Veteran Stories:
Kenneth “Ken” Greenhalgh

Army

  • Ken Greenhalgh.

    Ken Greenhalgh
  • Ken Greenhalgh, shortly after enlistment in the British Army, 1942.

    Ken Greenhalgh
  • Ken Greenhalgh, Tel Aviv, Palestine, 1945.

    Ken Greenhalgh
  • Ken Greenhalgh and an unnamed lorry driver, Rome, Italy, 1944.

    Ken Greenhalgh
  • Ken Greenhalgh near the front, Italy, 1944.

    Ken Greenhalgh
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"And we were keeping our eye on them, at the same time we could see the battle going on down below, which was a nasty one."

Transcript

I went in for signals because two of my mates went in as well. We did a little training in England, I think about three months with signals, picking up the Morse Code, of course, which was around then. And then we were shipped abroad and we went to South Africa, Cape Town. From South Africa, we went to North Africa. Now, we found after that they kept us down there for the three months because the push was on El Alamein, to push the Germans out and we didn’t want to get involved in that too much. So we waited until they’d started and were pushing them to Tunis [Tunisia], the Jerries [nickname for the Germans].

And so we went up there, we went to Derna [Libya], they were nearly deserted towns then, Bizerta [Tunisia], and we ended up in Tunis, just as the Germans were being pushed out. We just saw the end of it. So from there, we went across to Sicily. I was there for, how long, we were pushing the Germans out and I was there for about four months. And then they pushed them out and a bit later on, I can’t specifically say dates because everything was so rushed at that time, but from there, we went across to Italy, Anzio. So we landed in [HMS] Azalea at Anzio and we joined up.

The thing was, our unit, we were a special wireless unit. We’d had two vans with aerials and we used to follow a German division across the front and take down all what they were talking about to one another. We joined up, we were with the Americans, we were with the Canadians. We were with the Polish Division, you know, wherever this German division was, we’d move across with it. And if they moved in front of another division, like Canadian, Polish, whatever, we’d join that division. The [Fallschirm-Panzer] Göring Division, that was one of them, we were chasing them for quite a while, Hermann Göring Division.

We had the special boys in with us, the intelligence. There were three of them in the van and when we took something down, we’d just wave it to them, they’d come over and they’d look at it to see if it’s worth sending through to headquarters. Many times it was because they were on the move, this Hermann Göring, so they had to keep up with them. One minute they were there and the next minute, they weren’t. So they wanted to know where each division was, you see.

I was an operator. I sat in front of a wireless set, wireless, and you just turned the dial. You see a big dial in the front, you’d turn that until you heard German and then you, and we’re off. On duty, there were about four of us, each time, there were about three shifts, you see, about 12 operators altogether. The only scary time was when we were going down a pass or we were just about to go down the pass, around this mountain, you see. And suddenly, we saw another heavily armoured group approaching the pass from the other end. So we thought, well, that’s funny because we were usually told if there’s our troops around. So we thought, well, we’ll wait a minute and hang on there, until somebody screamed, “They’re Jerries!” It was a German division coming up the other end and we were … That was very fast. We just turned around and bolted, I don’t know where we went.

And also we were at Cassino [Italy]. We were just above Cassino, so we had a good view of the battle down below because we had to get up high for our aerials, you see. And the division, Herman Göring I think, they were in, oh no, they were paratroopers. We had the Hermann Göring Division next door to Cassino. And we were keeping our eye on them, at the same time we could see the battle going on down below, which was a nasty one.

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