My service in Royal Signals, 1939 to 1946.

Discussion in 'Veteran Accounts' started by Nevil, Feb 21, 2011.

  1. Nevil

    Nevil WW2 Veteran/Royal Signals WW2 Veteran

    The provenance of the pictures of Berlin during April of 1945, as the Soviet forces battled their way in, is unknown as they were found without identification. They were later published in Der Spiegel. I have included them here because they will be of interest to many and will also explain to an extent the situation found by British, American and French troops when we moved into our respective Berlin sectors during July of that year.
    By the time we arrived in Berlin, roads were generally cleared, German casualties had been moved elsewhere and there was an attempt at any rate to provide adequate food for the civilian population.

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
     
  2. Owen

    Owen -- --- -.. MOD

    I've only been to Berlin once, back in 1992 but it is a place you can feel the history oozing out of the brickwork.

    I showed my Father-in-law your pics, he's an old bike nut & his Dad was Royal Signals too.
     
  3. Nevil

    Nevil WW2 Veteran/Royal Signals WW2 Veteran

    In 1945 Berlin, there was an official Allied policy of "non-fraternization" with female Germans, a policy that was invisible from the outset in the American and French sectors and collapsed fairly quickly in the British sector. Not long after that, the War Office, with zero knowledge of the local situation, decreed that British troops would not be armed unless on duty where it was required. As a result, many of us provided ourselves with a variety of pistols from Lugers to Mausers which could be carried in a pocket or under a car seat. I had one of each but only once had to use one, when a group of us were fired at from a ruined building, but it was reasuring to have them available as the city had a definite 'Wild West' flavour in the early days.
    The Soviet Red Army, centred at Potsdam, was as unco-operative as it could get away with, which was often and plenty. City telephone centres that were supposed to be handed over to us intact were usually heavily sabotaged, the equipment removed and taken away, and whatever was still there was virtually unusable.
    Trains coming through the Soviet zone with supplies sometimes disappeared or arrived with much of the cargo missing. The single road coming through the Soviet Zone from Helmstedt to Berlin was hazardous except to substantial convoys. Single vehicles using the road were likely to be stopped by Soviet troops, Soviet deserters, or groups of Displace Persons desperate to get to Allied occupied Germany by any means. With a companion I once drove it at night and we were stopped twice at gun point by Soviet troops so it was extremely scary but OK as it turned out.
    It was interesting to see some of the Soviet army convoys for the first time on this road. They would typically consist of very modern tanks on transporters, often followed by US-made trucks, then by Uzbekistan cavalry on small shaggy ponies or large horses looted from German farms. At the rear would often be farm carts and a small herd of cows. The latter were literally the rations for the convoy....we called them "bully on the hoof" as quite often we would find a cow hung in a tree and carved for cooking over a wood fire.
    The general currency in Berlin was cigarettes, the same as it had been in France. It was generally impossible to spend the official currency except in military supported clubs. Any military man walking with a cigarette would be followed by a growing 'tail' of civilians waiting for the stub to be thrown away.
    I left Berlin on leave in May of 1946 but my service actually finished in August of that year, a few weeks short of seven years since I first signed up in Glossop, Derbyshire.
     
    Paul Reed likes this.
  4. Paul Reed

    Paul Reed Ubique

    Fantastic images of Berlin; having just come back from there I was particularly interested in those.
     
  5. Nevil

    Nevil WW2 Veteran/Royal Signals WW2 Veteran

    These may be the last records I have, which may be of interest to some:


    Pictures re-posted:

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
     
  6. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot Patron 1940 Obsessive

    As ever, brilliant-Thank you for sharing the pictures.
     
  7. Owen

    Owen -- --- -.. MOD

    Thank you very much for sharing all these images Captain Horsfall, SIR!
     
  8. Nevil

    Nevil WW2 Veteran/Royal Signals WW2 Veteran

    As ever, brilliant-Thank you for sharing the pictures.
    Thanks, Drew. I think I am out of gas now!

    Nevil.
     
  9. Nevil

    Nevil WW2 Veteran/Royal Signals WW2 Veteran

    Thank you very much for sharing all these images Captain Horsfall, SIR!
    Stand at ease, Owen. I was in the ranks myself once. <G>

    And many thanks for all your help as I have stumbled through the forum!

    Nevil.

    (Unemployed Despatch Rider).
     
  10. Nevil

    Nevil WW2 Veteran/Royal Signals WW2 Veteran

    Fantastic images of Berlin; having just come back from there I was particularly interested in those.
    Thanks, Paul. I have often wondered if the Soviet Army memorials are still in place, or have they been taken down?

    Nevil.
     
  11. dbf

    dbf Moderatrix MOD

    Nevil
    I wonder - would you be willing to post here more accounts of your experiences during the war? If you're not comfortable writing about yourself, what about the characters you encountered?

