Hutchison, J D (Oral history)

Catalogue number
  • 20315
Department
Sound
Production date
2000-05
Subject period
Dimensions
  • whole: Duration 480, Number Of Items 16
Alternative names
  • object name: Oral history
  • object category: IWM interview
Creator
Category
sound

© IWM

Purchase & License
Object description

British officer served with 2nd Fife and Forfar Yeomanry in GB, North West Europe and Germany, 1939-1946; served with Fife and Forfar Yeomanry in GB, 1948-1953

Content description

REEL 1 Recollections of background in Kirkcaldy and Bolfracks, Abercaldy, 1918-1939: family background; education at preparatory school and Loretto, Edinburgh including interest in history and OTC training; period studying agriculture at Clare College, Cambridge University, 1936-1939; question of approach of war. Recollections of recruitment and training as officer with C Sqdn, 2nd Fife and Forfar Yeomanry based at Hunter Street Drill Hall, Kirckaldy, 1939: prior interview; first impressions on attending summer camp at Catterick Camp, 7/1939; opinion of Colonel Sandy McIntosh, Major Fergus McIntyre, Major Alastair Nairn; Major Andrew Brown, Major John Gilmour, Lieutenant Graham McIntosh and Lieutenant Kenneth Matherson; quality of NCOs and ORs; nature of officers' mess; nature of training at Catterick Camp, 7/1939; lack of drill night attendance; story of getting back to GB on outbreak of war whilst on holiday in France, 9/1939. REEL 2 Continues: story of getting back to GB on outbreak of war whilst on holiday in France, 8/1939; mobilisation, 1/9/1939; nature of training. 939: Recollections of period at Leslie, 10/1939: nature of officers' mess; drinking habits; teaching driving and question of priority for vehicles; relationship with civilians. Periods at Beaumont Barracks, Aldershot and Runfold, 1/1940-6/1940: prior convoy journey; opinion of Mark VI B tank and Bren gun carrier; move to Farnham, 2/1940; billets; training in reconnaissance role and troop tactics ready for imminent posting to France. REEL 3 Continues: anti-parachutist role defending airfield; effect of losing under-19 soldiers; reception given English drafts; reactions to Dunkirk evacuation and reports of fighting from cousin serving with 1 F&FY. Recollections of periods at Dungannon and Bessbrook, Northern Ireland, 6/1940-1/1941: journey out and problem with overloaded train; reception at Dungannon; question of prevalence of Irish nationalism; billets; exercises with 53rd Div; use of wireless; story of closing Eire border during visit by Duke of Kent; role on possible German invasion of Eire and question of suitability of Mark VI B; opinion of Colonel Edward Moon; relationship with Irish civilians; opinion of Colonel Edward Sword. Recollections of period at Whitby, 7/1941-4/1942: joining 29th Armoured Bde, 11th Armoured Div; opinion of Brigadier Chris Petto. REEL 4 Continues: opinion of Valentine tank; exercises on Yorkshire Moors and subsequent dismissal of Sword; replacement of McIntyre; opinion of Colonel George Cooper and Major George Trotter; battle practice at Linney Head tank range; move to B Sqdn and promotion to captain; abortive troop exercise. Recollections of periods in Brighton area, Fornham All Saints Camp and Chippenham Camp, 4/1942-6/1943: nature of Exercise Tiger; opinion of Crusader and Covenantor tanks; English drafts; opinion of Colonels George Cooper and Alex Scott; posting as 2ic A Sqdn; opinion of Majors Robert Bruce and Joe Powell. REEL 5 Continues: opinion of Powell; reactions to cancellation of posting to North Africa; characteristics of Sherman tank; question of OR recreations; training policy; wireless discipline and use of regimental net; role as tank commander including use of intercom, personally training 75mm gun and relationship with crew. Recollections of periods at Rudston, Bridlington and Aldershot, 6/1943-6/1944: squadron officers' mess; nature of exercises on Yorkshire Wolds; question of tank tactics; role as brigade gunnery officer during visit to Kirckudbrigshire tank range. REEL 6 Continues: background to replacement of Major Alistair Nairn with Major Chris Nicholls; waterproofing Sherman; introduction of Sherman Firefly. Move to Courcelles, France, ca 16/6/1945: prior staging camp; loading Landing Ship Tank; Channel crossing; situation on landing and move inland. Period at Cully, ca 16/6/1944-26/6/1944: camouflage; bivouacs and sleeping in Sherman; compo food rations; cigarette smoking; relationship with tank crew including Gunner Tom Dines, Driver