Fidler, Gordon (Oral history)

Catalogue number
  • 18785
Production date
Subject period
  • whole: Duration 330, Number Of Items 11
Alternative names
  • object name: Oral history
  • object category: IWM interview


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Object description

British tank driver served with A Sqdn, 2nd Fife and Forfar Yeomanry in GB and North West Europe, 1942-1945; served with 1st Fife and Forfar Yeomanry in Germany, 1945-1946; served with 8th King's Irish Hussars in Germany, 1946

Content description

REEL 1 Recollections of background in Bagnor, Newbury, 1923-1942: family circumstances and father's position as Donnington Grove estate foreman; education; sporting activities; story of refusing to work at furniture factory; duties as delivery boy with Colonial Stores, ca 1937-1938; duties as electrician's apprentice with Wessex Electricity Board, 1939-1942, including conversion programme from direct to alternating current motors, electrification of rural villages and theoretical lectures; ignorance of approach of war; story of driving tractor to lay cable for new airfield; move into Donnington Grove on arrival of Allied Suppliers office staff evacuated from London, ca 1940. Recollections of service with Local Defence Volunteers and Home Guard, ca 6/1940-5/1942: drill hall; gradual issue of uniform and equipment; origins of recruits. REEL 2 Continues: drill nights; hand grenade and rifle training; rabbit shooting sessions; tactical exercises with road blocks and pillboxes. Recollections of service with Air Training Corps, 1941-1942: failure to qualify for air crew; uniform; aircraft recognition; nature of activities; question of clashes with commitment in HG; Recollections of conditions of service, lifestyle and daily routine with 180 Squad, 54th Training Regt, Royal Armoured Corps at Perham Down Camp, 5/1942-6/1942: call up and initial interview; reception; kitting out; hut accommodation; preparing for kit inspections; food rations; PT; route marches; pistol training; drill; value of competition between squads; relationship with drill instructor. REEL 3 Continues: drill; problems during wireless training; Browning gun training; training in driving lorry and Bren carrier; map reading; visits to Tidworth; relationship with recruits; contact with officers; passing out parade. Recollections of period training at Barnard Castle, ca 6/1942-12/1942: opinion of 2pdr and 6pdr guns; driving Covenanter tank; ignorance of German tanks; personal morale; final assessment and refusal of post as instructor. Abortive posting to Lothian and Border Horse during period at Bovington Camp, ca 12/1942. Recollections of period with A Sqdn, 2nd Fife and Forfar Yeomanry at Chippenham, Camp, ca 1/1943-6/1943: reception and delay in assignment to A Sqdn. REEL 4 Continues: interview with Major Joe Powell; camp layout and tank park; story of failing first driving test on Crusader tank; qualification as driver/mechanic and lack of mechanical training; relationship with Scottish personnel; reactions to cancellation of postings to North Africa; story of being caught avoiding laager guard during exercise and subsequent punishment; characteristics of driving Crusader; feeling of security in tank; relationship with ORs. Period at Rudston and Bridlington, 6/1943-3/1944: situation; characteristics of Sherman tank. REEL 5 Continues: duties as co-driver and operation of Browning machine gun; participation in Exercise Eagle including story of accident whilst driving Sherman and landing exercise using ramps on River Ure at Ripon; relationship with civilians and story of post-war visit. Period at Warburg Barracks, Aldershot, 3/1944-6/1944: bagpipes used on guard; question of briefing; method of waterproofing Sherman; gradual introduction of 17pdr Sherman Firefly tank; posting as co-driver to crew of Lieutenant Steel Brownlie of 4 Troop with Gunner Buchannon, Wireless Operator Ingram and Driver Mckinnon. REEL 6 Continues: reactions to D Day, 6/6/1944; drive to Gosport, 11/6/1944; reaction to view of Allied air attacks, 6/6/1944. Crossing English Channel and landing at Courcelles, Normandy, France, 16/6/1944: sea collision; problems with tanks moving on deck; landing and removal of gun waterproofing; situation in beach area; move inland. Recollections of conditions of service and lifestyle during period at Cully, 17/6/1944-27/6/1944: reaction to corpses found in armoured