| Pvt. Herbert
4th Dorsetshire Regiment - 43rd Wessex Division
Herbert Henry Haddrell was born on 27th March
1925 at Bristol General Hospital, Guinea Street, the son of Thomas
and Georgina Haddrell. He was the youngest of twelve children -
six boys and six girls - born to Thomas, a dock labourer and his
wife Georgina (nee Lee). The family was living at 22, Tower Street
in the parish of Temple at the time of the birth and Bert was the
only child to be born in hospital - his brothers and sisters being
born at home.
Leaving school at the age of 14 in 1939 Bert joined
a printing firm, Burleighs Ltd, in Lewins Mead, as a Readers
Assistant, which involved reading Gallyproofs to the Reader who
would then make the necessary corrections - effectively proof reading.
Bert didnt stay long at his first job and found employment
next at a Financiers Office, F.G. Price Ltd, High Street, in reality
Money Lenders, where at times he was sent out to collect money from
customers; something he didnt like doing. Bert then joined
H.J.Packer & Co. Ltd, chocolate manufacturers, in October 1940
at the age of 15 as an office boy working in Carlyle Road, Greenbank,
Bristol where both the offices and factory were located. He was
to remain with the company - under various guises: Carsons, Cavenham
Confectionery, Famous Names, Elizabeth Shaw - for 47 and a half
Bert listened on the radio at his sister's house
in Hanham (Alice and Art Heales), to the announcement by Prime Minister
Neville Chamberlain that Britain was at war with Germany, but didnt
realise the full implication of what was being said at the time.
Once the war had started Bert undertook voluntary
work during the evening taking apart gas masks. He also helped at
home with the black out precautions for the house, sticking adhesive
tape on the windows and helping put in black out curtains. At Packers
Bert worked a shift, fire watching in case incendiary bombs were
dropped on the factory. Having received no training he was issued
with a stirrup pump as the only means to deal with any fires. Fortunately,
no incendiaries dropped on the chocolate factory when he was on
The Luftwaffe orders for the night of November
24th were for the first major attack on Bruder, the German code
name for Bristol, but as there had been a good deal of fog over
Northern France earlier in the day, and a chance that it might return,
it was decided operations should be completed by midnight. A total
of 148 aircraft, - three principle types of bomber, the Dornier
Do 17, the Heinkel He 111 and the Junkers Ju 88, all twin-engined
aircraft - were ordered to the City, 135 of which claimed to have
attacked between 1830 and 2300 hrs with 156.25 tonnes of H.E.'s,
(High Explosives) 4.75 tonnes of Oil Bombs and 12,500 I.B.'s (Incendiaries).
The concentration point was centred on the harbour
and industrial plants on both sides of the City Docks, with the
intention of "eliminating Bristol as an importing port supplying
much of the Midlands and South of England". The aircraft involved
in this operation were drawn from I/KG 1, III/KG 26, and III/KG
27, I, II and III/KG 51, Stab, I, II and III/KG 55, KGr.100, KGr.606,
and LG 1. For the Germans it was a successful night and only 2 aircraft
failed to return, a Heinkel of II/KG 55 shot down off Portsmouth
by anti-aircraft fire and a Dornier from KGr.606 which crashed near
Plymouth, as a result of which 4 crewmen were killed and a further
4 made prisoner, including one who was injured. The general impression
given by participating airmen was that results were similar to those
achieved at Birmingham and Coventry.
The attack, however, resulted in the death of
200 Bristolians, and injuries to a further 8909. It had concentrated
on the central area, with further damage occurring in Clifton, Temple,
Knowle, Barton Hill and Eastville, but greatest destruction took
place in the heart of the City from Broad Quay to Old Market, while
St. James' Barton and St. Philip's suffered severely. Exceedingly
large calibre bombs were reported as having fallen at Eastville,
Speedwell, Temple and Totterdown, while for the greater part of
the night the City was blazing furiously and many well known buildings
were totally destroyed and others gravely damaged (Penny, 2002).
