Led Soldiers:
The Second World War Diaries of a Royal Hussar
Doug Mayman

‘Going down a road with open spaces and woods on either side, one is faced with the dilemma of either keeping one’s head out of the turret looking for enemy tanks, mines, guns or bazooka-men and risking the sniper, shells and machine gun fire or keeping well down in the turret out of the way and risk not seeing the bazooka-men. Personally, I go into action with my head out’ (Doug Mayman: March 31st 1945).

Led Soldiers reproduces the authentic diaries a member of the tank regiment, the 15th /19th King’s Royal Hussars. These diaries provide a day-by day contemporaneous account of the author’s conscription, induction and training, leading up to his experiences under fire as his regiment fought their way through France, Belgium, Holland and into Germany. The fact that it follows swiftly on the heels of the very popular blog of the First World War solider, Harry Lamin, is, as you will see, a pure co-incidence. Apart from the distinct focus on the Second World War, this blog differs in two other major respects from the Harry Lamie one. Firstly, while the Lamie entries are drawn from correspondence from the front, the Led Soldiers blog will consist of day-by-day entries taken directly from the diaries and span a period of eighteen months. Its second distinctive feature is that while we are entirely happy for people to follow this blog on a daily basis, for those of you who are less patient, the diaries are also available in book form from "Authors On-line" (see link at the top right of the page). If you have an older relative who also served in the Second World War and endured similar experiences, it may well be that the book version will have greater appeal to them. The choice is, of course, yours.

An introduction to the diaries

The last entry Douglas Mayman made in his war diary was on Saturday 21st April 1945. How is it then that this two-volume diary has re-surfaced over sixty-two years later? Over most of this period it has lain, neglected and forgotten, in his loft. Some two years ago, when engaged in a rummaging exercise, he rediscovered them, dusted the volumes down and presented them to his surprised daughters. The family perused them and decided that they should be published in some form.

Doug Mayman was conscripted into the Army on September 3rd 1942. He decided to keep a diary on November 5th 1943 and his daily entries began on November 6th 1943 and continued until his return home from Germany on leave on April 21st 1945. These daily entries are preceded by a brief retrospective account of the first fourteen months of his army service. The diaries consist of two substantial, hardbound volumes and, notwithstanding their sixty-odd years of neglect, they remain in excellent condition. On opening them, the first thing that strikes one is the handwriting. Done in pen and ink, the style is uniformly elegant and clear. No doubt, such consistency would deserve to pass without comment had these diaries been written in the comfort of a study, but given the varied and, at times, primitive conditions under which some of the entries were made, this quality is quite remarkable. If, having to contend with onerous physical circumstances were not enough, some of the entries were made in the immediate aftermath of his friends and colleagues being killed or being badly burnt or suffering shattered limbs. The level of self-discipline and control involved in keeping this account can best be illustrated by reproducing an extract from the second diary; one that was written in the aftermath of a particularly traumatic episode. See Figure 1.

Figure 1: An extract from the diaries that introduces a particularly bloody episode (for an extended account of this incident see Chapter 37:19th October 1944).

The diaries were written with a fountain pen and, therefore, once he had put pen to paper the entries were irrevocable. And yet, in the whole of the two volumes there is only the odd word crossed out and not one passage rewritten. The only retrospective elements that appear in the document are a few salutary notes in the margin that were made during the course of the war and were always dated. The fact that he has resisted the temptation to tamper with the text is not only admirable in itself, it also testifies to the fact that at no point did it undergo retrospective editing. At no point has he attempted to rewrite history. Apart from the opening months, his experiences are related on a daily basis in a matter-of-fact manner, while wrestling with what, at times, must have been a spectrum of emotions that ranged from the trauma of dealing with bloody battles and bereavements to interludes of boredom where the war almost passed him by, interspersed by fleeting visits to the cinema to relieve the tension. Over these events hangs the all-consuming wish to be done with it and return to the normality of home life; to pick-up the threads of his previous existence and pursue the personal and career aspirations that were so abruptly suspended by the onset of war and his conscription. As the war in Europe drew to a close, the heightened anxiety that the author experienced is something he undoubtedly shared with the vast majority of frontline troops. The imminent defeat of Germany only served to heighten their feelings of trepidation. Would they survive intact to enjoy the fruits of peace? It doesn’t take too much imagination to empathise with the mental turmoil experienced by men who were already battle-weary, when they are informed that leave is due in a few weeks, but in the meantime they must go back into action.

