"But it wasn’t over really because the Russians, they wanted to take over everything that they’d freed."
Well, I was born in Middlesbrough, Yorkshire, England. My childhood, actually, I went through, right through the war, the bombings and everything. We had an air-raid shelter right at the back garden. And also if there was three air raids a night, then we didn’t have to go to school the next day. So lots of times, we wished that, but we shouldn’t have. But it was a, a case of just going through the war, and it lasted in England for six years. It started in1939. And then when I reached 17, I got my papers from the army saying that I had to report for a medical and also an IQ test. So they asked me on the form, it said, what do you want to go in and I put down Navy, Air Force and Army. But I should have reversed it because I ended up in the Army actually.
But as far as childhood, it was, as I say, it was normal. We’d get up sometimes and the next day and this house would be blown up and this house had been blown up. And, and then they’d report at school every day who had been killed and wouldn’t be at school. And then another thing they did was when England declared war on Germany, we thought it was going to be in Germany. So we went to school and then all of a sudden, the bombers came over and they’d sent the sirens on. and the teachers, they didn’t know what to do. So they just sent us home. So all us kids were running out and around, they didn’t have an air-raid shelter built in the school at the time. And after the bombings, they did get them built out in the playgrounds. So we’d go out there when there was an air raid during school, but if the bomb dropped right on an air-raid shelter, well then, you were gone anyways.
We went right to Graz in Austria and that was the main station. And once again, it was all guard duties and all that type of thing. Then I went to Vienna to do guard duty in Schönbrunn Palace, an outpost called Semmering. And it was just to check all the people going through. I had to go down to the train every night and I had an interpreter with me. He was a, an architect before they had pulled him into the war. And then there was two Russians used to go down too. And one day, Joseph Cotton was going through, him and his wife, to make The Third Man in Vienna. And the Russians took them off because their papers weren’t correct. So I had to call Field Security Service and they came up and they managed to get them free and they came into the house, got the papers straightened out and then they went on to Vienna.
The reason we were there, after we’d got there, we found out, first of all, why were we in there, because the war was over. But it wasn’t over really because the Russians, they wanted to take over everything that they’d freed. So, they were in Vienna, but the Americans were in Vienna also, and then French, and then the British. And so we used to do guard duties and you wouldn’t dare walk on the sidewalks where the Russians were doing guard duty because they would just plain shoot you and that’s all. They weren’t the nicest people, that’s for sure. And otherwise, I, well, the only thing was, what I didn’t like about the army was you weren’t allowed to think. You just did what they said you had to do each day.
Austria was beautiful because they hadn’t really bombed Austria because there was no machinery or factories or anything like that in Austria. But going through Germany, it was completely down. All you could see was the cathedrals of the church and that’s all, but all of Germany was pretty much bombed through. And when we were going through and the train stopped, there was always little kids by the side of the trains that didn’t have homes, didn’t have clothes, anything. And so you’d always give them something, food, chocolate bars or something like that. But Austria itself was just absolutely beautiful, mountains and scenery was out of this world.
The prisoners that were still prisoners weren’t let go until the Nuremburg Trials and to find out what they had been doing. And some of them prisoners would give me letters to give to the post office so that their wives could know what was going on. And then the wives would meet me down in the market and give me letters to give to the prisoners.
I got out of the Armed Forces in1949, and then I immigrated in 1951.