Sunday, February 26, 2006
Photo shows: A map of some of my wanderings, courtesy of Ron Tee
On Page 87 of my Army Album I listed all the places I had "visited" during the period I spent in the Army and this is duplicated below:
Oct ’42 Bury St.Edmunds Army Training Unit
Nov ’42 Whitby, Yorkshire Royal Artillery
Feb ’43 Haltwhistle, Northumberland
March ’43 Hove, Sussex
S.S.Frankonia (The ship that took us to North Africa)
Algiers, North Africa (49th Light Anti Aircraft Unit)
Medjes El Bab, Tunisia
June ‘43 Carthage
July’43 Syracuse, Sicily
Sep’43 Reggio di Calabria, Italy
Dec ’43 Carovilla
Feb ’44 Ortogna
S.S.Empires Pride (The ship that took us to Egypt)
Jul’44 Alexandria, Egypt
S.S.Homer Lee (The ship that took us back to Italy)
Oct ’44 Sienna
Rieti (Royal Armoured Corp Training Depot)
Dec ’44 Gubbio
Ravenna (4th Queen's Own Hussars)
Jul ‘45 Paternion
Nov ‘45 Folkestone, England
I've always been what used to be known as a "belt & braces" man, in other words I've always tried to see that I always had backup of info I've posted on the internet and, more importantly, when dealing with the BBC
With that in mind, what follows are all the articles I posted on the BBC site between October 2003 and January 2006, with a description of any image posted to head the article.
Some of the articles were posted on behalf of others and these are marked thus *.
INDEX OF STORIES (IMAGE ATTACHED)
1. Day Leave in Rome (Ron with pipe & KDs)
2. Not My Worst Night, By Any Means: A Young Soldier in North Africa (Ron with 78 Div Flash)
3. Diary Entries 11th April 1945 (Page from Ron’s diary)
4. One family, Five Sons, All Serving in H.M.Forces (Montage of Lou, Jack, Mossy, Mick & Ron)
5. The War Ends in Italy, 2nd May 1945 (Ron on guard at Ferndorf in Austria)
6. Running a Staging Camp in Germany, August 1945 (Page from my Album of Ulm in Germany)
7. Training To Be A Driver/Wireless Operator (Ron’s first Army picture in 1942)
8. Danke Herr Mix! (German Army unit marching through Trieben 1936 & Ron’s billets)
9. My Welcome Home (Ron on train coming home on leave)
10. A Driver/Op in Light Ack Ack (Army Wireless Set No.19 as used by Ron)
11. Getting your Army Records (A page from Ron’s Army Records)
12. Ron's Grand Tour (Map showing Ron’s travels)
13. Trieste, October 1945 to January 1947 (Ron on Minesweeper in Trieste Harbour)
14. Early Army Days, October 1942 (A page from Ron’s AB64 showing innoculations)
14. Two Weeks in Dock in Naples and Not a Wound to Show for it! (Cover of Ron’s Army Album)
16. Monte Cassino, March to May 1944 (Lew Fox & Cover of Cassino Passover Service leaflet)
17. German Propaganda Leaflets Meet (Charlie the Gunner leaflet)
18. What did you eat in the War, Daddy? (Dining hall at Opicina)
19. Joining the 4th Queen's Own Hussars (Group photo of "A" Squadron at Ferndorf)
20. VE Day, As Seen from a Field near Venice (Ron & the clock tower at Venice)
21. The Day My Brother Mick Nearly Killed Me (Ron & Mick on AJEX Parade 1992)
22. Sicily, Then On To Italy (Ron in Bari)
24. Waiting to be called up (Ron, Jack, Lew, Dad in the Factory at Gt.Eastern St.1942)
25. Keeping a Diary in Wartime:4th Queen's Own Hussars in Italy and the 49th LAA in Egypt
(Page from Diary dated 16th August 1944)
26. The Day I Should Have Died:4th Queen's Own Hussars in Italy
(Page from Diary April 15th 1945)
27. The 78th Div Goes to Egypt to Re-Train and Re-Form (Ron’s leave in Cairo,including camels)
28. Life in Wartime Austria: 4th Queen's Own Hussars July to August 1945 (Ron with German truck)
29.Transformation from Gunner to Trooper (Pete Burns, Ken Atkinson & Ron at Rieti)
30. Army Transport (Ron as Despatch Rider at Opicina)
31. Stick it in your Army.....Album! (Montage from Ron’s Army Album)
32. The First Post-War New Years Eve, December 31, 1946 (Ron and the fair at Monfalcone)
33. * Jack Nissenthall- The VC Hero Who Never Was: Part 2 (By Martin Sugarman)
34. * No.3 (Jewish) Troop, No.10 Commando (By Martin Sugarman)
35. * Two Jewish Heroines of the SOE Part 1 (By Martin Sugarman)
36. * Two Jewish Heroines of the SOE Part 2 (By Martin Sugarman)
37. * Two Jewish Heroines of the SOE Part 3 (By Martin Sugarman)
38. * Two Jewish Heroines of the SOE Part 4 (By Martin Sugarman)
39. * A Jewish Hero in the SOE Part 1 (By Martin Sugarman)
40. * A Jewish Hero in the SOE Part 2 (By Martin Sugarman)
41. * Jack Nissenthall - The VC Hero Who Never Was (Part 1a) (By Martin Sugarman) Jack N.
42. * Jack Nissenthall - The VC Hero Who Never Was (Part 1b) (By Martin Sugarman)
43. 1939-1947, an ‘interesting’ experience and my 15 minutes of fame. (Nita & Ron - AJEX Parade 2001)
44. Riots in Trieste, circa October 1945 (The riots)
45. Day Leave in Alexandria (Bob Dunne & Ron at Rameses Square-Alexandria)
46. Charlie 4 Is Not Answering My Signals (German Propaganda leaflet-Churchill without Roosevelt)
47. Getting the facts right (Leave pass to Florence)
48. Dive Bombing in Italy - A Memory Confirmed (Larry with friends)
49. Collapsible beds (Ron in tanks coveralls at Rieti)
50. Keeping Clean on Active Service (Ron at swimming pool-Heliopolis)
51. New Years Day 1944, Snowed in at Carovilli (Aerogram sent to Mick from Italy)
52. Images of Wartime, 1939-1946, Ron Goldstein's personal collection No picture attached
53. Ice cold…. But NOT in Alex ! (Ron walking in Trent Park in the winter)
54. Gunner Burnard and the Brigadier (Larry and his friends at Congleton)
55. Return to Cassino (Ron at Cassino British Cemetery)
56. German ‘Tip and Run Raiders’ over Hove in 1943 (Another page from Ron’s War Records)
57. Cambridge and Bethnal Green Boy's Club, The club that produced heroes (Mick & Don Carlton)
58. Lt.Whitfield's directing debut (Another pic of Ron on day leave in Rome)
59. Ron Goldstein’s War — A month at a time (Ron at Horseguards 2004)
60. * Jack Goulden and the prayer book that saved his back (Jack Goulden)
61. Commemoration Parade July 10th 2005 (Nita & Ron)
62. The St.John's Ambulance Brigade in WW2 (Alf, Nat & Sylvia in St.Johns uniform)
63. Lt.Whitfield and the butterfly spring (Ron’s sketch of the 15cwt Bedford wireless truck)
64. Trieste had its funny moments (Ron on steps of Goldoni Tunnel-Trieste)
65. * Field Marshal Keitel's surrender, Nathan Sterrie’s story, (Surrender document)
66. Sweating on being released (Tom Atkinson and the boys at Opicina)
67. Churchill and Ron enjoy a meal together (Regimental reunion official photo)
68. Victory Celebrations, 8th June 1946 (The page from Ron’s Album)
69. A tribute to Edward Arthur Patman, known as ‘Pat’ (Pat & Ron by the Rialto- Venice)
70. Shows running in London during 1945 Page from Ron’s Album showing shows in London
71. Keeping Pets in the Forces (Queenie & Curlie on half-track)
72. The correct height of Tank Drivers and the use of KRRS (Postcard of the Walls of Rieti)
73. * Childhood (Sandra’s story) (Sandra)
74. Commandeering billets in Italy (78 Div Flash)
75. Army Ration Allowance (Two Day’s ration allowance-the receipt)
76.* Bernard Jaffa's Record of Service (Bernard Jaffa & the flag)
77. The infamous Demob Suit (Ron wearing his demob suit)
78. Dale Carnegie’s “Pursuit of Happiness”, courtesy of Stalag XVIII (Page from Ron’s Album)
79 * Evacuated to Stoke Hammond, (Maxie Lea)
80. Looking back to 1939 from the relative safety of 2005(Cyril,Ron & Lew Fox on AJEX parade 2004)
81. * The day a V2 Rocket hit Tottenham Grammar School (Harry Landsman’s story) No picture
82. An Army Convoy On The Move in Italy (Army Route Card)
83. Civil Police in Trieste during the unrest (Italian policeman in Trieste)
84. A postcard from Sicily, 3rd September 1943 (Postcard sent by Ron from Messina 1943)
85. Algiers, April 1943, Our first sight of Africa (Postcard of Algiers)
86. Sgt.Major Mick Goldstein, Royal Fusiliers and Jewish Brigade (Mick)
87. An unlikely Post War meeting (Ron & Tom Canning)
88. A letter to an unknown researcher of the year 2056 (Ron ready for a BBC interview March 2005)
89. More on German Propaganda leaflets (River Po leaflet)
90. * Henry Kaye, Flying Instructor (Henry Kaye)
91. The last page in my Army Album (Ron’s first Army photo and the demob suit)
92. Trooper Tom Canning, a photo at last! (Tom Canning)
93. Sgt.Jack Goldstein, RAF Bomber Command (Alf White, Ted Hull & Ron at 116 Sdrn Reunion)
94. The infamous Burger Brau Keller in Munich (Paddy O’Brien, Lt.Walmsley in Munich)
95. Dining out in Guelma, North Africa, 1943 (Postcard of Guelma,North Africa)
96. WW2 RESEARCH AND FORUMS AFTER THIS SITE CLOSES No picture attached
97. The photo in a serviceman's wallet (Ron’s parents)
98 * .I'll never forget that day, Gertie’s story, (Gertie)
99 * The night our house was sliced in half, Nita’s Story, (Nita as a child)
Photo shows: Dad's factory at Gt.Eastern Street. Jack is wearing a tie, Dad is wearing an apron, I am fixing a machine and Lou is opposite me.
