Dave Ince who still to this
day lives in Chorley, Lancashire
has provided the following stories / anecdotes of what is was
like to be an
Army Conscript during the latter part of World
They give an interesting insight into times
Dave wrote out the stories in long hand but
in the interests of clarity they have been re-written as typed
MEMOIRS OF A YOUNG LF
by Dave Ince
Despite having been badly burned on both legs
by burning Aviation Fuel in October 1940, I was passed A1 for
the Army at the
Medical Board in Pole Street, Preston and was called up on Thursday
7th December, 1944 and
reported to "56 PTW ,then 6th Infantry Training Centre ,Magdalene
Camp Berwick on Tweed.
For the first 4 - 5 weeks we were in the General
Service Corps, before being posted to various units for further
Food :- For breakfast we were rationed to 2
slices of bread, with 3" square Dog Biscuits available in
a dirty laundry Wicker Basket.
Christmas Day 1944 was not very pleasant, but
we got a good dinner, served by the Officers.
We suffered for that during the next 2 - 3
weeks food was in very short supply.
On going to see the Army Dentist for a check
up I had the biggest fright of my entire life. Whilst sat in the
awaiting my turn from one of the rooms came loud screams
and crying. When the door opened out came a guard
and an Italian Prisoner of War crying his eyes out, blood pouring
from his mouth, what a sight. As he passed by me
my name was called out. I entered the room; the dentist was waiting,
"Sit down Ince, open your mouth".
He then said, "That will give him something to think about,
a bit of cold steel!!"
I nearly wet myself. Next thing I remember
was a faint voice a long way off and my shoulder being shook.
It was the dentist. I could hear shouting at me and no wonder
I had one of his fingers fast between my
closed jaws which were shut tight. No he did not give me cold
steel to get his own back,
but his language was enough to turn the air blue!
The wooden barrack rooms we slept in only had
10w - 15w bulbs, but the Corporals we had were kind gentlemen,
out of the goodness of their hearts to help us young lads if we
had a whip round they would buy us some bigger bulbs,
but we had not to tell anyone, they would be in trouble. Yes we
fell for it we were green, as all previous and future
intakes would be the collection was for their beer money. The
bulbs being changed with each intake.
At least we were better off than the lads in
the next hut, their Sgt came in after midnight most nights as
drunk as a monkey,
got them out on parade in full uniform in front of their hut,
take a look at them then left them stood there in the dark and
while he went to bed, till someone else turned up.
One week in the army we had a chance to get
out if we volunteered for the Palestine Police, to fight the terrorists
who came over from Cyprus by boat at night. Who were the terrorists?
Jews from the USA and Europe funded
by the Yankee Jews. They had already blown up the King George
V Hotel in Tel Aviv plus many more explosions
causing death and destruction to all.
This was in a country called Palestine no country
called Israel existed. Although the pay was out of this world
around £20 per week against our 8 - 9 shillings (today 40
odd pence). No one volunteered.
This was the beginning of Terrorism, as we know it today, was
Hitler the only baddy. I know what I think NO
Apart from the G.S.C. Section the camp was
divided into three other sections, One for the LF, one for the
West Yorkshire Regiment and one for the Kings Own Yorkshire Light
Infantry, K.O.Y.L.I's, which also means
Keep Out of Young Ladies Insides.
Officers kept to their own Regiments but NCO's
were mixed. We had a Lt. Jeap, Sgt Atherton LF, a KOYLI Cpl and
an LF L/Cpl
We were still in the wooden barrack rooms,
which in Jan, Feb and March 1945 were like a fridge.
We had 2 solid fuel stoves and a tiny coal allowance each week.
Under orders a party of 4 was sent out with empty
sandbags every night to the nearby railway sidings to pinch coal
from the parked wagons. The huts were so
cold every morning there was a small frozen lake outside the hut
door where all the lads including me had gone for a pee.
