By Len A.Hynds

I was aged 13, and had worn the Kings uniform for a year, when I had joined the cadet company attached to a Royal Artillery Anti- Aircraft Regiment, by lying about my age, saying that I was three years older at fifteen which allowed me to join. After training I had gone out each night with one of those big mobile guns, attached to the gun crew as a signals runner, onto the streets of London, whilst raids were in progress, and they were firing at the swarms of enemy aircraft overhead. On being promoted to Lance Corporal, I became a guide for service personnel from Waterloo Station to Victoria, in large groups when raids were in progress, as all surface transportation had ceased, and the flood barriers either side of the Thames on the underground railway had to be closed for safety.

It was now 1943, the fourth year of the war, and everybody thought that at sixteen I would be called into the army the following year. I had transferred to a cadet company attached to the Duke Of Wellingtons Light Infantry, but the regiment itself were occupying Iceland, (To prevent the Germans taking it), and somebody with a sense of humour had named their force, 'The Polar Bear Division' However, there were enough old soldiers to teach us infantry drill, and being a 'Light Regiment' you travel fast, carrying your rifle at the slope, and run between two lampposts, then march swiftly to the next, and then run again to the next

Those old infantrymen taught me so much, in bayonet drill and in the use of firearms. I was sent on lots of courses, and not only got my second stripe, but was awarded the coveted red star, which meant I had obtained the 'War Certificate A'

Six of us senior cadets were chosen to act the part of German Parachutists, and each was given a different objective to blow up all in Yorkshire. My target was a stone bridge which carried the A650 road over the River Aire, just south of the town of Bingley.

We had to simulate being dropped by parachute onto the wild moorlands above the Aire valley. We each in turn had to leap off the slowly moving lorry along this track in pitch darkness, to roll over in the thick heather, as if we had landed by plane. I was nowhere near any of my colleges, so with my compass I set off towards my target. Men of the West Riding Home Guard Regiment had been warned that we were coming, and patrols were out, but it was easy to avoid them in the heather. Creeping down through the trees towards the valley bottom was more difficult in trying to avoid twigs cracking underfoot.

At the bottom of the hill lay the river and I saw that the trees formed a tunnel over the water, so I walked towards the bridge in the river, cursing some of the tree roots that caused me to stumble. After about four hundred yards, the tree cover ended, and I could see the bridge with sentries on it, they were chatting and smoking, but still very alert. I could not approach as the moon was out and my blackened face would certainly shine being wet.

I waited some time, and the moon vanished behind a cloud but the sky was getting lighter, as the first signs of dawn were in the sky behind me. I took off my woollen parachutists cap and collecting floating twigs and branches weaved them through the cap. I pushed a load of trapped rubbish ahead of me then walked deeper until the river was up to my chin.

I walked on the bottom right underneath them, beneath one of the arches, but couldn't find anywhere to hang the haversack, so with my army knife I scraped some mortar between two stone blocks, and jamming the spike in, hung it there.

On walking out on the bottom again, the opposite way, I soon reached the trees, and thankfully climbing out, I made a noise, and was promptly captured by a patrol hidden nearby.

I was prodded none too gently with a bayonet, and frog marched to the bridge, where an umpire was sent for, and an officer of the Argylle And Sutherland Highlanders told me that I was now a prisoner. Standing to attention I told him that I had already been under the bridge, and my pretend explosives were in position. He slithered down the bank, and on returning said, with a big grin on his face. "You are still a prisoner, but now I'm afraid you’re a dead one. And so is everybody else on this bridge, I declare it blown."