Cameron, Albert "Tony (Oral history)

Catalogue number
  • 12918
Department
Sound
Production date
1992
Subject period
Dimensions
  • whole: Duration 470, Number Of Items 16
Alternative names
  • object name: Oral history
  • object category: IWM interview
Creator
Category
sound

© IWM

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Object description

British NCO served with 295 Bty, 96th Heavy Anti-Aircraft Regt, Royal Artillery in GB, North Africa and Middle East, 1940-1944; served with 16th Bn Durham Light Infantry in Italy, Greece and Austria, 1943-1946; private served with 2nd Bn Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry in Palestine, 1947; NCO served with 1st Bn Durham Light Infantry in Greece, GB and Germany, 1947-1952

Content description

REEL 1 Background in Crawcrook, GB, 1919-1933: family circumstances; effects of General Strike, 1926; education; question of avoiding becoming miner; work at brickyards, 1933; work at Emner and Catherine Collieries, 1933-1939, including initial duties on lift cages, duties as haulage driver and pony driver, handling pit ponies, duties as putter, question of safety rules, wet conditions, shallow nature of mines, membership of union, duties erecting pit props for team on electrical coal cutter. REEL 2 Continues: work at Emner and Catherine Collieries, 1933-1939, including duties erecting pit props for team on electrical coal cutter, shifts worked, question of avoiding accidents, role of deputy and pay; sporting activities; question of approach of war; signing for service with militia rather than territorials through desire to get away from Crawcrook; outbreak of war, 3/9/1939; father's military service; call up, 11/1939. Recollection of conditions of service, lifestyle and daily routine with 213th Heavy Anti Aircraft Training Regt, Royal Artillery at Hadrian's Camp, Carlisle, GB, 11/1939-4/1940: reception; hut accommodation; drill; PT; route marches. REEL 3 Continues: drill; lack of small arms training; role of gun team numbers on 3.7" anti-aircraft guns; selection for gunnery rather than instrument training; nature of gun drill; bayonet training; relationship with recruits, NCOs and officers; food rations; canteen; preparing for kit inspections; story of being blamed for stolen canteen knife and punishment by losing leave; visits to Carlisle and guard room inspections; question of contacts with civilians; guard duty. REEL 4 Continues: firing at drogue towed by aircraft during firing course at Towyn; role in creating barrage area rather than direct hits. Posting to join 295 Bty, 96th Heavy Anti-Aircraft Regt, Royal Artillery at Driffield, GB, 4/1940: superiority of Carlisle standard of training over territorials; reception; initial lack of anti-aircraft guns and use of Lewis guns. Recollections of conditions of service during detachment to Spurn Point, 5/1940-8/1940: use of old 3" adapted naval guns; relationship with other ranks; daily routine; aircraft spotter duty and lack of action against German aircraft; recreations; relationship with other ranks and NCOs; superiority of Carlisle standard of training; gun position officer . REEL 5 Recollections of various postings in Yorkshire, GB, 8/1940-6/1942: movements; duties as limber gunner on gun maintenance; minimal action against German aircraft; use of 4.7" anti-aircraft guns; setting fuse in high explosive nose cap; promotion to acting unpaid lance bombardier as No 1 on No 4 gun; inspection by General Sir Frederick Pyle; relationship with other ranks; promotion to bombardier; action stations and duties as gun No 1; refusal of permission to volunteer for other units; application to become wireless operators air gunner s with RAF, inexperience of other applicants, reasons for refusing to transfer as fighter pilots and return to unit; qualities of special friends including Frank Johnson; reactions to posting overseas; issue of tropical kit; refusal of visit to colliery. Recollections of voyage aboard Andes to Durban, South Africa, 6/1942-7/1942: departure from Liverpool. REEL 6 Continues: conditions; Bren gun duty; story of winning at Bingo, subsequent winnings from running Crown and Anchor board and cheating at pontoon; route. Period ashore at Durban, 7/1942: difficult march; tropical kit; reception from white South African civilians; reaction to treatment of black South African civilians. Voyage aboard Isle de France to Port