The Haddrell family residence, 68, Kingshill Road,
Knowle, became one of the 10,000 homes damaged by the first major
air raid attack on Bristol on Sunday 24th November 1940. Thomas
Haddrell had, for reasons best known to himself, refused to have
an air raid shelter installed in the house. Consequently, Georgina,
Bert, Fred, and Cliff used the Anderson shelter in their next door
neighbours garden, the Sanders family, whilst Thomas normally remained
in 68 Kingshill Road during enemy raids. At the time of the raid
on the evening of the 24th, Cliff was attending church.
"We knew there was a chance it might be Bristol's
turn. Coventry and other cities had just had blitzes, so we suspected
it might be us next time. I was 15 - I'd left school at 14 - and
was the youngest of 12 children, six boys and six girls. I worked
as an office boy for the chocolate-makers H.J.Packer in Greenbank.
Father was a docker and mother a housewife and there were four boys
still living at home in Kingshill Road in Knowle Park.
It had been a pretty usual sort of Sunday with
church and Sunday school and a quiet afternoon. We had our tea at
five o'clock - bread and butter and tinned fruit, we always had
tinned fruit on Sundays - and we waited for my brother Fred to come
home from work at the B.A.C. His tea was laid out for him. After
he got back, he washed and when he looked out of the window, he
saw flares lighting up the sky like daylight. He'd been through
the big raid on Filton a couple of months before and he said: 'It
looks like trouble. Come on.' We didn't have our own shelter. Father
wouldn't have one. I don't know why. Parents didn't discuss things
like that with children in those days. You were seen and not heard.
In earlier raids, mother and I went to a neighbour's shelter but
my brother said the best thing was to make our way to the nearest
public shelter which was by the shops at the top of Red Lion Hill.
There was my mother, father, brother and myself, but before we could
get out of the house all hell let loose when the bombs started falling.
We took shelter under the stairs whilst the high explosives and
the incendiary bombs were falling all around. The windows were all
blown in and we just crouched there for what seemed an eternity.
At last there was a lull in the bombing and my brother said he thought
that we ought to try to make it to the public shelter.
We put on our outdoor clothes and were standing
behind the front door waiting for my father to lace up his boots,
which took a little while. We went on at him, 'Come on, Dad, hurry
up", but he took his time. That delay probably, saved our lives
because, as we were trying to get him to hurry up, a bomb fell in
the road just outside the house. The blast threw us all backwards,
the door blew in and fell down on my mother. If Dad hadn't been
so slow, we would have been killed. We found out afterwards that
a neighbour who was outside looking for his dog was blown to bits.
We crouched under the stairs again, covered in broken glass and
debris, for what seemed like an eternity until there was another
lull. Then we ventured forth. It took ages to get there. Mother
suffered badly with her legs and we didn't know then that she'd
been injured with a big splinter from the door. She kept saying,
'Leave me to die, leave me", but we wouldn't and my brother
and I sort of dragged her along. At last we got there. It took us
half-an-hour to do what would have been a ten-minute walk for most
I don't think I was frightened. There was too
much going on to be frightened. It was when you had to sit there
and listen to the bombs coming and thinking that the next one might
have your number on it that you were frightened, not when you were
busy. We spent the rest of the night in the shelter, staying there
till dawn. When we got out, it was an incredible sight, mess everywhere.
When we got back to our home the roof was damaged, door gone, windows
all smashed in. We'd lost most of our possessions but I'll never
forget seeing my brother's tea still on the table, the tinned fruit
ruined. We never went back to the house. They repaired it later
but father just wouldn't return. We went to stay with a brother
at Bedminster and later we went to my sister's house in Hanham because
it was a bit out of town.
I heard all about the damage in the city but didn't
go down there for some time. Then when I did I just felt very, very
sad for all we'd lost. What really upset me was losing the old Dutch
House. As a little lad I'd been taken down to the old Wine Street,
Castle Street shopping area and I was fascinated by the Dutch House
it always made me think of something out of a fairy tale. It was
so sad what had happened to the old heart of the city. There were
so many lovely old shops there and it was so popular. But it was
I've been back to Kingshill Road since then. I
had lots of friends there and many memories. The house is still
there and I always remember that last night we had there."