I nearly got put on a charge for this by the
KOYLI Corp who slept in our hut. He accused me of being responsible
(I couldn't pee that much!) but luckily I had the answer. When
called up my dad being a WW1 veteran with the 'Loyals'
gave me a lot of good advice, one was take a torch. I used to
stand this in my boot at the night, easy to find
but it turned out all the lads unknown to me borrowed it as well
hence the light starting and finishing at my bed
Only one lad did not use it, he peed in bed.
One night we were near the stove when 2 lads
from another hut came in, lifted the stove lid and dropped
something in and were off. When asked what it was they laughed
and said "5 live rounds". We didn't believe them
until the five bangs and 5 holes appeared in the stove casing.
I forget how that ended.
It was very cold both day and night at Berwick
but even so we had to go in the North Sea every day
at least up to our knees. They said it would harden our feet and
stop blisters. Did it stop blisters? No.
Every morning after Reveille the KOYLI Cpl
who was still in bed used to shout "Ince there's only you
and me in
bed and I had better be last". Yes he was.
Before breakfast my job was to scrub the barrack
room table and form outside in the cold and dark.
On return from breakfast they were frozen to the ground.
Every Saturday morning we had a kit inspection
in the barrack room so on Friday night we had to polish with
Brasso our two zinc plates. The little food we could eat tasted
terrible for the next few days. Till the money was done
I used the NAAFI. One lad slept on the floor every Friday night
along with his kit, to keep it dry, the lad in the
bunk above wet his bed every night and it drained onto the bunk
One Saturday was a special inspection so on
the Wednesday night previous we had to paint all the barrack room
ceiling and walls with water paint(no emulsion in those days).
Being a painter unlike the others I kept my self clean,
or so I thought, until I took my denims off, my back was full
of paint. I never found out if it was an accident,
but I know what my view was.
Another way the Army saved on food apart from
Brasso plates was to take us into the Gas Chamber once every week
last period before tea. By the time we had been sick and panned
out on the ground who wanted anything to do with food.
Beginning in spring another racket was for
the PT Instructor to take us to a private estate near the banks
of the River Tweed
where we had to pick daffodils, stick them inside our jackets.
On the way back we called at the Station Hotel, again beer money.
All we got was a promise nothing else.
We were only 18 but they always told us Gen.
Montgomery (Monty) said "Play them hard, work hard, they
won't get in trouble".
They did just that.
There was a Major Cox from B Company who used
to ride round on a big old bike (cycle) mainly the barrack square,
waiting for side hats to fall off during drill time. Any that
fell he made sure the lad got 7 days CB. If his cap badge
touched the ground it was 14 days CB minimum.
We had many lads from Liverpool in our platoon
one of them was scared to death of hand grenades.
The first time he prepared and then had to throw one he threw
it without pulling out the pin so he was made to
go out and dig around in thick mud with his bare hands till he
found it. He did it right after that.
In those days we had PIAT Guns (Personal Infantry
Anti Tank). They were about 4 feet long and must have
weighed at least 1 cwt (112 pounds). We used to load ours on the
back of the biggest lad in the Platoon. It took
two of us to lift it up and put a rifle sling over each shoulder
to enable him to carry it. You had to stand it on its end to
cock it and it took two hands to pull the large trigger. It had
a kick like a shire horse.
On one occasion along with a lad called Bailey
(now dead) we dug a slit trench in which to lie to fire the gun.
He wanted first go so I loaded the bomb, which was about 2 pounds
in weight. He pulled the trigger but the bomb
just fell out in front of us. At 18 you don't see the
danger so I re-cocked the gun, loaded the same bomb and fired.
It exploded as it passed through the target, a steel sheet. Over
the years I have thought what could have happened.
After one of our night periods I was a rich
man. Lt. Jeap gave 2/6d (12 and a half pence) prize money for
and quickest at dismantling and re- assembling a Bren Gun, blindfolded
in given stages. The 2/6d was spent in the NAAFI.
Due to the fact we had been training and got
soaked with rain the day before Passing Out Parade we were
the only platoon on parade in Battle Dress. The LF's Band led
the Parade through Berwick
BRUNTON BATTALION TRAINING
Near Alnwick, Northumberland
We moved from Berwick by Troop Train at 3.30am.
