The worst bombing in Poole was on 27th March 1941 when two bombs blew up the stores and canteen at Branksome Gas Works. 34 were killed and another 23 injured. A few days earlier a bomb hitting the railway embankment blew out all the windows on the Poole Glamour Puffer transporting women working in the Royal Navy Cordite factory at Holton Heath. Poole had a special role to play in combined operations – in April the secret Small Scale Raiding Force, a forerunner of the Royal Marine Commandos, began life with a HQ set up in the Antelope, Poolet.
Fighting continued in the skies above Dorset with further attacks on the Spitfire fighters at Warmwell who intercepted bombers heading for the northern cities. Southampton, where Dick was stationed, was also receiving considerable attention from the Luftwaffe. On 21st March he was complaining of all the hours spent in shelters as the bombs rained down every night. Returning from home on 23rd March he got lost at the docks. After three days instructing on the rifle range he was complaining of losing his student skills and on 31st March of his ghastly THB inoculation, which put him under the weather for a week or so. He was cheered by the chance of a commission, although it meant delaying his seven days leave, but was unsuccessful because his time in PT meant he didn’t have enough military knowledge. On 24th April we find him unhappily covering the Quartermaster’s duties for a week:
24 APRIL 1941
Well, Sweetheart to get it over quickly, I can't get my seven days this week at any rate. Lieutenant Thomas, the Company Commander, came to me this morning and casually said, “Oh, Corporal Williams, do you think you could take over the Quartermaster’s job for a week? I literally shuddered (!), and said “not b----y likely!” but unfortunately he wouldn't take no for an answer, and consequently here I am for 9 days altogether.
I've been at it all day and have just finished. It's now after eleven! What a game! As far as I can see I shall be at it every night like this. The C.Q.M.S.* never finished before eight or nine, and I know nothing about the job. However, it may be the chance of a lifetime. We shall see.
I seem to be getting all the rotten luck lately - but if you still love me a little I don't give a damn. That's all I care about anyway. I can't write any more darling as I'm nearly asleep.
Bye bye, Darling
Don't lose hope,
PS Thanks for letter received this morning.
25 APR 1941
70th BN. THE DORSET
RKWilliams Capt. Commanding D Coy
70th Bn. The Dorsetshire Regt.
25 APR 1941
I wasn't able to post your letter yesterday, so I'm writing a few more wads whilst I've got a chance.
I've just seen some good news in Battalion Part II Orders. I've been selected to attend the 4th Division Intelligence Course at HQ 4th Div. wherever that may be. There are two of us going – 2nd Lieutenant Wallers (that hot bloke who we saw going into the flicks at Soton).
It's a marvellous chance. It's only a week's course, but should be very good. It's on the 18th of May, and lasts until the 24th. The only thing is, I don't know where it is. However, I shall be able to get my Seven Days before going.
Well Darling once again bye bye for the moment.
Lots of love
* C.Q.M.S – Company Quartermaster Sergeant, the non commissioned officer in charge of supplies for a company. (Hence the stamps on the letter….)
© Chotie Darling