How Grandad Went to War

   Philip Brewin recalls his part in the early part of WW2

How I Went To War - 15

10th June
Up at first light to find that the lorry and gun are back on the road after help from another vehicle.
A quick wash in a rather filthy pond and we are on our way by 10:00 hrs heading through the lovely countryside of the Orne valley from Normandy into Brittany not without problems caused by the old Dennis lorry.  At every steep hill we need to dismount and give a shove to the whole thing to keep it going.
People in the towns and villages are most kind, to us as we pass through, offering us wine and cider, so by 18:00 hrs, what with the heat and lack of food, we’re feeling very dozy.
About 19:00 hrs the convoy pulls into a tree-lined lane leading to a big house and we spend the night here under camouflage.  We eat some bully beef plus some chocolate which I kept in my respirator haversack.  After a check-up two lads are missing, Ben Herschberg and his pal.
11th June
Still no sign of the two Jewish lads as we wake early and prepare to move on towards Rennes.
From now on, the route turns to a continual switchback of hills and it is now routine to dismount, push, then back on the lorry until the next hill.
We pass through the town of Fougères, a wonderful old town with a castle on a rock.  Near here the railway runs alongside the road and on the outskirts we pass sites where charcoal burners live in rather mean conditions in the woods.


People here are not as friendly as in Normandy but someone gives us a bag of strawberries.  Later, in a village called Liffré we buy some fruit as we are hungry and rather thirsty.
By midday we arrive at Rennes Ordnance Depot with its huge ammo dump hidden in a forest. We are given a meal and remain under camouflage until about 17:00 hrs when we move into a field near the village of Chantepie.
The other Troop have gone to a site on the race-course with better facilities.

Place de République, Rennes

12th June
After a night sleeping on the lorry we begin to set up camp, arranging the guns and Command Post in the best position for a good field of fire, then checking dials and reporting ready for action.
A fatigue party have dug the latrines in a corner of the field and put up the stores tent and cookhouse.  We sleep under gun covers in the hedgerow.  There is no telephone link at present so we cannot receive Met.  reports or early warning of any Jerry activity.
13th June
Some tents arrive and there is much enthusiasm to camouflage them, however, our group prefer at present to stay under the bivouac gun cover.
Off duty in the evening Ted, Alf, Roger and I cadge a lift into Rennes (about six miles away) and are charmed by the picturesque buildings, the canal and the river Vilaine.  There are fine shops and elegant people.
Having spotted a nice restaurant we file in and sit down to a meal of omelettes, bread and real butter, strawberries and cream, beer and coffee - all for only 38 Francs each.  It appears to the kind of place frequented by officers but that doesn’t worry us.  We left heading for camp feeling very satisfied.

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