The ARMY in the 20th century

BARRY, MY FATHER FRANK MASON & VERNEY THE DOG

BARRY, MY FATHER FRANK MASON & VERNEY the DOG; 1915

The Royal Norfolk Regiment was amalgamated with the Suffolk Regiment in 1959 to form the 1st East Anglian Regiment, and became part of the larger Royal Anglian Regiment in 1964. Until 1959 Britannia Barracks on Mousehold Heath was the Headquarters of the Royal Norfolks. The Norfolk Regiment received its Royal title in 1935.  As part of the modernisation of the army the Norfolk Regiment produced an annual publication, The Britannia Magazine, from 1927. Although he was placed in Royal Army Ordinance Corps, Basil Kybird had his basic training in Britannia Barracks and this was the subject of his blog of 3 June 2012.

My step grandfather Edward Lound was brought up in Great Yarmouth, but joining up in 1908 he went into the Sherwood Foresters whose barracks were in Derby. He was serving in Ireland at the outbreak of the First World War and served until 1919 in France and, after the Armistice, in Germany. He wrote the first few chapters of his autobiography, which included an account of his basic training at Normanton Barracks in Derby. I have been able to continue the story of his wartime experiences by referring to other contemporary sources. He came through the war unscathed, in which he was luckier than other members of my family.

My mother’s uncle, Arthur Rutter, was killed in the Somme valley in 1917,  after the main battle of the Somme was over. He was blown up by a shell. On the other side of the family my father’s uncles Fred Goodwin and Alfred Mason both died in the war, Alfred within a few days of the Armistice. He was in the Lincolnshire Regiment. Fred was a coal miner and so was not compelled to join up, but he was doing well in the army having risen to the rank of Corporal in a few months. More to the point he was already the holder of the Military Medal, one of the highest awards for gallantry when he was fatally shot at Cambrai in Northern France. Other family members managed to return to civilian life without injury.

My father served in the RAOC during the Second World War, doing his training at Woolwich during the Blitz. On completing his training in instrument repairs he would have been promoted to Sergeant had he not been invalided out of the army with weak ankles. My own military experiences were first as a member of the school CCF (Combined Cadet Force) at Gresham’s School in Holt. I went to two summer camps, one in the Lake District and one in the Brecon Beacons in Wales. This Army Training Area at Sennybridge was acquired by the War Office in 1939 and remains an MoD facility.

My second spell of Army life was as a member of the TA, in the RAMC. Rather than attending training at the Medical Corps Field Hospital in Norwich I was based at the Regimental HQ at Keogh Barracks near Ash Vale in Surrey. Aldershot is close by so this is in the centre of the British Army. This obviously involved a fair amount of travelling, but this was all done with army railway warrants. I served for my full three year engagement, during which time I spent periods on the Wirral, at Liss and at Emblem in Belgium.

This just about exhausts my family’s involvement with the British Army. I will deal with the Navy and RAF in subsequent posts.

JOSEPH MASON

joemasonspage.wordpress.com

MEMORIES OF ARMY LIFE

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