
    When he died in December 1999 his obituary in the Sunday Times told of his father, Sir Coleridge, who had become a Baronet at the tender age of six and who had owned a magnificent villa on the French Riviera. Sir Coleridge left his wife, lost his entire fortune gambling and left “Loopy” nothing but two old frayed Etonian ties, a blazer and a scarf.
    So much for Loopy himself , now what about his book ?
    I found it fascinating, but then I would, wouldn’t I, but his autobiography stands up in it’s own right with it’s glimpses of another world. It has some delightful photos of a pre-war era and lots of pithy comments concerning the young Loopy's background.
    Read about his inviting a Waffen SS officer to the Regimental annual re-union.
    Read about his arriving back to the Regiment in charge of a pack of hounds for a Regimental hunt.
    You don’t have to be interested in militaria alone to enjoy this wonderful piece of British history, “Loopy” had a lovely easy flowing writing style and I read his autobiography (admittedly pretty short at 148 pages) in one happy session.
    Ron Goldstein
     
  20. bugleboy2323

    bugleboy2323 Senior Member

    It's funny what you can think about at 4:30 in the morning !--------------I guess Ron those thoughts will be with you until the day you die?Im glad Ron you made it back ok,because its people like you that make a FORUM a success.and I look forward to reading your posts and threads,seasons greetings to you and your loved ones. B/B2323
     

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