Cutter, Reginald (Oral history)

Catalogue number
  • 13125
Department
Sound
Production date
1993
Subject period
Dimensions
  • whole: Duration 300, Number Of Items 10
Alternative names
  • object name: Oral history
  • object category: IWM interview
Creator
Category
sound

© IWM

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Object description

British fitter/driver served with 296 Bty, 74th Field Regt, Royal Artillery in GB and North West Europe, 1939-1940; served with 107 Bty, 7th Medium Regt, RA in North Africa, Sicily and GB, 1942-1944; served with 425 Bty, 107 Medium Regt, RA in GB and North West Europe, 1944-1946

Content description

REEL 1 Recollections of background in East Bolden, 1920-1939: father's employment as quarry manager in Jarrow; learning to drive; work as plant engineer and fitter at father's quarry, 1934-1939; Sea Scout activities; development of driving skills. Recruitment and training as fitter/driver with E Troop, 296 Bty, 74th Field Regt, Royal Artillery at Bollingbrook Street Drill Hall, South Shields, 5/1939-9/1939: reasons; drill nights; opinion of CS8 Morris six wheel lorry gun tower; value of previous driving experience; use of crash gear boxes; practising limbering up; importance of judgement in driving with limber and gun in town; practising dropping guns into action; relationship with ORs, NCOs and officers; firing at Whitburn Range. Mobilisation and initial period in billets in South Shields, 8/1939. REEL 2 Recollections of period at North Leach, Gloucester area, 10/1939-1/1940: methods of preventing vehicles freezing; vehicle maintenance programme; relationship with civilians. Aspects of operations in France, 1/1940-6/1940: family reaction to overseas posting; wet terrain; period at Dovian ; situation, 5/1940; move to Liege, Belgium; reaction to sight of first corpse; question of reaction to first Stuka dive bombing raids; retreat in face of German attacks; civilian refugees on roads; air attacks on roads; destruction of vehicles and guns near Dunkirk, ca 1/6/1940; fragmentation of unit; personal morale; situation on Dunkirk beach and ineffectiveness of bombs on sand. REEL 3 Continues: situation on Dunkirk beach; wading out to board HMS Jagger; question of absence of RAF over Dunkirk. Recollections of crossing to GB, ca 3/6/1942: crowded conditions aboard HMS Jagger; successful Stuka bombing attack and consequent transfer to HMS Express; personal morale. Reorganisation at Knutsford, 6/1940. Aspect of campaign in North West Europe, 1940: opinion of unit's performance and question of inadequate equipment; story of NCO losing nerve; opinion of performance of Royal Navy and RAF; reception from civilians on return. Period in Dorsetshire, ca 6/1940-1/1941: partial re-equipment with 25pdr; opinion of Guy and then Morris Quads issued as gun towers including lack of armour, poor vision for driver and petrol tank arrangement; partial re-equipment with 75mm gun; opinion of 3 tonner Austin and 30 cwt Fortson; view of German bomber raids. REEL 4 Voyage aboard Duchess of Bedford to Port Tewfik, Egypt, 1/1941: delay due to running aground at Greenock; route; view of Dominion Monarch being beached at Port Tewfik; first impressions of Egypt. Period at Nicosia, Cyprus, 1941. Attending course as classified mechanic at Sarafand Camp, Palestine, ca 10/1941: problems with mechanical theory; story of nearly meeting brother; passing out as trained fitter. Unit's move to Iraq and consequent posting to Royal Artillery Base Depot, Almaza, 1942. Posting to join F sub-section, B Troop, 107 Bty, 7th Medium Regt, RA at Mena Camp, ca 7/1942: reactions; issue with 5.5in guns; opinion of AEC Matador gun towers including familiarity with large vehicles, difficulty in starting them if battery went flat, good vision for driver and removing speed governors. REEL 5 Continues: opinion of Matador gun tower including ammunition and equipment carried and tyre pressures; relationship with various ORs, NCOs and officers including Gun Sergeant Harold Harper. Recollections of conditions of service and lifestyle in coastal section, El Alamein area, 7/1942-10/1942: digging gun pits; firing programme; food rations and role cooking for gun team