British apprentice lighterman on River Thames, London, GB, 1935-1939; waterman and NCO served with 229th Field Coy, Royal Engineers, 49th (West Riding) Infantry Div in GB, 10/1939-4/1940; NCO served with 229th Field Coy, Royal Engineers, British Expeditionary Force in Norway, 4/1940-6/1940; served with 229th Field Coy, 49th (West Riding) Infantry Div and 10th Corps in GB, 6/1940-4/1941; served with No 940 Lighterage Coy, No 994 Stevedore Coy and No 1 Military Port Coy, Royal Engineers in GB, 4/1941-8/1941; served with 229th Field Coy, Royal Engineers, 10th Corps in GB, 8/1941-1/1942; served with No 947 Inland Water Transport Operating Coy, Royal Engineers in GB, 1/1942-11/1942; officer cadet with 165 Officer Cadet Training Unit at Dunbar, GB, 11/1942-12/1942; officer with Nos 6 and 8 Port Operating Groups, Royal Engineers in GB, 1/1943-3/1943; served with No 953 Inland Water Transport Operating Coy, Royal Engineers in Northern Ireland and GB, 4/1943-11/1943; staff officer with No 7 Transport Section in War Office in London, GB, 11/1943-12/1943; served with No 953 Inland Water Transport Operating Coy, Royal Engineers in GB and Normandy landings, France, 1/1944-9/1944; served as staff officer with Headquarters, Royal Engineers, Second Army in North West Europe, 10/1944-4/1945; served with Nos 953 and 961 Inland Water Transport Operating Coy, Royal Engineers in Netherlands and GB, 4/1945-5/1946; served as a Queen's Waterman and Queen's Bargemaster in GB, 1978-1990
REEL 1 Background in Canning Town and East Ham, London, GB, 1920-1935: family background and their work on River Thames; father's military service in First World War; sense of community amongst those who worked on River Thames; early education; father's work as journeyman lighterman for Tate and Lyle; family holidays at Margate; character of Canning Town; move to East Ham, 1925; start of education in East Ham; sight of former soldiers in East Ham market; details of secondary education. REEL 2 Continues: relations with school master; attitude towards last school year, 1934-1935. Recollections of period as apprentice lighterman on River Thames, London, GB, 1935-1939: background to becoming apprentice lighterman; origins of Company of Waterman and Lightermen; nature of apprenticeship; help received from experienced lighterman George Roach; first night's work; method of rowing barge; reads poem of his first week as apprentice lighterman. REEL 3 Continues: attitude to rowing barge of lead at night on River Thames; his later work with apprentices; problems of rowing up river; how barge moves with wind from side; origins of lightermen and watermen; responsibility of lighterman for barge it's cargo and those on board; behaviour of some lightermen; sealing of barges approved by HM Customs; types of cargoes carried; transporting alcohol in barges; transporting bitumen. REEL 4 Continues: transporting silver bullion; story illustrating barge owner's attitude towards work; dealing with HM Custom's officers; stories illustrating relations with HM Customs officers; relations with dockers and their behaviour; experts who supervised loading and un-loading of ships; memories of ex-Royal Marine Archie Pitt; instances of cargo being contaminated. REEL 5 Continues: how barges can be affected by different loads; use of horse drawn canal barges; examples of lightermen's sense of humour and rhyming slang; daily routine as apprentice; background to changing employer; technique for towing barge with rowing boat; towing barges away from short sea trade vessels in Pool of London on Saturday afternoons; story of towing barge on Christmas Eve, 24/12/1956; physical nature of work; receiving apprentice licence, 1937; attitude towards work; barge work, 2/9/1939-3/9/1939; degree of anticipation of declaration of Second World War. REEL 6 Continues: working hours and pay, 1939; disciplining of lighterman who broke rules; effects of Emergency Powers Act on working conditions. Recollections of enlistment and training as waterman and NCO with 229th Field Coy, Royal Engineers in GB, 1939-1940: volunteering for army, 13/10/1939; initial move to Kitchener Barracks at Royal Engineers Depot, Chatham; fate of fellow lightermen recruits; joining field company near Ripon; issue of service dress and insignia of 49th (West Riding) Infantry Div; pattern of basic training; explosive demolition training; move to Wallingford for wet bridging training; method of building pontoon bridge; problems of breaking down pontoon bridge at Wallingford, 12/1939; method he used to recover last pontoon raft. REEL 7 Continues: method of shearing a barge; story of recovery of last pontoon raft; RSM's approaching him after incident to discuss it; bridge building with Small Box Girder and English Bridges at Wallingford, 12/1939; attending cadre course at Ripon, 1/1940 including