The train just stopped on the line and we got off and marched
Brunton a tiny village. Our destination a large country house
(now a hotel) farm buildings and Nissen Huts
The one Cpl in charge of us took a shine to me because
I came from Chorley. He knew Chorley because
he had been a prisoner in the Glass House there previously.
One Saturday night whilst at Alnwick someone
who stayed behind decided to ' make my bed up', Tin Hat,
Rifle, you name it. On my return after lights out on getting ready
for bed I found what had been done.
I wasn't pleased then a lad called Bob from Blackburn laughed
out loud. So thinking he was the culprit
I tipped him out of his bed onto the floor. We then had a right
set to which only finished when we busted the chimney
for the stove and moved the stove. The following morning I found
out it wasn't him but we fixed the stove etc.
We had a well-loved Lt. whose name I forget
in charge of us (what a bastard). We all made up our minds if
we went to
Burma as expected he would get a .303 first day! To try and escape
the draft he crashed a 35 cwt Morris Truck.
All he got out of that was a broken arm and made to carry on.
This officer was also well liked by the other officers.
"One day on the Firing Ranges he offered to have a shoot
out against a decent officer always referred to as
" The Duke" ( was he a real Duke ? ) for 2/6d. The Duke
replied "I will shoot you for nothing".
One night out on maneuvers we slept in a barn.
When I woke up the following morning I had a hole in the front
Field Dressing pocket bitten by rats to get the chocolate I had
in there. I never felt a thing.
"One of the lads borrowed my rifle to
go over the Assault Course one Saturday morning. The explosives
Sgt , who was as daft as a brush due to Indian Sunstroke, blew
him and my rifle up. Thompson was in a state and went to hospital.
But what about my rifle? We eventually found it in a mud bath.
I wasn't a happy little bunny, what a job.
All the food we got came out of tins to prepare
us for Burma
The War in Europe (VE Day) came to an end whilst
we were there, we got the day off. We needed it.
Shortly after that I went to Newcastle Infirmary to see a specialist
about my legs. He recommended down grading,
so I was put in the cookhouse. The water for brewing tea was boiled
in three coal fired boilers outside the
cookhouse in the yard which had been stables. One day the cook
sent me to brew some tea in the aluminum
bucket kept for that job with the warning one of the boilers had
washing soda in the water. Do not use that one
but also I had to re-fill the one I used. It must have been good
tea only one lad complained to the
Orderly Officer that the tea tasted funny.
Yes, I had used the wrong boiler but no one
ever knew because as a good lad I had filled it up as told.
After my pals had gone the remaining food in the cookhouse was
shared out amongst us before
the next intake arrived who were Paras.
My share of the food I was taking home for
mum and dad to help their rations, never got there.
On being posted to Hunstanton I managed ok but on being posted
to Exeter I could not carry my kit,
rifle and two kitbags, the one with the food in being so heavy
I had to drag it along the station platforms
and the underground platform. What a mess when I opened the kit
bag!! The tins of milk, butter, tea,
beans etc had all rubbed through a complete waste and it would
have done so much good for mum and dad.
6th Holding battalion
With the help of many old soldiers I quickly
grew up at Hunstanton, from a green 18 year old to one of them.
We lived in house commandeered from the civvies
before the expected German Invasion. On arrival
I was reading the notices on the Company Office notice board when
a hand grabbed my shoulder and
I was dragged into the house next door, the regimental barbers!!!
The riot act full of fruity words was thrown
at me by the Orderly Sergeant who had dragged me in. He would
not allow me to speak but gave the barber
instructions and waited till they were done.
After that I remembered him and he would certainly
remember me as time would prove. I soon found out he
had no name, always referred to as 252 (the number of the Charge
Being the only young lad there I was christened
"Chico" (Arabic for kid) by all the old sweats there.
Shortly after my arrival a new 48 hour Pass came into force so
of course I applied.
I was up early when the Saturday arrived and went to the Company
Office to collect it at 6am.
