he regaled us with tales of the war, and as kids we were enthralled.
These stories would usually be told at Christmas after the men had
imbibed a little. My Father his tongue loosened on two occasions
told us the story of three of his comrades whose lives were wasted.
He felt strongly, (and he showed his anger in the tone of his voice)
that these three were selected because they were signallers and
not gunners ( and therefore expendable). Personally I think he was
wrong, Signallers were vital and much more difficult to train, it
being a more technical job. He said that together with a party organised
by an 'old sweat' ( which turned out to be Sgt Fletcher) He helped
to recover the bodies.This incident must have affected my father
greatly, for his story tailed off in an embarrassing show of emotion
on both occasions, on reflection I think that like Charlie Ashton
he had many ghosts and preferred to forget about the war.
around the Gheel Bridgehead was horrendous. After being driven out
of Normandy, the Germans beat a hasty retreat and regrouped to make
a stand in the among the waterways of theBelgium/Dutch border. The
Scottish Infantry were magnificent here, repulsing attack after
attack - something like thirteen in all, and losing over 700 Officers
days the division abandoned the Bridgehead and continued through
a position held by the 53rd Welsh Division. Sgt Fletcher wrote in
his diary "Moved to a new position, thank god, glad to get away
from that place…"
The team in
the Forward Observation Post - which included Bdr/ack George Aspley,
Signaller Bill Smith, Dvr Percy Lewis, and Captain John Meredith
- were in the front line with the leading infantry battalion, and
had their radio smashed up, spare parts/radio were needed. The Three
signallers went forward; they were all killed. Bill Smith said there
bodies appeared untouched, and they were probably killed by blast,
"It was a total waste, the jerries pulled back the next day". Alf
Adams was probably not killed outright. He died the day after the
other two, and was likely to have been shipped back to the Regimental
aid post where he died. I assume this is the reason he was buried
in Brussells town Cemetery while John Adams and 'Yanto' Evans are
buried in Gheel War Cemetry.
Judging by his
numberAlf Adams was probably a regular and had been with 6th KSLI
from its formation. He was only recently married to a girl he met
while the Battalion was posted in Lincolnshire. Being single ("and
mad"), Bill Smith volunteered to do Alf's duty in the FOP, a courageous
offer as the FOP's were picked out and under constant attack. Poor
Mr and Mrs Fenton had already lost one son in battle, and a third
son was also fighting, I have been unable to find out whether he
survived the war or not.
The loss hit
the troop hard, not since the first day in battle had they lost
so many men in a single incident.
Four days later
the Division had fought its way into Holland.