Looking at 'Ron's Grand Tour' I realised that I needed an intro to my Army Service, I hope the following meets this requirement.
I was born on the 16th of August 1923 in to what was a large family, even by London, East End standards.
Their were eleven children in the family and I was number 10.
Our family has written a book about those early years, purely for our own pleasure, entitled ‘And Then There Were Eleven’ but as this is a WW2 site I will confine myself only to excerpts from the book relating to the war years.
With war imminent, on September the 2nd l939 Dad managed to hire an open fish lorry to take Mum, my sister Debby and myself down to Hove to take over a flat vacated by older sister Esther, now married to Jack and living in Nottingham. With us on the lorry came another family, friends of Debby's. I remember vividly being actually in the sea when the first warning siren sounded, (a false alarm as it happened) and hurrying home to listen to the radio and the voice of Chamberlain telling us that war had been declared.
Within days of arriving in Brighton I was looking out for a job and decided that it was a good time to break away from the rag trade. I walked the length of the promenade and seeing no obvious signs of job vacancies, went instead to the local Labour Exchange and took the first job that was going for a sixteen-year-old. This turned out to be as a Junior Porter at the Queen's Hotel, live-in, and for about three months I saw another side of life that the East End had not prepared me for.
For seven and six pence per week (37p in today's money) plus all the tips I could make, I was on call from six in the morning until ten at night, six days per week. As a junior porter, or, as I was often referred to, as a page boy, I was at everyone's beck and call starting with the guests and continuing down until to the lowliest kitchen hand.
In the evening, when most of the waiters had finished their day's work, one of my jobs was to serve food to the management staff in their quarters. This was exactly the same as eaten by the guests and was collected by me from the kitchens according to their particular order.
I soon discovered from the other junior porters that one of their own particular perks was to "order" any course not requested by the management staff at the time of the meal and ferret the food away in their rooms. The food served to the "lower" staff was from a separate kitchen and was terrible, so the extra grub we could obtain in this manner kept us going during the long day, despite the fact that our dormitory feasts usually consisted of two cold soups, three compotes and cheese and biscuits!
Among the treasured recollections of my stay at the Queens was one day when I was taking a middle-aged and obviously Jewish couple in the lift to their room. They could have had no idea that I was Jewish and as we were approaching their room the husband fished around in his pocket for small change and found a shilling. The wife immediately said to him: "Yossell, darf me nisht geben zo fill!" which for the benefit of non-yiddish speaking readers translates as "Joe, you don't have to give him so much!" I was sorely tempted to butt in with: "Darf me Yor geben zo fill," or "indeed you do!" but I left them in their ignorance and forty seven years later still get joy from the memory.
When I had had enough of the hotel industry I took various other jobs in quick succession, including that of messenger boy for an off licence. This involved delivering beer and spirits all over the Hove area, and I would sometimes find myself riding a heavily loaded bike up as far as the Devil's Dyke, way up on the Sussex Downs. Alright when the weather was fine and the day was young, but when the weather was rough and the time was late it was certainly not a job for a this sensitive little East End boy, and therefore when Dad suggested I commute to London and get back to the "shmutter trade", I jumped at the chance.
After about six months or so in Hove, the bombing eased temporarily and Dad decided to move us back to London, to a house in Sandringham Road in the Dalston area. We stayed here until the blitz really hotted up again when prudence demanded another change of address; we moved first to Dunstable in Bedfordshire and then finally to the nearby village of Houghton Regis
For about a year we lived in a small house bang opposite the village pub and Dad and I commuted every day to the factory in Great Eastern Street in Shoreditch. If my memory serves me rightly, the routine to get to work and back was pretty horrendous by any standard.
We would rise about 5am, get the 6.l5 bus into Luton, a journey of six miles, then catch the 6.45 train to Kings Cross, changing at St Albans and arrive in London at about 7.45. From there it was a tube ride to Old Street station and finally a trolley bus ride to Great Eastern Street where we would arrive ready to start work at 8.l5 the latest.
Repeat this process to get home at night and you will get the message that travel in wartime was not much fun.
Dad would normally get in a carriage with his cronies and they would soon have a card school going, while I would equally try to get in a carriage with young people of my own age group.
We were all waiting to be called up into the Forces, and although I managed to keep pretty busy work-wise, apart from being an Air Raid Warden in the evenings, I eagerly awaited call-up to get out of the rat-race in which I found myself. Deliverance came on Thursday October lst, l942, when I received a summons to report to the Beds and Herts Infantry Training Regiment at Bury St Edmunds in Suffolk.
Photo shows: Nita in 1939 as an evacuee
The time was 7.45 pm on the 9th of October 1940 and Hitler had evidently decided it was important to his war aims that our lovely Victorian house in Dunsmure Road should be destroyed that night.
Dunsmure Road was a quiet residential turning in North London and we had lived there for the past ten years.
My family consisted of my mother Kate, my brother Gerry and myself, Nita Schneiderman, as I was then known.
The evening had started just like many of the other nights we had experienced since the Blitz started on September the 7th.
We had just finished our evening meal and had not yet gone out to the safety of our Anderson Shelter that was situated in the garden. I can’t actually remember hearing the sound of the bomb that was to completely alter our lives.
My first recollection was finding myself in complete darkness, covered in dust and debris and that the window of the morning room in which we were sitting had been completely blown into the room and was actually resting on the table at which we had been sitting.
This window had been put in by my late father when we first moved into the house in order to create extra light and it is ironic that because of its presence we were eventually able to make our escape from the ruined house.
When I first recovered my wits, I saw my brother moving around and then the three of us managed to clamber out of the window into the garden. From there we went down the few steps into the cellar and then eventually through another door that gave us access to the front of the house.
By this time the Air Raid Wardens had arrived on the scene and helped us to climb over the debris that was in front of the house.
I particularly remember that one of them took my hand and asked me if I was OK and when I said that I was, he squeezed my hand in reassurance. Sixty five years after the event I cannot think of this moment without a lump coming into my throat. Analysing my emotions I suppose that it was at this actual point in our rescue that I realised we had managed to survive this dreadful experience.
The rescue squad took us to an Air Raid Shelter at the nearby flats of Cambridge Court where there was a First Aid Post.
Here we received treatment for our various cuts, caused mainly by the flying glass. I remember that my arms in particular were badly cut as I had automatically put my arms over my head to protect myself from further injury.
The following day we went back to our house to see what, if anything, remained.
We discovered that the house appeared to have received the first impact of the bomb which had sliced it diagonally and destroyed the upper floors. It had then moved on to our neighbours house which was also badly damaged and finally moved on to a third house which it completely flattened.
This last house was home to a family who had always been very nervous about remaining in their house after the air raid warning had sounded.
They had all been in their Anderson Shelter when the bomb hit and all had survived.
By sheer good luck there were no fatalities or serious injuries caused by ‘our’ bomb.
A few days later, the demolition squad called and were able to salvage some of our belongings and I can still remember the sight of our few precious posessions standing in a heap by the roadside, in the rain, where they were to remain for the next few days whilst arrangements were made to put them into store.
It is heartening to remember today that despite those terrible times, none of our belongings were stolen or vandalised.
Photo shows: Gertie Denenberg
It was early in April 1945. Our enemies had been defeated. Thank God the War was drawing to a close.
During those momentous years my large close family of siblings had been scattered, each of them living out their own wartime drama.
All five brothers, and five brothers-in-law, including my husband, had fought in the Forces overseas, and all had mercifully come through, although not entirely unscathed.
On that day I’ll never forget, I travelled up to London by train to meet my father for lunch, something we tried to do now and again, however difficult it was in those uncertain times. I noticed at once that he looked pale and ill, not at all his robust self.
To my horror he began to shake; his whole body shook, his face, his hands trembled.
Tears streamed down his cheeks as he told me in a broken voice that my beloved older brother Jack, 33 year old Sgt. Air Gunner had been shot down three weeks earlier in what proved to be the last raid of the War over Germany, and posted as “Missing, believed killed”. I asked shakily: “Mum, does she know?” And my poor father faltered, a broken man, “I can’t tell her – I think she guesses, but I can’t bring myself to tell her”.
I had no words with which to comfort him, and I had to return home to my little girl, my mind in turmoil.
Dazed with shock, I was torn with pity for Jack’s young wife. Left with two children, a girl of ten and a boy of five. I found myself wandering the streets near Liverpool Street Station, reliving in my thoughts all the pain and hardship of my own wartime experiences. The bombing, the recent tragic loss of my baby son, my husband’s wounding in Normandy, and now, at this eleventh hour, when we thought all our dear ones had survived, to be dealt this terrible blow!
