Bill White - Maybole Memories - Destiny
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Cover    |   Introduction   |   1920's   |  1930's  |   Memories   |   More Memories   |   Destiny

Probably the biggest decision facing any young person is to uproot, leave home, family and friends, knowing there is little chance of a way back once the move is made, but I decided to move. I joined the Army in 1939. The two reasons I think made up my mind for me were firstly, it made me feel justified that I was acting in an altruistic manner, my mother was a widow and had had a very hard life, my brother Tommy was the youngest in the family and as such my mothers favourite, he was a lovely quiet boy, popular with everyone and devoted to “The Auld Yin” as he called our mother, and to my sisters boy John, who lived with us. I thought if I joined up, they wouldn’t take another son from a widow woman. How wrong I was, Tommy was called up in December 1939 to serve in the Royal Scottish Fusiliers and immediately sent to France. I have often wondered if things would have been different if I had not been so headstrong.

My second decision was purely selfish, there was nothing in Maybole I wanted, except to get away. At the outbreak of war Jimmy and I talked things over, this seemed to be our chance to get away, see the world and maybe make something of ourselves, we honestly thought the war would be over in six months. Jimmy’s family situation was similar to my own, he was the eldest son, of a widowed woman, with a younger brother and an elder sister, nothing really to hold us, the decision was ours. Jimmy wanted to hang on a bit longer, I didn’t, so I made up my mind to go it alone and joined up on the 17th September 1939. Poor Jimmy changed his mind and tried to follow me by joining the same regiment about three weeks after me so we could serve together throughout the war, it didn’t work and he finished up in France within a month of joining. My brother and my best friend both in the war zone before me and soon to be in real action.

My moves to control my destiny seemed to have a greater effect on other people’s lives than on my own. Both Jimmy and Tommy had a hard time getting out of France. Tommy didn’t even get away via Dunkirk, the Navy eventually had to withdraw, so he had to work his way down the coast and finally got out about two weeks after Dunkirk, an anxious time for everyone, especially for my mother.

Poor old Jimmy was forced to leave his beloved trumpet buried in the sands of Dunkirk beach, to my best knowledge he never played again. I never met up with my brother all through the war, it wasn’t until the German surrender that his unit was close to Caterham and he managed to call on us and met Peggy and young Betty for the first time. I had seen Jimmy in 1939 just to wave to, I was marching out of Hilsea Barracks all kitted up on my way to Nottingham to form up with an Ordnance Field Park bound for France. Jimmy was on sick parade on his way for treatment when he spotted me and called, the nearest he ever came to achieving his intention that we should serve together. After the war Jimmy and his new wife Ann spent a few days with us on their honeymoon, we were living at number 7 Nelson Road, Caterham then.

Cover    |   Introduction   |   1920's   |  1930's  |   Memories   |   More Memories   |   Destiny