Webber, Alfred John (Oral history)

Catalogue number
  • 20267
Production date
Subject period
  • whole: Duration 175, Number Of Items 6
Alternative names
  • object name: Oral history
  • object category: IWM interview


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Object description

British NCO served with 3rd Bn Royal Marines in GB, 1940-1943; served with 44 Commando, Royal Marines in India, Ceylon and Arakan, Burma, 1944-1945

Content description

REEL 1 Background in Marston Magna, 1919-1939: family; education; employment; reaction to declaration of Second World War, 9/1939. Enlistment and training with Royal Marines in GB, 1940: joining 4/3/1940; character of training at Plymouth; opinion of rations; further training at Bisley; sleeping under hedgerows, summer 1940; sight of Dunkirk survivors at Woking Railway Station; forced march through Bisley-Pirbright area, summer 1940; reasons to move to Wales; dockers work at Pembroke Dock, summer 1940; move to Plympton; coastal defence at Newton Ferrers. Recollections of period with D Coy, 3rd Bn Royal Marines during Dakar Raid and its aftermath, 9/1940-1/1941: orders to make wills at Plympton; relations with civilians and dockers in Liverpool; move to Scapa Flow. REEL 2 Continues: voyage from GB to Dakar aboard Sobieski; supposed role of marines in Dakar; move to Freetown after abortive raid, 9/1940- 1/1941; bugle call 'Letters from Lousy Lou'; sight of ocean liners in convoys at Freetown; move to Gibraltar, 1/1941; character of period in Gibraltar; description of term 'short arm inspection'; return to GB. Aspects of training with 3rd Bn Royal Marines in GB, 1941-1943: training to Stobb's Camp near Hawick; exercises at Inverary and visit by Winston Churchill; reaction to sinking of HMS Hood, 5/1941; exercise at Scapa Flow. REEL 3 Continues: move to camp at Velindre; character of Exercise Berwyn; entertainments at Velindre; move to Shirley near Southampton; promotion to sergeant and move to B Coy; exercises on Isle of Wight; operating PIAT; practical joke played on Canadian NCO, 1943; flax-pulling role at Haverfordwest, 1943. Period with 44 Commando in GB and India, 1943-1944: formation of unit; training at Achnacarry; accommodation at Achnacarry; move to Folkstone-Hythe area; voyage from GB to India aboard Reina Del Pacifico including German Air Force attack in Mediterranean, 1943. REEL 4 Continues: basing of unit at Kedgaon, 1944. Recollections of operations with 44 Commando in Arakan, Burma, 1944: preparing for landings on Queen Elizabeth Island; seaborne landing at Alethangyew; dealing with Japanese sniper in tree; fate of wounded marine and other casualties; reconnaissance patrol with Captain Sturges; arrival at West African base of 'No-Can-Do'; character of Operation Screwdriver Two; Royal Artillery shelling on Japanese ground attack; night patrolling; amusing story of marine's survival under-fire; attempt to rescue of crashed RAF aircrew; rapid transfer to Shillong; unorthodox use of condoms by marines on patrol. Period with 44 Commando in India and Ceylon, 1944: move from Assam to Bangalore; leave period in Bombay; move to Ceylon; seaplane exercises in Trincomalee area. REEL 5 Continues: question of inadvisability of drinking liqueurs before assault exercise. Recollections of operations with 44 Commando in Arakan, Burma, 1944-1945: return of unit; loss of commanding officer; Christmas celebrations at Teknaf, 12/1944; unopposed landing at Akyab; friendly fire on Dakota aircraft at Akyab; character of landings at Myebon; cleaning up after landing in mangrove swamp; capture of Japanese cooking fuel; remains of Japanese soldier killed by Gurkhas; relations between marines and Gurkhas; voyage to Kangaw; strategic importance of Kangaw area; under Japanese attack at Pinner Hill, Kangaw, 23/1/1945; relief of unit by Indian troops, 24/1/1945; beach defence duties at Kangaw; narrow escape from Japanese shell. REEL 6 Continues: withdrawal of unit from Hill 170 battle to Akyab; relations between commandos and Indian troops. Period with 44 Commando in GB and India, 1945: allocation of months leave in GB; sight of civilian demonstration in Calcutta, c3/1945; leave in GB, summer 1945; return to India and promotion to company sergeant-major. Demobilisation in GB, 1945. Attitude to having served with Royal Marines in Second World War. Question of lack of effects of service in Second World War.

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