Fairweather, Don (Oral history)

Catalogue number
  • 20283
Production date
Subject period
  • whole: Duration 120, Number Of Items 4
Alternative names
  • object name: Oral history
  • object category: IWM interview


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Object description

British trooper served with A Sqdn, 22nd Dragoon Guards in GB and North West Europe, 1942-1944; served with B Sqdn, 2nd Fife and Forfar Yeomanry in North West Europe, 1944-1946

Content description

REEL 1 Recollections of background in London and Chalfont St Peter, GB, 1924-1942: family circumstances; education; studying furniture design at High Wycombe Technical College and effects of outbreak of war, 3/9/1939; work as junior engineer with building firm on airfield construction work, 1940-1942; call up, 3/12/1942. Period on infantry basic training at Catterick Camp, 12/1942-1/1943: reception and kitting out; drill; route marches; rifle training. Period of training as gunner/mechanic with Royal Armoured Corps at Catterick Camp, 1/1943-3/1943: driving training on lorries and Valentine tanks; gunnery course; mechanical training. Period with A Sqdn, 22nd Dragoon Guards at Warminster, Gloucestershire and Woodbridge, 4/1942-6/1944: reception; characteristics of Covenantor tank; tank crew roles; playing piano in dance band 'A Squadrinaires'; status as co-driver; characteristics of Sherman flail tanks. REEL 2 Continues: dance band concert at Lowestoft; practising with flails; waterproofing Sherman; replacement by fitter for D-Day. Recollections of crossing Channel and landing in Normandy, France, 8/6/1944. Period in France, ca 6/1944-8/1944: rejoining unit; visit to Bayeux; using flails during move towards Caen; background to break up of unit. Aspects of period with B Sqdn, 2nd Fife and Forfar Yeomanry during advance through France, Belgium and Netherlands, 8/1944-11/1944: initial period ferrying tanks in Falaise sector; problems with Sherman radial engines; story of finding Canadian corpses; taking over abandoned German vehicles; visit to Antwerp, 4/9/1944; opinion of tank commander Lieutenant Gregory and Driver Harold Wilson; nature of personal morale and relationship with tank crew; compo food rations; cooking arrangements and tea brewing; cigarette rations; story of being abandoned by crew when under fire; story of Sherman being hit whilst entering into overnight laager. REEL 3 Continues: refusal after ditching Sherman to accompany Lieutenant Gregory when he transferred tanks and his subsequent death in action; role as unit lead tank; question of superiority of German 88mm gun and tanks; question of Sherman flammability and escape hatches; relationship with Dutch civilians; wet and cold conditions; revolvers; bivouac tarpaulin; overnight laagers; personal morale; reaction to being asked to fire on retreating German cavalry; story of scavenging for food; instant potato; question of use of hull machine gun; effects of nebelwerfer fire; story of being wounded in leg by German shell shrapnel on guard duty, 3/11/1944. Period of hospitalisation and convalescence in Brussels and Amiens, 11/1944-1/1945. Period at Ypres, 1/1945-3/1945: GB leave; opinion of new Comet tanks. Various aspects of operations during advance into Germany, 3/1945-5/1945: problems with Hitler Youth armed with panzerfausts; story of being ditched in Comet whilst advancing through forest and meeting advancing infantry; problem driving on cobbled roads. REEL 4 Continues: fast pace of advance; death of Quartermaster Sergeant Blackie. Period with 2nd and 1st Fife and Forfar Yeomanry in Germany, 5/1945-12/1945: local leave in Denmark; reaction to peacetime soldiering; question of posting with 1st Fife and Forfar Yeomanry to Far East. Period with 8th Hussars in Warminster, 12/1945-5/1947: lack of educational opportunities; opinion of Cromwell tank; question of superiority of German 88mm gun; question of demobilisation. Post-war career: career in building trade; question of physical and mental effects of war service; question of membership of South of the Border Group, Fife and Forfar Yeomanry Regimental Association.

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