Bushell, William Ernest “Bill” (Oral history)

Catalogue number
  • 30024
Department
Sound
Production date
2007
Subject period
Dimensions
  • whole: Duration 420, Number Of Items 14
Alternative names
  • object name: Oral history
  • object category: IWM interview
Creator
Category
sound

© IWM

Purchase & License
Object description

British gunner served with 236 Bty 59th (4th West Lancs) Medium Regt Royal Artillery in GB, 1934-1940; private served with Royal Army Service Corps in GB, 1940; served with 1st Armoured Division Coy Royal Army Service Corps in France, GB and North Africa, 1940-1942; POW in Italy and Germany, 1942-1945; private served with Royal Army Service Corps in GB, 1945-1946

Content description

REEL 1 Background in Liverpool, GB, 1916-1940: family and education; civilian work before and after war in Liverpool and Warminster including work of father; changes in Warminster since 1952; reasons for never returning to Liverpool; memories of grandfather and Liverpool in 1930s; interest in shipping and reason for not working at sea; leisure activities; meeting of wife; unemployed in Liverpool. Aspects of period as gunner with 236 Bty 59th (4th West Lancs) Medium Regt Royal Artillery in GB, 1934-1940: joining of Territorial Army; memories of battery commander Major Philip Toosey and other officers; story of return to area grew up in; REEL 2 Continues: contact with wife during war; family's discovery of his being taken POW; role of unit; story of capture at Agedabia, 23/1/1942; scenes of tank battle; opinion of German armour; voyage to Italy; background of unit members; awareness of politics, 1930s, and modern political outlook; awareness of events in Europe during 1930s; story of losing unit records; attitude to active service; role in territorial battery; mechanisation of unit; drill with Royal Artillery and King's Liverpool Regiment. Aspects of period as private with Royal Army Service Corps in GB, 1/1940-5/1940: re-learning of drill in Broadstairs. REEL 3 Continues: accommodation and rations in Ramsgate; activities in Poole and Southampton; details of ships travelled to and from France on; discipline and settling into army life; learning to fire rifle on range; anti-gas training; duties of company; advice from father about shooting; firing of rifle; firing of Boyes anti-tank rifle in GB and France; story of Heinkel attack in France; driving duties. Aspects of period as private with Royal Army Service Corps in GB, 6/1940-9/1941: description and driving of Thornycroft Sturdy and Commer trucks after return from France; Chevrolet trucks issued and story of convoy driving onto mine in North Africa; driving through minefields; story of attempt to join Navy. REEL 4 Continues: reactions to outbreak of war; memories of Jack Bowden and other Far East POWs; mail; standard of turnout and story of accident during posting in Devizes, 1941; subsequent medical treatment. Aspects of period as driver with 1st Armoured Division Coy Royal Army Service Corps in France, 5/1940-6/1940: march through Southampton, 1940; movement around France; story of wine bought; stories of contact with civilians; rations; opinion and morale of American POWs including treatment for malnutrition; second hand story about American conduct in Tunisia; story of boxer on working party. REEL 5 Continues: nature of period in France; story of rest in Rouen; shelter taken from air raid in Évreux; story of reconnaissance cars in Amiens; knowledge of wider events in France including journey to Brest and voyage to GB, 16/6/1940; story of pass through wood; details of Allied withdrawal; journey to Brest; damage caused to vehicles; boarding of ship including handing in and use of weapons. Aspects of period as driver with 1st Armoured Division Coy Royal Army Service Corps in GB, 6/1940-9/1941: voyage to and arrival in Plymouth; train journey to Warminster via London; description of camp; meals received; leave; posting to Aldershot; vehicles issued; reinforcements; spread of unit; voyage to Italy as POW; hospitalisation in Castelvetrano and Palermo; story of nurse; training and involvement in exercises in GB, 1940-1941; supply of petrol; maintenance duties. REEL 6 Continues: details of company dances; contact with Auxiliary Territorial Service members; activities during wait for demobilisation; back pay; reinforcements received in GB, 1940; accommodation; storage of vehicles; guard duties; storage of vehicles in Devizes; story of air raid and its effects including time delayed bombs; fear of German invasion; air activity during Battle of Britain. Aspects of period as POW in Germany, 1943-1945: Allied air raids witnessed in Germany; reaction and details of guards; details of different POW working parties and civilian colleagues. REEL 7 Continues: details of work undertaken on different POW working parties including accommodation and contact with Jewish and political prisoners; story of typhus scare; details of V1s on site; further details of work including