By Len A.Hynds

After being in the Queens Regiment Cadets from the age of 14, and then becoming a dispatch rider in The City Of London Fusilier Home Guard Regiment, which consisted of all London Postmen, and as Alf was a messenger boy riding a motor cycle delivering telegrams, he was a natural to do that job, with his red motor cycle painted khaki. He tried several times to join the navy but it was discovered that he had been telling lies about his age, and was sent home again, once from the training depot at Portsmouth.

At seventeen at last he was called into the navy and after training volunteered for one of the many specialist units that were being prepared for the invasion of Europe.

In his new small unit, were soldiers, sailors and airmen, and they wore a combined operations flash on their sleeves. He wore khaki uniform with a sailors hat, and his specialist unit were to land in France with the first wave, and advance with the forward troops to high ground, where they would erect and operate a radar station immediately, to scan the English Channel, and the invasion fleet of many thousands of ships, but more importantly to warn of any approaching German naval units from the North.

They had landed with the Canadians, and fought their way ashore, but in the advance, a critical part of their radar equipment had been damaged in the fighting. A replacement part was in their follow up equipment still in England, so an urgent radio message was sent for it to be extracted and put on a fast motor torpedo boat to speed it across to the Canadians beach, and Alf was sent on his motor-bike back to the beach to collect the vital part.

They were very exposed in their hill top position and within firing range of the fluid front line, but Alf memorised his journey back to the beach, seeing troops on either side digging-in to hold the beachhead, and firing ahead.

He met the MTB, put the part safely wrapped in his pannier, and drove back to his unit. It was now getting dusk and he knew that when he crossed a river bridge he was getting close.

Suddenly in the flashes of gunfire in the sky he saw the bridge, but his heart sank when he saw that it had been blown up, and there was now a gaping hole. A soldier was standing there waving a shielded red hurricane lamp stopping anybody driving into the river.

Alf stopped, put the bike on its stand as the soldier walked towards him. With horror he saw that the soldier was wearing a German uniform, with the coal scuttle steel helmet on his head. Neither could speak the others language, but the German pointed to a nearby hut and led Alf towards it. He opened the door, and Alf could see that it contained about ten German soldiers, all smoking and drinking coffee. No one could speak English, and they made space for him on the wooden bench seat, and one of them poured him a cup of coffee. Another offered him an English cigarette, which obviously had been taken from the body of a dead English soldier.

Alf realised that an officer would appear eventually and he would be taken behind the enemy lines and into captivity.

Suddenly the door opened, and two British Royal Engineer Sergeants came in, and Alf gave a sigh of relief, at no longer being alone amidst the enemy. He asked them if they had been captured, and they both burst out laughing. They then informed him that it was their job to try and repair the bridge the following day, and the Germans were the prisoners, collected that day from the large group on the beach. Asked why they had been left without a guard, was told, "These lads are alright, only too pleased to be out of it. We heard that there was a certain hostelry down the road that still had a drink, and we heard right."

How typically British!