WWII Written accounts By Troop Sgt, Bernard Kaye No: 2073747 Royal Engineers 16th Assault Sqd

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7 Our OC at this time was a regular army man who had served much of his time in India and had all the markings of a ‘pukka sahib. He tended to treat all those of lower rank as some kind of inferior life form. I did not enjoy being spoken into atone which suggested that I was of an inferior nature. As a young man I was a highly skilled craftsman who had his work on display at the Manchester School of Art and whose work was highly prized. I had volunteered for the army and did not see why I should be treated in this way. Clearly I still had a lotto learn about the army where abilities count for little other than being of smart appearance on parade and upcoming with the right answers when questioned. It did not take our OC long to take action over what could have been a nasty tragedy. If these explosives had gone off it would have caused destruction and carnage in Sible Hedingham. To this extent I had to grudgingly admire the major autocrat and military snob. Unfortunately the major now made a cardinal blunder. He issued an order that on a certain day the camp was to be cleared of entirely of personnel with the exception of himself and the Sergeant Major. Together they would detonate the explosives using a small amount at a time and using sandbags to absorb the shock waves. This may sound reasonable but to Sappers who had seen the effects of explosives inbuilt up areas in France were glad not to be included in this scheme! On the day appointed everyone was ordered out of camp and it was significant that no one was tempted to disobey this order! I personally was designing a sewerage system for a hutted camp some miles away which was for the Americans who had now entered the war in readiness forD Day. Suffice it to say that I heard the sound of explosives and wondered what was on.going When we returned to camp that evening we learned of the damage which our misguided OC had brought about. We learned that thousands of windows had been smashed and doors blown off. The good citizens of Sible Hedingham were not amused and we became the sounding boards for anger when we were given the task of assessing the damage the following day. The extent of the damage was unimaginable Hitler would have been proud to have owned up to it! We used our engineering and trades skills to make short work of repairing the damage and the Major was never seen again!
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