Personal Account R H (Bob) Barlow, Fitter, Royal Army Ordnance Corps, BEF 1939-40

R H (Bob) Barlow, Fitter, Royal Army Ordnance Corps, BEF 1939-40.

I arrived at St Nazaire, France in September 1939 and departed from La Panne beach on 1st June 1940.

I was an RAOC fitter with the 11th Infantry Brigade, LAD Section, 4th Division. We were mainly concerned with keeping the Brigade transport moving through the thousands of refugees and the trucks, coaches and many carts. We finally destroyed our vehicles on the beach at La Panne and were then formed as infantry to help Headquarters, which fortunately only lasted 48 hours, before once more being sent back to the beach.

My worst experiences were being on the end of the consistent artillery barrages and aerial attacks which seemed to be unending whilst trying to help injured friends in the section.

I often smile when I think of the ex-civilian "impressed" vehicles that we were issued with. I mainly used a Bedford 30 cwt recovery truck. We also had a furniture van, a W D Morris 6 wheeler open front, and a Austin 8hp pick-up for the officer of the section. Utterly useless against the German modern equipment. Thank God for the "Little Ships" and the "Navy". It did not take long to prove that twenty to a rowing boat was not a success.


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