Bert was 18 years old on March 27th 1943 and was called up later
that year. Following an Army medical examination at Prewett Street,
in Bedminster, he enlisted as Private 14600517 Herbert Henry Haddrell
into the General Service Corps embodied Territorial Army on the
6th May 1943 and was posted to 64th Primary Training Wing; reporting
to Goojerat Barracks at Colchester, Essex, - a primary training
centre - where he completed his 16 weeks initial training. Issued
with a rail warrant, Bert made his own way to Colchester by train,
and after reporting to the barracks was provided with a meal prepared
by the ATS (Auxiliary Territorial Service), described as "mess
in a tin", but eaten as he had been travelling and was hungry.The
bare barrack room that was to become Berts home for the next
four months, accommodated about 20 recruits, furnished with not
much more than bunk beds and a stove. New recruits were issued with
denims for working and battledress. The day started at 0700 hrs
with breakfast at 0800; followed by the first parade of the day.
Drill was carried out within the barracks on a daily basis, and
not surprisingly initially Bert was not very good at the start.
However, by the end of his basic training his drill had improved
considerably, no doubt as a result of the considerable amount of
Route marches also occupied a considerable amount
of time for the new soldiers. Varying in distance, at the end of
marches, the band was always brought out to march the troops back
in to camp. Marching, especially for those unaccustomed to it, made
feet very sore and Bert used two means to try and alleviate the
pain. One method was to urinate in his boots prior to commencing
the march in an effort to protect the feet; whilst the second method
was to rub the feet with methylated spirits in an attempt to harden
the feet. Every Saturday there was the Adjutants parade.
PT (Physical Training) was also carried out to
improve the fitness of individuals. An important aspect of this
was the regular sessions on the assault course. This included climbing
over brick walls and poles as well as having to go through water.
On one occasion having run up a bank Bert fell off and injured his
ankle, resulting in being "excused boots" for two weeks;
which meant that he didnt have to put his Army boots on for
New recruits were issued with denims for working
and battledress. The day started at 0700 hrs with breakfast at 0800;
followed by the first parade of the day. Drill was carried out within
the barracks on a daily basis, and not surprisingly initially Bert
was not very good at the start. However, by the end of his basic
training his drill had improved considerably, no doubt as a result
of the considerable amount of practice.
"During my initial training one incident
I remember well - while doing a mortar bomb practice on the South
Downs, we had to align our sights on a distant electricity pylon.
My first shot hit in the middle and it bent over in half!"
N.C.O.s carried out basis training and were very strict, particularly
the Sergeant Majors and RSMs (Regimental Sergeant Majors).
Training always included lots of shouting from the trainers. Lots
of "spit and polish" in preparation for regular kit inspections
carried out by the Company Officer. Blanco was applied
to gaiters and belts, all brass cleaned; spare boots were also cleaned.
The rifle had to be cleaned and all equipment was laid out in a
specific order on the bed. One trick Bert, and others, employed
was to buy a spare cork for the water bottle, as they had a tendency
to rust, and use the spare one just for kit inspection. In addition
to physical and weapons education, recruits received weekly current
affairs education from the Army Bureau of Current Affairs (ABCA).
Evenings were normally spent in the NAAFI canteen
chatting over a cup of tea or a glass of beer; Bert preferring tea.
There was no entertainment in the NAAFI canteen, but Bert never
ventured out into Colchester to pass the recreational hours. On
completion of basic training Bert joined the Dorsetshire Regiment
on the 17th June 1943 and was posted to 14th Infantry Training Centre.
He joined the Regiment at Margate where the whole draft were billeted
in private houses, sleeping about four to a room on paliasses (straw
filled bags). Bert volunteered for signals training when everyone
was asked if anyone wanted to go on the course. This specialised
course included instruction in: signals, Morse code, laying cables
(telephone wires), semaphore, and switchboard operation. Eventually,
he became a signaller within the battalion - A Company Headquarters
- having been sent there to receive additional training.
