You're on guard mate !

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

  1. Ron Goldstein

    Ron Goldstein WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran Patron

    Hi 51highland

    Was just reading your Dad's story and was promptly reminded of another article posted by a long-standing friend of mine, one Larry Fox, who was in the same unit as myself at Cassino.

    The original article appeared in the BBC WW2 Archives and I give an excerpt below :

    "I have just read the story written by Haydn Green, relating the experience at Monte Cassino, when he was told not to cross his shoe laces, as he would be mistaken for a German and killed by the Ghurkhas.
    I had a similar experience when I was with the 78th infantry div at Cassino. I was on guard at about 2 o’clock in the morning sitting on a large rock half asleep fully dressed, with my rifle between my knees, when I felt someone fondling my gaiters on my ankles. As I was still half asleep, I shouted "What's hasppening ! ... and who is it? . A voice answered back " SLEEP JOHNY SLEEP", I could not see anyone and was finally relieved of my guard duty.
    The next morning I spoke to a Ghurka officer who was nearby and asked him if he knew if anyone else had a similar experience, he then said "I can tell you exactly what happened".
    He then told me his men were out on patrol. On return, in the dark, they saw a body on the rock. To make sure it was not a German , they felt my ankles. If I had been wearing jack boots, I would have had my head chopped off with a kukri knife, but fortunately I was fully dressed with my gaiters, so that I am still around to tell the tale"

    To see the full story, complete with a sketch done at the time, use this link:

    BBC - WW2 People's War - Sleep Johny Sleep at Cassino
  2. Ron Goldstein

    Ron Goldstein WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran Patron

    Giving this thread a bump because another thread (about toilet arrangements in a tank) got me thinking about how we managed to cope with normal body functions despite our abnormal living conditions.

    My initial posting on this thread described living conditions in a pillbox.

    You must realise that we are talking about North East Yorkshire, In mid-winter, and probably at 02:00 hours in a semi- blizzard.

    Despite strict instructions issued concerning voiding one's bladder within the pillbox, this was seldom obeyed by the temporary occupants and by the time the guard was relieved at 08:00 hours the place literally stank.

    Just thought you ought to know. :(

  3. gunbunnyB/3/75FA

    gunbunnyB/3/75FA Senior Member

    just wanted to say that reading these postings, recalled memories of my own. nothing as interesting as you guys but i had a few goofy things night back in "94"or "95" we had a west point cadet shadowing us, (we were in a firing position so we couldn't leave the gun for long, so when the call of nature took hold we had dug a small hole for the deposits) but any way we were in a stand down/sleep period, around 2a.m. this cadet comes bumbling around and just after i had challanged him he fell into the hole face first. he left us that morning and never returned.
  4. Tom Canning

    Tom Canning WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    Once when returning to laager in a monumental rainstorm we were obviously going about it wrongly and thus had a figure gesticulating like mad to stop us when he

    suddenly disappeared - this turned out to be an enemy campsite which had been abandoned and the figure had found their latrine filed with raindrops...

  5. redtop

    redtop Well-Known Member

    Again from my Fathers Journals in Italy this time

    Snipers were everywhere, on entering the old town of Pompei it was dusk and the order was rest if you can but everything in front of you is enemy held “don’t challenge ,fire!.”
    It was my turn to stay awake while the other members of the team closed their eyes, a shell up the spout of the 25pdr. Laid out on the SOS line.
    I saw in the distance a wisp of light, “I bet that’s a sniper I thought, taking a puff at a cigarette.”
    (A corporal had just been shot by someone a little earlier.)
    I aimed my rifle in that direction and fired three rounds.
    “What’s up Barney” “said Lt .Rawson.”
    “A bloody sniper over there.”
    “There “
    With the aid of my fingers on a bearing point.
    He looked and said “You silly ...... that’s Mount Vesuvius in point of eruption 28 miles Away”
    But he did agree that through the trees and the dark night it did look as I said.
  6. redtop

    redtop Well-Known Member

    Guard Duties
    Well I am always posting from my Dads Journals so maybe time to post from my own.
    Not WW11 but Chilwell Depot in the late fifties where I spent a short time before joining 16 Para Bde.

    Nottingham at this time was a hotbed of IRA activity.
    Up and down the country IRA groups were making their presence known.
    Nothing like the scale it would escalate to in Northern Island in later years.
    Mainly raids on armouries to steal weapons and a few service men had been killed and wounded.
    Chilwell was an enormous area to cover.
    Standing patrols were set up around the perimeter with Bren guns loaded with live ammunition.
    The main guard was mounted at the armoury,
    8 men a Corporal and Lance corporal armed with .303 Lee Enfield rifles loaded with 5 live rounds.
    A duty officer was on call.
    The guard room had several beds for those not on stag, they were metal framed with metal springs, no mattress ,if you wanted a mattress you had to take the one from your own bed and carry it to the guard room this a was a lot of hassle and led to some strange antics during the night.
    The guard had to be fully dressed at all times, in winter this included a great coat. With belt and webbing.
    The duty officer would turn up unannounced to check the guard’s response.
    The duty sentry after challenging and recognising the officer would shout
    “Turn out the Guard.”
    The guard had to fall in outside the guardroom in quick time.
    This is where the antics started, usually at least one soldier laying on the bedsprings would find himself trapped with his back belt buckles caught in the springs.
    Some even managed to jump up with bed still attached, so there would be a soldier thrashing about with a bed on his back, the Cpl and L/Cpl screaming abuse at him and the rest of the guard trying not to laugh.
    Chilwell at night could be an eerie place.
    During WW1 it had been an ammunition factory and hundreds of civilian workers had been killed when the whole place blew up.
    So of course rumour had it that it was haunted.
    This rumour was helped by the fact that hot water for the ablutions was piped around the camp from a central boiler house via ducted pipes in the ground.
    Leaks in these pipes would lead to wafting steam columns that in the early hours after an hour or so on stag could take on a ghostly appearance.
    The sentry on stag stood under a flood light (Just in case the IRA could not see him)
    The rifle would be pointed at anybody who approached. “Halt who goes there.” “Friend” “Advance friend and be recognised”
    ID card would then be checked, this all on one of the main routes in the camp.
    Friday evenings were busy.
    The greatest danger was not the IRA but the sentry.
    When changing sentry the SOP (Standard Operating Procedure) was for the Guard Comm. To take out the relieving sentry to the post and give him the order “With 5 rounds load” then to the sentry being relieved “Unload, for inspection port arms”. The Comm. would the check his rifle to ensure it was safe.
    OK foolproof.
    What happened in effect in the early hours was the two sentries swapped rifles the relieving sentry getting the loaded rifle, no checks.
    On several occasions I took over a rifle to find it was cocked with a round in the breech and the safety catch off. And the previous sentry had been pointing the rifle and challenging people.
    No excuse but we were at a very high security state.
    We did have one idiot who was trying to work his ticket who fired at some crows (He missed) this put the whole camp on alert and him in prison.

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