Forbes, Ron (Oral history)

Catalogue number
  • 20370
Department
Sound
Production date
2000-05
Subject period
Dimensions
  • whole: Duration 375, Number Of Items 13
Alternative names
  • object name: Oral history
  • object category: IWM interview
Creator
Category
sound

© IWM

Purchase & License
Object description

British trooper served with 2nd Fife and Forfar Yeomanry in GB and North West Europe, 1939-1946; artist

Content description

REEL 1 Recollections of background in Dundee, 1917-1939: family circumstances; father's territorial service; education; recreations; work in art department of printing firm. Recollections of recruitment and training with Headquarters Sqdn, 2nd Fife and Forfar Yeomanry at Thistle Street Drill Hall, Dundee, ca 4/1939-9/1939: medical and attestation; uniform; weekend camps at Annismuir, Ladybank; drill nights; opinion of various characters including Trooper Willie Fenwick and Quartermaster Sergeant Nelson Taylor; summer camp at Catterick including laying out kit, parade, learning to drive in various vehicles; and unit bands; story of practical joke on drunken NCO; relationship with various NCOs including Sergeant Tommy Maxwell; opinion of Captain Joe Powell. Mobilisation and initial period at Thistle Street Drill Hall, Dundee, 9/1939. REEL 2 Continues: filling sandbags; rifle range; route marches. Periods at Kirkaldy and Leslie, 10/1939-1/1940: billets at Adam Smith Hall, Kirkcaldy; role as quartermaster sergeant's storeman and assisting with pay parade; artistic drawings; cross country runs; requisitioned vehicles; story of runaway vehicle; guard duty with pick axe handles; billets; padre. Periods at Aldershot and Farnham, 1/1940-6/1940: nature of Beaumont Barracks; bed; driving Bren gun carriers; opinion of Boyes rifle and Mark VI B tank; discovery of cannibalised tank in coal cellar; dislike of military atmosphere in Aldershot; move to Farnham, 2/1940; popularity of sanitary man duty; food rations; relationship with civilians; posting away of under-19s and reaction to English drafts; PT. Aspects of journey to Dungannon, Northern Ireland, 6/1940: opinion of lorries; story of soldier reported mistakenly reported dead; convoy driving. REEL 3 Continues: Periods at Dungannon and Bessbrook, 6/1940-7/1941: reception and relationship with Irish civilians; billets; nature of exercises and role driving petrol lorry; question of blackmarket activities; question of Quartermaster Sergeant Taylor acquiring extra supplies; story of tanks problem with reverse steering; local newspaper reports; rifle range; story of town square parade; background to move to Bessbrook and subsequent return for Christmas celebrations, 12/1940; tram rides to Newry; posting as technical storeman, B Squadron; technical store course in England; duties as technical storeman; petrol explosion; storage requirements; opinion of Colonel Sandy McIntosch, Lieutenant Alastair Grant and Colonel Edward Sword. Recollections of period at Whitby, 7/1941-4/1942: background to leaving stores to become driver and loss of status as acting lance corporal; opinion of Major John Gilmour; role as duty lorry driver. REEL 4 Continues: posting as tank driver to 4 Troop, B Sqdn; characteristics of Valentine tank; tank exercises on moors; question of signal training; tank wireless and illustration of use in action; psychiatric tests; opinion of Colonel Cooper; visit to Pembroke firing range and firing 17pdr. Periods in Hove and Brighton areas, 4/1942-8/1942: nature of Exercise Tiger; training new recruits to drive tanks; story of being disciplined after accidental tank collision and subsequent successful complaint to Lieutenant Jo Grimond; opinion of Grimond; opinion of Crusader tank; reaction to English drafts. Period as at Fornham All Saints Camp and Chippenham Camp, 8/1942-6/1943: reactions to cancelled overseas service; hut accommodation; sport and recreations; drinking and smoking habits. REEL 5 Continues: attachment for training with 8th Bn, Rifle Brigade; characteristics of Sherman tank and role of crew; tank maintenance training courses; qualities required of tank driver; training exercises including taking up 'hull down' position and use of smoke; visits to Bury St Edmonds; story of breaking into neighbouring unit's cookhouse. Peridos at Rudston, Bridlington, Aldershot and Gosport, 6/1943-6/1944: impetigo attack; camouflage exercises and question of visibility from air; exercises; visit to Kirkudbrighshire tank range and case of 75mm gun missfire; waterproofing Sherman and tests at Hull docks; reactions to D Day, 6/6/1944; problems with dust during drive to Gosport. REEL 6 Continues: overnight stop at Gosport. Recollections of voyage aboard Landing Ship Tank to Courcelles, Normandy, France, ca 16/6/1944: embarkation; crossing English Channel; dry landing; move inland. Recollections of period at Cully, ca 16/6/1944-26/6/1944: composition of Sherman crew icluding Lance Sergeant Alastair McHattie, Wireless Operator Pat Ketteridge, Gunner Jack Edwards and Co-Driver Taffy Penter; brewing tea; food and emergency rations; extra food carried; bivouacs; equipment carried; cigarette ration; parcels from GB; noise of British artillery. Recollections of Operation Epsom, 26/6/1944-1/7/1944: briefing prior to advance on Cheux, 