"We went out on a scheme while we were doing
signals training and it was getting dark at night. Wed laid
the cables - part of the job was to lay the cables for communication
- and the scheme finished and we were told to reel them in. I was
told to reel a particular lot in, so I go merrily along reeling
it in. When I got it reeled in, I looked around and everybody had
gone. There were no lights; nobody; no nothing and I was in the
middle of a wood.
"I thought that I didnt think I could
find my way out at night and Ive got two reels of cable and
my rifle. So I laid down in the wood and stayed there all night
and then when it was light I made my way out; I could find my way
out onto the road. Once there I started walking back to Bexhill
and part way along a jeep came along driven by an American soldier.
He asked me if I wanted a lift, and I said Yes, please and he took
me back to Bexhill.
I dont know whether anyone had missed me
- no one ever said they had -, but I went to the sergeant Majors
office when I got back. I always remember this, he was drinking
a cup of tea and he offered it to me, which I thought was very nice.
But they seemed quite amused that I had bothered to bring the two
reels back, but in my mind I thought they were quite expensive.
I was excused duty that day, but I dont know whether they
would have sent anyone out for me or not!"
On the 8th September 1943 Bert was posted to the
4th Battalion, Dorsetshire Regiment, joining his unit at Bexhill-on-Sea,
where the battalion had been stationed since the 4th August following
a four-month stay at Cliftonville (Watkins, undated). Bert enjoyed
his stay at Bexhill, going out into the town frequently for walks,
visits to the cinema and "in for a cup of tea".
On February the 4th 1944 the Battalion marched
to Hastings, where the whole of the 130th Brigade was inspected
by General Sir Bernard Montgomery, Commander-in-Chief of 21st Army
Group; on the 12th May it was visited by the Prime Minister, the
Rt. Hon. Winston Spencer Churchill, the Dominion Prime Ministers,
and Field Marshall Sir Alan Brooke, Chief of the Imperial General
Staff, who watched a demonstration by its Pioneer Battalion.
The code word "Mary", sent out from
Divisional Headquarters at Tenterden at 6 p.m. on the 12th June,
to all units, placed the Battalion on six hours notice, and on the
14th came the order to move. All ranks of the Battalion were allowed
out in the town of Bexhill-on-Sea until 2200 hrs on the14th June.
Leaving Bexhill the Battalion transferred to a transit camp in Southampton
for a few days. Even at this stage Bert didnt know where he
was going. "The rules were relaxed a little to give the troops
a chance to relax. There was entertainment available and we were
allowed to go out, but I didnt"
The Battalion was to sail in two parts, the marching
party from Southampton and the vehicle party from Tilbury. The marching
party left Bexhill at 0940 hrs on the 15th, embarked at Southampton
at 1200 hrs on the 19th, and lay for four days in the gale off Spithead.
Space was very cramped. In many cases the troops had to spend over
forty-eight hours on the stuffy tween decks. The battalion
eventually landed at 0400 hrs on the 23rd June on the beach at Le
Hamel, east of Arromanches, at the very spot where 1st Dorsets had
carried out the assault landing on D-Day. This section of the beach
was designated Item - Red on Gold Beach.
"As 'D-Day' approached we were sent to a
transit camp at Southampton where we spent several days before setting
sail for France. Bad weather kept us moored off France, but eventually
we were able to disembark down over the side of the troopship and
into small landing crafts - then to actually land in France. This
was invasion and it was both frightening and dangerous."
Once the storm had subsided, Bert found the crossing
was quite good, even enjoying sunbathing on top of the ships
deck. Disembarkation took place at night and required the Battalion
members having to clamber down nets on the side of the ship into
waiting small craft, to take everyone ashore. Captain R. H. Hall,
4th Dorsets, describes his experience thus: There was a heavy swell
off the beaches and as we scrambled down the nets on the side of
the Troop Carrier, the landing craft was rising and falling about
20 ft. We had to let go and jump on when the LC was at the highest
Bert recalls nearly falling into "the drink"
as he clambered down the side of the Troop Carrier attempting to
get safely into the waiting L.C.A. (Landing Craft, Assault). "Once
ashore the Battalion formed up and we started marching".
