The Eighth Army Veterans Association

Discussion in 'Veteran Accounts' started by Kieron Hill, Apr 25, 2005.

  1. Kieron Hill

    Kieron Hill Senior Member

    Hi All,

    I got back yesterday from my visit to Manchester
    with members of the Eighth Army Veterans association
    with memories that will remain with me forever. I had
    been invited to attend their meeting were I would be
    able to ask members about their experiences, I was
    not to be disappointed.

    I had made contact with the Association through
    Fred Hirst the editor of the Manchester Veteran a
    quarterly newsletter, which is distributed to veterans
    all over the UK and abroad. They meet at a local
    British Legion Club, but before that I would go to
    meet Fred at his home for a bite to eat and a chinwag
    about his WW2 experiences. We arrived at Fred’s
    home at around 10.30am as arranged and were
    made so welcome. As we sat down talking you
    couldn’t help but gaze around at the many pictures
    and certificates hanging from his walls, one in particular
    caught my eye that read “Army POW Escape Club” from
    this I knew I’d just met someone special (I’ll comeback
    to Fred later).

    We ate our sandwiches and set of for the Legion Club,
    on our arrival I was introduced to its members. The
    meeting was started with the last post and the lowering
    of the standards in honour of their falling comrades in
    the field, a very moving moment which brought a lump
    to my throat. As I sat down and listened to their chairman
    go over his notes from their previous meeting you could
    feel the true comradeship that is still present amongst
    this band of brothers (and sisters), as I sat there I looked
    around at their faces and couldn’t help but feel humbled to
    be sitting in their presence.
    After the meeting I had a chance to talk to some of the
    members. One in particular was a Royal Engineer who
    was clearing minefields at El Alamein prior to push forward
    by the tanks and infantry on the 23rd October 1942. I
    sat and listened to this mans remarkable story, but I just
    wish that I’d had more time, he said as he pushed forward
    clearing the mines he turned around at the moment the
    882 gun bombardment started, he said it was just like
    one big wall flames rising from the ground and the ground
    shook. Other members included REME, Royal Artillery,
    Wrens, ATS, RASC and Sherwood Foresters (Fred),
    there were more but time was not on my side and I
    didn’t get the chance to talk to them all, which was a
    real shame. I have been invited up again so hopefully
    I’ll get the opportunity to speak to them again.

    Back to Fred a remarkable 83year old man to whom
    I could sit a listen to until the cows came home, I
    never had the honour of meeting my Granddad but
    if I could model him on someone…it would be Fred.
    Here is a very brief account of Fred, he Landed in
    Algeria with the 2/5th Bn Sherwood Foresters on
    the 3rd Jan 1942 and spent the next 2 months at
    the front line around Sedjenane and Tamera, he
    was then taken a prisoner of war in Tunisia and
    sent to PG 78 & PG82 an Italian POW camp, he
    escaped twice and was recaptured twice. Then on
    the 1st May 1945 he was woken by shouts of “The
    Yanks are here”. From here he was sent home for
    a while before returning to Germany with the British
    Army of The Rhine (B.A.O.R.). Fred now lives near
    Macclesfield where he is editor of the Manchester
    Veteran, he is a member of the Eighth Army, Sherwood
    Foresters and Army POW Escape Associations, he gives
    talks at local schools, colleges and museums, gives
    interviews to various media groups and has written a
    book called “A Green Hill Far Away” by an infantry
    soldier Private Fred Hirst. Fred is truly a remarkable
    man and is a great believer in sharing his experiences
    with younger generations. We all go through life
    and meet people that have a positive lasting effect
    on our lives I have met such a person in Fred.

  2. Kiwiwriter

    Kiwiwriter Very Senior Member

    Great stuff...great story. Get their memories on tape before we lose them.
  3. populus02

    populus02 Junior Member

    , i wrote to a member of the eigth army verterans im constanly asking him questions about what he did in the war and i carnt send him eought letters . i v always wantd to go and meet them but its too far away . i envy you !!!

Share This Page