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A Shout From The Attic: Not On My Shield, But...

Ronnie Bray tells of the day he left the British Army.

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… and the sailor home from the sea

My demobilisation from the colours was a low-key affair conducted by soldiers who were as green-eyed as Jealousy herself that they were doing for me what they desired someone to do for them.

Aldershot is a famous place in British Army history, though I was fortunate only to visit once, and that for a short period when I was demobbed and sent back to Civvy Street, to take up the reins of civilian life I had let fall three years earlier.

My demob outfit consisted of a brown double breasted, pin stripe suit, underwear, a couple of shirts, a tie, shoes, a rainmac, and a trilby hat. Not high fashion, but serviceable until I could get something more suitable. Perhaps I ought not to complain at what I got because I chose them myself, but you should have seen what I rejected.

I was given a travel warrant that I exchanged for a rail ticket at Aldershot railway station, and went home with four years to serve in the Army Reserve. I remember nothing about the journey back to Huddersfield, except that it was a lot colder than I had been led to expect, and my family had fled to Redcar for their annual holiday. I took a train, and joined them at Mrs Kitchen’s lodging house at number eight, Station Road.

England was reeling from an August heat wave that year but I was almost blue with cold, for heat wave is a relative term, and relative to Cyprus, England, including Redcar, was quite chilly. Yet it was good to be back among my family after an absence of almost a year and a half, and they made me welcome.

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