"And they drove us down through to the coast down in Nottingham I think it is and we were there and that’s where the German prisoners were clearing mines off the coast. And that’s where I almost stepped on one."
A normal day would be, you were up at 6:30, breakfast 7:00, 7:30 and then you went back and you got all smartened up in your uniform, ready to do your job [Mrs. Rosewall served with the Auxiliary Territorial Service in World War Two]. And then you would go to work, to whatever job you were doing. Cooks wore clogs, whites and white turbans, for the cookhouse, that was their job. The office members, like secretaries, typists, this kind of thing, they would just be in uniform and if your officer was okay, sometimes you’d just be in shirt and tie. And you’d take your jacket off. But sometimes you couldn’t.
Shirt sleeve order was the order in summer and shirt sleeve order meant you still had a tie, you still had a collar and some of them were starched because we had some nice Chinese people who used to help us starch these, we’d take them. And then we’d put them on and we’d have a tie. But you could roll up your sleeves but it had to be just two inches above the elbow.
One particular posting, I mean, I loved the artillery regiment that we were with and in this book, I’ve got the story in here, about going to Waybourne [Norfolk, UK] on a cadre course. And they drove us from Northumberland or actually, it was Washington County Durham and it was called Black Fell Camp and we called it Black Hell. And they drove us down through to the coast down in Nottingham I think it is and we were there and that’s where the German prisoners were clearing mines off the coast. And that’s where I almost stepped on one. And that’s in my story.
And it was a wonderful experience because there were three batteries, there was 297, 298 and 301 [British heavy artillery units]. And we all went down and they used to run planes with drogues behind them. And artillery was supposed to hit that drogue. Well, I’m not quite sure which battalion did it, which battery did it, but they severed the rope, the tie on the drogue. And that pilot said he wasn’t going back again. And it was kept very hush hush because nobody would admit that they were the ones who had done it. And I don’t think the officers really wanted to know.
And then we went from there, I went back to Black Fell. I was posted. I did not like being in the officer’s mess, didn’t like that very much. I felt I could be doing something more useful than waiting on these people. And so they posted me to what they called a CRU, Civilian Rehabilitation Unit. And that civilian rehabilitation unit, we had got people coming back from Japan then and they had been prisoners of war. And this camp was the most relaxed camp, they were officers but, well, you sat next down, so there was a colonel next to you, so what? And they had waitresses who served and you know, it was just a very relaxed, easy.
The house was built in 1503. It was in Knutsford, Cheshire, and it had those gorgeous old mansion that had its church and there was even, what did they call them, like when they, they laid out the forms of the knights on tombs. And they even had two or three of those in this little church, in this place. And it was a wonderful posting and it was just before I got out and they said, well, yes, you can go out but you can come back but in 56 days, you’ve got to make up your mind. So I went out and I went and I got a job at home and I thought, this is just too much. So I went back. And so of course, that’s my service was just was sort of interrupted but they used to give you 50 days paid leave. And so if you went back, you’d just picked up your number, you picked up just exactly where you left off.
And that’s when I went to Chester and funnily enough, I had started out there and we billeted in a house along Chester’s walls and it was lovely. And when I went back, we were billeted in the castle in H blocks of Chester castle. And it was great, we just walked along the river, across the suspension bridge and I was a company clerk in A company. Yeah. And that’s where that little red tag is downstairs.