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Full advantage was taken of this. We were the first troops to go on board, and an entente was started between all ranks which grew closer and closer. On the last evening at Inverary we heard definitely that the rumour was true. Four officers from the ship dined in our Mess amid much hilarity mixed with gin. They caught the last liberty boat after a drive which they swore they would never forget. The chauffeur was Major Mike Howard. As Captain Barry was prevented from coming owing to a cold, the following exchange of signals took place:

To Captain Barry, H.M.S. GLENROY.

"Delighted rumour correct. Sorry you are not here.
Hope cold better".

from Nevill 2 Devons 212030.

To Lt Col Nevill 2 Devons.

"Your 212030. I am also delighted, I have decided to live"

from Barry, GLENROY. 212123.

On 23rd March, the battalion left Scotland for a camp at Beaulieu in Hampshire. We arrived two days later. This camp was being erected for use as a transit camp to be run jointly by the Americans and ourselves. It was not due to be completed until April 15th, consequently very little was ready. The cookhouses were unfinished, there were no hot water facilities, no baths, no drying rooms and no duck-boards. The last two items became all important as it rained persistently for three days after our arrival and the mud was indescribable. Finally there was no N.A.A.F.I. However, in spite of acute discomfort, we settled down to make the best of it. The 9th Battalion Somerset Light Infantry, under Lt Col G.H. Cole, ran the camp and, as it were, acted as our hosts. They were incredibly patient with the numerous problems which constantly arose. Moreover they had their difficulties; their battalion was cut from 400 to 160 suddenly, yet the organisation of the camp continued to run remarkably well.

Training was a difficult problem. We were told that there would be at least six weeks available in which to get fighting fit and ready for the great day. The training areas were however few and very small, rifle ranges became progressively more difficult to obtain as more troops poured into the area. Many of us learnt for the first time that the New Forest meant literally forest, excellent for camouflage purposes, but useless for training troops in the finer points of assault landing.

(Archive transcripts © Copyright Normandy War Guide)

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Archive: Story of 2nd Battalion the Devonshire Regiment, 1944 Mar - June

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