How I Went To War - 5
Parkestone Quay, Harwich
A month passed without engaging any enemy aircraft and then we were on the move again, this time without our guns bound for Parkestone Quay at Harwich.
Me manning the Lewis Gun
Here our function was to man Lewis guns on the dockside presumably to give light AA support and security of the dock facilities, close to a large Royal Navy submarine depot ship, “HMS Cyclops.”
HMS Cyclops circa 1943
The ship possessed strong AA defences with 4.7 inch guns and multiple lighter weapons so that our contribution seemed somewhat ludicrous. In addition, our experience of firing the Lewis machine gun was very limited. The weather by that time was bitterly cold and the only shelter we had was in the empty warehouse with its concrete floor on which we had to sleep on our straw-filled palliasses. The only heating was a small electric fire in the tiny office where the telephone was located.
Of particular interest were the comings and goings of the ‘S’ Class submarines serviced by this huge ship; the celebrations on their return safely to port; and the sad departures on yet another patrol.
S Class Submarine
One surprise was the appearance of a Dutch vessel which we assumed had been delivering onions - but why was she really there?
After four freezing weeks at Parkstone we entrained once more heading for Blandford Camp in Dorset for lectures, square-bashing and to be reinforced by conscripted soldiers. They had received a much better training than us and would be a great asset to the Regiment.
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