We had all felt, as a family that our partings and privations had been for a worthwhile cause – now I asked myself, had it all been for nothing?
And then, at that moment, like a miracle, I saw him, my brother Jack, across the street. How wonderful, it had all been some terrible mistake – he was alive – I was so happy as I raced across the road to tug at the sleeve of the slim young man in air-force blue. I looked up into his face, laughing in my joy – and it wasn’t him – it wasn’t his face!
Embarrassed, heartbroken, confused, I stammered out my excuses. I was to suffer these fantasies for a long time, seeing my brother in every young man in uniform, having to stop myself running up to them.
Until the Red Cross located his grave, and we knew for sure that he was dead, shot at while parachuting down from his burning plane.
Jack lies buried in a War Cemetery near Durnbach, where after the War our family members said 'Kadish', the memorial prayer, over his grave, with its Shield of David on the headstone.
I end this story on a happier note.
Last month in the 1997 Queen’s Birthday Honours List, Jack’s son, that fatherless little boy, Dr Michael Goldstein, now risen to the high rank in life of Vice Chancellor of Coventry University, was awarded the C.B.E. for his services to the Higher Education. Michael is a great, yet modest man, His sister Leila is a dedicated social worker who cares lovingly for her now ailing mother.
Jack – your sacrifice was not in vain. You did not grow old as we who are left grow old, but your noble spirit lives on in the lives of your children.
This is my tribute to your memory.
Photo shows: Joe and Fanny Goldstein
Like many another serviceman overseas I carried with me the odd photo from home.
One such photo, that of my parents, was transferred from pocket to pocket, small pack to small pack, kitbag to kitbag wherever I travelled and surprisingly managed to survive the war.
It would be churlish of me not to post a photo of my parents on this site after having posted so many other articles about myself, so here I am, trying to make amends.
To accompany the photo I’d like to tell you two small stories about my parents that will, I hope, give you a little insight into their characters.
Firstly, my mother, Fanny or Faigele, as she was known to Joe, my father.
In November 1945 I had my first home leave since March 1943.
As a temporary ‘tenant’ at my parent’s home in North London I found myself sleeping on a couch in the front room, no problem for me since I had been sleeping ‘rough’ for the past three years.
In the early hours of the morning I was un-intentionally woken by my mother who had just entered the room. When I asked her what the problem was she replied “I was just bringing in an extra blanket to cover your head because I thought there might be a draught coming from the window!
At the time and even now, some sixty odd years later, I laughed as I thought to myself “G-D, its just as well she never saw some of the places in which I’ve been sleeping!
My other story concerns the same period of twenty-eight day’s leave.
My Dad was very proud of his soldier son and wanted to take me around to show to his cronies. One of his regular weekly haunts was a local Solo Whist Drive where the prizes were quite substantial, about £50 pounds if I remember rightly.
When we entered the hall he introduced me to all and sundry as one of General Montgomery’s veterans and mentioned that it was the first of such competitions that I had ever attended.
I won’t say that his friends deliberately played badly against me…. let us just say that a combination of beginner’s luck and civilian good-will resulted in my winning the top prize and my father was ecstatic.
The following Friday he was shocked to the core when I apologetically declined his offer to take me to the same place again. I was never a gambler whereas my Dad was, like many of his generation, the eternal punter and he shook his head in bewilderment at my inability to sense when I was on a winning streak.
My parents had five sons serving in the Forces and were ultimately to suffer the grievous loss of one of their boys.
They are both long gone but I hold their name in utter reverence and it is an honour to be able pay tribute to them in this WW2 Archive.
Photo shows: German leaflet warning us about the perils of attempting to cross the River Po
Every time I promise myself that I've finished putting any more stories on this site another veteran posts something that I simply have to answer. This time it was to do with the River Po and I was reminded that the Germans decided to apply a little mind bending by shelling this leaflet over our lines.
The front of the leaflet graphically depicts British troops being shelled as they cross the river, the back of the leaflet includes some of the text I now give below.
ONE MORE RIVER
But it isn’t only “one more river”, this time it is THE river !
IT IS THE MIGHTY PO !
Do you remember the hells of the rivers Sangro, Rapido, Liri, Volturmo and Garigliano? Do you remember the lives that were sacrificed in crossing these rivers?
Put those rivers all together and the result will be smaller than the
“PO” means death and suffering
“POW” means security and comfort
Think it over, only
Fools rush in
Photo shows: Postcard of a street scene in Guelma, North Africa
In June 1943 my unit, the 49th LAA Rgt, was stationed near Guelma in North Africa.
A few of us went into 'town' for a drink and a meal and after finishing up in a particular grotty cafe we asked for the menu.
The waiter replied 'No menu, but would you like our speciality?'
After the meal one of the lads said to me 'Find out what that dish was called so that we can ask for it again another time'.
I summoned up my best schoolboy French and was told that we had just eaten 'serpent', which I would remind you translates as snake.
It was quite nice, actually !
Photo shows: Alf White, Ted Hull and Ron Goldstein at 166 Squadron reunion on 1st September 1996
My nephew, Michael Goldstein C.B.E., has, quite properly and very emotionally paid tribute to his late father in various articles on this site.
I thought that the above photograph might be of interest to readers of those stories and in particular the story “The night my father was killed in action”
http://www.bbc.co.uk/dna/ww2/A8452190 because it shows Alf White, Ted Hull and myself at a 166 Squadron reunion on the 1st of September 1996.
I had gone up to Kirmington to carry out further research into Jack’s death and to make a tape recording of Ted Hull’s memories of those fateful times.
Since that reunion Ted Hull has sadly passed away and I would like to place on record what an honour it was to have met this lovely and courageous man and to have shared his memories.
Photo shows: This is PART of the last page in my Album. It originally included a delightful cartoon of "Jon's" Two Types but the Moderators were not happy about the copyright, so, no JON I'm afraid !
I know I’ve said it before, but this REALLY is my last posting.
Naturally, it had to be about my old stand-by, my Army Album and the photo to head it simply had to be a picture of the last page in the aforesaid Album..
The Album itself has started to get a bit tatty, has already been rebound once, and it’s just as well that I’ve been able to get most of its contents onto this site.
Having said that, there’s still a lot of stuff that I never got around to putting into the public domain and so, just for the fun of it, I decided to list what’s left.
1.Postcards of Rome, Rimini, Bari, Florence, Sienna, Venice, Trieste and even Guelma in North Africa where I got to eat snake (too late to write about this!)
2. Restaurant bills, sundry maps, a letter from Austria sent to me some three years after the war.
3. Song sheet bought for the equivalent of one new penny in the streets of Trieste.
4. Sundry photos of all sizes showing many friends last seen more than sixty two years ago
5.Theatre bill of a show held in the NAAFI canteen in Rome
6. Newspaper cuttings, YMCA leaflet showing tours available in wartime Cairo
7. Sketches of no artistic value but still capable of forever provoking my memory.
8. A thank-you letter from the Imperial War Museum when I paid them a visit after they had a disastrous fire and were looking for German propaganda leaflets to replace those that had been lost in the blaze.
9. Lots of pages from my remaining diaries.
All in all a fascinating rag-bag of irreplaceable memorabilia and one item that is never going to end up on E-Bay, or am I tempting providence?
Hoping that my many odd (very odd) articles have given some pleasure along the way
Cheerio, Au Revoir, Arriverderci and Auf Wiedersehn
Sometime Gunner, Trooper and finally Corporal Goldstein R. 14300260 4th Queen’s Own Hussars.
Photo shows: Ron in March 2005 ready for a BBC TV interview
The BBC WW2 Peoples War website was set up in 2003 to gather in stories of servicemen and civilians who had taken part in what was generally known as World War II.
Late in 2005 it was announced that the site, at least in its present format, was to close for future submissions on the 31st January 2006 and would re-open at a later date as a permanent ‘sealed’ archive.
The BBC have promised that this site will become a ‘permanent’ archive.
With that in mind I am being reasonably optimistic in hoping that it will still be available in 2056 and that is why I have addressed this article to a researcher of that date.
As an eighty-two year old ex-serviceman who came across the site shortly after it opened in 2003 and who had posted about 80 odd articles (some would say very odd!) I felt it incumbent on myself to leave a message for future readers of the ‘new’ archives.
The first thing I would expect my reader to notice is that the postings on this site are a bit of a mish-mash (if such a term is still understandable to my future reader) as the articles run the gamut from “This is what I experienced, backed by my diaries” to “This is something my Grannie told me” .
The ages of those who have posted run from “I joined up in 1939 at the age of 21” to “I was born after the war ”.
Some articles are ‘tribute stories’, where a grateful grandchild writes about a grandfather he or she never knew
Some of the older contributors (including myself) have crossed swords with the controllers of the site because we felt that some articles were, to put it politely, risibly inaccurate. The Organisers in turn have told us in no uncertain terms that the individual posters were responsible for their own stories and that there was even merit in what was referred to by the organisers as “perceived memories”.
In an effort to keep the record straight I would urge future readers and in particular researchers to take nothing that has been written on this site as being factually correct unless it has been confirmed by other research sources. I would also urge future researchers to read any threads that have been added to the stories as these have been, in the main, added by those who were concerned for factual accuracy.
Having stated my case, and with that proviso safely out of the way, may I now praise the site and its organisers.
There are some wonderful stories here.
People have given freely and generously of their memories and have created an amazing patchwork picture of life during the most catastrophic of times.