Bert remembers being under heavy artillery bombardment
at night and how frightening the experience was; men screaming as
a result of the barrage. For protection, slit trenches were dug,
which usually accommodated two soldiers, and were about 3 feet deep
by 4 feet long and 18 inches wide. Bert found it difficult to dig
using an entrenching tool as he had never done any digging in civilian
life and the army had provided no training or practice. On active
service sleeping was done on the ground wherever possible, with
field rations containing Compo ration, hard chocolate, soup, and
"dog biscuits" to sustain the troops. Corned beef was
a particular favourite of Bert, something he has never tired of
As the 4th Dorsets prepared to go into action
on the 10th July as part of Operation Jupiter, Bert was informed
that he would be part of the cadre left behind as battle replacements,
to follow on behind the action. A number of officers and men were
always left out of battle, in case of disaster, to form the nucleus
of the Battalion. Private Bartlett took Berts place in the
attack, and his concern at the time was that because he was much
taller than Bartlett, his great coat wouldnt fit him; the
great coats had all been piled together. Bert was told not to worry
about it. Private 5735215 Roy Bartlett was killed in action on the
10th July 1944 aged 21 and is buried in St. Manvieu War Cemetery,
Cheux. Berts role in the Battalion was as Company runner,
a responsible job, carrying out the requests and instructions of
the Company Commander. Responsibilities included taking verbal messages
(not written messages), and instructing men to move up if required
during action. It was whilst carrying out these duties that he was
"The morning of the 3rd August we were going
into the attack and I was Company runner. We had started to advance
when the Company Commander said to me, 'Where is No.2 Platoon?'
I replied, 'Still in the trenches Sir', and I was told that they
should be in the line of advance. I went back to where they were
in their trenches where I stood facing them and gave them the Company
Commander's orders. All the time the Germans were laying down a
mortar barrage of six-barrelled mortars which fire six bombs in
succession and were called 'moaning minnies', because they made
a screaming noise as they were fired. They had a very demoralising
effect on us and were very frightening. One bomb dropped behind
me and knocked me out and when I regained consciousness I have been
wounded in the back and was bleeding rather badly. All the men in
2 Platoon who were in the trenches and took the full force of the
blast in their faces were dead.
After some time the stretcher-bearers, who were
very hard pressed, picked me up and took me back to the medical
post where they gave me emergency treatment for my wounds. All the
time this was happening the mortar barrage continued and at one
stage the Medical Corporal covered me with his body to protect me
from further injury. I later learned that he too had been killed."
Lance Corporal William Anthony Malcolm Puddy,
the son of William and Alice Puddy, of Parkstone, Dorset was killed
on the 15th August 1944 and is buried in Tilly-Sur-Seules War Cemetery,
Calvados, France. When he came to Bert said a little prayer to himself:
"Please God, I dont mind dying, but please dont
let me die in a foreign field."
At one point Bert found a jerrycan next to him
with liquid in it. Thinking it was water he took a swig, only to
discover that it was Calvados, an apple brandy that is a speciality
of Normandy. After being tended to by Lance Corporal Puddy, Bert
was admitted to No.10 Casualty Clearing Station where the Unit Medical
Officer diagnosed multiple mortar wounds back - penetrating chest.
The medical report of the 12th Sept 1944 states "received shell
wounds (mortar) at 12.30 hrs". By 2300 hrs on the 3rd, Berts
general condition had improved, despite being very badly wounded.
On the 4th August in 25th F.T.U. (Field Transfusion Unit) and then
to 43rd Field Surgical Unit, where by 1400 hrs he had received three
pints of blood.
Evacuated to 79th British General Hospital on
the 8th August where operated on. Remained there for 28 days. "I
was taken to a tent hospital near Bayeaux where I was operated on
for severe chest injuries. After staying there for several weeks
I was shipped back to the United Kingdom and landed at Southampton.
