Here along the Hove Brighton waterfront is where this prairie kid enjoyed walking along the seawall especially if the waves were high and the spray flying. Nels Humble and I often walked along here at the close of day. Of course the beach and the famous pier were all closed and the beach mined and barbed wire along the seawall. Also here I was told in early December that I would be taking part in the 5th Division assault course. I started a bit of training by jogging and walking for miles along the waterfront through Brighton and on to another town east of there. Either just on our Batteries' return to Nutley, or just before, I reported to the Assault school which if memory is correct was held on the estate of Lord Abergovenay. That does not seem the right spelling. This estate ran from inland right down to the coast. The Owner's insignia was a Bull's head with three links of chain marking his lane holdings. The first morning were were awakened by a terrific blast of explosive to sound reveille. Well it not only woke us up it blew down a couple of tents. The engineer sgt, in charge of setting the blast got a bit carried away with the amount used. After a cold water wash and shave I went to run to breakfast and in my hurry I tripped in the blasted hole on the road ripping my hand open and filling the ripped wound with pieces of asphalt These had to be extracted from under the tendons in my palm. Fortunately it healed nicely before the course had begun. I do not think that I had any stitches or missed my breakfast, but had a pretty sore hand.
I seem to remember on arriving at the camp that all personnel newly arrived were taken by truck some six or seven miles away and unloaded. And at the starter's pistol we had to run back to where we had our tents. There were 150 of us that were on the run and some really fast moving chaps. We ran in ammunition boots shirts and gym shorts. I remember that I came in about 16th out of the 150, bloody good show I thought as it was up and down hill and quite muddy. This was just a sample what we would go through the next 20 days, and likely was the easiest.
The next 20 days were something else. The B half of the group 75 of us were under Capt Mahony [winner in a couple of years the VC in Italy at the Melfa River ] In our squad or I guess section we had twelve or fourteen people. Lt Hoot Gibson and I from the 17th RCA Blackie Rowe Perth battalion, a couple of Westminster's and Cape Breton Highlanders .
I don't remember all the Cape Breton highlanders and that was over sixty years ago so I will stick with the ones I remember the best. Blackie Rowe as a Sgt at the Gothic line in Italy was decorated with theDCM for a bayonet charge, an attack in 1944. I will not go on and on regarding the next twenty days but just the highlights as I saw them . But I did lose twenty pounds in 19 days and could run like a grey hound. I did not win the commando knife but was written up in orders for a great showing at the assault course..