The survival of the first diary was secured by the author’s decision to take it home on his final leave before his embarkation to support the earlier D-day landings. The survival of the second diary is little short of miraculous. Firstly, it spent most of the time the author was on active service in the alcoves of a number of different tanks that suffered various degrees of damage. The risk of it being destroyed, along with the tank and the crew, was never far away. On one occasion, when the crew were forced to bale out, the author returned to the smouldering tank to rescue his diary. Clearly, what he may have begun as almost an academic exercise had come to assume considerable symbolic value to him. Even if he didn’t survive, he wanted to leave behind some kind of imprint. The second threat to the diary’s existence came from his own-side. While some of his fellow troopers were aware that he was keeping a diary, he felt the need to conceal this fact from his officers. Understandably, they might have had reservations about the existence of a contemporaneous document that contained information on troop movements, tactics and references to troop morale combined with the possibility that it might fall into German hands. He too recognised this risk, but the compulsion to leave some account of the fact that he had passed this way outweighed the risks and the dangers.

As editor, first and foremost, my responsibility has been to remain as non-interventionist as possible. However, this characterisation of my role should not lead the reader to assume that I have adopted a purely passive stance. On the contrary, I took it upon myself to assume the responsibility of guardian of the text. On occasions, protecting the integrity of the text meant that I had to be quite assertive. My commitment to defending it was particularly tested by the author’s opposition to the inclusion of the first diary on the grounds that it was ‘too mundane; too boring’ to impose upon the reader. The first diary covers his induction into the Army, his training and his assignment to the 15th /19th The Kings Royal Hussars. It also covers his leisure time, periods of leave and the kind of activities and concerns that tend to fill the daily lives of all of us. In a word, it deals with the period prior to his firing a shot in anger. It provides insights into life in the round at this time. The second diary covers his landing in France and records on a day-by-day basis the horrors encountered on the drive through France, Belgium and Holland and then deep into Germany. I argued strongly for the inclusion of the first diary precisely because of the contrast in the content between it and the second diary. This link is not something peripheral to the work as a whole. The author’s earlier experiences flow into and inform his responses to and interpretations of his active service. Together, the diaries tell the story of an ordinary man, coming from a loving family and secure community who was thrust into a situation that most of us cannot imagine in our wildest nightmares. I argued that an appreciation of the ‘normality’ of his previous existence and how ill-prepared he was, as were so many others like him, for the task that lay ahead and the experiences to which he would be exposed would add to the reading experience. The contrast between the relative tranquillity of life in a market town in the Yorkshire Dales and the sights, sounds and grotesque experiences of war that the author endured is, in my view, the most illuminating lens through which to read the diaries. The reader will, of course, form his/her own judgment.

As editor, I have seen my second task as being to place myself in the position of the reader. For the most part the original diaries take the form of a day-by-day unbroken text. For ease of reading and with the author’s cooperation, I have broken his account down into chapters that are based on relatively self-contained episodes, although, of course, many of them tend to merge into one another. Some are quite short, while others run to a dozen or so pages. With one exception of Figure 26, all the figures included in the book were collected during the course of the author’s military service and were attached to the associated page in the diaries. Given the circumstances under which some of this material was gathered, it is hardly surprising that the author has lost track of the sources of some of these data.
Also when providing insider accounts it is very difficult for authors to avoid conveying their thoughts in the argot of the insider culture. Terms, initials and expressions are used that tend to make unwarranted assumptions with regard to the knowledge of the reader. I have tried to read the diaries with a view to identifying the occasions when the author employs ‘short-hand’ or makes inappropriate assumptions. Where I have felt it necessary, I offer brief clarification. For example, the first time an organisation or a piece of weaponry is mentioned in the text I have included the abbreviation in brackets immediately afterwards. Thereafter, only the abbreviation is used. If the reader later encounters an abbreviation and cannot remember what the letters stand for, a list of abbreviations is provided in the Appendix. Again, when an expression or term can be clarified by a single word or short phrase I have done so in brackets in the text. Where I have felt that a little more elaboration might assist the reader’s understanding, I have provided it in the form of footnotes that appear at the bottom of the page. The aim of this clarifying exercise has been to try to be as unobtrusive as possible.