    Regards
    Diane
     
  12. Mike L

    Mike L Very Senior Member

    Nevil, I for one would like to hear some more about your recollections as a DR if you are willing to share with us.
    I have gained the impression from recent threads that Dispatch Riders carried out many more duties (eg recon) than I was previously aware of.
    Please feel under no obligation - it's just our insatiable curiosity.
     
  13. Nevil

    Nevil WW2 Veteran/Royal Signals WW2 Veteran

    Nevil
    I wonder - would you be willing to post here more accounts of your experiences during the war? If you're not comfortable writing about yourself, what about the characters you encountered?

    Regards
    Diane

    Hi Diane,
    There are so many in this forum who had more action-filled and, I would say traumatic, experiences during WW2 than I, so anything I can contribute is likely to be rather anticlimactic! However, I did write a sort of memoir for my family some years ago so I'll take a re-look at it and see if there is anything that might be of interest. Give me a few days if you will as I have been a bit under the weather recently and am taking things easy on my good wife's orders!
    Nevil.
     
  14. Rich Payne

    Rich Payne Rivet Counter Patron 1940 Obsessive

    There are plenty of books about the action Nevil, it's the detail of military life that's missing. I hope that you're better soon. Is spring on the way in Canada yet ?
     
  15. Nevil

    Nevil WW2 Veteran/Royal Signals WW2 Veteran

    Nevil, I for one would like to hear some more about your recollections as a DR if you are willing to share with us.
    I have gained the impression from recent threads that Dispatch Riders carried out many more duties (eg recon) than I was previously aware of.
    Please feel under no obligation - it's just our insatiable curiosity.

    Hi Mike,

    I can add a few thoughts on that subject if you don't mind hanging on a few days. Who did what very much depended on where the DR served and at what level of unit......often quite different between, say, War Office or Army Signals and an Armoured Div Signals and again with an infantry company Signals unit. DRs, like most Signals trades, were expected to be able to operate in whatever place they found ourselves.

    Nevil.
     
  16. Mike L

    Mike L Very Senior Member

    Look forward to it Nevil!
    As Rich says, it's the personal and day-to-day recollections and the humour which is often missing from some accounts.
     
  17. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot Patron 1940 Obsessive

    From an Army point of view - Am I correct in thinking that to be a Despatch Rider you had to be in the Royal Signals as it was a specific trade. Anyone in other units were infact Motorcycle Orderlies or Motorcycle Messengers?

    Hope you are feeling better soon Nevil.

    Best wishes
    Andy
     
  18. Nevil

    Nevil WW2 Veteran/Royal Signals WW2 Veteran

    There are plenty of books about the action Nevil, it's the detail of military life that's missing. I hope that you're better soon. Is spring on the way in Canada yet ?

    Hi Rich,
    Nice to hear from you again! I guess I forget that there are not a heck of a lot of WW2 vets still around and even fewer who are playing around with computers! Of the two dozen or so DRs who joined up approximately at the same time as I, there is only one left besides me and at 94 he has big health problems now ......living in NE Yorkshire but he can no longer take phone calls from me.

    Well, the calendar says Spring is here and a few days ago we had pretty well lost all the snow, the sun was shining,the grass was looking as though it might be green eventually, it was 12C (for one day only) and the Robins had got back from Florida (this is the first winter in the past 20 years that my wife and I have not spent down there). Last night and all today it has snowed like heck and we have already had about five inches of the stuff and it is still coming down.....the robins are looking for snowshoes.

    Diane and Mike asked for some more info so I will try and put something together that won`t be too boring I hope!

    Good luck with your Norton! Nevil.
     
  19. Nevil

    Nevil WW2 Veteran/Royal Signals WW2 Veteran

    From an Army point of view - Am I correct in thinking that to be a Despatch Rider you had to be in the Royal Signals as it was a specific trade. Anyone in other units were infact Motorcycle Orderlies or Motorcycle Messengers?

    Hope you are feeling better soon Nevil.

    Best wishes
    Andy

    Yes, that`s right, Andy. Despatch Rider was a trade in Royal Sigs and it was not available in other units. I`m not sure what other titles were used for motorcycle riders in other regiments as I don`t recall contact with any. DRs could be used for motorcycle duties other than strictly carrying despatches of course but when on specific DR duties one wore blue and white armbands on both arms. Wearing those armbands was supposed to give one some privileges like commandeering gas....sorry petrol!...from trucks when necessary (we all carried siphon tubes for that purpose) , accommodation, emergency repairs, and so on. Personally I always got a lot of cooperation from other services when I needed help and I think most DRs found the same.
    Nevil.
     
  20. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot Patron 1940 Obsessive

    Thanks Nevil,

    Nice to have my suspicions confirmed-A minor thing I know, but it does niggle me a little when authors refer to anyone on a bike as a DR in their books etc.

    Cheers
    Andy
     

Share This Page