World War 1 Memoirs
Father’s WW1 Memoirs - Private W J Fletcher 138933 Bom 1s t Feb 1895 Died 16th
1915 33rd Division, Grove Park and Reading - Wolesley 3 ton
1915 (Christmas) 56th Division to France
1916 33rd Division - Bethune, France - Daimler CB 2 ton
I will begin in July 1914, which found me at Dennis’s works Woodbridge Guildford. 1
was in the Components shop under Mr. Warrener. In our shop was a German (name
forgotten) He with a fitter and myself had a special job o f making the landing gear for an
airship (Parsifal). Some of us in the shop wondered and discussed why this man was on
this work and with me had big blueprints laid out on the bench and had some of the
draughtsmen out to see to the details as they came up in the job. We did a week’s work
and the gear was sent over to the Farnborough Aircraft works. Being close to this Jerry I
often asked his opinion on the articles which towards the end o f the month came into the
papers. He was very noncommittal in his talk After August Bank Holiday it was the
custom to close the works for a week, now however we had to keep on with several new
type lorries for the War Department. The Saturday before war was declared “Jerry” took
his money and on the Monday did not turn up with the rest of us. We never found out
where he went. No doubt he had his orders from the “Fatherland” and got out before such
as he was detained.
I think we had a few days off in the holiday week and had letters calling us back. I had
meanwhile heard o f a job in Bristol through a friend of Father’s and worked on lorries for
the RNAS for a few months at the Tramways Dept. Then many hours of overtime told on
my health and 1 was home ill for a few weeks. When 1 recovered 1 got back into the
Garage at Guildford where I had served my time (apprenticeship?) Several of the staff
had gone to the army. I had tried but was not up to the full standard o f measurements.
However I did good work in the garage. There were big camps being built near
Godalming and the contractors always wanted cars to run from camp to camp. 1 did heaps
o f repairs too. A few long runs came in for officers who wanted to see various Generals to
be drafted into their favourite units. One run took me for a weekend to Swanage and
Frome, the many hours overtime did not tell on me here as there was so much open air
work. (He had had polio as a child) I tried to join up again after a few months but the
standard was still high and I went on working. I now had a week at home (Oakhill) and
went to Bristol to have another shot. Lorry drivers were wanted and when I tried at the
Colston Hall there was no hitch and I was up to standard now. I had to pass an exam in
engine questions etc but that held no fears for me and I passed them all. In 1930 (at his
garage in Castle Cary) an Insurance assessor came to look at a smash job and I met the
man who had passed me again.
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