From the wide open spaces of Salisbury Plain, our next stop to becoming a Surveyor in the Royal Artillery was the barracks at the top of Wellington Street, Woolwich that first opened in 1809. These consisted of squares surrounded on three sides with two storey brick blocks with accommodation on the first floor above stables. There were a number of stone horse troughs around the cobbled square. The rooms had a dozen beds with an open fireplace and a huge cast iron coal box.
Most of the time it meant keeping a low profile or walking in a manner that implied you were on a special task. If questioned, “Battery office runner“ usually did the trick. The troughs with running water were put to good use as all the webbing that had been carefully blancoed had to be scrubbed off even though someone must have known that the colour in Germany was the same Khaki green 103.
As I lived a short trolleybus ride away I slept and had all my meals at home and took a packed lunch back with me.
It was a pleasure to be taken to Liverpool Street Station to catch a troop train to Parkestone Quay, Harwich and board the S.S Vienna, a pre-war ferry to the Hook of Holland. After a nightmare crossing the North Sea, we were given breakfast and directed to various comfortable troop trains pulled by powerful locomotives.
After the flat Dutch landscape we crossed the border and the Rhine and passed through some of the towns whose names were familiar from wartime bombing raids. Meals were provided and between the first views of Europe spent time removing, with the help of my jack knife, The brass “Nicht aus Lehnen 1” sign from the corridor window. Finally we departed the train at Celle where we were picked up and taken to Luneburg.
- Don’t lean out for those not proficient in German. ↩