learning about mines, trip wires and phosphorus grenades; opinion of gas training; road construction and weapons training; introduction to man hours and tool tables; planning exercises on cadre course; drill; promotion to lance corporal. REEL 8 Continues: Recollections of operations as NCO with 229th Field Coy, Royal Engineers, British Expeditionary Force in Norway, 4/1940-5/1940: move to docks in Glasgow and reaction to sight of 1st Bn Scots Guards; embarkation with advance party aboard MS Batory, 6/4/1940; issue of arctic kit; hearing of German invasion of Norway; arrival in Harstad, 15/4/1940; sight of captured German naval personnel; kit carried including sleeping bags; death of military policeman during German air raid on Harstad; opinion of chaotic organisation; move to hamlet near Harstad; guard duties; threat of polar bears; move to Evenskjer; construction of airfield on Evenskjer; German Air Force attacks on anti-aircraft cruiser HMS Coventry; sinking of anti-aircraft cruiser HMS Curlew by German aircraft and aiding survivors at Evenskjer, 26/5/1940. REEL 9 Continues: arrival of Hawker Hurricanes of 46 Sqdn, RAF, 26/5/1940; reaction to sight of German bomber formation, 26/5/1940; move with demolition party to Narvik, 28/5/1940; demolition duties in Narvik; chaotic character of withdrawal; move to Harstad, 1/6/1940; embarkation aboard HMS Walker at Harstad, 4/6/1940; transfer to RMS Lancastria, 5/6/1940; situation aboard RMS Lancastria; return to GB, 10/6/1940; move to Kelso, GB, 6/1940; weather conditions in Norway, 4/1940-6/1940; threat of snow blindness; condition of uniform and kit; role of field park companies; how 46 Sqdn, RAF landed their aircraft on HMS Glorious. REEL 10 Continues: Aspects of period as NCO with 229th Field Coy, Royal Engineers, 49th Infantry Div and 10th Corps in GB, 6/1940-4/1941: construction of anti-tank ditch across Fife; re-formation of unit at Kelso; move to Sudbury and joining 10th Corps; reaction to potential demolition role at refinery at Purfleet; construction of small footbridge in Sudbury area; construction of defences in East Anglia; preparation of riverbanks for floating bridging site near Sudbury, 23/3/1941; background to applying to become army lighterman. Aspects of period as NCO with 940 Lighterage Coy, Royal Engineers in Earby, GB, 4/1941-5/1941: reasons for attempting to fail trade test; atmosphere in company; on draft for North Africa at Longmoor Camp, 5/1941; studying nautical book; cancellation of draft. Aspects of period as NCO with 994 Stevedore Coy, Royal Engineers in GB, 6/1941-7/1941: joining company in Glasgow; role of stevedore companies; move to East Anglia; clash with regimental sergeant-major over supplementary ration allowance. REEL 11 Continues: Aspects of period as NCO with No 1 Military Port Coy, Royal Engineers in GB, 7/1941-8/1941: posting to 1 Military Port Coy; attitude to service with company; interview and return to 229 Field Coy, Royal Engineers. Aspects of period as NCO with 229th Field Coy, Royal Engineers, 10th Corps in GB, 8/1941-1/1942: construction of Nissen Huts; move to Felixstowe; attending endurance course; attending aircraft recognition course, 11/1941; return to Felixstowe; move to Thaxted and meeting future wife, 11/1941; training casualties; alternating with Scottish unit members between Christmas and New Year leave; being placed on charge for losing prisoner and promotion to sergeant, 1/1942. REEL 12 Continues: Aspects of period as NCO with No 947 Inland Water Transport Coy, Royal Engineers in GB, 1/1942-11/1942: posting to Walmer; reception on arrival; move to Scotland; duties commanding Tug Tactful; leave and engagement, 3/1942; move to Stranraer for construction of No 2 Military Port, 4/1942; detachment to Shoeburyness for experimental oil pipe work; recommendation for commission; marriage, 9/1942; attending No 3 War Office Selection Board at Edinburgh; driving training at Pre-Officer Cadet Training Course at Wroughton. REEL 13 Continues: handling Tug Tactful. Aspects of period as officer cadet at 165 Officer Cadet Training Unit at Dunbar, GB, 11/1942-12/1942: nature of and attitude to course; incident of cadet placing mortar bomb the wrong way into mortar barrel; end of course report; problems obtaining uniform; commissioning and leave; officer kit. Aspects of period as training as officer with Nos 6 and 8 Port Operating Groups, Royal Engineers in GB, 1/1943-3/1943: training with No 6 Port Operating Group in Glasgow; posting to unit in Cardiff; demolition training duties; Inland Water Transport training course in Surrey Docks in London, 3/1943; pay and conditions. Aspects of period as officer with 953 Inland Water Transport Operating Coy, Royal Engineers in Northern Ireland and GB, 4/1943-11/1943: posting to Lurgan in Northern Ireland; relations with other officers; opinion of