|Ismailia, Unknown Soldier War Memorial|
A letter from my Grand-Uncle Dick about his time in the RAF, and how he blagged his brother- my granddad- into something which I guess was quite illegal. I used it for the basis of this poem.
Dear Jan and Christine,
I am writing this only once, so one of you is going to get a Xerox copy.
Did I ever tell you about Granville when we all met in Egypt in 1966 or 67, and Reg and I promoted Granville to Sergeant, much to our “WORRY” and Granville to “BIG FEAR.”
After Reg and Granville bumped into each other in Ismailia on the Suez Canal he had decided that he would come up again, a week or so later, to see Reg again, stay the weekend.
It was quite a way for Granville to come and after a few hours Granville decided to stay overnight and would get a bed in the airman's bunk. Reg said he would take him down there and get him fixed up.
Incidentally we were both Flight Sergeants, with single bunks and rooms in the Sargent's Mess. The Holiest of Holies to a ranker.
G said, "He'll feel a little uncomfortable there with a shower of airmen.”
Now, only two weeks previously we had both moved our beds into one room and made the empty room into a nice little lounge, with other chairs pinched from the Sgt's mess store room, radio and drinks cabinet. Nice and cosy!!
So I said, “Let Granville have my bed and I'll sleep on the floor in the lounge.”
G got some spare biscuits (mattresses) from a spare bunk so was reasonably OK. He even had my b___ sheets. The things I do for you lot at Winsford.
So the night passed off uneventfully, everyone slept well.
In the morning, another problem arose- BREAKFAST.
Once again Reg said that he would take him down to the airman's dining hall to get him a breakfast.
But once again Flt Sgt Taylor came to the rescue.
I had a South African Tunic, it was a better material than the RAF issue, and was khaki.
I said let Granville wear it and we'll take him into the mess for breakfast.
Granville said “Christ no I'm not doing that!”
Anyway, after a lot of persuasion “and briefing” he decided to risk it.
Don't worry; if we didn't think it possible we would never have attempted it.
We said to him, “Keep quiet. We'll do the talking.”
We had to take the crowns out of my jacket to bring him down to Sargent.
He was far too young to be a staff Sargent or Colonel Sargent in the army.
So in we went!!
We normally used to always sit at the same table just inside the door.
AND- ALWAYS the senior Warrant Officer in the mess used to join us for breakfast.
He used to say he liked joining us, because we were a happy jolly couple. He himself was a nice old chap. Warrant Officer Wigg.
So this time, with Granville in tow, we decided to get out of the way and go to a table at the far end of the dining room.
Granville was amazed at the waiter service with Fezs, egg, bacon, fried bread, mushrooms, the lot.
BUT, Reg and I were watching out for WO Wigg, when suddenly he walked past the window and entered the dining room, where he stopped DEAD.
Reg said, under his breath, “He's looking for us. Christ, he's seen us!”
Down the centre isle came Wiggy and stopped at our table and took a chair.
“Good morning lads.”
We'd primed Granville to 'stand up and say “Good morning sir.”' We all did.
So we started breakfast when Wiggy said to Reg, “And whom have we here?”
Reg explained that he was his cousin from TeleKabir, near Cairo, and Winsford, and visiting for the weekend.
“Oh, that's nice,” said Wiggy.
And then he suddenly said to Granville, “Well done Seargent, I see that you have the Africa Star medal, well done.”
Granville remained silent. I had qualified for it in my previous overseas tour in the Sudan Eritrea, 1939-42 against the Italians. It was sewn on.
So after a good breakfast Wiggy shook hands with Granville, perhaps thinking that he had earned it with Montie in the Western Desert earlier on.
After breakfast we all went back to our lounge and relaxed. OPERATION SUCCESSFUL. PHEW.