as driver; water supply; state of health; desert faunae; latrines; ammunition supply; speed of dropping into action; German counter-battery fire and Stuka dive bombing attacks; 'butterfly' anti-personnel mines; temporary move south and problem with different coloured sand from gunpits attracting Stuka raids, 9/1942. Recollections of operations during Battle of El Alamein and advance through Libya and Tunisia, 10/1942-5/1943: prior burial of ammunition at gunpits; preliminary bombardment; withdrawal of Australian troops. REEL 6 Continues: move forward; method of dropping guns into action; fire orders and types of shell fuse; effects of damage to shell driving bands; loading shells; method of bringing guns out of action; question of rain storm caused by artillery fire; burning German corpses; move into fertile area; difficulty in changing punctured tyres; opinion of Churchill and Montgomery; question of stealing vehicles and equipment from other units; journey back to Cairo to replace worn out gun barrel; aspects of operations in Medenine area, 3/1943 including direct hit on 5.5in gun pit, nebelwerfer fire and efforts to counter German long range 210mm guns; short range firing at Battle of Mareth, 3/1943, left flank outflanking manoeuvre through Matmata Mountains with Gurkha unit including organising use of Matador winch to negotiate parts of dangerous mountain road; question of booby traps. REEL 7 Continues: volunteer gun crews for captured German 210mm guns. Rest period in Sfax area, ca 5/1943-6/1943: recreations; opinion of Arab civilians; personal morale. Period at St Paul's Bay, Malta, ca 6/1943-7/1943: crossing in Landing Ship Tank; method of water proofing Matador; story of demonstrating loading of LST in front of brigadier. Aspects of operations in Sicily, 7/1943-11/1943: landing and removing waterproofing, 10/7/1943; nature of fighting and terrain; period at Messina; role as B Troop fitter including initial mechanical problem with Bedford 3 tonner lorries. REEL 8 Journey to GB, 10/1943-12/1943: disciplinary problems with regulars at Ferdinand Forest Camp, Algeria; convoy collision; reception at Liverpool. Aspects of period at Felixstowe, Brighton, Shipley and Dudsbery Camp, 12/1943-7/1944: stories illustrating reception as veteran on leave; reaction to separation from 7th Medium Regt and formation of 107th Medium Regt, RA with 16th Medium Regt, RA; question of SNH cap badge; promotion to lance bombardier and role as B Troop fitter; opinion of newly issued US FWD petrol engined gun towers; question of 'bull'; relationship with former personnel of 16th Medium Regt; opinion of Major Leonard Gibson; reaction to posting to North West Europe and reputation of SNH; reaction to 'bull'; opinion of relative roles of infantry and artillery; waterproofing vehicles; re-equipment with Matadors. REEL 9 Embarkation at Tilbury Docks, London and difficulty in unloading at Arromanches, France, 17/7/1944. Aspects of period in North West Europe, 7/1944-5/1945: operations in Caen area, 7/1944-8/1944; accidental bombing by Allied aircraft at Quesnay Woods; changing gun wheels and repairing punctures; close support to infantry; shelling into Falaise Gap; question of spares carried; nature of fighting in France, Belgium and Netherlands, 9/1944-12/1944; composition rations; cutting down height of Matadors in desert, 1942-1943; question of camouflage; rest period; pontoon bridges across Meuse at Maastricht. REEL 10 Continues: pontoon bridges across Meuse at Maastricht; reactions to VE Day at Gescher, Germany, 8/5/1945. Aspects of period at Gescher, 5/1945-3/1946: question of posting to Far East; relationship with German civilians; duties assisting civilian population by driving vital supplies; German officers' POW camp; recreations; marriage during leave in GB, 9/1945; demobilisation and post-war career, 10/3/1946. Post-war career as driver and fitter. Membership of SNH Regimental Association. Recollections of call up for 'Z' training at Towyn, 1952: ignoring prior registration forms; absence of any training activities; question of re-joining territorials. Recites poems, 'The War Years' and 'My Number One'.

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