26/6/1944; view through driver's periscope; conditions inside Sherman in action; story of McHattie receiving head wound from German shell burst and subsequent medical attention; continuation of action with Ketteridge taking over as tank commander; role and limited perspective of driver; missed opportunity to hit minenwerfer; overnight laager. REEL 7 Continues: refuelling, re-arming and guard duty during overnight laager; formation of new crew with Sergeant Bert Shaw, Gunner Bert Moir, Wireless Operator Andy Mathers; story of getting stuck in sunken lane, ca 27/6/1944 including decision to bail out, false alarm of German mine whilst crawling across field, reaching British lines and subsequent recovery of Sherman from lane; rest period; question of Sherman flammability; reputation of German 88mm gun; preparing dugout on taking up position on Hill 112; withdrawal; machine gunning by US aircraft. Aspects of period with B Echelon during Operation Goodwood, 18/7/1944: Allied massed air raid; nature of Sherman Firefly; reserve role; state of returning crews; effect of casualties; German night bombing raid. REEL 8 Continues: casualties; German night bombing raid and assisting wounded; meeting war artist; replacement tanks; constipation and stomach problems and period in B Echelon. Recollections of operations during advance through France, Belgium and Netherlands, 8/1944-12/1944: nature of bocage country; repairing tank; question of panzerfaust problem; reputation of Tiger, Panther and Mark IV tanks; nebelwerfer, shell and mortar fire; sleeping in Sherman and rum ration; firing at suspected targets; story of firing Bren gun at German motorcycle combination; meeting US Army; story of moving behind German lines under command of Major Gilmour to attack Tiger tank in Burcey sector. REEL 9 Continues: opinion of Gilmour; personal morale; German sniper fire at tank commanders and subsequent retaliation; overnight dash to Amiens, 30/8/1944-31/8/1944, including effects of benzedrine tablets, story of running out of petrol and reception from French civilians; entrance into Antwerp, 4/9/1944; visit to Belgian civilian; opinion of new tank commander Lance Sergeant Bob Hayes; reserve role of Firefly in troop; fighting at Asten bridge,, 22/9/1944; view of Sherman brewing up; infantry attitude to serving in tanks; question of practising bailing out of Sherman; circumstances of death of Corporal Pat Ketteridge. REEL 10 Continues: effects of hits from German HE shell at Veulen, 10/1944; re-call to laager; conversation whilst waiting in position; BBC broadcasts; constructing dugouts; problems with radial engine Sherman; story of rats in billet at Deurne; story illustrating Wireless Operator Mathers ability to sleep and trying to wake him on arrival of Tiger tank; story of accident with latrine shell case in Sherman tank; billets in Helmund, 12/1944; story of picking up Cromwell tank and being given bread by Dutch civilians; opinion of Cromwell; use of Fife town names for B Sqdn's names for Sherman tanks. Period at Ypres, 12/1944: handing in Firefly; billets and relationship with Belgian civilians. Recollections of operations in Ardennes, 12/1944-1/1945: picking up Firefly; journey to Namur; painting Sherman tanks white; relationship with US troops; firing at German self propelled gun. REEL 11 Continues: story of visit to estaminet; driving on snow and ice; story of US spotter aircraft arranging Christmas dinner, 25/12/1944. Period at Ypres, 1/1945-3/1945: theft of Christmas dinner and delayed celebrations; visits to estaminets and drinking habits; characteristics of Comet tank; opinion of Co-Driver Cafferty; drill and parades. Recollections of operations in Germany, 3/1944-5/1945: moving up on tank transporter; crossing pontoon bridge over Rhine at Wessel, 27/3/1944' initial situation; question of Comets bogging down in mud; panzerfaust problem; carrying infantry aboard Comet tank; nature of terrain and towns; questions of contact with German civilians, looting and booby traps. REEL 12 Continues: lack of German resistance; story of shooting up German troop train from autobahn; passing Belsen Concentration Camp; German POWs; advance along autobahn to Lubbeck, 30/4/1945; situation and presence of German POWs in Lubbeck; VE Day, 8/5/1945; disappointment at missing posting to Denmark. Period at Bredsted, 5/1945-3/1946: billets; building clubhouse from old barn as vocational exercise; role giving educational art classes; view of German troops evacuating Denmark; aspects of guard duties as Displaced Persons Camp at Hogel; question of posting to Far East; question of non-fraternisation and relationship with German civilians; choir performances; German war casualties; popularity of Vera Lynn broadcasts; rest period on Fohr Island; question of black market activities. Demobilisation, 3/1946. REEL 13 Post-war career: reactions to demobilisation; situation on return to work at printers firm; studying Diploma of Art at Dundee College of Art, 1946-1949; work as commercial artist; story of being blown up by German mine whilst driving into laager and subsequent wait for repair team, ca 1944; eye baths required during service; membership of Fife & Forfar Yeomanry Regimental Association.

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