Gourlay, Wireless Operator Alec Perry and Co-driver Bennion; background to nickname of 'Pinkie'. Recollections of Operations Epsom, 26/6/1944-1/7/1944: prior briefing; minimal role of A Sqdn during initial attack on Cheux, 26/6/1944; overnight scene at Cheux, 26/6/1944. REEL 7 Continues: overnight laager and role as 2ic; sleeping in Sherman; attack on Cheux, 27/6/1944, including confused nature of fighting, limitid view in bocage country, opinion of Panther and view of Sherman 'brewing up'; crossing Odon and taking up hull down position on Hill 112, 28/6/1944; successful long range shoot and methods of using HE shell; background to withdrawal across Odon to Norrey des Bassin, 29/6/1944; effects of fatigue; nebelwerfer fire; minimal liaison with infantry. Recollections of Operation Goodwood, 17/7/1944: prior operations, 1/7/1944-16/7/1944; reactions to briefing; use of artificial moonlight and driving conditions during night move, 16/7/1944; move to Ranville glider field, 17/7/1944; mosquito problem. REEL 8 Continues: role of 51st Div in clearing tracks through their minefield; order of advance; preliminary aerial bombing and creeping artillery barrage; problems crossing first railway line embankment and consequent loss of barrage; importance attached to maintaining line formation and role of A Sqdn on left of advance to second railway line; casualties caused by fire of German 88mm guns in Cagny sector and reports of role of Colonel Luck; crossing second railway line; situation; role protecting left flank with 2 and 4 Troops; confused situation; engaging Panthers; calling up RAF Typhoon support during attack by Panthers; arrival of Guards Armoured Div; relief by C Sqdn after running out of ammunition; concentration of remnants of A Sqdn; taking Powell's Sherman back on recovery vehicle to A Echelon for repair; reaction to news of casualties and question of effect on unit morale; wireless traffic in action; question of driver losing nerve. Period at Ardenne Abbey, 22/7/1944-29/7/1944: opinion of Brigadier Roscoe-Harvey and Major General Pip Roberts. REEL 9 Continues: role on promotion to command A Sqdn; opinion of Lieutenants Hotblack and Samson; replacement drafts from Gloucestershire Yeomanry; opinion of Lance Corporal Roy Vallance, Lieutenant Bulley, Sergeant Gale, Lieutenant Steel-Brownlie and Major George Trotter; rest period. Recollections of operations during breakout, 30/7/1944-8/8/1944: necessity for close liaison with infantry in bocage country and development of 159 Brigade Group; prior briefing; initial reserve role and problems with minefields; taking over lead in advance; attack with King's Own Shropshire light Infantry on St Martin des Besaces, 31/7/1944; situation and continued advance, 1/8/1944; advance to Vire-Conde road 'Rugby' objective, 2/8/1944; operations on Vire-Conde road, 2/8/1944, including intercepting German road traffic, situation, exchange of fire with Panthers and call for assistance to RAF Typhoons. REEL 10 Continues: operations on Vire-Conde road, 2/8/1944, including call for assistance to RAF Typhoons and effects of their rocket attack, accidental attack by US Thunderbolts despite smoke identification signals, arrival of reinforcements and leaving 4 Troop behind on withdrawal to laager; renewed German attacks, 3/8/1944, including problem with sun dazzle, casualties and decision to withdraw towards Burcey; confused situation and German infiltration attacks, 4/8/1944-6/8/1944; German counter-attack on A and C Sqdn positions on between Burcey and Sourdeville on Burcey Ridge, 7/8/1944-8/8/1944, including situation, Tiger fire from east and relief. Rest period at Le Quellet, 8/8/1944-14/8/1944: reinforcement drafts from 24th Lancers; opinion of Lieutenant Peter Northern, Captain David Voller and Captain Desmond Chute; reaction to driver's loss of nerve. REEL 11 Continues: transfer of driver to A Echelon following loss of nerve; posting of new Driver Aitken. Recollections of advance into Belgium, 8/1944-9/1944: terrain and situation circumstances of death of Sergeant Gale, 14/8/1944; recovery of Gale's Sherman and corpse; personal morale and value of experience; running over mine on entering into laager, 14/8/1944; reception from French civilians; crossing Orne, 17/8/1944; story of Lieutenant Northern being wounded whilst reconnoitring river crossing and close escape from shell prematurely detonated by road sign whilst directing fire of Voller's Sherman onto German anti-tank gun, 21/8/1944; drinking calvados; period at Laigle, 