After spending one night in hospital there I went on a special hospital
train to Edinburgh Royal Infirmary and eventually to a special chest
unit at Bangour Hospital, which is between Glasgow and Edinburgh."
Mortar fragments had penetrated the chest and
damaged a lung causing it collapse. This necessitated a tube being
placed in the collapsed lung to wash it out every four hours. As
a result Bert was unable to lie down in bed and had to remain sat
upright. He was strapped to keep everything in place, recalling
the pain when elastoplas was removed to change the bandages. Bert
couldnt sleep at night because of the discomfort and pain
and would pray for the morning to come. There were several Germans
at one end of the ward and Bert remembers them singing Silent Night
(Stille Nacht) in German.
The journey from Bayeaux to Arromanches by Ambulance
was particularly unpleasant as there was a chap in the bed underneath
who was smoking. Bert was transferred from the 79th British General
Hospital in France to the United Kingdom on the Hospital Carrier
"St Julien", disembarking at Southampton on 11th September.
He was admitted to Royal South Hants and Southampton Hospital for
an overnight stay before being transferred to Chest Unit, Cosham
on the 12th. Bert had to be transferred by boat because his condition
would not permit transference by aeroplane. The "St Julien"
was built in 1925 by Clydebank Engineering & Shipbuilders and
was owned by the Great Western Railway Company, being used as a
cross channel ferry between Weymouth and the Channel Islands. It
became a hospital carrier in 1939 and was returned to its owners
The hospital ward in Southampton contained both
British and German wounded; the Germans being segregated at one
end. The sister came on to the ward and spoke and Bert responded
with "Good Morning Sister". Her somewhat surprised response
was to ask "What are doing here?" as hed been put
in with the Germans. On the 14th September Bert was transferred
by hospital train to the Military Wing of the Royal Infirmary, Edinburgh
(Thoracic Unit) and from there, on the 26th September, to Bangour
Emergency Hospital, West Lothian (situated 14 miles from Edinburgh
in hilly woodlands near Broxburn). Located 2 miles west of Uphall
and 4 miles east of Bathgate, Bangour Village Hospital was officially
opened on the 13 October 1906, as a Lunatic Asylum and in 1915 was
taken over by the War Office as a military hospital. After the war,
in commemoration of the vital role played by the hospital, Bangour
Village Church was erected and opened in 1929. Bangour re-opened
as a psychiatric hospital in 1922. However, at the outbreak of war
in September 1939 the hospital transformed, once again, into the
Edinburgh War Hospital, with an additional emergency medical services
annexe built on the hilltop site. Five blocks, each consisting of
eight wards, were constructed at the Annexe - as it was first known
Bert continued having washouts to take the fluids
out of the lungs and Vaseline gauze was applied every day to help
heal the wounds on his back. "I received wonderful treatment
from everyone in Scotland as well as in France". Local families
were asked to visit the wounded service men in hospital and on one
of his regular visits to the hospitalised Methodists, the Methodist
Minister, the Rev. Arthur Valle (who was afterwards transferred
to Redfield Methodist Church, Bristol and helped officiate at Bert
and Joyces wedding) explained to Bert that he knew a lady
who worked in the shop down at the hospital and that he was going
to ask her to come and visit. Bert didnt get any visitors
as he was so far from home, although he was visited once in hospital
by his sister Alice and brother Cliff who stayed overnight.
"I remember three ladies coming into the
ward dressed in fur coats bearing all sorts of gifts. This was a
wonderful family, that were so kind to me and when I was better
they invited me into their house." Bill and Lena Baynham, Charles
(Chic) and Bunty Fleming, Marshall and Nan Henderson, and Davie
and Millie Henderson, who all lived in Bathgate, visited Bert during
his stay at Bangour. It was Bunty who worked in the shop at the
entrance to the hospital.
