You're on guard mate !

Discussion in 'General' started by Ron Goldstein, Mar 13, 2008.

  1. Ron Goldstein

    Ron Goldstein WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    I wasn't quite sure where this thread should go so perhaps, if it takes off, one of the moderators will find a place for it ?.

    What we are talking about is being on guard and although I did make a tentative search to see if the subject had been discussed before I couldn't find anything..... no doubt others will soon put me right .
    Anyone who has done any military service whatsoever must have stories to tell but to get you going I'll start off with one example, I warn you I will be back with more !

    WHITBY, Yorkshire, 1942

    In December '42 I was stationed at Whitby being trained as a Driver/Wireless Operator in the Royal Artillery.

    Most nights, after a hectic day's training, we would find ourselves on guard and manning pill boxes strategically placed on the cliff tops of nearby Robin Hood's Bay.
    Two men to a pill box, armed with Lee Enfield rifles and 5 rounds of ammo each.

    The pill box had no creature comforts whatsoever, just the bare bleak concrete walls, the only light coming through the weapon slit facing seaward. Toilet arrangements non existent, ditto for seating, and food was what you had been issued with if the cooks were in a good mood.

    However many layers of clothing we donned before going on guard we froze and by the end of our shift we were comatose having exhausted whatever conversation we used to keep ourselves awake.

    You could say that England was slightly un-prepared for a German attack !

    Where did you (or yours) do their guard duty ?

    Do let me know.

  2. deadb_tch

    deadb_tch the deadliest b#tch ever

    Good, story Ron, as I've never served in army for long, only like a lieutenant candidate for 2 weeks (and I can say it was enough for me) in real unit and 2 years in university military faculty, I've heard tons of stories about our soldiers being on guard :D Most of 'em r very funny :D
  3. Gerry Chester

    Gerry Chester WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    Hi Ron,

    Two stories while at 57th RTR Training Regiment at Warminster.

    As the important duty of guarding the Barracks was assigned to MPs and regular RTR personnel, two less significant places to guard were employed to train newcomers.

    One location required two Troopers being on guard for two hours at a time. While one stood guard at the entrance, the other patrolled the perimeter of the vehicle storage area, located inside the Barracks, which took ten minutes or so, after which the roles were reversed. It was here that I was first put on guard duty.

    With service in the Home Guard I was very familiar with Guard Duty, not so for my partner as it was his very first experience. I was nearing the end of a circuit when my "comrade-in-arms" was being approached by the Orderly Officer and the Sergeant of the Guard. The following exchanges, more or less verbatim, followed. "Halt, hands up or I'll fire" "This is the Orderly Officer!" shouted back the Sergeant. "Stop, I'm going to shoot!" (As ammunition hadn't been issued it was an idle threat.) "How long have you been a soldier?" "About three weeks!" "It's pack drill for you, you (expletive)." From a very understanding officer came "That's enough Sergeant he's only learning!"
    The other location was on Salisbury Plain upon a small hill crowned by a clump of trees. There, a couple of weeks later, I had the first of two tours of duty guarding this wind-swept hill whose elevation is not recalled. On both occasions we had to check a long inventory at the beginning and conclusion of guard duty. Although the quantity of all items, including the Nissen Hut, was printed on the inventory form, the number of live trees surrounding the hut was not. Each of the hundred-plus had to be counted, the result being inserted on the inventory form, together with the reporting of any signs of a severed limb. Perhaps it was to discourage, during the icy days of winter, the smuggling of axes in order that a tree, or parts therof, may be chopped down to feed the stove!

    Cheers, Gerry
    Slipdigit likes this.
  4. Ron Goldstein

    Ron Goldstein WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    Hi Gerry

    Many thanks for the prompt response and the pair of good tales to start us off.

    As I did warn you, this thread is going to be a bit of a tit-for-tat, so here is another one from me.

    I first arrived in North Africa on April 13th 1943 but didn't join my unit (The 49th LAA) until the 22nd of May.
    On the 17th June, the King, George VI, flew to Tunisia to inspect the 78 Div and my unit proudly marched in front of him through the streets of Tunis.

    As a comparitive newcomer it was deemed appropriate that I, and the other re-inforcements, should guard the vehicle park to ensure that the local citizens didn't make off with sundry parts, including all the tyres.

    When we were being given our instructions as to the exact perimiters of the sentry beat it was also pointed out to us that we should be keeping a close eye on the latrines.

    When I queried this last point it was explained to me that it was common practice for the local gentry to steal the by-product of bodily functions which were in great demand for spreading on the nearby fields.

    To this day I can proudly claim, that whilst my comrades-in-arms marched in triumph through the streets of Tunis I guarded a pile of sxxxt !