To help provide the reader with some initial orientation, it may be useful to offer a thumbnail biography of the author. Douglas (Doug) Mayman was born in Skipton, Yorkshire on 29th October 1923. His father, Albert, originally of farming stock, was a canal transport agent, His mother, Kerry, died of tuberculosis at the age of twenty-five, when Doug was only three. For the next eleven years his father and his father’s sister, Jessie, brought him up. In 1937 his father remarried and had two children with his new wife, Rose: Dennis in 1939 and Sylvia in 1941.
Notwithstanding straitened economic circumstances, at the age of eleven, he won a scholarship to Ermysted’s Grammar school. He was a diligent student and also enjoyed rugby and tennis. However, financial exigencies led him to leave school in July 1939, at the age of fifteen, in order to seek employment. Two months later, on September 3rd 1939, war was declared. His first job was as a wages clerk for Rycroft and Hartley Ltd, a local textiles company. However, his stay there was short-lived as he very quickly secured marginally more lucrative employment in a Royal Ordnance Factory in nearby Steeton. The factory manufactured aircraft shells. His boss there was Stanley Mason, an accountant and a man who was destined to have a considerable influence on his post-war career.
It was during this period in his life that he acquired a rudimentary drum kit and taught himself to play and he, together with some friends, formed a band that went under the name ‘The New Rhythmists’. They played at social functions in the Yorkshire Dales and the resulting remuneration made a substantial contribution to his income. While his family were not particularly religious, church attendance was still felt to be appropriate and so he went to Methodist Sunday School, followed by Sunday evening Methodist chapel. He met his future wife, Dorothy, at a Methodist Youth Club meeting when they were both seventeen years of age.
Soon after starting his job at the Royal Ordnance Factory it became clear that there was a decision to be made. One option open to him was to register as being in a reserved occupation in the armaments industry. Alternatively, he could volunteer and go straight into the forces. He did apply to join the RAF on two occasions in January 1942, but was rejected on grounds of weak eyesight. Thereafter, he decided to let things take their course and to simply wait until he received the call to arms. When it came it constituted a radical break with his past. Prior to his conscription, apart from a trip to Liverpool with his father and a school trip to London with his junior school, he had hardly ventured much beyond the market town of Skipton.

Returning to the diaries themselves, at all times it should be borne in mind that this book is the work of someone in his late teens, early twenties. Some of the views expressed are aired under great emotional pressure; other opinions are those of a young adult still finding his way in the world. How many of us would wish to be held to account for things we said at this phase in our own lives, let alone for views expressed under conditions that are barely imaginable to most of us.
Finally, the reader can perhaps appreciate the strength of the temptation experienced by the author to begin this publication with a prologue in which he would rehearse the contents and, in the process, perhaps try to engage in retrospective rationalisations. I was of the view that if the author was given free rein to express his thoughts at this stage it might serve to colour the reader’s interpretation of the text proper. A compromise was reached. He would write a Postscript, free of any editorial oversight, in which he would be able to express his thoughts and feelings on experiences that occurred almost a lifetime ago.

Presentation and timing of the blog version

This blog will reproduce the book, the only difference being that it will be presented in instalments. On October 17th we will begin by offering the first four chapters of the book. These chapters cover the first fourteen months of Doug Mayman’s military service. They are a retrospective account of his experiences up to the point at which he decided to keep a daily diary. While lacking the spontaneity of the daily summaries, they do provide a useful backdrop to the subsequent entries and offer a flavour of what is to come. At this stage we will also include the acknowledgements, the dedication and the appendix that contains a list of the abbreviations employed in the text. Since the first daily entry in the book is November 6th 1943 we felt that it would be appropriate to begin the daily blog on November 6th of this year, some sixty-five years after the event.

We are confident that these diaries will offer readers a fascinating insight into what it was like to be engaged in tank warfare in the Second World War.

By way of a postscript The Encyclopedia of Tanks and Armoured Fighting Vehicles contains the following revelation and here I paraphrase. A shot from a German Tiger tank’s 88mm gun could penetrate the front armour of a British Cruiser tank at a range of 2,000 metres. Conversely, a Cruiser’s 57mm gun could not penetrate the front armour of a Tiger tank from a distance of one metre. The author comments: while we were aware of a discrepancy in the respective firepower of these two tanks, we certainly didn’t think that it was of this magnitude. Had we been privy to this information at the time, we would have given the Tigers an even wider berth (The Encyclopedia of Tanks and Armoured Fighting Vehicles. General editor Christopher F. Foss, Amber Books, London: 2007, p228).