When Bert was able to get up and about after seven
and a half months in bed he was transferred to Wall House, a big
private house in Torphichen, for convalescence. Here, he was allowed
to go out for the first time. Bunty was friendly with the Matron
and would ring her up and ask if they could have Mr Haddrell out
for the day. Bert on his visits out would be dressed in his hospital
blue uniform with red tie.
Another trip out were invitations to the Usher
Hall in Edinburgh on Sunday nights to see variety concerts and Isabol
Bailey singing "Messiah". The patients were transported
to and from Edinburgh and when they walked down into the hall the
spotlight was put on them, as they were wearing their "hospital
blues". On another occasion, the girls at P.T.s (Patrick
Thompsons), a large store in Edinburgh invited the soldiers for
a meal at their restaurant and then took them to see a show at the
theatre afterwards. Whilst at Torphichen two ribs that had been
operated on in France where causing Bert some discomfort, so the
Surgeon Mr. Noel Gray said to go back in and he chiselled out the
jagged piece of the ribs. "My memory of VE Day is rather sad:
like everyone else I was glad that the war had ended but it was
a rather sad occasion for me. I was in a convalescent home in Torphichen,
near Bathgate, West Lothian. I had been in hospital for a year (seven
and a half months confined to bed) after being wounded in the invasion
of France, but was making progress.
Whilst in hospital I made friends with another
young fellow who came from Dunfermline (also named Bert) and as
I came from Bristol I did not have many visitors. When his mother
visited him, she would talk to me as well and invariably brought
me some fruit, sweets, etc., which I greatly appreciated, being
so far from home. When her son, Bert, went home for a weekend I
was invited as well and she was very kind to me, making me most
welcome as only Scots people can.
I met her other son, who was in the Army, and
stationed somewhere in England. Soon after this he was on Army exercises,
and was tragically drowned. I had only known him slightly but I
think that, perhaps because I had been in the Forces, they asked
me if I would attend his funeral. I felt it was the right and proper
thing to do out of courtesy, and the funeral was fixed for what
turned out to be VE Day.
I had to make my own way from Bathgate to Dunfermline
by public transport, which was a restricted service, and took quite
a long time. However, I did get there in time for the funeral and
paid my respects. The family treated me very well, even in the midst
of their grief, were most particular to look after me, and were
very grateful for the fact that I had attended. After the service
I had to make the return journey by public transport, and arrived
back quite late at the convalescent home at Torphichen.
My VE Day memory was tinged with sadness, but
it is a day I will never forget. The war in Europe was over, I had
survived, though wounded, whereas many of my comrades had paid the
supreme sacrifice, and looked forward to going home. I was just
20 years old, and was discharged as unfit for military service on
the 26th July 1945."
Bert left Scotland after spending a year in hospital, including
convalescing, and travelled back to Bristol by railway from Waverley
Station, Edinburgh - and had to stand all the way.
Bert was discharged on the 26th July 1945 as "ceasing
to fulfil Army medical requirements" with a 100% War Pension.
Assessment - 100% for Gunshot (sic) Wounds Chest, attributable to
War Service.This was reduced as his health improved, but later increased
for Bilateral Sensori Neural hearing loss due to Artillery fire.His
service with the colours was from 6th May 1943 to the 26th July
1945, and for his service in the North West Europe theatre was awarded
the 1939/45 Star, the France and Germany Star, the 1939/45 War Medal,
and the Defence Medal. He was also awarded the World War II For
Loyal Service disablement badge, which he wears with pride.
Bert recommenced employment with H.J.Packer and
Company in September 1945 as a clerk, who were very understanding
and helpful allowing him to work part-time with no loss of wages.
His medical history records that Bert "has a day or two off
every couple of weeks because of pain and difficulty with breathing
in close weather."
He married Joyce Lilian Annie Hale on 11th September
1948 at St. Agnes Church, Bristol. They have a son, Ian, a daughter
Claire, two grand-daughters, Georgina and Sally, and a grandson
As told by Herbert's son Mr. I. Haddrell
Herbert's Regimental badge
Herbert was transferred from the 79th British General Hospital in
France to the United Kingdom on the Hospital Carrier "St Julien"
here still in port.