relationship with civilians; story of accident in sugar beet factory; story of bullying from a civilian colleague; reaction to situation; period working in coal mine; journey to work; description of march east including story of escape during night in barn. REEL 8 Continues: joining with French POWs; rations gained in village; talk with German civilians and Italian officer; march with German troops toward Allied lines; contact with civilians in Liebstadt; details of Russian advance; period assisting with casualties in Liebstadt; arrival and impressions of Russian troops; communication with Russians; story of motorcycle accident; further details of casualties and journey to Liebstadt; daily routine in Liebstadt; reaction of civilians to end of war; arrival of American medical unit; relationship of self and civilians with Russians; story of cygnet ring; later contact with German civilian. REEL 9 Continues: Aspects of period as private with 1st Armoured Division Coy Royal Army Service Corps in GB, 5/1940-9/1941: leisure activities in Ewhurst and Devizes including company dances; relationship with civilians; activities in Durban; boarding of MV Highland Brigade at Avonmouth. Aspects of voyage from Avonmouth, GB, to Port Tewfik, Egypt, 9/1941- 11/1941: details of ship and convoy; activities onboard including description and use of sun compass; activity against U-Boats; stop in Freetown harbour; reason for not stopping at Cape Town; activities during stay in Durban; boarding and details of Nieuw Amsterdam; population of ship; voyage through Red Sea; arrival in Port Tewfik; length of voyage from Durban. Aspects of operations as private with 1st Armoured Division Coy Royal Army Service Corps in North Africa, 11/1941-1/1942: details of camp; story of African troops; accommodation at Amariyah; care taken of thieves; visit to Alexandra and nature of period in North Africa. REEL 10 Continues: visits to cinema in Egypt and Germany; knowledge of situation in North Africa; details of duties supplying petrol; story of aviation fuel; tank attached to unit; question of distances covered including driving on different terrains and records kept while in Britain; climate including clothing worn; story of sandstorm; problems with terrain; mirages; attacks from Junkers Ju 87 Stukas and shelter taken; story of convoy hitting a mine; details of minefields; attitude to service; memories of Corporal Hedley Loades. REEL 11 Continues: rations including cooking of meals; story of fig jam; description of sand-petrol fires and story of heating tinned sausages; story of Italian booby trap; uses of water ration; washing facilities; nature of life in desert; contact with Axis troops including story of capture at Agedabia; problems with gaining information on Royal Army Service Corps; memories of colleagues. Aspects of period as POW in Italy, 1942-1943: apologies on handover to Italian Army; learning of Italian and German; memories of nurse in Palermo; details of hospitalisation on Sicily including rations; transfer to mainland. REEL 12 Continues: details of PG 53 near Ancona; rations; contents of Canadian and British Red Cross parcels; Allied attacks on POWs in transit; loss of parcels; news of Italian capitulation; plans for escape; arrival of Germans; relationship with guards; problems with bugs; conditions during train journey to Germany. Aspects of period as POW in Germany, 1943-1945: delousing and inoculations on arrival; story of earlier delousing in Italy; later contact with lice; treatment for diphtheria; story of typhus outbreak; attitude to work parties; relationship with civilian colleagues; comparison of POW experiences in Italy and Germany; details of concreting work; unloading of trains including story of arrest. REEL 13 Continues: treatment from guards; story of involvement in an attempted escape; memories of fellow POWs including story of losing temper with one; impressions of Russian POWs and troops; hobbies in Italy including description of clock made from Klim tins; story of twins in camp; memories of Royal Army Service Corps colleagues; attitude to work in Germany; demands for extra rations and protective clothing; cricket; story of German nurse taught to swear in English; memories of Royal Welch Fusilier NCO including method of dividing Red Cross parcels. REEL 14 Continues: description of roll calls; walks outside camp including scenes in local area; differences between Wehrmacht and SS guards; details of Jewish prisoners; leave after return to Britain; final year in army. Aspects of period as private with Royal Army Service Corps in GB, 1945-1946: civilian work and return to army in Knutsford; contact with Japanese POWs and lack of help for returning British POWs; retraining after return from Germany; posting in Southend-on-Sea; demobilisation, 1/1946; occupational therapy received at Knutsford; mental effects of service; talking about experiences; details of brother-in-law's service.

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