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The wartime story of S/115863 Staff Serjeant Edwin John Inge

Like so many of his generation, Edwin (Ted) Inge was called up to fight in World War Two. This is his story as told to his daughter, the story of a very ordinary man who, along with thousands of others, was called upon to do his bit.

And Now, The End Is Near

Our first few days were uneventful, as we waited for our Base Depot to get organised, and we spent them sight-seeing finding, among other things, gardens abandoned but with supplies of new potatoes which we 'liberated' and strawberries. In truth it was stealing, but if we had not eaten them they would have gone to waste I am sure. The nights were rather noisy because we suffered air-raids from dusk to dawn. The very small area of land that had been captured made an easy target for the German bombers – they had to hit something!

Ted in his 'office'

For thirty-seven consecutive nights we had these raids and then they stopped and never re-started. By this time we had occupied deserted buildings for our stores and trade was brisk! The greatest difficulty was trying to estimate how many troops were relying on us for food and other items. The figure was never constant and movement of troops was enormous. But we managed to satisfy most people and comradeship was first class. Even when times were grim, and the first few weeks undoubtedly were, there was usually something to brighten the scene. All in all, our unit was lucky – we all came through safely and stuck together with very few changes through France, Belgium and finally to Germany, which I left in February 1946 to come home at last.

There are lots other anecdotes worth telling which occurred during my 'European holiday', after the period from the 'break-out' from Normandy to the day that I was demobbed after 6½ years - the latter event, believe it or not, at Shorncliffe! How's that for a full circle? But this would require a sequel to this effort...

I often wonder how many other old boys from Harvey Grammar School took part in the early days of the Normandy invasion – I can't have been the only one, but I hope if there were any, they, like me, eventually came home unscathed, for which I am truly thankful.

Samuel Pepys or Mrs Dale?

In the summer of 2004, my father decided to obtain a copy of the War Diaries for his unit from the National Archives in order to retrace his steps from the early days of the Normandy campaign. Once these were located, a huge box arrived, containing the daily record of events, reports on operations, intelligence summaries, etc, for 146 Detail Issue Depot (DID.), from March 1944 to December 1945. Sadly there were no records for April or May 1944, which are presumed by the National Archives not to have survived or were, perhaps, deliberately destroyed prior to the invasion. In what I assume is typical military fashion many of the pages contain no information whatsoever as clearly every page had to be completed even when there was a 'nil' return. However, what was more interesting was the handwriting, which was instantly recognizable as my father's. Strangely he doesn't specifically remember writing the unit war diary although the hand is unmistakably his, his neat rather old-fashioned 'copper plate' style having not changed at all in the intervening 60 years. What follows in the next editions is his summary of the information contained in the diary.

Ghent. Some of 146 DID Winter 1944-45

Ghent. Some of 146 DID Winter 1944-45

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