Patrick Murphy


Doug Mayman, aged 21, in Brussels 1944

Saturday, 3 April 2010

Tuesday 3rd April

I saw the Squadron Leader and pleaded ‘battle exhaustion’, so I was sent back to the A1 Echelon [1] and my place in the tank was taken by Charlie Hills who has just returned from leave. Life is very much safer in the non-combatant echelon. The only worry is from the air.
[1]. The term echelon was the name given to the follow-up support for the tanks.

Friday, 2 April 2010

Monday 2nd April

It’s Easter Monday and Grandma’s birthday. For me it was a fairly hard day in action, at least it was a nerve-racking one. We awoke to find ourselves at the neck of a long valley, no doubt picturesque in peacetime, but a grim military objective now. Our line of advance lay down the centre of the valley and on our left was a high range of hills, overlooking all the way we had to go. It was thickly wooded with hundreds of perfect hiding places for anti-tank guns. It was our Squadron’s turn to lead too. I went down that road, literally expecting that the next time I woke up, I would be playing drums in a harp band in the heavens. Or perhaps I would just have an arm or a leg off. Much to my surprise, all went well until we came to a village - in the excitement, I’ve forgotten its name. There, we were held up by bazookas and small arms fire coming from houses in the village. The bazookas were a deadly nuisance, but the infantry in the village were dealt with easily. Whenever we saw anything move, we just blasted a hole in the house with our big guns or splattered the whole area with machine gun fire. It is much easier in Germany because one doesn’t have to worry about civilians. After a pretty good plastering, quite a few Jerries came out and gave themselves up. The odd bazooka-men still lurked about though and we had several anxious moments before they all came out. Unfortunately, not many were killed. Most of them were taken prisoner and seemed glad to be out of it. They were mainly lads of seventeen or so from a Luftwaffe Training Regiment. In the afternoon, C Squadron came through us and probed the gorge. At the top they ran into a heap of trouble, mainly from bazooka-men. They had the choice of staying on the edge of the gorge for the night, with enemy infantry crawling all over the place, or fighting their way back down again by a different route. They chose the latter and were extremely lucky to get away with only one casualty. Meanwhile, we had cleared the village and harboured for the night, just northeast of it.

Thursday, 1 April 2010

Sunday 1st April

It’s April at last and I now have the satisfaction of knowing that I go on leave this month, another eighteen days to be precise. There is so much to arrange, yet these blasted Jerries don’t give me any opportunity. It is a full-time job keeping myself alive. We returned to Wettringen about 7:30am and pushed on past there. We were the leading troop and didn’t know what lay ahead of us, so it was a big strain on our nerves. We were under orders to clear the enemy from a crossroads, but when we arrived the enemy had already retreated. The strain of battle is not so much in the battle itself, but in the expectation of it. Our nerves were put on additional edge when there was a terrific explosion under Jock Baillie’s tank. We wondered how many had been hurt and whose turn it would be next. I alternately scanned the countryside with my binoculars for anti-tank guns and the woods nearby for lurking bazooka-men. There was a horrible silence when we tried to get Jock’s tank on the air. We thought that the commander and operator must have had it and wondered if the same anti-tank gun or bazooka-man would get us next. After an agonising five minutes of receiving no reply, Sergeant Jack Burton, who is acting as Troop leader in the absence of an officer, went on foot to find out what had happened. We were very much relieved to hear him report over the air that it wasn’t an anti tank gun or bazooka at all, but the tank had run over a mine and sustained damage to the track and road wheels. The crew were a little shaken up, but otherwise unhurt. Having thus discovered what we wanted to know, namely, that the road was clear of enemy, but had a few mines, we pulled back a little way and cooked breakfast, or rather dinner and breakfast combined. On the way back, a scout car ran over one of the mines. The front wheel was thrown into the air in little pieces and the driver and commander were thrown right out of the vehicle, but were unhurt. As the rest of the Division were a good distance away, we thought that the day’s excitement was over, but we thought wrongly. The 23rd Hussars were having a sticky time in a gorge over the Dortmund-Ems Canal and we had to do a road march and take up their positions for the night. We crossed the canal in the pitch-black darkness. The Bailey bridge had only been built just over twenty-four hours ago. That fellow Bailey can claim a good share of the credit in helping to win the war. They certainly are marvellous bridges and can be erected in a few hours. We harboured and filled up with petrol in the dark, then crept into our blankets and slept like logs. Physical exhaustion overcomes mental exhaustion.

