1943/44 WWII memoirs
Part Four 1943/4 - Various entertaining WW2 tales
Australian Leslie Eric Cook was in the second 14th of the Australian Imperial Force. He served in Greece, Crete, New Guinea, Borneo and Japan.
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Derrick Snyder and Caroline
Ash Stargel and Lincoln
General James Patton Papalia
1943/44 in the Middle East and more.
More great unpublished history! WWII
The making of alcoholic beverages by the troops was forbidden. Of course, the ban had little effect, and many were the attempts made to make something that was even marginally drinkable. And the stories were legend of people drinking “home brews” and becoming very ill or even dead from doing so.
We found a hidden hole in the sandy ground with stone steps leading down from it. The narrow steps led down between stone walls to a cavern, the size of which we couldn’t tell because of the poor light, and the steps disappeared into clear fresh water. We were in an underground water storage system constructed hundreds or perhaps thousands of years ago. And in the sand on a step below the water I found something I would never have dreamed of …
Can you imagine our surprise at what we found when we opened a locked cupboard? The officer’s eyes lit up and he said, ‘Hell, Cheall, what a find.’
Hello again and another warm WW2 welcome to the Fighting Through second world war podcast.
I’m Paul Cheall, son of Bill Cheall whose WWII memoirs have been published by Pen and Sword – in FTFDTH.
The aim of this podcast is to give you the stories behind the story. You’ll hear memoirs, and interviews of veterans in all the countries and all the forces. I dare you to listen!
But I just want to add one thing – aren’t we having a brilliant time with this show?
Australian Leslie Eric Cook was in the second 14th. And he served in Greece, Crete, New Guinea, Borneo and Japan.
Last episode we finished with Les’s stories about getting showered in the freezing cold under torchlight and how the horse caught its hoof in the communications wiring.
This Episode reminiscing of many places, but mainly in the desert around 1943/44.
Many thanks to Michael Stapleton for his review on Dad’s book on Amazon.
The following people kindly left show reviews in various places:
Michael Benton TravelSprout Mr.GoodCat7 from the United States
Roundeye1 from Australia
Philip Kotynia bought me several Calvados!
Thank you for all you’ve done in this wonderful podcast. I look forward to many more episodes! Philip Louisiana, USA.”
Victor Weisser from USA has also kindly donated some sponsorship through Patreon
And both Ingo Bräutigam and Bruce Austin just became patrons, buying me several Calvados through the Buy Me a Coffee feature on the web site.
All those sponsorship monies are winging their way over to the Salvation Army.
Bill Guinane also left a kind and considerate greeting on the Voicemail feature on the new web site. Cheers Bill
Finally, I need to catch up with several feedbacks I've had through the podbean app. Too many to mentions but thanks amongst others to Misfit artist, Simyan, Selim, Aaron, Growing earth, Rats and MarkR6Racing.
Degsy said "You’ll never understand the joy of checking the app and seeing another episode is out".
And finally MrTea said, "Great content, thank you Angus, you're awesome! Yeah go on then I’ll take that!
Thank you guys, all of you
I’ve got a few shout outs for young listeners:
There’s Master James Papalia from New Jersey who celebrated his 6th birthday a few days ago and listens regularly with his Dad Frank. He’s a great Churchill fan, not forgetting General Eisenhower and indeed General Paton.
Happy Birthday Captain James!
And my best wishes go to Master Lincoln Stargel, aged four, who listens with his mum Ash, from Pennsylvania. Ash said Lincoln would love to hear his name *on the radio* Three of his Great grandfathers served in one way or another and Lincoln is a big fan of the show!
And Lincoln I have a bit more detail that your great grandfather, Donald Harris, was a paratrooper stationed in the Philippines during WW2. He flew over 50 combat missions and was a military policeman on the base. Wow!
So Tally Ho Lincoln! I hereby declare that you’re initiated into the Fighting Through fan club with rank Private First Class, promoted immediately to Sergeant for good behaviour!
Derrick Snyder from Tennessee just bought a signed copy of Dad’s book and sent me a photo of him and his lovely little 3 yr old daughter Caroline. They listen to the FTP together while doing the dishes and cooking supper together. Caroline – you’re hereby accepted into the FTP fan club also joining Sergeant Lincoln with rank Private First Class, promoted immediately to Sergeant for serving up good army grub and making sure the dishes are all properly cleaned!
Just to finish off with you youngsters I’ll ask you a question.
What month do all troops hate?
See if you can think of the answer and I’ll tell you in the PS.
Word of mouth recommendation is one of the easiest yet most powerful ways of supporting the show. You know I’ve already had nearly 7500 listens to the first Les Cook episode released a few weeks ago and I’ll thank each and every one of you for putting the time aside to engage with Les’s humour and horror. And thanks to you if you’ve been liking my various posts on the Fighting Through Facebook page. I do notice, yes. You, Clive Slade, Gail Staples and Mike Watson to name just a few of many, I do notice and thank you so much! And I loved the black Jeep Wrangler that someone had in their profile pic!
But if anyone wants to share the show easily, I’ve just put a Tell a Friend feature on the web site menu. All you’ve got to do is copy the text I’ve provided and paste it wherever works for you – an email, a Tweet, maybe a forum you’re in. So many thanks if you can manage that.
I wanted to share this short youtube video in case you hadn't come across it: https://www.youtube.com/embed/ie3SrjLlcUY
Regards, Alan Bays
It’s taken me absolutely ages to get around to watching this video, but I can thoroughly recommend it to all FTP fans. It's essentially an interview with an American Spitfire veteran who used to fly to Germany from England on unarmed reconnaissance flights and the interview gets better and better!
I'm putting the vid in the show notes on the website.
