- October 1944
9th Field Company Royal Engineers
Before the push up through the corridor, the
Royal Engineers detachment had arrived in a small village called
Meerbeek, in the vicinity of Brussels and Louvain.. My friend and
I became very friendly with a family called DESMEDT. They had two
young girls Marcella and Mellanie.
I drove a 3 ton ‘Dodge’ truck, the
only ‘Dodge’ lorry in the 9th Field Company R.E. I was
in H.Q. company and was the Quartermaster’s driver. In my
lorry were stores and sleeping bags. These were later issued to
the survivors of the battle of Arnhem
On the night of the evacuation of Arnhem I made
two trips from the Nijmegen Bridge to the River Rhine to pick up
those who had crossed the River. We went with a few other lorries
in the direction of the Rhine. It was very dark and we had no lights
on and I did not know where we were going. On these trips I had
no passengers with me in the cab.
It was a dark and wet night. We picked up some
men as they trudged up the road, they were poorly dressed and some
had socks over their boots. One of the first men I picked up was
a man from my own company, Titch Greenwood.
My mate and I stayed in a school (The Pagoda?)
in Nijmegen. Having had a meal, I think it was sausage and potatoes,
we still felt hungry. We went inside the school to see if there
was any food around. Suddenly a big stained glass window got blown
in and I thought it was a shell explosion. They told us it was a
bomb. I remember two men who were having a wash and shave were badly
wounded. I helped carry them in and handed them over to some nuns.
The nuns came probably from a building close by. My truck had 4
flat tyres and the canopy was like a sieve.
We unloaded all our stores and the survivors came
into the trucks. We stopped in Louvain for the first night and Paddy
and I ‘borrowed’ a jeep and went to Meerbeek to say
goodbye to the Desmedt family. The next day we drove to Brussels
airfield where the survivors flew back to England.
In the beginning of October we went to Ostend
and loaded our trucks into ferries to go back to England. We drove
back to Lincolnshire and I had to hand in my Dodge truck, which
was scrapped. I then received a new Bedford truck.