Pte. Kenneth James Wells 14559924
.....Before enlisting into the Army I worked for Frost Stores, a little shop here in Littlehampton, working behind the counter cutting and selling bacon. The local ladies would ask for me by name as I would always give them extra cheese and make the slices of bacon a little bit thicker when the Manager wasn't looking as I knew from my mother how hard times were with the rationing being on, the Ration Coupons didn’t get you much during the war. They would show their gratitude by slipping me the odd packet of fags under the counter.
.....I decided to enlist, I was almost 18 years old 18th March 1943, my mother was worried at first but after a while resigned herself to the inevitable. I volunteered to join the Navy but apparently the Navy didn’t want anybody at the time, I chose the Navy because all my family were Navy men.
.....I had to attend a medical for fitness assessment which was carried out in Brighton, this went fine and was informed that I should receive my call up papers as soon as I turned 18 and low and behold I did, about two weeks before my 18th Birthday. I was to report to Fulford Barracks York my mother started to fret then for I had never been away from home before, I assured her that I would be fine and not to worry. I boarded a train bound for Victoria Station, London and struck up a conversation with a passenger who informed me that to reach York I needed to get to Kings Cross Station first and the turmoil at Victoria left me bewildered and replied, how do I do that then? He said I going that way myself, I’ll show you, and so we journeyed on the Underground together, at Kings Cross I thanked him and we parted company. At Kings Cross I boarded the train for York and was in the company of eight young men going to Fulford Barracks, for their six weeks training. The first thing that hit me was the thousands of troops stationed there also the biggest Mess Hall I have ever seen, I shall never forget it, what I shall always remember was the A.T.S. girls there dishing up our food and I’ll never forget, they all had clogs on, they wore clogs because of the stone floor, which was always wet, what a racket these clogs made as they went to and fro. The food was plentiful and not bad at all. We attended Sunday parades, which took place at York Minster Cathedral marching to Church with the Regimental Band.
.....When my six weeks extensive training was over I was given two weeks leave at the end of which I was to report to Brock Barracks, Reading, Berkshire, on arrival I was told not to unpack my kit because I would be leaving early tomorrow by Troop Train for Colchester Army barracks and would be undergoing weapons training consisting of such weapons as the Bren-gun. I found I was a natural at stripping the weapon down and reassembling it, so much so I done it in record time according to the Instructor and won an award for it. One lad said to me that I shouldn’t have done it so fast, when I asked him why he said ‘you’ll get collared for everything if you do that’, I said, oh well you got to do your best. On the firing range, I hit five possible bulls and an officer came up to me and said where did you learn to shoot like that? I said ‘well I used to a bit at home you know, used to do a bit of rabbit shooting’, he replied, this is a different thing with a rifle like this. I said, ‘well it’s the same thing your eye’s, I have an eye for it’.
.....By this time events were moving quite fast, back at the Barracks they said, you’re going into the 6th Battalion the Royal Berkshire Regiment and you’re going to join them at Aylesbury. Funny thing happened to me just a short time after arriving at my new posting, this Sergeant Major came up to me, his name was XXXX as I recall, Sergeant Major XXXX, he looked at me, and said, your from Littlehampton, Whick, I said, that’s right, I knew your old dad, I said, did you? He used to work on the council, I had the pub in Littlehampton, The White Heart pub, I said well I’m blowed, he finished by adding, just because I know you don’t mean to say your going to get any favoritism, I said, I know that, mind you he was quite a nice bloke. When we finished our training at Aylesbury, we used to go on a lot of route marches, trench digging and parades and also had live ammunition training some fired by us and some at us, over our heads while we were on the assault courses. On one occasion we went down to Ilford in the East End of London, a place known then as China Town we were transported by Army lorries every morning, it was derelict from the air raids then, we were giving training in street fighting which we did for about four weeks, what the hell that was for I don’t know.
Pte. Kenneth James Wells