23/8/1944-27/8/1944; opinion of Lieutenant Hales; crossing Seine at Vernon, 28/8/1944; advance to Amiens, 30/8/1944-31/8/1944, including terrain, petrol shortages, shooting up German convoys, pause at Heptomesnil, night advance, sleeping in scout car, confused situation on losing route at Conty; accidental 'brewing up' of Samson's Sherman and situation on visiting RHQ at Amiens. REEL 12 Continues: crossing Somme; report of capture of General Eberbach; entry into Antwerp, 3/9/1944; situation and operations following crossing Albert Canal, 8/9/1944. Recollections of action at Asten bridge, 22/9/1944: situation and terrain; plan; German hits on Bulley and McMahon's Shermans having crossed bridge; panzerfaust hit on Steel Brownlie's Sherman; throwing grenades and firing machine guns whilst during advance through village; hit on scout car; casualties; role holding village perimeter whilst capture of village was consolidated by following units. Recollections of operations in Netherlands, 9/1944-12/1944: advance to Maas; situation during Operation Market Garden; situation occupying positions in Veulen sector with billets at Ijellstein; opinion of Lieutenants Tom Heald and Tony Porter; situation; leave in Brussels. Period at Ypres, 12/1944: leaving Sherman in Brussels in preparations for re-equipment with Comet tanks. REEL 13 Continues: opinion of Comet and performance of 77mm gun in test against Panther armour; question of use of AT and HE shells illustrated by duel with Mark IV at Burcey, 8/1944; opinion of Panther and Tigers; opinion of Comet; billets; squadron dance and question of drinking habits; visits to RHQ officers' mess; relationship with Scott and nature of his 'O' groups; maps. Recollections of operations in Ardennes, 20/12/1944-3/1/1945: collections of Sherman from Brussels; move to Namur, 21/12/1944; situation; foggy conditions; role taking up daytime defensive positions on Andoy Ridge; situation; move to south Ardennes, 25/12/1944; move into positions on Chapel Hill; snow; leaving unit due to GB leave. Recollections of period at Ypres, 1/1945-3/1945: rejoining unit from leave; training with Comet; question of delayed Christmas celebrations; award of MC by Montgomery, 16/3/1945, including opinion of Montgomery and reactions. REEL 14 Period on training in Montaigu area, 3/1945: troop training; increased importance eof infantry liaison. Recollections of advance into Germany, 3/1945-5/1945: crossing Rhine, 29/3/1945; muddy conditions; state of unit; opinion of Lieutenant Frank Fuller; operations at Teutoberger Wald, 1/4/1945, including resistance from German officer cadet unit and replacement of Monmouthshire Regt with Cheshire Regt due to rate casualties; ineffective Stuka attack; panzerfaust problem; artillery liaison arrangements and method of correcting shellfire; question of carrying infantry on Comet; period in reserve; river hold ups; liaison with Hereford Regt; taking over as 2ic Headquarters Sqdn following accidental wounding of Major Gilmour, 10/4/1945; reaction to leaving A Sqdn; question of role as 2ic, HQ Sqdn; compositions of HQ Sqdn; passing Belsen Concentration camp; delay prior to crossing of Elbe; fast advance along autobahn to Lubbeck, 2/5/1945; taking up defensive positions in Lubbeck, REEL 15 Continues: minimal contact with German civilians; reception of German POWs; story of accidental shooting of Lieutenant Harry Axton; move to Monkshagen, 3/5/1945; VE Day celebrations, 8/5/1945. Period in Bredstedt, 5/1945-1/1946: move of German troops from Denmark; role supervising displaced persons camps; exchange of personnel with 1st F&FY; taking over command of unit; recreation programme; demobilisation of unit; question of non-fraternisation with German civilians and story of shooting expeditions with German guide; question of black market. Demobilisation, 1/1946./ Post-war career: work for family grain processing business; question of effects of war service. Period of service with F&FY, 1948-1953: rejoining unit; reversion to armoured car role; training and summer camps. REEL 16 Continues: awareness of increased nationalist feeling during summer camp at Omagh, Northern Ireland; opinion of Colonel Gilmour; period as colonel, 1951-1953; call up of Z reservists during summer camp in Newquay area, 1951; question of unit's readiness for possible Korean War service; driving accident during summer camp in Weymouth area, 1953; retirement, 1953; membership of F&FY Regimental Association.

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