Faure Walker, Henry William (Oral history)
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- whole: Duration 270, Number Of Items 9
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- object name: Oral history
- object category: recording
- Faure Walker, Henry William (interviewee/speaker)
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British officer commanded Guards Depot at Caterham, Surrey, GB, 1939-1940; served as staff officer with 7th Guards Brigade in France and Belgium, 1940, including evacuation from Dunkirk, 5-6/1940
REEL 1: Aspects of period with Coldstream Guards in GB, 1939-1940 : summary of duties in command of Guards Depot, Caterham, GB; applied to join service battalion on outbreak of war, 9/1939; posted to HQ, 7th Guards Bde, 3rd Div in France, 2/1940. Aspects of operations as staff officer with 7th Guards Bde in France and Belgium, 2-5/1940: other officers on staff; problem of cold weather and snow; road conditions; description of journey from Southampton to Lille, France, 2/1940; posted to Bde HQ in Lille; location of 7th Guards Bde and description of terrain; role in improving defensive positions; opinion of Bde sector defences; description of defence line and anti-tank obstacles; problem of only being able to fire from rear of anti-tank pill boxes; problem of water table and digging trenches; construction of breastworks and fascines; attitude to lack of facilities for training; route marches; problem of boredom among troops; opinion of accommodation for guardsmen; morale; night exercises on roads; opinion of living conditions for officers; memories of restaurant in Lille; relations with French Army and civilians; story of French reservists. REEL 2 Continues: attitude to German propaganda; question of communist influence on troops; story of requisitioning improved accommodation for guardsmen; importance of mess meetings; reaction to German invasion of France and Belgium and implementation of Plan D; advance of 3rd Div along line of River Dyle to Franco-Belgian border. REEL 3 Continues: opinion of German Blitzkrieg; attitude to use of tanks; organization of convoys on roads; description of journey to Louvain; opinion of Belgian Army; problem of civilian refugees on roads; opinion of Lysander aircraft; description of defensive positions along canal banks at Louvain; opinion of German troops; reaction to first experience of being under shellfire; story of Germans attempting to cross canal REEL 4 Continues: description of engagement with Germans along canal bank; casualties; reaction to death of Freddie Cambridge; role in organising Royal Army Service Corps convoys; amusing story of working party; opinion of contribution of Belgian Army; story of meeting with Belgian colonel; attitude to being only officer left at Bde HQ; problem of communications with 3rd Div HQ; use of code words in signals; story of false report of capture of Louvain; story about Royal Marine officer and confusion over message. REEL 5 Continues: withdrawal to outskirts of Brussels; story of meeting with Montgomery; attitude to loss of friends; story of RAF pilot; problem of infiltration by Fifth Columnists; relations with Belgian civilians; billeted on farms; description of terrain and positions along River Escaut; problem of river drying up; further comments on Fifth Columnists; opinion of Territorial Army. REEL 6 Continues: description of withdrawal to frontier defences; problem of lack of supplies and living off the land; role in supplying rations for Bde; butchered cattle and requisitioned food from factory canteens; organised baking of bread for soldiers and civilians; story of obtaining free beer from breweries; counter-attack operations with French Army; amusing story of staff officer; preparations for evacuation of BEF; detailed troops for rear party; final religious service; plan for evacuation from Dunkirk. REEL 7 Continues: withdrew to Div Reserve north of Ypres; role in defence of outer perimeter; reaction to French decision to be evacuated last; transport and guns abandoned; description of journey by road to Dunkirk; blowing up of bridges; length of column; story of thunderstorm preventing German air attacks; problem of traffic jams; reaction to Belgian surrender, 28/May/1940; opinion of Belgian King Leopold; story of Montgomery’s HQ being bombed; moved into Dunkirk perimeter and occupied defensive positions; immobilized vehicles; casualties; description of shells bursting in trees; arrived in town of Furnes (Veurne); reaction to death of Capt Christopher Jeffreys; occupied defensive position along canal banks; issued with rations; story of Quarter-Master Sergeant killed by shell; dug trenches along canal banks; Bde HQ moved to farm north of Furnes; story of digging trenches in manure heap. REEL 8 Continues: Aspects of operations as staff officer with 7th Guards Bde in France, 5-6//1940: blew bridge and sealed outer perimeter; description of German infantry and artillery assault; death of officers attempting to prevent Germans crossing canal; story of guardsmen threatening to shoot Territorial Army troops abandoning positions; attended conference to arrange embarkation; opinion of embarkation plan; timetable for evacuation; reached beach at dusk; reason for wearing mackintosh and steel helmet; heavy German shelling on beach; attitude to separation of officers and men prior to evacuation; role in organising evacuation of men from beach; opinion of evacuation plan; story of being seriously wounded in shell explosion; problem of lack of medical treatment; wounded being taken aboard naval whaler. REEL 9 Continues: taken aboard Royal Navy minesweeper; description of medical treatment for burns and leg wound; ship bombed by German aircraft; description of voyage to England, 1/Jun/1940. Aspects of period in GB, 6/1940-1945: disembarked Folkestone; given morphia by doctor; story of visit by Brigadier Jack Whitaker; transferred to hospital in Shorncliffe Barracks; story of visit by wife; effects of injuries; declared unfit for further active service; staff posts in GB; invalided out of army, 1945. Reflections on period of service, 1940: opinion of BEF and evacuation from Dunkirk; pride in serving with Coldstream Guards; various memories of serving under General Montgomery and Brigadier Jack Whitaker.
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