Wednesday, 31 March 2010

Saturday 31st March

Gosh! What a way to spend Easter. We set off after breakfast to take the village Wettringen. We didn’t know what enemy resistance we would encounter, but we soon found out. I suppose it wasn’t very heavy really, but they certainly gave us a hectic time. The worst thing is the suspense. One’s stomach feels empty, yet one doesn’t feel like anything to eat. If you let your imagination run riot you would soon become a nervous wreck. I have to keep a firm hold on myself. Going down a road with open spaces and woods on either side, one is faced with the dilemma of either keeping one’s head out of the turret looking for enemy tanks, mines, guns or bazooka-men and risking the snipers, shells and machine gun fire or keeping well down in the turret out of the way and risk not seeing the bazooka-men. Personally, I go into action with my head out. I like to see what is happening and look out for these horrible chaps with bazookas. One continuously hears of tanks who have been knocked out and fellows who have been wounded and it doesn’t cheer one up at all. My only consolations are that the war is definitively nearing its end and I go on leave on April 18th. After several skirmishes with infantry, we entered the village of Wettringen. We were the first British troops to enter the village and we had to fight our way in. After we had cleared it, we sat on the outskirts, looking out to the east by the side of a church. When the civvies realized that the shooting was all over, they came timidly out of their cellars waving white flags. We were the first English they had seen and they peered at us as though we were curiosities, no doubt wondering what was going to happen to them. They seem quite willing to fraternize and gave us beef sandwiches and cheese. We were even offered German sausage. They all say that the war will be over in eight days and gesticulate wildly trying to show the horrible things they are going to do to Hitler. No doubt yesterday, they were going to do the same to us. Most of them do seem to be glad that it’s all over, though some of them wave and cheer almost as though it were an occupied country we had liberated. One old German, however, spat contemptuously on the ground as we passed. We could have shot him I suppose, but we are far too lenient. The Volksstrum (German Home Guard) is quite a problem. They wear all kinds of uniform and one cannot tell whether they are neutral or civvies or as hostile as the Army. As they are not in the army proper, they cannot be taken prisoner and, therefore, have to be disarmed and sent back home. There are plenty of these Volksstrum in German uniform wandering up and down the roads and it seems strange to just ignore them. I suppose several of members of the regular German Army get back home that way.
Most of the German civvies were scared stiff that there would be more bombing and shelling and Tiny, who speaks fluent German, told them that they could definitely stop worrying because there wouldn’t be any more, unless the German soldiers came back during the night. In which case the village would be blown to bits. I don’t know whether any did come back, but if they did, they would be pleaded with by the civvies to go away and save them from being shelled again. There certainly weren’t any there when we came back early next morning.

Tuesday, 30 March 2010

Friday 30th March

It’s Good Friday, but as a day of celebration it means nothing to us, as we are well inside Germany. We set out this morning to take a certain place only to find that units ahead of us had taken it already and pushed on another fifteen miles. On the way there we passed quite a few dead Jerries: the only good ones. One or two were rather mangled, but no one has time to bury them. Prisoners keep coming down the road in large groups, happy to be out of it by the looks of it. They know that the war will be over soon and they want to make sure that they live through it. The only way of making sure of that is by becoming a prisoner. It is rather annoying. At least they are safe until the end of the war, which is more than we can say.

Monday, 29 March 2010

Thursday 29th March

We unloaded the tanks near Issum in Germany and were cooking breakfast by the side of the road when Field Marshall Sir Bernard Montgomery pulled up in his jeep. He wished us good hunting and dished out the daily newspapers. The Daily Mail states in bold headlines: ‘This is the collapse!’ The world is agog with excitement. The end of the war is at last within sight. There is a security blackout on our movement in the north, but we are at least fifty miles over the Rhine and, in the south, the Americans are eighty-five miles east of it. Another month should see it over. It may even be finished by the time I go on leave. I hope so, but I don’t think so. At 11:30am we crossed the Rhine. It is a very wide river with a moderately fast current. We crossed it on a single-track pontoon bridge, keeping ninety feet apart, so that the rubber pontoon boats supporting the bridge would not sink too far. As we crossed it - listening, incidentally, to the BBC - I thought: ‘So this is the Rhine; the river that all the fuss has been about. I never thought that I would be crossing it. Neither did the Germans I should think. Hope the bridge doesn’t collapse. Wonder if it’s deep? This is quite an historic moment. Note the time and date: 11:30am March 29th 1945. The next time I cross it will be to go on leave on April 18th, I hope’. Such were the thoughts of a tank Lance-Corporal on crossing the Rhine. Might be of interest to the Daily Mail under the heading: ‘What I felt like when crossing the Rhine, by one who was there’.
On the east bank of the Rhine, we passed through Wesel, or the remains of it. I didn’t see many corpses, so most of the civvies must have cleared out. We slept the night by the side of the tank, not far from there. A very good sleep I had too.

