My father, Bill Chambers, joined up in January 1940 and spent the next five years as a Sapper, a private in the Royal Engineers.
He was 28, single and still living at home with his parents in Stockland Green, Birmingham
He was just a normal bloke but the army took him to different countries where he had the most extraordinary experiences. For a lad who had never been out of Birmingham, it was the adventure and the nightmare of a lifetime. He nearly lost his life on many occasions but he also had many funny and poignant experiences too. As a child, I used to love to listen to his funny stories and as I got older, he would share some of his more hair-raising experiences.
Judith Bates 2014
I have always wanted to tell his story but life just seemed to get in the way
Dad passed away in July 2000 but not before he had recounted his experiences to a neighbour on a series of tapes. He was a natural born story teller:
“Well today was Tuesday 9 January 1940, and I had to go and sign on as unemployed. When I got to the counter, this young fellow asked me what my trade was. When I told him I was a cable jointer, he pulled out a big book from under the counter and gave me a trade test on the spot. I bet he didn’t know a stick of polygrip from a blow lamp. He then told me that they needed joiners in Manchester. He didn’t realise they were carpenters, not cable jointers like me. He clearly didn’t have a clue what he was talking about and I had no intention of going to Manchester. I’d never been out of Birmingham. So I just ignored him and walked out of the labour exchange.”