car and burnt out Sherman; removal of waterproofing; bivouac tents; camouflage nets; Sherman storage bins; food rations; composition food rations; water supply; cooking arrangements; latrines visits to Cully; routine maintenance duties. REEL 7 Continues: relationship with French civilians; bartering for drink. Recollections of Operation Epsom, 26/6/1944-31/5/1944: move forward towards Cheux; view of A Sqdn tanks burning on being hit; withdrawal under anti-tank fire; firing Browning machine gun; environment in tank; internal communication system; withdrawal into overnight laager; casualties; preparing tanks for action; personal morale and question of Sherman flammability; move forward and confused situation, 27/7/1944; methods of working as part of ??? Armoured Bde; nature of operations in Hill 112 sector; bocage terrain; reaction to casualties; laager layout. REEL 8 Continues: laager guard duty; rest periods; state of morale; opinion of German panzer divisions, tanks and 88mm gun; question of fear of 'brewing up'; rest periods; letter and parcel contact with GB; brewing tea inside tank. Recollections of Operation Goodwood, 18/7/1944: prior briefing; state of morale following view of 1000 bomber raid and preliminary bombardment; failure of tank to start due to water in petrol tank; noise of battle; situation at Ranville; German air attack and casualties amongst bailed out crews returning from battle; reports of fighting and state of morale amongst bailed out crews; question of water in petrol tank; arrival of recovered and replacement tanks. REEL 9 Recollections of operations during advance through France into Belgium, 7/1944-9/1944: posting as driver with tank commanded by Corporal Newman with Co-driver Tommy Smith; story of bailing out and death of gunner after being hit by shell at St Martin des Besaces, 31/7/1944; posting as Driver with Sherman Firefly commanded by Corporal Joe Ives; story of being hit by nebelwerfer and reaction to Steel Brownlie evacuating turret; story of Buchannon being slightly wounded by German mortar fire; night advance to Amiens, 8/1944; engine breakdown and relationship with French civilians during consequent stay awaiting repair at Amiens; abandoning tank and rejoining unit; reception from Belgian civilians on entry into Antwerp. Period in Netherlands, 11/1944-12/1944: situation; billets; long range fire. Period at Ypres, 12/1944: handing in Shermans and gradual replacement with Comet tanks; billets and relationship with Belgian civilians. Recollections of operations in Ardennes, 12/1944-1/1945: composition of crew commanded by Ives with Gunner Clem Coleman and Wireless Operator Hodson; characteristics of Sherman Firefly. REEL 10 Continues: white camouflage paint; road conditions during drive to Ardennes; move onto Chapel Hill; camouflage; cold weather; story of driving into boggy sector; journey back to Ypres. Period in Ypres, 1/1945-3/1945: Christmas celebrations, 1/1945; characteristics; firing practice at Gravelines into German occupied Dunkirk; story of accidental firing of gun in Ypres; posting to tank in 2 Troop, A Sqdn; relationship with Belgian civilians; visits to First World War battlefields; personal morale; GB leave; exercises. Advance into Germany, 3/1945-5/1945: crossing Rhine on pontoon bridge; routine of approaching and crossing rivers; accidental death of Tommy Smith through accidental firing of HE shell by gun whilst moving into laager; nature of fighting. REEL 11 Continues: personal morale; story of discovering abandoned German 88mm gun; passing close to Belsen Concentration Camp; reception on liberating RAF POW camp and story of co-driver tangling tracks whilst destroying barbed wire fences; story of bailing out after being hit by German anti-tank shell and subsequent machine gun fire; collection of replacement tank; opinion of troop commander and importance of crew; move to Lubeck; German POWs; lack of contact with German civilians; VE Day.8/5/1945. Period at Bredsted, ca 5/1945-7/1945: handing in tanks; billets; non-fraternisation; black market activities. Period with 1st Fife and Forfar Yeomanry in Germany, 1945-1946: characteristics of Churchill tank; reactions to posting. Period with 8th King's Irish Hussars in Germany, 1946: reaction to 'bull'; duties as lorry driver. Demobilisation, 1/1947. Post-war career: return to WEB; question of effects of war.

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