Aberdeen Scotland, March 1945. I really do not know how interesting to you reading about Sid and I on leave. I must say it was pretty tame up to now. On one of the days Sid, Drew, [cousin in the RN], and I were roaming around Aberdeen likely getting the odd drink in a bar here and there. I think it was Drew decided he would like a photo of the three of us. As we were about to enter the photographer's Drew caught hold of a couple of girls walking by and being a very good looking young sailor they could not refuse his charm.
I have a picture of Sid, Drew and I plus two Aberdeen girls, identity unknown, and we never did know who they were.
It was all set up so I thought I would meet her across the street from the restaurant. The best laid plans went aft tae glae,[ so Robbie Burns said ]. Yes I stood around at the appointed spot and the girl was a no show. Now with my ego I could not believe that would happen. Nothing to do but return to my Aunt Cis and report to being stood up. That damn Sid said he knew she would not show as he told her that I would not show. With a friend like that who wanted any enemies?
My cousin Margaret was staying with my aunt and uncle. Margaret had been engaged to a chap in the Highland division who had fought across the desert only to lose his life in Sicily. Margaret thought Sid pretty special and accompanied us on a night on the town.
Soon we were to catch the train out of Aberdeen and journey south and check in at Camp Borden, the artillery holding unit in England. I think that the reason that our Aberdeen stay was so enjoyable was in our hearts there was a few times in Italy that we could only dream of surviving. So here we were, Sid and I being treated as if we were sons of the family, a warm cheery household in fact we did not want it to end. My aunt Cis found out from Sid that in all the years he had been overseas he had never written his mother. Sid used to say when asked why that no news was good news and if he started to write regular like the rest of us did and the letters stopped he said then his mother would really worry. He promised my aunt Cis he would write his mother, but I do not know if he did or not as history will tell Sid was badly wounded a month to the day after we left Aberdeen.
Arriving at the artillery holding unit we were immediately looked out for by Major RJ Wood who was second in command of the holding unit commanded by a Colonel Townsley. Also Lt Fred Schwab, hearing we were around joined us. Fred was a member of the 17th RCA before getting his commission and was on staff here at the holding unit. We spent a few hours with the two of them as they wanted to hear all what had happened to us, and in particular, and who was still alive and how did the regiment do in action.
I must admit by the time they poured us on the train to Brighton we were fairly well oiled so to speak. We were taken to the railway station by staff car and driver with Sid and I seated in the back seat and Fred and RJ Wood in the front seat. When arriving at the railway station Fred opened the door with a gracious gesture and a salute. Then both officers carried our kit bags to the train, and saluted us on board. All this to the absolute astonishment of some military police and other soldiers and officers standing around. I guess they could not help but wonder about a staff car, a Major, and a LT seeing a sergeant and a sergeant major to the train. Just who and what were these two chaps?? Well we boarded the train after all this fanfare and off to Brighton.