Len’s war years – As told by his daughter
23.09.1940 to 26.08.1941
During the London Blitz Len served with the 52nd (London) Heavy Anti-Aircraft Regiment. 313 AA Battery stationed at Hyde Park Corner together with gunners on the Ack Ack guns shooting down enemy aircraft. He told me “how he gave the order to fire when the aircraft was near to the guns to ensure a hit.” The gunners said “he had nerves of steel” Unfortunately, whilst on the guns one night their barracks were hit and all of his mates were killed.
8/10/1941 Dad left the UK.
14/10/1941 Arrived in West Africa. He served with the 82nd WA (West African) Division as a Bombardier. In The Gambia and Nigeria. He trained Nigerian soldiers until 09/12/1943. Promoted to Sergeant 7/11/1943. This Division completed extensive jungle training in West Africa before heading to India, then Burma. Dad said “the Nigerian soldiers were some of the best soldiers he had trained.”
The 82nd WA Division was secretly assembled as part of XV Indian Corps’. Formed in August 1943.
Dad served in India/Burma. 10/12/1943 to 06/05/1945 Fought in 1944-45 campaign in the Arakan, Burma.
In September 1944 the 82nd Division began its move into Arakan, Burma. The Division moved down into the Kalapanzian valley which was the scene of a bitter battle. The country was suited to the Japanese fighting techniques, the roads were impassable, and they faced the 55th Japanese Division which has caused the XV India Corps trouble in previous battles’.
Tribute by the Japanese to West African Divisions:
“The enemy soldiers are not from Britain but are from Africa. Because of their beliefs, they are not afraid to die, so even if their commanders have fallen, they keep on advancing as if nothing had happened. It makes things rather difficult. They have excellent physique and are very brave, so fighting against these soldiers is somewhat troublesome. At any rate, they do not know the true worth of our soldiers.”
Dad returned home 07/05/1945 to 30/09/1946 serving at home until he was released from the Army on 10/10/1946
He was commended with the 1939-45 Defence medal and the Burma Star.