Despite the difficulty of their task, the organisers have kept the ball rolling and have not allowed petty bickering to distract them from their main task which was always to offer help to prospective contributors, gather their stories and to analyse and categorise them.
I have no idea what innovations will be available to you folk in 2056 but judging by the progress I have seen within my own lifetime I envy you.
Make good use of this site, a lot has been put into it and as you do, spare a thought for those of us who have placed our stories on this site so that the future generations would know about who we were and what we did during World War II.
Ex 49th Light Ack Ack and 4th Queen’s Own Hussars.
Photo shows: Tom and Ron finally get to meet
I thought the Peoples War readers might be interested to know about an unlikely meeting of two WW2 ‘vets’. Tom Canning , born Cowdenbeath, Fife, Scotland 1924 (U519668) and Ron Goldstein , born Bethnal Green, London, England 1923 (U520216) Were it not for WW2, we two completely diverse characters are hardly likely ever to have met and yet through the channels of the BBC Peoples War this unlikely event took place in London on the 7th October 2004 on the occasion of Tom visiting the UK from Canada, where he is now lives in retirement with Veronica. For the past year, on this website, both Tom and I have been bantering with each other about military matters and in the process have established a remarkable set of coincidences in our respective WW2 service. Despite the fact that we both served in different Regiments and never (to the best of our knowledge) ever actually met during wartime we equally seem to have been in lots of the same places at the same time (see below).
1. Bury St.Edmunds, Infantry Training Rgt. Oct. 1942
2. Troopship S.S.Franconia en route to North Africa Apr 1943
3. Transit Camp Matifou outside Algiers
4. Caserta, Cassino Feb 1944
5. Rieti, Armoured Corps Training Camp Nov 1944
6. Villach, Austria Aug 1945
7. Barnard Castle, Transit camp Jan 1947
8. York , Demob Centre Mar 1947
Nice meeting up with you Tom !
Best wishes Ron
Photo shows: Mick as a Sgt. in the 22nd Battion Royal Fusiliers
Foreword by Ron Goldstein
In 1988 the Goldstein’s of Boreham Street decided to write a family history entitled “And Then There Were Eleven”. Under the direction of Esther, the oldest surviving child, this duly came to fruition.
The title of the book referred to the fact that there were eleven children in the family and eight of them contributed their own memories to this saga of family life.
One of the boys was Mick, who sadly passed away today, Saturday the 19th of November 2005.
As a tribute to his valiant service to both his country of birth and his Jewish faith I give below the section of his story that dealt with his military career.
In the early months of the war I was called up to the forces.
I joined the 22nd Battalion, Royal Fusiliers in Kirkintilloch, Scotland, and spent the next four years serving all over England, Wales and Northern Ireland, most of this time as Sergeant Instructor; first as an infantry-man, and when the War Office needed more anti-tank units, I took courses on the 2-pounder, 6-pounder and eventually l7-pounder guns. I was selected to work with a Colonel Vaudrey, with whom I devised a miniature range with moving miniature tanks and a specially calibrated .22 rifle fitted on the 2-pounder gun, to simulate battle conditions.
When, frustrated at what I felt to be my relative inactivity in the fight against Fascism, I heard of the formation of the Jewish Brigade and volunteered to join it, I received a letter from this very fine man at H/O, 7O A/Tk, from which I quote: "Dear Goldstein, I was so sorry to have missed being able to say goodbye to you and to thank you for the excellent work you have done in this regiment. I appreciate only too well the difficulty of training these intakes. It is a soul-destroying job after a time, but you kept up to it. I would like to wish you every good luck not only personally, but on behalf of the Regiment. Yours very sincerely, K. Vaudrey."
Motivated by strong Zionist tendencies and my desire to be more involved in the fighting, I arrived in Naples on January l3th, l945, and after eight days in Eboli I joined the Jewish Field Regiment at St Bartolemeo, leaving there on my birthday, l5th March, for a regimental hide about lO kilometres from the front. The non-Jewish English personnel had been told that the original l65 Field Regiment which the Jewish Field Regiment was replacing was in any case to be disbanded, but they apparently still resented what they considered was our intrusion. It was the worst possible way to form a regiment of this sort, and bound to create ill-feeling; indeed it boiled over into antisemitic acts, such as the burning of our regimental flag by non-Jewish staff. As bad as that was, however, we were to experience even worse later on from the Poles; when fighting alongside them, they cut our lines of communication to the Observation Post!
Our Regiment was to be part of the Jewish Brigade, which consisted of three battalions of excellent infantry, all Palestinians. Israel was not yet created, and it is ironic to recall that all residents of Palestine, Jews, Moslems and Christians, were then called Palestinians - they had already been in action and fought superbly. We were in bivouacs near a dirty Italian farmhouse, close by some Polish troops, near Forli. Major Rosenberg commanded the battery and the troop captain was Capt. Henriques. Edmunds de Rothschild was a major in the unit, and a fellow-sergeant was Mike Evanari, professor of botany and later vice-president of the Hebrew University, to whom the men would bring flowers and botanical specimens from the surrounding countryside for identification.
My sub-section consisted of Bombardier Uri, a grand, bespectacled dark-haired boy from Germany; Lance-Bombardier Weihrach, a tall, smiling blond lad from Vienna; Judah Weinberg, whose family perished in concentration camps in Germany; Mattius Bedrooms, a hard-working chatterbox from Poland, the sub's "old man," about 36 years old; also Blondie Bernstein from Poland, who had just had his first combat crop, and our non-Jewish English driver, Langley, a friendly lad.
It was wonderful to receive letters and parcels from home. While still in England, I had been visiting my Goldstein cousins in Hackney Road when on leave, and my friendship with Sylvia had developed into a romance. Her letters meant a great deal to me, but I found it particularly amusing when she sent me an Italian dictionary to help along my command of that language, at the very time when I was struggling to learn Sephardi Hebrew - my pronunciation was Ashkenazi, but to converse with my gun crew I needed to speak fluently in the Sephardi pronunciation.
In March l945, while we were fighting in Italy with the Eighth Army, our brigade celebrated Passover, and the Army Commander Jewish Brigade, Brigadier Benjamin, sent greetings - "From the Brigade HQ now in the lines of the 8th Army on the Italian front, to all Jewry. As in the times of Pharaoh, our people show their strong will for freedom and liberty and their readiness to fight for it together with the soldiers of other freedom-loving people. Let the Jewish people know that the soldiers of the Brigade are standing well in the trial of battle, and their spirit is unconquerable. I am confident that their efforts and sacrifices will bring honour to our people. To no other soldier is there more justification to be here in the Front against the Nazi enemy than to the soldiers of this Brigade...Pray God that this Passover may bring the dawn of freedom and liberty to Israel and all humanity."
There were inevitable mishaps in providing Passover provisions - the matzot failed to arrive in time for the Seder Service, which was kibbutz style, but they did turn up next day with the rations - together with the bacon! Another time they arrived with hot cross buns! We had a welcome respite from action when Moshe Shertok came to speak to us for the Jewish Agency, and another highlight was entertainment by Hannah Rovina, the star artist of the Habima Theatre, a beautiful woman whose performance thrilled me.
My diary of the war in Italy has been carefully preserved, from which I quote now some of my notes: "A duty in town (Faenza) brought strange contrasts, women in furs and others in rags, modern limousines and oxen-drawn farm carts, well shod children and bare-footed urchins. We passed both a British and German war cemetery, rows on rows of neat white crosses like a regiment on parade. War has ravaged and scarred this country, whole villages are rubble, and no bomb damage I have ever seen can equal the devastation caused by deadly shelling. The letters D.D.T. painted in black on the walls of almost every house puzzled me until one of the lads explained it was the name of a de-lousing process and signified they'd all been disinfected. Every now and then we'd pass a notice 'Out of Bounds' or 'Malaria, no camping, next site l5 miles on'.
"Despite the rain, the roads were terribly dusty, and I dread the prospect of a summer campaign over these roads. The NAAFI was well up to the standard of the previous one, and we stood on the balcony like Il Duce and surveyed the motley throng. Multi-coloured uniforms were in abundance, since clothes are so scarce nearly all the men have retained their Italian uniforms, and the Carabinieri (police) look like ruddy generals.
"The majority of the traffic to town, apart from military, was horse-drawn; jigs and carts, horses and donkeys in the main being in their last stages. What buildings there are left are gaily coloured pastel shades, and here and there elaborately painted with galleons etc. In town everyone seems to have cash, but even this is pretty valueless since most commodities are unobtainable. It is for this reason that one of the most heinous crimes is to sell cigarettes etc to civilians.
"Looking at the terrain one marvels how we ever captured it, and since they say it gets worse and worse going up to the front, the present lull is understandable, particularly since they're reputed to be in five inches of snow. The women work hard to keep clean, and one can see them scrubbing clothes in the most primitive way, down at mountain streams, and lines of washing, mostly ragged, hanging from the inevitable balcony.
"March 27th. We moved up at 9.45, route Faenza, the Sword Route about lO kilos to Brisighella. In action by lpm behind the Senio at Brisighella, a Bailey Bridge over a small river on our left and hills all round, with the main road to the front in our rear. Wonderful to see so much of the Magen David, Infantry, Royal Engineers, Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers, Ordnance, etc. We were very lucky, found our gun pits, slit trenches etc., dug for us, and even ammunition on site.