Sunday, 28 March 2010

Wednesday 28th March

Germany here we come. We were loaded onto transporters at 3.00pm and moved off at 5:30pm. The news is very encouraging. Main headlines are: ‘The Allied Armies push into Germany against rapidly disintegrating resistance’. Four major generals and one hundred members of the German general staff have given themselves up. Prisoners are rolling in. They now realise that it is too near the end of the war to throw away their lives needlessly. It certainly looks as though the end of the war is very near. Frank Gillard of the BBC gives it three weeks. I hope he is right. With the comfort of this news, I had a pleasant sleep, in spite of the jolting of the tank as we travelled on through the darkness into Belgium and Holland and then into Germany.

List of Abbreviations

ABCA: Army Bureau of Current Affairs

AEC: Army Education Corps

AFV: Armoured Fighting Vehicle

AP: Armour piercing

ARV: Armoured Recovery Vehicle

ATEA: Amphibious Tank Escape Apparatus

BLA: British Liberation Army

ENSA: Entertainments National Service Association

FFI: French Forces of the Interior

FHQ: Forward Headquarters

HE: High Explosive

HF: High frequency

KRH: The Kings Royal Hussars

KRR: Kings Royal Rifles

KSLI: King’s Surrey Light Infantry

LAD: Light Aid Detachment

MI: Medical Inspection Room

MO: Medical officer

MP: Military policeman

NAAFI: National Army Air Force Institute

NFS: National Fire Service

NCO: Non-commissioned officer

OCTU: Officer Command Training Unit

RAC: Royal Armoured Corps

RAMC: Royal Army Medical Corps

RASC: Royal Army Service Corps

RE: Royal Engineers

REME: Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers

RHQ: Regimental Headquarters

ROF: Royal Ordnance Factory

RSM: Regimental Sergeant Major

RTO: Rail Transport Officer

R/T: Radio Telephone

SQMS: Squadron Quartermaster Sergeant

USAAF: United States Army Air Force

WAAF: Women's Auxiliary Air Force

WVS: Women’s Voluntary Services

YMCA: Young Men’s Christian Association


I must begin by thanking my editor and son-in-law, Patrick Murphy. When he volunteered to perform the duties of editor, I must confess that I had little idea about the amount of work this task would involve. Thank you Patrick. I would also like to thank my daughter, Joy, for typing the manuscript; my grandson, Thomas, for his assistance with the scanning of the maps and photographs, Lisa Heggs for her processing and formatting skills, Richard Linnett for his general advice and assistance and Carly Hughes for her cover design. My final vote of thanks goes to Stephen Phillips, the Military Librarian of Aldershot Museum, for his help in locating Major Courage’s book The History of the 15/19 The King’s Royal Hussars: 1939-1945.
Andrew, my other son-in-law, for sharing the proof-reading burden.


When Churchill said: ‘Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few’ he was referring to the efforts of Battle of Britain fighter pilots. However, this statement could, with equal applicability, have been used to characterise Britain’s other frontline forces, fighting on land and sea. While good leadership was essential, behind the leaders was a solid core of men that was willing and able to be led; hence the title Led Soldiers. All the names that appear in these diaries are those of real people, many of them friends and colleagues. Over the sixty odd years that have past since the end of the war we have lost touch and, in truth I don’t know how many of them have passed away, but to me they will always be unsung heroes or, if you will ‘led soldiers’.
Finally, I would also like to dedicate this book to my wife, Dorothy. While her war wasn’t at the frontline, she, like so many loved ones, had to live with the ever-present fear that her husband-to-be would be one of the next victims of the war, a different, but equally fraught experience.