Suez, Egypt, 7/1942: hot weather and conditions; gambling losses; hot weather. Recollections of period in El Tehag Transit Camp, Egypt, 8/1942-11/1943: first impressions; question of Egyptian civilians stealing; Egyptian entertainers' conjuring tricks; precautions over pay book. REEL 7 Continues: erecting tents; standards imposed by regimental sergeant major; acclimatisation to climate. Recollections of conditions of service and daily routine on gun site at Port Suez, Egypt, 1943: taking over mobile guns in static positions; gun maintenance and synchronising guns with instruments in command post; khamsin wind; canteen; gun drill; food rations; recreations; malaria case; making photograph frame from biscuit; recreations and visits to Port Suez; lack of action against German aircraft; role training replacement draft of black Bechuanaland troops as gunners including resentment at orders to maintain distance and question of their ability to learn and introduction of separate facilities for white and black troops. REEL 8 Continues: posting away of half unit on arrival of replacement Bechuanaland gunners; departure of Sergeant Frank Johnson for training as officer. Recollections of period at Benghazi, Libya, 11/1943-12/1943: situation; train journey; distilled water; gun positions; promotion to lance sergeant; sergeants' mess; drinking habits and story of severe hang-over; fishing using hand grenades; training motorcycle despatch rider and journey with guns by road to Syria. Period in camp near Damascus, Syria, 12/1943-2/1944: local fruit; reaction of Bechuanaland gunners to snow; Christmas celebrations, 25/12/1943; dinner for officers and NCOs on departure of battery commander; visit to Beirut. Reactions to disbandment of unit at Port Said, 1944. REEL 9 Period training as infantry at No 2 Infantry Reinforcement Training Depot at El Qassassin, Egypt, 6/1944-7/1944: fitness and weapons training; lectures in 'O' group system; seeking informal extra training from veteran NCO; story of meeting Colonel Johnny Preston and successfully requesting posting to Durham Light Infantry. Journey to join A Coy, 16th Bn Durham Light Infantry and initial period at Bastardo, Italy, 7/1944: initial status as lance sergeant prior and reaction to reduction to corporal; officers and NCOs; reception as former artilleryman, awareness of lack of infantry experience and question of status as section leader; recreations. Recollections of initial operations as NCO with 16th Bn Durham Light Infantry against Gothic Line, Italy, 27/9/1944-10/9/1944: move up in battle order; digging slit trenches; nature of fighting; inadequate Bren gun barrage on hill; food and composition rations. Recollections of operations in Gemmano area, 9/1944: advance under German shell and mortar fire, death of friend and personal morale during advance from Villa to Gemmano village, 12/9/1944; positions in Gemmano building, ration party. REEL 10 Continues: acting as section commander to Lieutenant Frank Johnson; account of battle patrol from Gemmano village to clear farmhouse, including situation, role providing covering fire for Johnson's attack on farmhouse, German fixed line machine gun fire from Hill 449, loss of section and retreat to Gemmano village and reasons for decision to revert to private; corpses; confused situation; rest period; reasons for decision to revert to private. Recollections of attack on Serravalli, 9/1944: situation; casualties; loss of rest of platoon; German mortar shell wound; isolation; attempt to regain British lines; arrival of British tanks; meeting C Coy; discovery of back wound and medial treatment and meeting wounded Johnson. Evacuation and hospitalisation in Southern Italy, 9/1944-1/1945: cold weather; being mistaken for German POW by Italian civilians; reception on hospital ship; state of wound. Period in transit camps in Italy, 10/1944-1/1945: discovery of shrapnel in finger; movements; rejoining unit in Greece. Aspects of period in Greece, 1/1945-4/1945: news of death of Johnson. REEL 11 Continues: review of unit's role in Athens, 12/1944-1/1945; late Christmas celebration; period at Patras, 1/1945; meeting ELAS insurgents during truce; return by lorry to Athens; success on NCO cadre course and promotion to lance corporal. Recollections of GB leave, 4/1945-5/1945: leave systems; journey back; full kit; queue for 'fish and chips'; reception at Crawcrook; returned POW