"Saw the Ghurkas, mostly youngsters, though they have a wonderful reputation as soldiers. BBC announced the Brigade had been in action. Had sent home a copy of the 'Eighth Army News' giving a good write-up to the Brigade._"April 9th - D-Day. After Orders of the Day from Gen. Mark Clark, Alexander and McKeery, we've had the dope from Henriques. THE PLAN - Poles start at approx. l4.OO, we create diversion with Italians, our infantry to cross Senio.
"April lOth. We commenced firing again at 4.2Oam. Zero hour 4.3O. Worried about my brother Ron who's also in the region with the Eighth Army. All five boys of our family in the services.
"April l2th. We move to point North East this side of Senio. News from home, my brother Jack, an Air Gunner with R.A.F., is missing from a flight over Nurenberg.
"The action in Italy cost the Jewish Brigade 3O lives. 7O men were wounded, 2l military distinctions were awarded and 78 men were mentioned in despatches. On Wednesday, May 2nd, l945, the war in Italy ended. The Jewish Brigade's expertise and personnel became important elements in the establishment of the Israel Defence Forces."
On Wednesday, May 2nd, l945, the war in Italy ended, by which time we were already in Klagenfurt, Austria. There the Brigade commenced its unofficial role of assisting displaced personnel and concentration camp victims. The British members were in many instances withdrawn, and after leave in England, a very welcome break, I was sent out to India as Battery Sergeant Major Instructor of Gunnery, in which position I remained until the war ended in the Far East. I was posted to Deolali and instructed officer cadets in 25-pounder Field Gunnery, needing all the gunners we could get as we were still at war with Japan.
India was a fascinating country, a mixture of wealth and extreme poverty, and the scenery was breathtaking. Contact was made with the Bombay Jewish community, among whom I was fortunate to make good friends, and I spent a memorable Seder Night at the Malabar Hill home of a Jewish tea planter. It was a veritable Arabian Night's dream in its opulence of gold, silver, ivory and ebony, with red-sashed bearers waiting on us at each end of the table, and punkah wallahs pulling ropes that wafted fans above us as we ate.
By sharp contrast to our opulent Seder in the Malabar hills, we saw the other side of life in Byculla, the Jewish slum quarter, a mixture of East End of London alley and Naples cul-de-sac, with all the smells, noises and garbage, and a cosmopolitan population of Muslims, Hindus, poor-Whites, Chinese, Portugese, B'nai Yisraeli, Iraqui Jews and refugees of every conceivable nationality.
The synagogue was built like a church, with the Jewish school beside it. There we found an amazing B'nai Yisraeli schoolmaster rehearsing a Leslie Henson farce with teenagers - he was almost black with white hair, genial and learned. He believed these coloured Jews had been resident in India for some thousands of years; their Hebrew was Sephardi and they were extremely orthodox, but since they had been in India before the destruction of the Second Temple, they had no knowledge of the festivals of Chanukah or Purim, nor of the name Yehudi - Jews.
In the courtyard at the rear of the synagogue we saw an incredible sight - a community of some three hundred Afghan Jews who had trekked thousands of miles from Afghanistan to escape a massacre, housed in abject poverty in ramshackle basketwork structures about the size of cycle sheds. All were haggard and dispirited, under- nourished and in rags; and emaciated, dishevelled children covered with sores crowded round us; since it was Passover they were living mainly on rice and matzos. I spoke in Hebrew to a bearded patriarch in a caftan and he told me of their desire to escape from their horror and misery to Palestine. We returned to army quarters and organised a collection amongst the lads, and with the lOO rupees raised we went back to the refugees loaded with fruit and eggs - it was hard to restrain tears at the sight of their faces when they saw the food. Fearful of the coming monsoons, I approached the Chaplain about food and accommodation for them, and was told the situation was delicate, as they were supposed to be passing through the area and might be sent back to Afghanistan if attention were drawn to them. Food was being provided, and their plight had been mentioned to Sydney Silverman, the Jewish M.P. when he was in Bombay, but their chance of visas for Palestine was very remote. I often wonder what happened to these tragic people.
During our stay in India there was political turmoil, too, since the Indians were fighting for independence - but fortunately I was not involved in that particular fight. The Atom Bomb was dropped on Japan while I was at Deolali, which led to the surrender of Japan and the final cessation of World War II. When at last I was demobbed in l946, I received the magnificent sum of £64 Gratuity, £4O Post-War Credits, £36 for 67 days' leave pay and £lO Ration Allowance! With this total of £l5O when I married my darling Sylvia on 6th November l946, we started our married life together, over forty years blessed with happiness, with two wonderful daughters Naomi and Susie, whose husbands Maurice and Uri and our beloved grandchildren David, Danny and Gaby have enriched our lives.
Photo shows: Route Card that I forgot to hand in !
Any one who had the pleasure of serving in the Army in wartime will have had the experience of driving or travelling in convoy.
Starting time was usually 'first light' or at nightfall and the convoy itself might have been only a small one of twenty odd vehicles or a massive one of a Brigade on the move.
Orders concerning the order of march ("You will be number 3 in the convoy, following the 2nd I/C") would be issued the evening before the move and, if you were lucky, you would be given a 'Route Card' as shown above.
The first vehicle in the convoy would start off at no more than five miles per hour until one of the Dispatch Riders (who would be acting as liason to the O/C) reported that the last vehicle had actually moved off and the speed of the convoy could be increased.
Invariably wireless silence would be maintained so as not to give the enemy information concerning troop movements.
Photo shows: The Dining Hall at Opicina, optional dining outside when weather permitted
I don’t remember either of my two daughters ever asking me that particular question, but this thread is about food, Army, WW2 style, and is penned while I can still remember it.
No.1 in the category of ‘Food not to die for’ must surely go to Soya Links. These were regularly part of our field rations in Italy and consisted of about nine, 1”x 6” rectangular monsters packed in brine. You had to shake the can vigorously to dislodge them and then they would fall out with a most disgusting plop. I presume that someone must have thought that they tasted like meat but I was never to meet the gentleman concerned.
No.2 in the same category was Bully Beef. If one had the time to cook and spice it properly, then, and only then, it could be made palatable. In most cases we ate it cold from the tin, complete with its congealed fat. Having said that, I once really enjoyed it, see my story ‘Not my worst night, by any means’ (A1996860)
No.3 was M and V or Meat and Veg. I used to think that this was the best of the bunch until we changed coasts to join the Yanks. Our rations then changed dramatically for the better and we were to learn the delights of Spam, tasty Meat and Veg, Rice Pudding and even tinned Fruit Cocktail.
Porridge, a staple breakfast meal, was by tradition always made by the last man on guard, the one doing the 6am to 8am shift and so its quality used to vary from solid salty cement to ambrosia of the gods (that was when I made it)
Cooks used to make all the difference, of course, and I soon tumbled that the Battery cooks were never in the same league as the RHQ cooks and it would appear that COs guarded the chefs with their lives and never allowed them to be subjected to the risks that we other mortal faced.
Finally, when I switched Regiments from Light Ack to the Armoured Corps I found myself acting as cook for two tanks (in addition to my normal wireless op duties). Here I had a chance to cook right from scratch even to meat issued in bulk. I used to carve the meat into manageable chunks, quick fry the chunks using cordite for fuel and then hang the meat in a bucket of salt water from the back of the tank. Later, when we had stopped moving for at least a day I would slice the meat and re-fry it until edible.
I don’t remember anyone ever dying of food poisoning.
What other food have I forgotten and What did you eat in WW2, Daddy?
Photo shows: "We Will Remember Them", Cyril Sherbourne, Ron Goldstein and Lew (Larry) Fox on parade with AJEX 2004
In 2003, at the age of 80, I started to post stories and pictures on this site.
I began my meanderings from the year 1939 and kept going until I reached 1947, which was when the Government of the time decided it was safe to release me back to 'Civvy Street'.
I deliberately omitted stories about the blitz although I had more than my fair share of this phenomena, having sensibly considered that many civilians would have a lot to say on this subject and how right I was proven to be.
When it came to subject matter I was luckier than most, perhaps, because my stories were already half written as both entries in my wartime diaries and pages in the family book “And then there were eleven”.
Then there was my Army Album, a full ninety pages here, and already packed full of photographs and memorabilia.
As my ‘portfolio’ of stories started to take form I realised that I was, in effect, transferring my Army Album into the Public Domain and I became eager to finish it while I still had the energy and, much later, before the site stopped taking new entries and became the Archive that it both threatened and promised to be.
I tried desperately to write only of matters that I could put my hand on my heart as being true and I therefore kept dialogue to the minimum. With dates and places, this was fairly easy, particularly as apart from my own diaries I had access to the Regimental Histories of both the 49th LAA Rgt and the 4th Queen’s Own Hussars.
Having said that, I found that in some cases I could remember every word of an incident that had taken place over sixty years earlier just as though it had been burned into my memory.
As I read other stories on the site I found myself becoming increasingly impatient with tales of daring-do that were patently, to be kind, a bit shaky on established fact.
As a ‘Site Helper’ I tried to avoid controversy when it came to reminding people about such factual slip-ups as saying, for example, that the Queen of Tonga took part in the 1946 Victory Parade celebrations.
I won some such arguments, I lost some, as Archive Day draws ever closer I am resigned to the fact that many of the stories that will be preserved will paint a less than accurate picture of life in World War II.
This small piece should, with a bit of luck, be the last piece I shall submit to the “Pre-Archive” site. I am aware that I have sometimes over-stepped the boundary of valid criticism as opposed to legitimate comment and for this I beg my reader’s pardon.