    Owen likes this.
  5. sapper

    sapper WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    When I was in the Home Guard in Poole Dorset. One of the Guard duties was to sit in a little hut on the end of Poole Quay at night, watching for any mine laying enemy aircraft that dropped sea mines.
    On a table was a large compass with all the points laid out, and in the centre, a large pointer. if a sea mine was dropped, we had to set the pointer to where the splash was seen.
    On my watch we never saw any. But unfortunately a Catalina came in to land on the water. hit a sea mine and completely vanished in a huge explosion.
  6. Ron Goldstein

    Ron Goldstein WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    Thanks Brian

    You must have lots of sentry memories so keep them coming !

    My No 3 coming up:

    In late 1946 I was stationed at Monfalcone in the extreme North of Italy and was "sweating" on getting my return to England under the current scheme of "Python"

    By that time, I had reached the giddy rank of Corporal and therefore was automatically Guard Commander whenever it became my turn to do a spell of guard duty.

    One of the places that my unit (4th Queen's Own Hussars) used to patrol, was the local train marshalling yards and on this occasion we were told to pay special attention to a goods train that was staying there overnight before it moved off the next morning.

    I was trying to get some shut-eye in the guard hut, when a young trooper woke me frantically to say that one of the fuel tanks that made up the train was too hot to touch and was probably just about to blow up.

    I hastened to the spot and yes, when I felt the side of the tanks, it was hot and I began to feel that the trooper might be right.

    After much phoning around I finally managed to get some fairly senior railway officials to join us alongside the train . It was then that I learnt, for the first time, that when the tanks were filled with Diesel oil it was deliberately pumped in hot to keep the fuel fluid !.

    As the Italians railwaymen walked away from us, I heard one say to the other, in Italian, "another crazy Englishman !"
  7. Ron Goldstein

    Ron Goldstein WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    A good friend of mine, Tom Canning, who lives in Canada, has been having great difficulty in accessing this site. He asked me to post this extract from his memoirs for him & I am delighted to oblige.

    "Some time later we were "Invited" to stand guard at the docks in Algiers, whcih was a pain in the rear but someone had to do it. Once again MacDonald disappeared very convieniently missing his turn at guarding some frieghters in case someone made off with them. He returned much later with the news that he had been curious as to what we were guarding and so went walkabout in some of the ships, and had come across many new uniforms of which he had helped himself to three in case someone else wanted one ?

    There were no takers as we had new kits issued prior to boarding.

    The guard was stood down at dawn and we had to be inspected inside half an hour which gave us time to clean up and MacDonald decided to wear his new uniform.

    In the gloom of the guardhouse he dressed very carefully in his new uniform, and as the sun came up we paraded to find that MacDonald stood out like a sore thumb !

    Instead of wearing the British Brown/Khaki, MacDonald was dressed in the Green/Khaki of the Canadian Army.

    The Sergeant-Major felt that this was very interesting and so invited MacDonald to accompany him to the Orderly Office for a little discussion !

    That was the last we saw of MacDonald."
  8. kfz

    kfz Very Senior Member

    come on guys im enjoying this....

  9. Ron Goldstein

    Ron Goldstein WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

  10. Ron Goldstein

    Ron Goldstein WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    Memories playing tricks after 20 years so I don't know how you WW2 Veterans remember things so well

    As Bill Shakespeare was wont to say "Aye....there's the rub !"

    At my age, its always "Darling, have you seen my watch?" or "Did I switch the immersion off ?"

    No problem, however, with remembering exactly what my comrades of 65 years ago looked like, or the lovely Welsh accent of my late Sgt.Major "Busty" Thomas.

    Having said that, my diaries help, of course, and my Army Album is still with me, but, for the moment anyway , my memory of that climatic period is still as strong as ever so if it's recollections you want, ask us
    NOW while the situation holds :)

    It was Owen, wasn't it ?


  11. Jaeger

    Jaeger Senior Member

    Back in 1996 when I was a Corporal I clearly remember one night on guard. As the squad leader I was commander of the guard, and besides checking that nobody got frostbite, I did the ammo bunker check. On the night in question my scout was walking with me around the camp to check the fence. I think it was -15C and snowing moderatly. As we were approaching the rear of the garrison we saw a figure coming from the outside of the fence. Before we knew it he started to climb the fence, my scout sprinted forward and took up position at the corner of a small shed. (the one where we do our gas drills to be precise) Now my scout was from the county of Finnmark. A quarter Norwegian, a quarter Sami and half Finnish. In short you don't muck about with him. As the person dropped on our side of the fence he quickly challenged the man. The man did not reply, and my scout loaded the weapon. (It is custom to have the weapon semi loaded, empty chamber but loaded magazine) Again he challenged the man, and still there was no reaction. I quickly sized up the situation and knew that within 5 seconds my fierce friend would give a warning shot. Beeing the commander of the guard I would spend hours of report writing and answering unpleasant questions from the red caps. So I darted forward and smacked the person with my mag lite. (the red caps told us to do that, because we had to fill out reports if we used batons) The person dropped like a sack of potatoes and we promptly cuffed him. Then we discovered that the person was Major Ravn. Drunk as a skunk, and out cold. He had tried to take a shortcut over the fence rather than walking the extra miles around the camp to get inside. He got an imperial rocket, and we were off the hook. I rember talking to my scout later on, and he confirmed that he was about to fire the warning shot. I wonder what would have come of that...

