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To War With The Bays: An Introduction To a Tank Gunner's Story

Open Writing is honoured to be allowed to bring you the wartime story of Jack Merewood, a Yorkshireman who served as a tank gunner in the Queen's Bays.

Jack saw action throughout the North African campaign in World War Two and was awarded the military medal. He also fought in France and Italy.

Jack's vivid account of his life as a fighting soldier will be serialised week by week in Open Writing. A new episode will appear every Saturday. Look out for the first episode next week.

Today we present an introduction by Bishop Michael Mann to Jack's vivid account of men in battle.

Jack Merewood joined the Army in October 1939 as a militiaman and did his training with the Royal Armoured Corps at Catterick before joining the Queen's Bays in April 1940. The following month he found himself with the Bays in France when the 1st Armoured Division was sent as part of the abortive British attempt to bolster French resistance following the German breakthrough at Sedan.

The Bays returned to England to re-equip and train, and in 1941 they arrived in the Western Desert in time to take part in the battles around Knightsbridge and the Cauldron. Jack Merewood served as a member of a tank crew all through the North African campaign, winning the Military Medal at Mareth; and later fighting in Italy, where the Bays suffered heavily at Coriano Ridge before the winter's fighting on the Gothic Line. But Jack also took part in the final successful offensive when the German Army in Italy surrendered some days before the end of the fighting in North West Europe.

Jack tells his story as the fighting soldier that he was. Throughout his service he kept a diary, mainly for the benefit of his family; and now they have encouraged him to recall for future generations the feelings generated by his experience of war and especially of the close-knit comradeship of a tank crew facing danger and death together.

Jack's regiment, the Queen's Bays, was joined to the King's Dragoon Guards in 1959, to form the new regiment of 1st The Queen's Dragoon Guards. The QDG, like its forebears, the KDG and the Bays, has carried on their tradition of being a family regiment, and, whether you were a Bay, KDG or QDG, once you wore their cap badge, you were always a QDG. Jack is an old and valued member of that regimental family. It is that family which is honoured to support him in adding his experiences to the tapestry that makes up our regimental story, for that story is the inspiration and example to every member of the family, whether he be an old comrade or a serving soldier. This is the stuff that builds up the regimental tradition and pride which is the backbone of the British Army and the envy of other armies.


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