Like many other writers to this site, I have read some wonderful stories and made many new friends. When the stories have been good they have been very good and I encourage future readers to browse around. You will soon see that the gold shines through the dross.
2nd October 2005
Photo shows: The City Gates, RAC Training Depot at Rieti
In October 1942, when I was first called up, I was asked if there was any particular branch of the Army that I would like to join.
In those heady days of patriotic zeal I rather fancied myself as a dashing young Tank driver so I put down the Armoured Corps as my first choice.
It was politely put to me that at my then height of 5'6" I simply wasn't tall enough to operate the foot controls. With bad grace I settled for the Royal Artillery.
In December 1944 when my Light Ack Ack Regiment was being 'broken up for spares', as someone so neatly put it, my legs had miraculously become long enough to do anything that the Army required of me and I soon found myself at Rieti learning to drive Sherman Tanks!
This bears out the lovely story told about the use of KRRs (Kings Rules and Regulations).
The story goes that, using KRRs, the Army can do ANYTHING it likes to you, except give you a baby.
This was later ammended to say that, using KRR's the Army CAN give you a baby, but it can't make you love it!
Photo shows: Eddie and Ron by the Ponte Rialto in Venice
I first met Eddie in May 1945, just as the war in Italy came to a close.
He was a newcomer to A Sdrn. (my Sqdrn. in the 4th Queen’s Own Hussars) having recently transferred from C Sqdrn, but we were kindred spirits and immediately became good friends.
My diary for May 7th says:
Monday 7th. May 1945
No sleep but straight on to leave in Venice. Tour of the Grand Canal on gondola. St.Marco, Ponte Rialto and the whole works. With Derek and Pat (Eddie Patman)
Before the war Eddie was involved in the Cinema business, working as a journalist for the trade magazine ‘Cinema’.
His parents were living at the time in North Harrow (his father ran an Off-Licence there) and they literally lived over the shop. I can remember visiting there whilst on my first home leave in 1946.
We visited Venice together on May 7th 1945 (see photo) and generally hung around together in the evenings.
I got out of the forces earlier than he did, but we stayed in touch and he came to my wedding to Nita in July 1949. He also attended the wedding of my youngest daughter Ruth in 1981.
After the war he worked for MGM for quite a while and then gradually rose through the ranks until he held the top PR job for the FOX cinema company, with the job title of Sales Director for the UK.
After that we met up at least once a year and usually took it in turns to visit each other’s homes.
We went to Eddie’s housewarming party in Whiteleaf, near Princes Risboro and also to a party that he threw to celebrate his retirement when he was around 60. It was at this party that an incident occurred that caused me much embarrassment/amusement at the time.
Present at the party were all the top names in the cinema world and Eddie’s father was given the job of taking me round to meet the other guests.
To my horror he introduced me in the following manner:
“This young man is Ron Goldstein, ex of the 4th Queen’s Own Hussars and it was he who was responsible for pulling Eddie out of his burning tank during the war and saving his life!”
The giggle about the whole affair was as follows.
1. Eddie and I were in different Squadrons during hostilities and did not become friends until the Regiment re-assembled in Trieste after the war had finished in Italy.
2. Although Eddie’s tank had certainly been hit during action and he had been wounded, the ‘hero’ of the day was some other un-named trooper.
3. Whatever protestations I made about the real facts were regarded as mere modesty on my part and shrugged off by Eddie’s dad and indeed all of the guests. I was the hero of the evening and my wine glass was not allowed to go empty !
Round about 1990 we received a shock telephone call from Eddie’s only sister Muriel telling us that he had passed away. She told us that Eddie had known that he was about to die but had wanted the news kept from his friends. We were, however able to attend his funeral the next day.
It appeared that Eddie had booked himself into a hospice for his last few weeks and (typically of Eddie) had made all the arrangements for his own funeral service.
You need to know that one of his major roles in the UK had been the promotion and the publicity surrounding the film Dr.Zhivago with Omar Sharif.
Eddie had loved the film and this was made patently obvious when the funeral service finished and the many congregants dispersed to the haunting tune of Lara’s theme, taken from the sound track of the movie.
Eddie was a delightful character, full of Joi de Vivre and modest to the core. He is, and will be, sorely missed by everyone who had the pleasure and privilege of having known him.
Photo shows: Nita and Ron at Horse Guards
I have already written about my impressions of VE Day in Italy (A2324189)and my feelings at the time that we had 'not been invited to the party'.
In April this year I thought I was going to see a repeat version of my Venice days because, after reading about all the events that were going to take place in London during the week ending July the 10th, I thought I would get in early and apply for tickets.
To my dismay all the contact telephone numbers seemed to be permanently busy and so I decided to write directly to the organisers, quoting my Venice story and saying "it looks like I havn't been invited to this party either!"
Someone with a sense of humour must have read my letter because the short story is that I got my tickets to the event at Horse Guards Parade and Nita and I spent a memorable, if exhausting, day out in the presence of HM The Queen and 12,000 other veterans.
Also present were my brother Mick, his wife Sylvia and my long time friend Lew Fox.
As you can see by the photo, ladies had to wear hats !
Photo shows: Nat, Sylvia and Alf
One service that contributed much to the safety and well being of the entire nation during WW2 was that of the St.Johns Ambulance Brigade. A purely voluntary service, they were ever in demand during the Blitz and were reponsible for saving thousands of lives. My sister-in-law Sylvia, married to my brother Mick, belonged to a family that had a unique association with St.Johns as the photograph above clearly shows. On the left is her brother Nat, centre is Sylvia and right is another brother Alf who in later life was to become a high ranking officer and much honoured for his life time service. Well done St.Johns !
Photo shows: Left is my brother Mick, also a hero in my eyes, to the right is Donnie
As a young teenager in the pre-war years I was a member of the C and B.G Boy's Club.
Every year we hold a re-union and tales are re-told of lads who did more than their share of war-time service.
I have already told the tale of Jack Nissenthal (A2665271) I would now like to tell the story of Donnie Carlton.
Because he is such a reticent character I will have to let the official story speak for itself.
RIFLE BRIGADE, 1939-45
A./CPL. D. CARLTON (10th Battalion), 7th December, 1944: M.M.
For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty at Monte Rentella. On 21st/22nd June, 1944, Cpl. Carlton was signal corporal of a company which was ordered to seize the feature to the north of Monte Rentella.
On approaching the objective, the company came under heavy machine-gun fire. Cpl. Carlton, however, carrying a heavy load of vital signal equipment, followed his company commander into the assault, and on reaching the position calmly set about establishing communications.
Small-arms, mortar and shell fire was intense and any movement in the open was almost suicidal. Cpl. Carlton, however, volunteered to carry a message down 800 yards of exposed hillside to the reserve company, with whom it had been found impossible to make contact by any other means.
This task accomplished, he immediately set out up the hill again, still under intense fire, and showing an example of personal courage and devotion to duty which was an inspiration to all who witnessed it.
By the time he approached it, however, the company position had been overrun. Cpl. Carlton, however, although a signaller by trade, gathered together the men in the vicinity, organized them as a section and, still under heavy fire, successfully conducted a fighting withdrawal to the reserve company area.
Cpl. Carlton's complete disregard of his own safety and fine qualities of leadership and initiative in a crisis are worthy of the highest commendation and have set a magnificent example to all ranks of the Battalion.
Photo shows: Ron on his morning walk
I consider myself a fairly active octogenarian and, unless it is raining, I kick-start my day with a three mile circuit of my local park.
Despite wearing suitable clothing I confess that I DO notice the cold (10 degrees below zero at the time of writing) but on reflection this is as nothing compared with the temperatures we endured in Italy during WW2 and it is on this topic that I now write.
Our first winter in Italy, namely 1944, was horrendous.
Our introduction to weather conditions overseas had started off innocently enough.
I was stationed in Algeria from April ’43 until August ’43 and the sun presented no major problems. I know that immediately on reading this, some of the ‘old sweats’ will write of desert conditions and the perils of sunstroke but this was not my scene as I had arrived too late for the fighting in North Africa and had no real desert conditions to put up with.
Again, in Sicily, in July and August ‘43, apart from the perils of being shot at, the weather posed no major problems and the campaign was to last for only one month.
Italy, however, was another matter.
The first winter of ’43 found us totally unprepared for the conditions in which we had to serve.
It was nothing to have wet clothes on for three days at a time. We all had, at the most, three changes of underwear and shirts with which to survive and very little chance of washing and drying the same. It was not unusual to dig a slit trench to sleep in and to wake up to find ourselves floating in a foot of water.
But it was the cold that we all hated the most.
We rarely had a chance to see a thermometer but when the petrol froze overnight in our vehicle carburettors… we knew it was cold, when in Trieste our mugs of tea had ice floating on top before we could get them back to our barracks…. we knew it was cold and when , if you took your gloves off and touched the side of your tank , your hand literally froze to the metal … you again knew it was cold .
The winter of ’44 was no better but with the addition of mud everywhere the cold seemed to stick and because of the mud we had to wash more often which in turn made us colder…. It was a vicious, life-sickening circle that sapped our energy and turned us into morons.
Trieste in the winter of 1946 had it's own special brand of wintry delights.
They had (and probably still have)a local wind there called the Bora, supposedly coming from Russia and after the snow had fallen, melted and changed to ice it blew a 50 mile an hour gale througout the Trieste area that transformed people into skittles that were being blown over at every street corner.