brother and his attitude to Italians; journey back to rejoin unit at Bruckle, Austria. Recollections of period in Austria, 5/1945-2/1946: anti-Nazi patrols and road blocks; move to Wildon, 7/1945; use of horses; ski training course; relationship with Austrian civilians and black market activities. REEL 12 Continues: period in Vienna, 10/1945-11/1945, including prior issue of special battledress, ceremonial guard duty, US food rations, relief by Russian troops; incursions by Russian troops in British sector and recreations; story illustrating Austrian use of corn harvest; postings and demobilisations; story of stealing cigarettes during emergency guard duty as battalion orderly corporal guarding NAAFI stores and subsequent use on black market in Vienna; story of spending black market profits getting drunk and theft of wallet by Military Police during detachment on guard at Graz. Period as ration corporal with Royal Engineers at Willac, 2/1946. Journey back to GB. Demobilisation, 4/1946: demob suit; payment; question of returning to mining. REEL 13 Attending ex-servicemen's re-training course in slating and tiling at Wallsend, Newcastle, 1946: travelling problems; nature of training; question of non-recognition as tradesman by trades union; decision to leave course. Period working at Emner Colliery, 1946-1947: initial duties and work as putter; coal filling as face worker; assignment to poor working area and team; decision to return on short service re-enlistment into army; problem due to reserved occupation status. Recruitment into Durham Light Infantry at Recruitment Office in Newcastle upon Tyne, 2/1947. Minimal duties as old soldiers during period at Light Infantry Reinforcement Depot at Farnborough, GB, 2/1947-3/1947. Posting with draft to transit camp at Port Suez, Egypt, 3/1947-4/1947: story illustrating necessity of preventing Egyptian civilians stealing kit; protest on cancellation of posting to Durham Light Infantry. Recollections of period with A Coy, 2nd Bn Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry at Jerusalem, Palestine, 4/1947-10/1947: reception; defended camp and precautions required on going out due to threat from Jewish insurgents; standby mobile patrol duty. REEL 14 Continues: story of mined road whilst responding to alarm during standby mobile patrol duty; camp patrols; house searches; night guards on public buildings; daytime guards on camp; polishing cap badge and importance of appearance; army haircut; story of gambling and losing pay on cards; sport; emphasising military experience to try and secure promotion; disbandment of unit. Recollections of period with 1st Bn Durham Light Infantry at Xanthi Barracks, Salonika, Greece, 1947-1949: journey out; reception from Regimental Sergeant Major Harry Thompson and his nickname 'Melon head'; posting to B Coy; guard duties in Salonika; working on kit, uniform and appearance to ensure selection by regimental sergeant-major as 'stick' orderly as smartest man on guard duty. REEL 15 Continues: conversation with regimental sergeant-major having won 'stick' over past military experience and question of entitlement for Defence Medal; drinking in Greek villages; neglected state of 6 pdr anti-tank guns and successful application to join Anti-Tank Platoon, Support Coy; stable billets; checking tool box and introducing gun maintenance programme; testing gun recoil and breech mechanism; accelerated promotion to platoon sergeant, introducing programme of maintenance and gun drill on 6 pd anti-tank guns; attending 6 pdr anti-tank gun training course in GB; formal nature and protocol of sergeants' mess. Period in GB, 1948: band; duties as sergeants' mess cater; drinking habits. REEL 16 Recollections of periods with 1st Bn Durham Light Infantry at Dortmund and Berlin, Germany, 1949-1952: relationship with officers and contrasting stories of officers refusing and accepting advice whilst siting guns during training exercises; relationship with German civilians; extension of service due to Korean War; background to decision not to sign on for extended service and service with unit in Korea; demobilisation and return to mining, 5/1952; question of missing rapid promotion given to returning Korean veterans; role as sergeants' mess caterer; opinion of Regimental Quartermaster Sergeant Benny Calvert and stories of his drinking habits.

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