If you watch it and don't have a big grin at the end then I won’t be eating Bully Beef for tea.
I just love this first story. It’s about a mysterious discovery in the desert and my goodness how it captures the imagination.
Here’s the backstory to why Les was in the Desert:
The Battle of Bardia was fought early January 1941, as part of Operation Compass, the first British military operation of the Western Desert campaign of the Second World War. It was the first battle of the war in which an Australian Army formation took part, the first to be commanded by an Australian general and the first to be planned by an Australian staff.
The 6th Australian Division (Major General Iven Mackay) assaulted the strongly held Italian fortress of Bardia, Libya, assisted by air support and naval gunfire and under the cover of an artillery barrage.
The 16th Australian Infantry Brigade attacked at dawn from the west, where the defences were known to be weak. Sappers blew gaps in the barbed wire with Bangalore torpedoes and filled in and broke down the sides of the anti-tank ditch with picks and shovels. This allowed the infantry and tanks of the 7th Royal Tank Regiment to enter the fortress and capture all their objectives, along with 8,000 prisoners.
There’s a PS coming up about a man overboard from a ship, and I have news of a forthcoming episode, which you can look forward to once we’ve finished Les Cook’s memoirs. Oof my word
First Thank you so very much for your support and for making the time to listen to me.
And please - write, like, rate, review or share the show - howsoever it pleases you. Above all – enjoy. Please do hear me next time. And even higher than that just this once, have a bash at the Tell a Friend feature – if you’ve got any! If you haven’t – I still love you.
Heidi Langbein from California wrote in a while ago now, with news of her completion of her late father’s memoirs of being a boy soldier in the German army. Oof my word!
He dictated the memoirs some years ago and Heidi has just translated them into English and Oh Boy are you in for a treat. I’ve actually got shivers going up my spine as I tell you about this. I’m going to say no more now other than to share a couple of passages from it. So here goes from the memoirs of
Save the Last Bullet: Memoir of a World War II child soldier in the Nazi Army, by Wilhelm Johannes Langbein – Willi to us.
And it’s going to be an absolute cracker!
“Papa, what’s going on?”
Papa and I were walking to the train station where he worked. The dawn sky had an orange glow. It was a strange color, and it seemed to come from behind the buildings in the distance. There were faint noises I could not recognize, but they didn’t sound right. I slowed my pace down a bit. Papa pulled my arm, walking faster. His hand gripped mine so tightly it hurt. It scared me.
“Hurry Willi, quick, let’s go. There is something going on here in which I don’t want to get involved.”
I wanted to ask more questions but the intensity in his voice made me stay quiet. We kept walking briskly along the road. Papa was taking me to his workplace that morning before dropping me off at school. He didn’t explain why, he just said he had to stop there first. When we got to the station, it was abuzz with activity despite the early morning hour. Trains were waiting at the terminal, their bellies filling up with morning travelers on their way to work. Loud announcements about arrivals and departures were made, conductors paced up and down the platforms, shrill whistles warned travelers a train was leaving the station. Papa rushed me to the back office where he worked, toward the end of the first platform. He was an Oberlagermeister, the manager in charge of all baggage consignments at the Reichsbahn, the German National Railway. His rank was high enough that he had his own office.
“Sit here, Willi. I’ll be right back,” he said, motioning with his hand to a chair behind an empty desk.
“All right,” I replied, putting down my backpack, and sitting down at the desk. Papa didn’t completely close the door behind him as he had intended to when he left the room, so I was able to make him out through the narrow opening. He was talking to somebody in hushed tones.
“… burned down… dragged them to the fields….,” I heard a man say. I didn’t dare get up and disobey Papa, but I craned my neck and listened harder, anxious to find out what was going on.
One night a kid from our group snuck into the SS depot and swiped some butter and ham. Nobody realized how different this act was from what we had done before. The risk of being caught was always there, and we knew there would be a punishment – perhaps we would be beaten, made to perform menial chores, or not fed for a few days - but somehow we still did it because the stomach cramps were too painful to bear. But the SS played by different rules, and they were keeping watch. They caught the kid red-handed. It turned out that stealing from the SS carried the death penalty by firing squad. This is something we had not known. Although rumors of their ruthless discipline abounded, the extent of the threat had not fully registered before. It is questionable if another outcome would have ever been possible, but in early 1945 any vestige of clemency was defunct and had long since given way to the increasingly erratic and violent behavior of Hitler’s forces.
We stood in the holes we had dug, at distances of about ten meters between each hole. In each of them there was a man, or a fourteen-year-old boy like me.
Each man had four Panzerfaust anti-tank rocket launchers, at his disposal. We stood in our holes and waited in oppressive silence. Nobody spoke. Time was passing too slowly and too quickly all at the same time. I knew a battle was coming, and that I might die, but my brain was too jumbled to formulate the great thoughts that I imagined one should think in those moments. Every minute crawled by as I felt the beats of my vein pulsing in my neck. At the same time, somewhere in the back of my mind a tiny voice was admonishing me that I was running out of time. To do what I was not sure, maybe to live? But I couldn’t focus on that because we had a job to do. Fear was something we could not afford.
Then I felt it. The deep rumble, the growl in the earth under my feet, pulsing its way up my bones.
The Russians came closer. I scrambled out of the hole and shot at the grenadiers with my pistol, but I ran out of ammunition and was left with one last bullet. I had a moment of indecision – Now what?
Suddenly there was a Russian in front of me.
He pointed his bayonet and thrust it toward my belly. I quickly grabbed my Sturmgewehr which was slung over my shoulder and shoved it at his bayonet, blocking it …
Coming very soon!
I’m Paul Cheall
Interview with American Spitfire veteran - I challenge you not to smile!