Arriving in Aldershot we marched from the station to almost the same barracks that we had marched to in 1941. Quite a lot of water had gone under bridges in that time, also we were almost five years older. Once settled in our barracks we had a medical and the instructions how to mark our kit bags and any extra kit or trunks were painted with a mark that designated our destination, least that is the way I remember it. Here we were down to one officer in the battery, Capt Murray Forbes, who would be with us until we arrived back in Indian Head Sask. After documentation that seemed to take some time we were off on Christmas leave.
I had said all my good-byes to all my Scottish relatives on my last leave so I decided to go to Nottingham with Staff Sgt Ed Noseworthy. I had never been in Nottingham, the home of Robin Hood, Sherwood Forest. Ed and I went to an excellent Hotel and acquired a room. Then out on the town for the evening .
This city had recently had thousands of American troops stationed here. But with the war against Japan still on the Americans were almost all gone except administrative staff. Ed and I stepped into the first likely looking pub. On entering we had the feeling we were being undressed. I will explain. Nottingham was a large industrial centre and this centre was probably the largest textile manufacturing city in England. This industry employed thousands of women and in this pub must have been about one hundred women and no men. I know what a girl or women must feel like to walk down a street where there is a couple of hundred soldiers all lined up all eyes on her. It was intimidating for the girl and we sort of felt the same. You may have dreamed of such a situation but to have it happen is a different matter. Ed took this all in stride and we bought a drink and even had a drink sent to our table from a couple of the ladies. I will describe these ladies. Almost all had, while the Americans were here, bleached their hair so were blonds with their own color coming in. Yes the ladies were all ages, young and old. Ed took a liking to one of the ladies who joined us at our table. She brought a friend with her so we were now a foursome. I cannot recall who the girl that was to be my date but she said her folks would only be too glad to feed me Christmas dinner. [She stood me up ]
Looking back on the whole evening this girl lived out through Robin Hood Close and I think the offer that her folks would be glad to feed me Christmas dinner was a way of walking her home through the dark wood. Oh well, I had Christmas dinner at an American kitchen that fed any serviceman that came in. Turkey and all the trimmings and I had a massive drumstick. Ed and his lady friend could not enter as the girl friend was a civilian so Ed ate elsewhere.
Quite a number of English girls were standing outside this American Kitchen hoping to get a Christmas dinner but the American troops would not let them in. Quite a few of these ladies were pregnant and their American boy friends long departed. The up and downside of war. This was a side that happened all over whereever troops had been stationed. Our leave over and back to Aldershot.
Here we put in the time taking trips to London where I knew a couple of Scottish nurses, Win and Helen. I took both girls to the Wind Mill theatre where on entering the theatre we noted, when our eyes became accustomed to the lighting, we were the only young folk in the audience. The rest were a lot of older men who were enthralled with the performance. The nude ladies on stage had to remain perfectly still. The master of ceremonies was going through a lot of suggestive crappy jokes.
After a couple of acts the Scottish nurses said we know you paid a big price for the tickets but we would like to leave and leave we did. The Wind Mill Theatre operated throughout the blitz and ran continuously for twenty or more years but we did not find it to be outstanding.
New Year came and went and we had not been notified when we were to leave England. But along about the 10th of January 1946 we finally were notified no more leaves and to be packed and ready to catch the train on the 14th of January. None of us missed that parade to the train, destination Southampton to board the liner The Queen Elizabeth. We still could not believe we were on our way. We were Going Home.