Cozens, George (Oral history)

Catalogue number
  • 20201
Production date
Subject period
  • whole: Duration 240, Number Of Items 8
Alternative names
  • object name: Oral history
  • object category: IWM interview


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Object description

British NCO served with 11th Bn, Highland Light Infantry in GB, 1939-1942; served with 151 Tank Regt, Royal Armoured Corps in GB, 1943; served with Headquarters, 2nd Fife and Forfar Yeomanry in GB and North West Europe, 1943-1946

Content description

REEL 1 Recollections of background in Paddington and Willesdon, London, 1916-1939: family circumstances; education; cricket activities; evening classes; work as estate agent's clerk; work as trainee chartered surveyor; question of awareness of approach of war; outbreak of war and consequent redundancy, 3/9/1939; failed attempt to join RAF; shorthand and typing skills; snooker activities; call up and medical, 12/1939. Recollections of conditions of service, lifestyle and daily routine during training at Auchingate Training Centre, Troon, 1/1940-3/1940: reception; hut accommodation; origins of recruits; food rations. REEL 2 Continues: food rations; PT; route marches and care of feet; drill; rifle training; eyesight; bayonet training; personal morale; hand grenade training; relationship with civilians, recruits, NCOs and officers; kit inspections; guard duty. Recollections of period with C and Headquarters Coys, 11th Bn, Highland Light Infantry at various locations in GB, 1940-1943: train journey to join unit in Shoeburyness area; reception; tactical exercises; assault course; map reading. REEL 3 Continues: Bren gun and 2" mortar training; story of identification of shorthand skills and consequent posting as clerk in C Coy office at Southend on Sea; nature of office duties and promotion to lance corporal; story of guard duty on officers' mess and background to posting to Orderly Office, HQ Coy; reception; duties including taking shorthand notes for officers and preparing Part I and Part 2 orders; failed attempts to organise cricket games; story of problems with drunken soldiers and putting lance corporal on charge; attending NCO cadre course; promotion to corporal clerk; relationship with officers; threats from demoted lance corporal. REEL 4 Continues: move to Billericay; German air attacks; arrival of Dunkirk evacuees, ca 6/1940; introduction of battle experienced personnel; requisition of billets; taking shorthand for Major Waddell; role with orderly office truck during exercise; composition and role of orderly office staff, regimental sergeant major, adjutant and quartermaster sergeant; Christmas celebrations, 25/12/1940; story of false alarm of German parachutist; move to Woodbridge area; story of meeting future wife; club cricket activities for local firm; promotion to sergeant clerk. REEL 5 Continues: opinion of Colonel Oates and Major Waddell; question of conversion to tank unit; movements; intelligence tests prior to division of unit into separate infantry and tank units; formation of 156 Tank Regt, Royal Armoured Corps, (11th HLI); move to Glevering Hall; promotion to lance sergeant; arrival of Colonel Clerk and role taking shorthand notes for him; marriage, 12/8/1942; disbandment of unit. Recollections of period in Orderly Office, HQ Coy, 2nd Fife and Forfar Yeomanry at Rudston, Bridlington and Aldershot, 1943-1944: reception; orderly room staff; decision to conceal shorthand skills; exercises; opinion of Majors George Trotter and Alastair Grant; relationship with ORs and NCOs; recreations; billets. REEL 6 army records course; difficulty in getting compassionate leave on birth of daughter; sergeants' mess and recreations; visits to London from Aldershot; cricket activities; question D Day; visit from Montgomery; introduction of battle experienced personnel; waterproofing truck; role on promotion to orderly room sergeant; cricket activities, 6/1944; move to Gosport. Various aspects of operations in North West Europe, 6/1944-5/1945: Channel crossing and landing at Courcelles, ca 16/6/1944; story of getting lost on move inland; initial positions near Cully; role moving forward under fire to take orders from adjutant; casualties during Operation Goodwood and in subsequent German air raid, 18/7/1944 including sorting out casualties belongings and drawing up casualty lists; advance to Falaise; routine duties; rest period; question of movements; sergeant interpreter. REEL 7 Continues: role typing up citations; role as orderly room sergeant; reception from French and Belgian civilians; billets at Helmond; move to Ypres, 12/1944; weekend leave and rejoining unit in Ardennes, 12/1944; role in requisitioning billets with sergeant interpreter; return to Ypres, 1/1945; billets and relationship with Belgian woman; crossing Rhine, 3/1945; effects of Allied aerial bombing; story of German air attack whilst crossing Dormund-Ems canal; GB leave and story of passing scabies to family; advance to Lubeck; visit from Montgomery, 5/1945; confiscating cameras from German civilians; German resistance based on young soldiers; story of fraternising with German women during VE Day celebrations, 8/5/1945; opinion of Adjutant Captain Philip Noakes. Period at Bredstedt, 1945-1946: German soldiers passing through from Denmark; cricket activities; contact with German naval officer. REEL 8 Continues: contact with German naval officer; cricket activities; relationship with German woman; demobilisation process and early release, ca 3/1946. Post-war career: return to work as chartered surveyor; securing accommodation; question of effects of war service; membership of South of Border Group, F&FY Regimental Association; bequest of chartered surveyors business to staff.

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