The issue of leather jerkins, tank suits, extra blankets and even rum issues eventually helped to lighten our loads but today, sixty odd years later, whilst walking today in the park I was reminded of the cold of Italy and it was good to get back to my wife, my house, and the warmth and peace of Cockfosters.
Photo shows: The swimming pool at Heliopolis in Egypt
The WW2 Team, recently posed the following question: "I just read a rather amusing story about soldiers having a bath in Belgium (A2725193) and I wonder if any of you have bath time memories to contribute. How DID you all keep clean? Especially in the desert? Answers as articles please, and first prize goes to the one who provides a photograph as well."
Well, who could resist a challenge like that? Certainly not I, so I scoured my memory for an appropriate response.
At training depots, ie in barracks in England and at the RAC depot in Rieti, no problem there at all. Plenty of running water and sometimes even hot water in the showers! The problems arose in the field (for the benefit of non-military folk that means whilst in the line).
Necessity has always been the mother of invention and so there were always ways round the lack of conventional means of bathing. We all had our own cut-down petrol cans and, time permitting, some means of heating the water. In the 4th Hussars we used to use pellets of cordite taken from Verey light cartridges for an immediate source of heat. The same fuel was often used for a quick brew-up.
The regimental water carts usually managed to visit us at least twice a week and at the cry, 'Water cart up!' everyone used to come running, loaded with jerrycans or similar containers.
Any chance of a dip in the sea was also always quickly taken up. I have swum in the sea at Carthage in North Africa, off the side of the SS Homer Lee in Augusta in Sicily, in the sea again at a rest camp in Termoli.
On day leave in Cairo I visited the all ranks swimming pool at Heliopolis and that's me in the snap above.
The most civilised of all our 'keep yourself clean' operations was certainly the YMCA in Trieste. I have already written about this in my story Trieste, October 1945 to January 1947 so I'll not dwell on it here.
The funniest story about keeping clean in the field has got to be the one that concerns my good friend Larry Fox.
Larry, a keep fit enthusiast in civilian life, was determined to get himself a good tan at the expense of HM Forces. At every opportunity he would sunbathe, strictly against standing orders that regarded sunbathing as not only a waste of good time but likely to risk sunburn and regarded by the Army as a self-inflicted wound.
On one occasion, Larry was caught in the act by BSM Lillie, who promptly hauled him up before the OC on a charge of 'Conduct prejudicial to good order and military discipline'.
When the case came up before Major Mouland, Larry conducted his own defence which was, in effect, that he was washing himself at the time, as could be seen by the presence of his washing bowl.
Major Mouland asked BSM Lillie, 'Did you see his washing bowl, Sgt Major?'
A puzzled Lillie admitted he hadn't.
Mouland said, 'I'm afraid that I find the charge unproven, case dismissed.'
A triumphant Larry was marched smartly away and ever after used to see that he always had a washing bowl to hand!
Photo shows: This is how I managed to get some dates right and shows a day-leave pass to Florence on the 20th of November 1944
Since I first started contributing to this website I have contributed some 30 odd articles, all based on my own personal WW2 experiences.
I give this figure purely to demonstrate that I consider myself a ‘serious’ contributor and I ask the reader to accept that I have always tried to be both truthful and accurate when it came to the facts.
One of my own particular problems has been that a lot of my stories had already been aired in my family’s book entitled ‘And then there were eleven’ (referring to the fact that there were eleven children in the Goldstein family). When I first wrote my own contribution to the book it was in 1988, some 46 years after my service days and I suppose I could be forgiven for getting a few dates wrong.
When I eventually found the BBC WW2 website I simply copied and pasted these stories on to the site without any further checking with regard to dates.
If you have read any of my stories you will see that I rely largely on my own diaries and an album that I created in 1946 whilst stationed in Trieste and waiting to get my demob. On the back page of this album I had carefully written down all the places I had ‘visited’ in my travels, together with the month in question.
Unfortunately the diaries that I kept in 1942 and 1943 were lost during active service and only those of 1944 and 1945 survive, albeit in a somewhat truncated form.
During the past year, however, I have been able to examine the War Diaries of both the regiments in which I served, namely the 49th LAA Rgt. and the 4th Queen’s Own Hussars.
These documents are both fascinating and memory provoking and, for the first time, have given me an opportunity of checking the dates I had supplied in my articles.
I am now going through the lengthy process of checking all the articles I have submitted and, where the date was originally entered using my memory alone, I am confirming this from the official war diaries and making the necessary amendment.
If there are any servicemen out there who consider that any of my articles still contain a factual error I would ask them to leave a note in my Personal Box and I will see that the article is corrected.
Many thanks and all good wishes to all who search for the truth
Photo shows: Nita and Ron at AJEX Parade,Whitehall, Nov 2001
Looking back on the various articles that I have submitted, I seem to have written a lot of short stories based on Diary or Album entries.
The main reason for this peculiar format is that when I created my Army Album, in Trieste, in 1946, I attempted to cram into the pages of a relatively small book the highlights of eight very important years of my life, those between 1939 and 1947. It is therefore the ‘highlights’ of these years that I have, in turn, inflicted upon my reader and I can only hope that I have not been too boring in the process.
In retrospect, I think that I had an ‘interesting’ set of wartime experiences but none that were so unique or unusual for men of my age group, i.e. those born in the 1920’s.
Even the fact that I ‘changed jobs’, i.e. from Light Ack Ack to being in the Royal Armoured Corps, was not rare for men in the forces, particularly at the closing stages of the war when many regiments were being broken up.
Where I appear to have varied from the norm was mainly down to three factors.
The first was my decision to keep a diary whilst on active service, the second was the opportunity I had to make an ‘Army Album’ in 1946 whilst waiting to get out of the Army and the final factor was that I got myself involved in computing at the tender age of sixty-two.
As the direct result of all of these ‘factors’, I was in a good position to be able to place many of my experiences and photos, for better or for worse, onto the BBC WW2 website and this, at least, I have achieved.
My Album, which up to now has been buried away in my study, is now in the Public Domain and hopefully may provide some interest to researchers into WW2.
What I didn’t conceive, when I first started submitting articles, was the immense pleasure I was about to receive by the making of many good friends. I won’t name them, they know who they are, but their responses to, and contributions made, to articles I have written have given me immense pleasure and shamed my ignorance of military history.
I would also like to take this opportunity of thanking all of the BBC WW2 Team for being so patient, and understanding with all of us ‘oldies’. Occasionally they have had to take some stick from all and sundry but they have ALWAYS replied in a most polite manner, which is more than I would have done, given the same set of circumstances.
As to my "Fifteen minutes of fame"...
It was Andy Warhol who invented the phrase "In the future everyone will be famous for fifteen minutes."
In my case, I reckon I must have had about about an hour’s worth , I hasten to explain.
Back in the 1988 my eldest sister Esther thought it would be a good idea to compile a family book with all the surviving siblings contributing their own story about the early life of the Goldstein family. The book duly came to pass under the title of “And Then There Were Eleven”, which referred to the eleven siblings in our family.
The original book, entitled as above, was published privately in 1988, strictly for sale amongst the Goldstein family and sold out immediately.
As a result of various other parties also reading the book it was found to be of modern historical interest and it sparked off various sidelines now detailed below.
In 1990 it was ‘read’ on to Audio Tape for the Jewish Care’s Tapes for the Blind and became one of its listed popular Talking Books. The book was then lodged, by request, in the Bishopsgate Reference Library and the Steinberg Centre, thus making it accessible to researchers. It was also used in 1993-4 by the Museum of London for its Peopling of London Exhibition at the Barbican; in 1996 by the Commission for Social Equality for its ‘Roots of the Future Exhibition’ and in 1996 by Central Foundation Girls School to record 20th century life for posterity in a time capsule sunk in the foundations of its new building in Bow.
On December 11th 1999 BBC Radio 4 broadcast “In These Arms”, the final episode of a four-part series examining family life over four centuries; it featured the Goldsteins as representing an immigrant family between the two World Wars. To make this program the BBC invited me to go ‘walkabout’ in the East End of London talking about my early roots and this formed part of a very interesting program that included readings taken from the book.
On the 50th anniversary of VE Day, ITV invited me and a few other WW2 veterans down to the Imperial War Museum and filmed me in front of a Sherman tank talking about VE day 1945 as seen from a field in Venice.
In March 2005 The BBC WW2 Peoples War filmed a trailer to encourage people to send in articles for the site. Together with Frank Mee and Joan Styan I made up the third member of an unlikely trio and the results were shown on BBC 4 for two separate weeks.
In March 2005 I was invited down to the BBC studios at White City and took part in a 25 minute interview by Stephen Sackur. Unfortunately for my self-esteem the program was never actually ‘aired’ as it clashed with the British General Elections.
The family have also managed to get entries in various books, as follows:
The Peopling of London, Edited by Nick Merriman (Contains the photo of Dad’s factory in Gt. Eastern Street).
The Day War Ended, Voices and Memories from 1945, Published by Weidenfield and Nicholson. (Contains Ron’s photo and story about VE Day as seen from a field near Venice)
Victory in Europe, D-Day to the fall of Berlin, by Karen Farrington (Contains a story about Sgt.Jack Goldstein and his final flight over Nuremberg, also Ron’s story of a British POW camp in Austria)
So, all in all, I reckon I’ve had my 15 minutes of fame but no one has ever asked me for my autograph !
Photo shows: Montage of memorabilia - Memories of made of this
I’m sure that I was not alone in starting an Army Album at the end of the war.
Mine was created in 1946 whilst I was stationed at Opicina just outside Trieste.
