Yes, I know: it should be a 48-star flag... The 115th A.A.A. Gun Battalion, 1943 to 1945

Symphony in B-Flak

ENGLAND (Part 3)

CAMP BLANDFORD

Feb. 27 was a memorable day, because we recieved "March Order" during a blizzard. Getting out of Lytham was as difficult as getting in had been, for we were being relieved by the 494th AAA Gun Bn. and the site had to remain continuously operational. At 1600 hours we were on our way.

The first stop on the 225 mile convoy was at Preston, Lancashire, only 17 miles away. We spent the night in an English Camp, and set out again early the following morning. We rode all day on the winding English roads, and saw many airports and closeups of Lancasters, Sterlings, Spitfires, and Mosquitoes, as well as their camouflaged hangars, which were hardly visible until we were almost upon them.

Darkness fell early, so we turned on to a dirt road and made our way to an English transient camp that was primarily a stop-over camp for convoys. Here men and women of the REME (Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers) made repairs on both English and American vehicles and prepared the meals. This site is one mile southeast of Wellington. Most of us visited Wellington and enjoyed our first malted milks overseas (not half so good as the chocolate malts at the corner drug store). At 0400 hours the barracks exploded with the call to rise. After a hasty breakfast we were off (not mentally, yet). The last 50-mile leg of the journey began.

We approached the city of Blandford, Dorset, from the Salisbury Road, but it didn't matter which way the city was approached. Its main and only street had to be ridden. It was a typical "one-horse" town -- really "no horse", because meat rationing had been in effect for over 3 years.

Camp Blandford, with its Benbow and Drake areas, had good barracks with excellent shower and toilet facilities. The sun, which we had barely glimpsed heretofore, shone with surprising regularity. The atmosphere however was often quite chilly on account of the piercing winds which generally prevailed. There were tennis courts, ball diamonds, a ration PX. The NAAFI was closed, with inches of dust on its tables, but we learned that it reopened shortly afterwards. The discouraging feature of the camp was the fact that it was miles from nowhere.

Camp Blandford was an old camp under alteration to become a hospital camp for the invasion. For us, however it was to be merely a staging area of a sort.

We were ordered south so that we could be summoned to the London defenses against robot bombs within 24 hours -- a plan which never materialised. Meantime we heard via the grapevine that our battalion was to take a specialised course in "Mobile Training" under English supervision. We learned later that this course was probably the greatest single contribution which the English made to our training. This Battery did not take the Mobile Training course. It learned it the "hard" way under blackout conditions in combat in Normandy.

Just before the course began, Capt. Harvey called a Battery meeting and gave us what he called "The low down on a good deal". This Battery alone in the Battalion had been selected to participate in the defense of London against the increasing raids of the Luftwaffe -- the ACTIVE Ground Defense of Great Britain. When Capt. Harvey approached Gen. Timberlake, after the latter had addressed the Battalion on "The Mobile Training Program", he voiced the individual opinion of each and every one of us: "When do we leave, sir? Baker Battery is always ready!"

We were happy, for soon we would be on our merry way to London with Trafalgar Square and Piccadilly and many other historic places, but happy chiefly because we would soon fire our pampered Nineties. We determined to give Jerry a symphony, yes, a "Symphony in B-Flak".

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... is relieved by 494th AAA Gun Bn at Lytham and convoys to Camp Blandford in Dorset, in preparation for the possible defense of London against V-1 "buzz bombs".
 
Updated Tuesday June 07, 2005 09:08:19 PDT
The original text of Symphony in B Flak, published by B Battery in 1945, is in the public domain. So how, you may ask, can I claim that the contents of these web pages are protected by copyright?

The answer is that it is my own transcription of the text and images into electronic format, and compilation into these web pages that is copyrighted. In addition, the web design, art, and annotations, plus all material from my father's personal albums are copyrighted original works. I reserve all rights to how all these materials are used. You may not copy them or store them in any retrieval system without permission.