In which Roy announces the end of the war and spends the summer farming in the Dolomites before calling it a day
I landed at Folkestone at the end of August, just three years after leaving Liverpool, and re-embarked for the return journey on the 24th September. By the time I’d rejoined my unit at Graz, demobilisation had commenced and Units were being broken up. After a farewell dinner party for 1210 GHQ Troops on the 11th October, I was transferred to 6th Field Squadron RE where I pottered about in the HQ office for three weeks before being sent back to Aldershot for ‘demob’ on the 25th November 1945. This journey was slightly more comfortable than the last as it was carried out by train from Milan, through Switzerland to Calais. After collecting my civvy suit and pork-pie hat, donated by a grateful government, a train journey from Guildford to Redhill on a railway pass and my warrior days were over. A joyful reunion with Mary was carried out at Redhill station where she met me in the family Ford (FPJ 113).
A memorable six years - some dark periods, which are soon forgotten, but many worthwhile experiences shared with good friends and, on the whole, I'm glad I did not miss out by staying with the ARP mob!
We soon got our marching orders and set forth for Austria by way of Udine and the Dolomites, which were occupied by roving bands of Italian ‘patriots’, very communistically inclined, and with an evident dislike of Allied troops who they took pot-shots at with great delight. The Italian border was reached at Tarvisio and we took over an Italian State Railway holiday and rest centre for a couple of weeks. This was a pleasant stop-over but did not match our next hide-out, a delightful Gasthaus and farm in the hills near Villach. The pine-covered slopes rose up behind the site to the Yugoslavia border - complete ‘Sound of Music’ country and only needed Julie Andrews to complete the picture! We were billeted in the main house, a typical Austrian holiday hotel, and the owner and his family welcomed us with open arms. As they had recently been occupied by the Russian forces this was probably understandable. Having little else to occupy us, apart from sight- seeing and swimming, we set to and helped the farmer gather in his harvest. After five or six weeks of this hard labour we moved on to Graz, a large city near the Hungarian border, where we were located in a large orchard on the outskirts of the town. We seemed not to serve any useful purpose here and the ‘Powers-That-Be’, seemingly coming to the same conclusion, started sending batches of long-serving personnel back to the UK for four weeks leave. The lucky ones were assembled at Villach Transit Camp from whence they were dispatched in convoys of 3 ton lorries to Calais with night stops at transit camps at Innsbruck, Ulm, Mainz and Sedan.
Roy typing these stories in 1988
In 2006, aged 91, Roy found a preserved Morris Commercial CDF at a rally. Most of these were destroyed at Dunkirk and this is one of only two survivors.