  12. Ron Goldstein

    Ron Goldstein WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran


    There must have been a lot of us over the years who would have loved to have hit an officer and got away with it, thanks for sharing this with us :)


  13. Jaeger

    Jaeger Senior Member

    Thank you Ron.:) As an end to the story Maj. Ravn was sacked some years later because of his drunkeness. How is the phrase, he was a great mixer?
  14. Tom Canning

    Tom Canning WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    This "Your'e on guard mate !" story is unusual, in that it was to last more than a month of permanent guard duty.
    It's a bit on the long side so I'll take the easy way out and just supply the link !

    BBC - WW2 People's War - The War Ends in Italy, 2nd May 1945

    A couple of stories back I posted one on behalf of Tom Canning who is a long term Canadian resident. To anyone puzzled at how Tom & I first met I would refer them to this link:
    BBC - WW2 People's War - An unlikely Post War meeting

    I think I have finally cracked the code to re-join the web site - with the help of Adam and Ron !
    von Poop likes this.
  15. Slipdigit

    Slipdigit Old Hickory Recon

    Good to have you back, Mr. Canning.
  16. von Poop

    von Poop Adaministrator Admin

    Marvellous Tom, I'm still not entirely certain what was causing the trouble, but 10,000 apologies and a warm welcome back from the electronic hinterland.

    It's good to beat those Gremlins down (hopefully :unsure:).

  17. Tom Canning

    Tom Canning WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    Now and again - in between courses all over the North of Italy - I would find myself on guard at our Squadron's village of Strassburg in Central Austria - at that time we were losing men by the minute with going and coming from leave - De-mob etc and so we were short of everybody.

    We were then "reinforced" (sic) by a very young 2nd Lt who was billited in a private house outside the village - it was then passed on that he was a bit slow in getting out of bed in the this a.m. I knocked on the front door - the lady of the house let me in - I clumped up the stairs - woke him up - stood there while he made no effort to get out of bed - couldn't blame him really as it was the dead of winter and the room wasn't exactly hot - after a few minutes I grabbed his duvet - pulled it back and let the air hit his pyjamas - he never moved - I then grabbed him by the top of his arms and lifted him out of bed - smacked him on both cheeks with my hand, and he finally became compus mentis - later he thanked me for getting him out of bed...he didn't last long and was posted elsewhere !
  18. Tom Canning

    Tom Canning WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    I did mention that the reinforcing officer was very young ? - I was all of 22 at that time - but old !
  19. 51highland

    51highland Very Senior Member

    From my Fathers memories, North Africa early 1942.
    ............... I was part of a group of Camerons attached to the 4th Indian Division for a short time. Standing on guard duty one night, a hand felt its way down over my face. I honestly thought that my life was about to be terminated by the cold steel of a knife, I was rigid with fear. Then the silence was broken by a voice in broken English saying "OK Johnny". It was a Ghurka. They had been out on a raid. I never saw them go or come back, just a hand feeling my features. I vowed never again to stand still whilst on guard duty.
  20. 51highland

    51highland Very Senior Member

    More memories of early army life guard duties.

    We were then posted to the South coast for defence duties, around the Eastbourne area at the height of the Battle of Britain. It seems to me as though it was constantly sunny, watching the dog fights over the channel and coast.
    I won a runners-up medal in the cross-country race, coming second to an officer. He was a good all-round sportsman and tried, without too much success, to teach us Highland dancing.
    We would take turns in ducking into the Beach huts along the seafront, to have a crafty cigarette.One smoking and one keeping watch.
    One of our guys was put on a charge for handing over his rifle whilst on guard duty to an officer. Word quickly spread that a smart arse officer was tricking new recruits. A few nights later he tried it with me, but I refused to hand it over. He then tried to take my rifle from me. As he tried to pull it from my grip I pulled away from him and the butt of the rifle caught him square on the chin. He went out like a light and collapsed in a heap at my feet. Me and my mate started to panic but realised that he was the one in trouble, trying to take a soldiers weapon is a big no unless on parade and inspection. Nothing was ever said about the incident, but the young officer disappeared within a few days.

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