Who should be there but 252. In no uncertain terms he told me
to clear off I could not have a pass.
So I went to the Railway Station to tell another LF I could not
get a pass.
Whilst I was telling him who should arrive
but the CO. I approached him and explained the situation.
He suggested I try again next week. Having grown up by
now I gave him a story of how ill my mother was
and that she might be dead by next week (she was not ill). I don't
know if he fell for the story or not but directed
his driver to take me back to the Company Office, this he did,
to tell them I had to have my pass.
It made not the slightest difference, 252 again said no and clear
The driver left and so did 252. I was left alone then I spotted
the book of blank passes,
so I whipped one and went back to the station to catch the next
train, filled in the form and
got an RAF lad on the train to sign it.
I had to be back before 10am Monday morning
but on the Sunday night I met another LF who I did not know,
he was on the same 48 hour pass. Although my dad went mad I agreed
to meet this bloke at Chorley Railway Station
at 0625 am Monday morning. He had it all worked out that we would
be back ok.
Oh yes!! We got back, at 7 pm Monday night!!
He got 7 days CB. Chico (me) met 252 on Tuesday morning.
He greeted me with "Come here Chico, where were you yesterday".
My reply was the truth, "I went home".
His reply was "You couldn't, you had no pass, don't be fly
with me or I'll have you inside".
Some of the words were again fruity. Looking back, not a bright
thing to do but it worked.
At the old Light House on the cliffs some 2
miles outside Hunstanton was the Guard Room and Detention Buildings,
what a place that was for a young lad. Each guard was for 24 hours.
On my first one I was in a Nissan Hut all night
with about 30 male prisoners. Armed only with a pick axe shaft
with orders "any trouble, sort them out".
Luckily for me my age helped me they were like lambs I even got
a bit of kip.
On another occasion again with the pick shaft
I was ordered to escort 2 prisoners to Hunstanton for their kit
bring them back. Unfortunately for me they lived in two separate
houses in two different streets. One wanted to
do a bunk, but luckily for me the other one talked to him and
asked him what about Chico?. So he was a good lad
and they both went back ok. These two lads had smashed up a pub
The real hard cases, deserters etc they were
kept in a concrete Pill Box (built for the German Invasion) next
to the light house.
Talk about Belsen, they were allowed their shirts and one blanket
nothing else. The concrete floor was their bed, latrines,
the lot. If the Provo Sgt was in a good mood they would get out
for 10 minutes for something to eat then back.
If he wasn't in a good mood they stayed lockded up with no food
Next after me on Pay Parade one day was Frank
Jefferson who won his Victoria Cross at Monte Casino,
One day another unknown LF moved into my bedroom
with his kit. He only did Pay Parade and leave,
the rest of the time was spent dodging everything!! After having
my dinner one day I went back to my room.
There as usual was this lad on his bed. I started to get ready
to on parade (such as it was) when he said,
" bed down Chico", so I thought I would give it a go,
we would be alright after 4.30pm.
At around 2 pm there was such a noise and banging
downstairs. The Regimental Police had raided the house and
we were on the third floor, to high to jump out. Suddenly the
door opened, it was the Cpl from next door who had just done
48 hours Guard Duty We followed him into his room and he hid us
in a built in wardrobe. He had a pass from Guard Duty.
So we got away with that. This same Cpl when up at Berwick threatened
to run me round the barrack square with an
ATS skirt on till it dropped down. From going on PT Parade with
my vest over the top of my shorts, how things had changed,
I was now one of them!! Apart from us, the wardrobe was full of
fittings he had pinched from LNER Pullman Carriages parked nearby.
At the end of our street was the cemetery.
I spent many happy hours there when I found out the Regimental
did not go there. Another Corporal in the house with us from Lancaster
was a smashing bloke. Unfortunately he had
what they called 'sandfeet' through serving in the Western Desert
with Monty's 8th Army.
The skin on his feet peeled off when he took his socks off.
