Folk & Facts Church History Wartime Features

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Dennis and his sister Peg, who was in the Land Army > Simply click to enlarge... then use the [Back] button to returnA Woodman's Tales

My woodman's tales didn't really start until I left the Army with almost eight years in the Suffolk Regiment. My home was in St. Lawrence, Bungay. On my first leave two Doodle Bugs came over, just to the side Dennis 1944 > Simply click to enlarge... then use the [Back] button to returnof the house, we could see the orange exhaust flames, but they kept going! 

Back to Inverness for another three months training, we had to march twice around Loch Ness - about 50 miles. Then I moved to Blakeney, billeted in Blakeney Hotel and had a further six weeks training. Marched to the Battle Area, fought a battle near Tottington Church - rabbits by the hundreds, they soon went to ground! Two hours sleep then we marched back again, the last ten miles were completed in two hours. At the end of the six weeks we had Embarkation Leave. On our return we were kitted out for the Middle East. From Blakeney we went to Waterbeach Air Field and mid-morning we were loaded onto a B24 Liberator. The first attempt to take off was halted by a front wheel puncture, the second time we got airborne and flew to Castel Benito, Tripoli. We had two day's wait then we were loaded onto a Stirling, this rattled and clanked down the runway, but it flew! Cairo the next stop, then on to Ismaillia, Egypt, here we joined the 1st Battalion Suffolk Regiment, they had just arrived from Germany. I crossed the Sinai desert four times in all, to Palestine, then back to Egypt, back to Palestine and on to Jordan. Just outside Jerusalem, our camp was between the Jews and the Arabs. This was where we lost the RSM of R.E.M.E at Alamein, he was hit by a stray bullet and killed. 

Between Christmas '47 and May '48 it wasn't the best of places, Mortar bombs were falling on the Camp, so we were pulled out and joined the longest convoy, ever, eighteen miles of us, marched back to the safety of Egypt. From there we went to Greece for a rest period and my three years abroad were up. One day I was sitting at my table making up the list of names for Guard Duty the following day, when I heard two bangs - a bullet hit the leg of the table about 3 inches from my leg. The table leg was smashed to smithereens - a close shave - I never discovered where the other bullet went!

I went home and was posted to Bryanston Square for six months of looking after displaced persons, mostly Eastern Europeans, discarded by their own countries - giving them a night's rest and a cooked breakfast. We took them to Waterloo Station to catch a train to Southampton and then they were sent off, by ship, to Canada or South America. The six months up, we were off again, this time to Vienna! Dennis Trieste > Simply click to enlarge... then use the [Back] button to returnGet settled in then we move to Trieste, watching the Yugoslavian border. Only a short stay, then I was posted back to Colchester on a weapons training course. Started training recruits, but had to move again to the Gibraltar Barracks, Bury St. Edmunds. The last two years of my service was as a Weapons Training Instructor, one trainee I had came from Thetford. He went to Korea, was blown up, but survived and now lives in Castle Street, Thetford. My Service ended in September, 1952, after seven years and 342 days.

2000 Dennis Reeder
see also A Woodman's Life

A Forest Heath District Council (Suffolk) Project supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund as part of the Millennium Festival 2000 Designed by ArtAtac