Here I found myself with lots of spare time and plenty of memorabilia that I had accumulated over the preceding 4 years so, presto, I had an album.
There were of course lots of snaps and postcards, there were the inevitable Army passes to visit such exotic places as Sienna, Florence and Rome.
There were propaganda leaflets, currency, and handbills for the local ENSA show, route cards and maps.
Here was an arm band of the Afrika Corps, there was an Order of the Day, issued by Field Marshal Alexander, expressing his gratitude to his troops for clearing Italy of the last Nazi aggressor.
There were two years of diaries to stick in, although I stupidly selected the ones that seemed to capture the mood of the time and pasted them (yes, I said stupidly) into the album so that I could not read the underside!
On the point of diaries, originally I had 4, starting in 1942 on my call-up but over the many moves I was to make over the years ’42 and ’43 were lost forever more and I had to rely on my memory and friend’s diaries for salient dates.
Here is a page full of programmes of shows I saw on my first leave back in England, here is an Italian song sheet.
Here is a picture taken after the war of my Sgt.Major, Busty Thomas M.M. in his role as Beefeater at the Tower of London, I took my wife and children to meet him and we were given a private tour of the Tower.
There’s five years of memories pasted into this book and it’s already been re-bound once.
On the credit side, I’ve managed to scan most of it into JPEG images and my kids (now in their early 50’s!) have been given CDs with these and thousands of family photos I’ve taken over the years.
Yes, I did stick it in my Army Album.
Photo shows: Monfalcone, Don R (Despatch Rider) if only for a day!
Someone on this site mentioned Army Transport and it set me thinking, so I decided to list all the vehicles that I got to drive in the Army between 1942 and 1947.
I was surprised to see how many there were, that’s even if I omit the Tank- Transporter on which I passed my Army Driving Test.
Bedford 15cwt (my first wireless truck, whilst in Light Ack Ack)
Dodge 15cwt (this replaced the Bedford wireless truck)
Bedford 3 Ton (my stores wagon, whilst I was A Sqdrn Tech Corporal)
US Willy’s Jeep (I used this to run the O.C. around in Egypt)
Sherman 75 mm (the tank on which I trained on at Rieti)
Sherman Kangaroo (the one we used to carry infantry into action in the line )
Stuart Tank (my personal chariot whilst serving as the SSM’s Wireless Op.)
Greyhound Armoured Car (used by the Squadron in Austria as a RECCE vehicle)
Staghound Armoured Car (as above)
Bren Gun Carrier (which eventually replaced our Stuart Tank)
Norton Motor Byke (which I learnt to use whilst at Opicina)
Note the white triangle on the front mudflap of the byke, this indicated 'A' Squadron, a square would have shown it was 'B' Squadron and a circle was reserved for 'C' Squadron
Photo shows: Just one page from my Army Records, seen for the first time 61 years after the events were actually recorded!
I am, by nature, a compulsive diary writer. Originally I used tiny diaries to record my life in the army, but I graduated over the years and I now record everything on a Sharp ZQ-770 Organizer.
I have also, during the last few years, tried to finalise my memoirs, in theory for the benefit of my children and grandchildren, but in actual fact for the simple pleasure of looking back at what I did and marvelling at my own sheer energy.
As I tightened up the record of what I had done I noticed various gaps in the chronology, mainly in my service years between 1942 and 1947, so I decided to write to the Army Historical Disclosures department, because that's the name of the place where they keep your records.
I wrote late in March 2003 and received a package from them at the end of May 2003, but WHAT an Alladin's cave of treasures came pouring out of that large, buff envelope!
There were my two driving licences, the first one dated 9-2-43 when I learnt to drive over the Yorkshire moors and the second dated 10-12-46, ready to be swapped for its civilian counterpart.
There were all my postings, there was my 'Notification of impending release' dated 19-3-47 with its Military Conduct Testimonial from which I learn I was always 'Cheerful and Hardworking and his efficiency at his work is quite outstanding'. (Their words, not mine, I hasten to add!)
There was the momentous announcement that I was 'Promoted Unpaid Acting Cpl wef (with effect from) 20/7/46' followed by a further announcement 21 days later to tell the world that I was now a fully paid corporal.
There, horror of horrors, was an item that read 'Deprived of 7 days pay for (1). Failing to comply with Bty Orders (2) AWOL from 2130 hrs on 17-6-43 to 0505 hrs on 18-6-43. Absent 7hrs 35 mtes.' (The place of this offence is shown as being in the 'Field', although I remember it being at Guelma in Tunisia and although we'd only nipped down to the nearby village wine bar we were charged as though we'd stayed out till the next morning roll call!)
The next item on the same document shows that I made up for this deplorable criminal offence by noting that on 22-8-43 I embarked (ominously shown as 'Destination Unknown') and was taken off the strength of the 8th Army. (In actual fact this was our landing in Sicily.)
Here is a list of all the medals I was entitled to, there is my height, weight and colour of my eyes. Page after page of fascinating memorabilia finishing with two dates, the date I enlisted 1-10-1942 and the date I was posted to Class A release, 21-7-47.
I cannot begin to express how much pleasure it was to get this time machine from the past, I can only recommend this splendid service to fellow ex-servicemen.
Corporal (fully paid-up) Goldstein. R. 14300260, 4th Queen's Own Hussars
Photo shows: Ron's Demob Suit gets an airing
In an earlier article on this site I mentioned going through the 'Demob' process at York. To save you looking it up I repeat the relevant para below.
"The long awaited day eventually arrived.
From Barnard Castle I travelled to by train to York where my official de-mob took place.
The large hall where I made my good-byes was packed with hundreds of men trying on the latest that Montague Burton had to offer although, if I remember rightly, you could have any colour suit providing it was navy or brown and any style providing it was single breasted or double breasted!"
A more recent article by another veteran also spoke about "getting one's Demob Suit".
I went back to my oft-quoted Army Album and it confirmed that in 1947, a family wedding reception gave me a chance to give my own demob suit an outing.
The snap above, actually the last photo in my Army Album, shows yours truly and two of my brother Mossy's in-laws striding along Picadilly on the way to the reception.
Note the absence of heavy traffic !
Photo shows: December 31st, 1946, The Fair at Monfalcone
December 31st 1946 was our first post-war New Year’s Eve and the Squadron spent it at Monfalcone, a small town some 14 miles from Trieste.
To coincide with the Xmas and New Year festivities, a small fair blew into town and parked itself on what was usually the open-air roller skating rink.
Seven of the lads, including your’s truly, went out for a meal and a drink, with which to see the New Year in.
After the meal we drifted over to a shooting booth. The prize, if you managed to hit the tiny bulls-eye, was a magnesium flash photograph, taken automatically, and the result is shown above.
On the same page of my album is the restaurant bill. I see it was the Trattoria Zeno, the cost was 270 lira for drinks and 920 lira for the grub. I can’t remember what the rate of exchange was in those days but the bill was split seven ways and I don’t remember having any problems paying up.
Photo shows: Two Day's Ration allowance: Six Shillings and Four Pence !
They used to say that the Army moved on paper, certainly when I look through the bits of memorabilia that I pasted in my Album this seemed to be the case.
Take the document above as a perfect example.
I got out of the Army in April 1947.
In June of the same year I was surprised to receive a letter from the Army that enclosed a Postal Order for six shillings and fourpence,(about 33p in today's money). When I examined the note enclosed (see above) the penny dropped.
Earlier in March, whilst still serving in the Forces, I had acted as Escort Corporal to bring home from Lincoln Jail a soldier who had just finished serving a civil sentence of two years.
In the process of bringing him back to a Military prison in Darlington I was away from my unit for two days.
The Army was now recompensing me for two days ration allowance that was due to me. It appears that at the time in question it cost three shillings and twopence per day to feed a soldier (about 15p in today's money).
No wonder I was always hungry !
Photo shows: Queenie and Curly posing on one of 'A' Squadron's Half-Tracks
Understandably, most units managed to keep the odd pet whilst in the line.
In 'A' Squadron, 4th Queen’s Own Hussars, we had Queenie, a nondescript bitch who subsequently produced Curly and once hostilities had finished they both firmly established themselves at our barracks in Opicina.
I would be hard pushed to say who the official owner was, my guess is that it was probably the cook, as it was at the cookhouse that both dogs could usually be found.
Whoever owned them, they were both spoilt rotten and had complete run of the barracks.
It was rare for a serviceman to be allowed to take a pet back to the UK and so inevitably dogs such as Queenie and Curly would eventually have been ‘passed on’ to successive regiments at wherever one was stationed.
One exception to this unwritten rule was when I was finally posted back to England in 1947.
As we arrived at the docks at Dover I noticed that one of our party was wearing his greatcoat most of the time despite the fact that it couldn’t have been too comfortable wearing it on the train and on the ferry.
Another one of the lads, seeing me staring at my unusually clad comrade said ‘Have a look at his right hand’
I looked again, saw nothing and said ‘What am I supposed be looking at?’
He smiled and said ‘He’s bringing his parrot home!’
Sure enough, being held down in his right hand pocket was a full sized parrot that was about to be smuggled into England despite all the laws to the contrary and the strict anti-psittacosis regulations that were then in force.
I would guess that half the ship must have known by then what he was trying to achieve and to everyone’s amusement and relief when we finally cleared customs and boarded our London bound train he brandished his multi-coloured pet in triumph.
Please, dear reader, make my day and post a response that says ‘That was my Dad (or Granddad) who smuggled that parrot home and they are both still around today!