Another chap had been in India and came back
after suffering sun stroke. He could never find his kit and at
break time every morning
he went to the house which had been turned into the NAAFI and
collected any bits of food, put them in a bag and
fill pop bottle with dregs of tea, coffee or cocoa all mixed up,
he then went off. The rumor was he had a women somewhere.
Another ex India, Burma veteran also came into
the NAAFI every morning and ordered 2 cha's ((2 teas) and 2 wads
and sat there waiting for his mate, finally saying he's not come
again, I had better have them.
His mate had been killed in action next to him. That still brings
tears to my eyes as I write about it.
There were many more similar cases with disabilities,
which never came under the classification of wounds, so no pension.
One day some bright spark in the Company Office
decided to organize a competition on the range, first prize 3/6d..
I doubt if the lads
who had been in action were trying. Yours truly won the 3/6d
We had to Parade after tea one night in the
pouring rain under our groundsheets in the street in front of
the Company Office
some 30 - 40 of us. They just left us getting wet, wet and wet.
The bloke next to me put up with it for quite some time some
then said to me " I'm Off" They must have been watching
us for as soon as he moved an upstairs window shot up
and the Company Sergeant Major shouted something like " Where
are you going? " The reply was " I'm off mate".
The CSM had a fit and pointed to the crown on his uniform and
shouted " This calls for more than mate,
you want to get some service in!
This caused a riot of laughter from all the
parade, why? this fusilier had good conduct stripes from his wrist
to his elbow,
a real old soldier with more service than the CSM. The outcome,
he took his hook,
the CSM disappeared and so did we. End of story.
I was there on VJ Day a young lad, no money,
hungry and home sick my celebration was to be in bed by 8 pm,
sleeping killed the hunger off.
Shortly after that a Selection Board arrived and some old
soldiers with single figure demob numbers were offered
demob but many said no, they thought it was a trick and had to
When my name appeared on the notice board off
I went. I can see the officer behind the table now,
"Your Ince?" "Yes Sir" " You come from
Chorley, I come from Leyland you're a painter and decorator",
" Yes Sir" , "Well I'm an executive at Leyland
Paints". I said " I thought local boys makes good,
either stay with the LF's or get out". " Oh no you can't
be Class B Release, you have not finished
your apprenticeship and you are no use to the LF's!!" That's
how I came to be in the Royal Army Pay Corps
for another 2 years 8 months!!!
I finalised the demob payment for the bloke
who was commissioned in the LF's after training at Berwick
(see photo later). Pay Corp demob was later than LF.
This is an after thought hope it gives you
After my stay at Hunstanton life in the Royal
Army Pay Corps was a new world, a piece of cake!
I served at Exeter, Bradford (Yorks) and Manchester where all
the officers accounts were done.
For a time at Manchester the Officer in Charge of our section
was a Belgian, God knows where they had dug him up!
He thought he was a strict HARD MAN, he knew
nothing about me previously to working for him,
either LF or Pay Corp. Actually he was just a PALE PUSSY CAT shadow
of my old foe 252,
but like 252 he did not like me and I didn't like him! But at
least I could fall back on my Hunstanton University Degree
and apply it to the different situations he threw at me!!! He
did not like that, but I had worked to
the book making sure he could not NAIL ME!!
At that time, 1947 many drafts were going to
the Canal Zone, a fly's nest hole from all accounts.
One day I had to report to the CSM's office, on my way I thought,
"he's got me, here I come
.. CANAL ZONE!!!"
I knocked on the office door, a voice shouted
enter, there in front of me sat behind a desk was the Belgian.
He looked at me for what seemed like half an hour and then said
"Ince, I have some good news for you.
I AM LEAVING.
I obviously kept quiet but was thinking "Anywhere
you go is fine by me!!"
I like to think back on it as a unique moment,
a British Army Officer told a lowly private soldier some GOOD
NEWS. I felt real chuffed!!
"The LFs at Hunstanton had an unwritten code of moral conduct,
unlike the Yanks in the area.
They had not to get involved in any way with women whose husbands
or boy friends were serving in the forces, but if they were in
civvy jobs, they were considered fair game.