I am sharing my father’s memoirs of growing up in World War Two/
I was 11 years of age in July 1938 and having passed the scholarship, I started my secondary education at the Wheelwright Grammar School for Boys in Dewsbury in September 1938.
The school which catered mainly for paying pupils but which admitted a small percentage of scholarship boys had an Army Cadet Force which accepted pupils from the age of 12 years i.e. secnd year pupils. The school Cadets were affiliated to the Kings Own Yorkshire Light Infantry whose Territorial Army battalion trained nearby.
I joined the Cadets in 1939 and wore their uniform of peaked cap, belted tunic, jodphur trousers and putees. Training in arms drill, marching etc took place once a week on Fridays after lessons finished.
The Second World War was started in September 1939. I remained in the school Cadets until 1942 and then my interest being really the Royal Navy, I joined the Sea Cadet Corps in June 1943 just before my 16th birthday. I also left school in July that year with no particular thoughts on what I wanted to do as my sole aim was to get into the Royal Navy as soon as I could although there was no way in the midst of a war that my parents would give their consent to such a move.
I therefore took a job as an apprentice in a steel construction works until I was old enough to volunteer.
Although I was actually in a reserved occupation, I persuaded my parents to let me volunteer when I was 17 years of age. They must have had some heart-searching to allow me to volunteer as this was not long after the D-Day invasion of Europe in 1944 and of course the war in the Far East looked like being a long drawn out affair.
Suffice to say that immediately on reaching the age of 17 years, I went to the Recruiting Office in Leeds to volunteer. I didn’t really know what I wanted to be but some of my school friends were a little older than me were already in the R.N. and were training to be wireless mechanics and so I put that down.
I was told I would have to attend a medical examination in due course but the in any event the Navy could not accept me until I was 17 and a half years of age.
A few weeks later, I was called to attend at Leeds for a medical among a number of other young men, one of whom was Alan Jackson, also a volunteer, 3 days older me who came from Wetherby. We both passed the medical and went back to our jobs (he was a gardener with Harrogate Corporation) to await our actual call up.
Alan (better known subsequently as “Ginger”) and I were thrown together at various times and became firm friends which friendship continued after we left the service.
I waited anxiously for the time to come when I would be 17 and a half years old in January 1945.