company; move to London. REEL 14 Continues: training in Warlingham area; accommodation in Tower of London; opinion of concrete petrol barges; incident of company members returning late to Tower of London; work on placing Bailey Bridge on top of barge; background to development of Rhino Ferry. Aspects of period as staff officer with No 7 Transport Section in War Office in London, GB, 11/1943-12/1943: attitude towards posting; deception plan to transform Thames Barges to look invasion barges; poor handling qualities of Thames barges. Aspects of period as officer with No 953 Inland Water Transport Operating Coy, Royal Engineers in GB, 1/1944-6/1944: return to company in Southampton, 1/1944. REEL 15 Continues: arrival of Rhino Ferries and training at Ryde on Isle of Wight; description of method of securing Rhino Ferry to Landing Ship Tank; participation in Exercise Gold Braid at Hayling Island and lessons learnt; encounter with Admiral Philip Vian; description of Rhino Ferry; participation in Operation Trousers at Slapton Sands; use of bulldozer to push Rhino Ferry off beach; method of steering Rhino Ferry; problems turning Rhino Ferry; sight of side way launch of landing craft from Landing Ship Tank; hearing date of D-Day; carrying capacity of Rhino Ferry; last minute rearrangements prior to D-Day, 4/6/1944-5/6/1944. REEL 16 Continues: concerns about D-Day landings expressed to admiral at monthly meeting at HMS Squid, Southampton, 5/1944; facilities available on American Landing Ship Tanks; importance of arranging regular meals for Rhino Ferry crews; embarkation on board Landing Ship Tanks, 4/6/1944; method of towing Rhino Ferries across English Channel; opinion of ease with which Germans could be aware of D-Day. Recollections of operations as officer with No 953 Inland Water Transport Operating Coy, Royal Engineers during Normandy landings, Gold Beach, D-Day, 6/6/1944: embarkation aboard American LST 504, 5/6/1944; confusion over flying flag when underway; reaction to last sight of The Needles; first sight of Normandy coastland; breaking loose of one of unit's Rhino Ferries in Solent; embarkation aboard Rhino Ferry off Gold Beach; problems securing Rhino Ferry to Landing Ship Tank in rough weather; carrying Ruston-Bucyrus RB 19 Crawler Crane and Allis Chalmers Bulldozer aboard Rhino Ferry; run into Gold Beach. REEL 17 Continues: marking of boundary channel; German beach defences; time taken to unload Rhino Ferry; reaction to landing on beach; description of Gold Beach; fear of ricochets and mortar bombs landing on hard surface; receiving minor wound from mortar bomb; sound of ricochet; damaged caused to Rhino Ferry from beach defences; role of beachmaster; problem with Sea Mule boat; method of organising Rhino Ferries; transporting German POWs aboard Rhino Ferry; failure of No 4 Rhino Ferry. REEL 18 Continues: orders given when smoke was laid in evening; incident of Rhino Ferry drifting and first vehicle hitting mine; Major Peter Philip's arrangements for his troops ashore, night, 6/6/1944; fate of crews on Juno Beach; sleeping aboard a Landing Tank Ship; organisation of evacuation of casualties; effect on morale of rapid evacuation of casualties; opinion of ease of landings. Recollections of operations as officer with No 953 Inland Water Transport Operating Coy, Royal Engineers off Normandy, France, 6/1944-9/1944: making tidal chart; sight of anti-aircraft tracers being fired. REEL 19 Continues: aircraft recognition markings; fatigue; encounter with shot down fighter pilot on Landing Craft Headquarters 302; story of mining of No 100 Rhino Ferry; advising NCO to go ashore; living aboard Rhino Ferry; amounts of personnel and equipment transported by Rhino Ferries, 6/1944-9/1944; method of Landing Ship Tanks unloading on beaches; method of unloading Rhino Ferries; use of Mulberry Harbour; awareness of existence of Mulberry Harbour prior to Normandy landings; scuttling of ships to provide original Mulberry Harbour wall. REEL 20 Continues: description of bombardone; construction of Mulberry Harbour; character of Frederick Royston; effects of gales; destruction of No 28 Rhino Ferry in gale; use of Beach Armoured Recovery Vehicles; incident of hitting submerged tank; creating floating jetty from damaged Rhino Ferries after gales; description of steam tugs used; relations with commanding officer; psychological effects of intensive period of operations. REEL 21 Continues: description of Mulberry Harbour; reasons why American Mulberry Harbour was destroyed in gales; degree of damage to British Mulberry Harbour in gales; story of adaptation of Thames barges for naval purposes; use of Thames barges; reiteration of personnel, equipment and stores brought ashore, 6/1944-9/1944; daily routine; move to Ostend, Belgium, 9/1944. Recollections of period as staff officer with Headquarters, Royal