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Home <> Lifestory Library <> Pick of The Week <> Terrible local beer




  Contributor: Ron LevettView/Add comments



Ron Levett's memories of his time in the British Liberation Army during World War II.

Ron Levett, born in Alfriston, East Sussex, enlisted in 1943 and joined the Royal Armoured Corps. After completing his training as a Driver Operator he was sent to Belgium to join the British Liberation Army, where he was posted to the Royal Scots Grays and then to the Regimental Headquarters (RHQ) signals troop. Their task was to liberate Belgium, Holland and ultimately Germany. This is his story.

We were taken by truck through Weert and along the road, which ran beside the canal, to a small village called Someren Heide. The village consisted of one road with a school, a church, a pub and a number of small houses strung along it.

I was told that I was now in the Regimental Headquarters (RHQ) signals troop and would billet with about six other men in the loft of the school. This was reached by means of a ladder and a door in the end of the gable.

The floor was bare but along the side, in the eaves was a deep layer of straw. This was the obvious place to lay our bedrolls and we found it to be surprisingly warm, even though the temperature in early December had dropped to just above freezing point.

The school buildings were used as officer's billets, cookhouse and mess. RHQ had four Sherman tanks on its strength, one for the Commanding Officer, one for the Second in Command, one for the Regimental Signals Officer and one for the RHQ Troop Sergeant. They were parked alongside the school building together with various other vehicles such as a White scout car, a number of Humber scout cars and an even bigger number of Jeeps.

I was assigned to the Troop Sergeant's tank as wireless operator. He was an Irishman named O'Connell, and seemed quite reasonable to get along with.

About a mile from the school was a cart lodge that had been requisitioned as cookhouse and mess hall for other ranks. Some trestle tables and benches had been procured from somewhere and we ate our meals on them.

Small farm tracks ran off at right angles to the main road through the village leading to the outlying farms. On a Sunday the men from these farms congregated in the only pub, which happened to be the only warm place that we could find, so it became rather congested. The local beer smelt terrible and tasted even worse but it was better than nothing, but only just!

Ron Levett, 2001

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