Engineers, Second Army in North West Europe, 10/1944-: background to posting to headquarters at Helmond, Netherlands. REEL 22 Continues: size of engineer headquarters staff; arrival of Dutch waterways officer; mission to pick up hidden waterway maps from newly liberated s'Hertgenbosch, Netherlands; character of Dutch waterways; Dutch radio broadcasts relating to water profiles; importance of bridge at Bokhaven, Netherlands; character of floating bridge at Bokhaven, Netherlands; threat to floating bridge from Germans blowing lock gates at Linne, Netherlands; question of shearing tanks across river; problem of locks at Zonnebeek, Netherlands. REEL 23 Continues: visit to Zonnebeek, Netherlands, 12/1944; German flooding of areas; calculating height of river for proposed river assault; decision to create floating Bailey Bridge over River Maas at Gennep, Netherlands, 2/1945; problems of having long floating Bailey Bridge; aerial photographic reconnaissance of River Maas in Zonnebeek area, Netherlands; construction of floating Bailey Bridge at Gennep, Netherlands, 2/1945; construction of high level Bailey Bridge at Gennep, Netherlands; naming of bridges at Gennep, Netherlands. REEL 24 Continues: use of Aerial Photographic Interpretation Section; prior recollection of peat bog under Gold Beach in Normandy; invitation to talk to Royal Engineers who would be involved on River Rhine crossing; sources of information on conditions on River Rhine in Germany; placing of water gauge in River Rhine near Xanten, Germany; question of officers wasting time communicating on telephone; crossing of River Rhine, Germany, 3/1945. REEL 25 Continues: construction of Bailey Bridge over River Rhine, Germany, 3/1945; prior recollection of threat of ice to Bailey Bridge on River Maas, Netherlands; flights in Taylorcraft Auster aircraft to view waterways in Netherlands; German blowing of lock gates at Linne, Netherlands; concern for crossing Dortmund-Ems Canal, River Weser and Mittelland Canal in Germany; story of his 15 cwt truck becoming stuck in ditch; orders to return to unit, 4/1945; lack of need to bridge the River Weser, Germany; advances in bridge construction and explosives throughout Second World War. REEL 26 Continues: Recollections of period as officer with Nos 953 and 961 Inland Water Transport Operating Coys, Royal Engineers in Netherlands and GB, 4/1945-5/1946: return to No 952 Inland Transport Operating Coy at Sas van Gent; orders to move to Rotterdam, 9/5/1945; reaction to sight of hungry Dutch civilians; arrival in Rotterdam; distribution of milk powder ration by Dutch Resistance; contact with Dutch woman who had served with Dutch Resistance; obtaining accommodation; cigarettes used for barter; distribution of potatoes from barge by Dutch Resistance; state of Dutch populace; amusing story of trading Sergeant Cardell-Ryan to another company; demobilisation number. REEL 27 Continues: joining No 961 Inland Water Transport Operating Coy at Nijmegen; degaussing stream tugs; return to GB and billeting in Wapping, London; arrival of fleet of Thames barges; question of acquiring items and vehicles; attitude towards peacetime soldiering and reaction to dropping of atomic bombs on Japan, 8/1945; move to Railway Training Centre, Royal Engineers at Longmoor; move to Marchwood Military Port; relations with commanding officer; demobilisation, 5/1946; attitude towards military service and psychological strain of work in Normandy. REEL 28 Continues: Recollections of period Queen's Waterman and Queen's Bargemaster in GB, 1974-1990 role as apprentice tutor; background to appointment as Queen's Waterman, 1974; selection interview; question of qualifications to become Queen's Waterman; poor state of uniforms; account of duties of Queen's Watermen attending monarch's state opening of Parliament; duties attending state visits and other duties; lack of rehearsal for state opening of Parliament; ceremony that takes place when monarch has returned to Buckingham Palace from Houses of Parliament. REEL 29 Continues: decision to formalise Queen's Waterman's role on monarch's return to Buckingham Palace; background to appointment as Queen's Bargemaster, 1978 including selection interview; incident of nearly dropping crown whilst attending first state opening of Parliament as Queen's Bargemaster, 1978; organisation of Queen's Waterman; provision of carriage escort during state visits. REEL 30 Continues: story of mishap with horses and carriages during state visit of President of Malawi; Prince Michael of Kent's meeting with Queen's Watermen; story of transporting Princess Anne by barge; invitation to Queen's Garden Party; story relating to retirement of one of the Queen's Watermen; attitude towards ceremonial role. REEL 31 Continues: story of Queen Elizabeth's visit to Waterman's Hall on his retirement, 1990.