Full text of Jack's interview
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The longest day... mp3 sound clip - 555k
A Farnworth warrior... mp3 sound clip - 347k
The longest day...
D Day came along and we were involved in D Day with the Canadians. And we took the Canadians ashore, with some Free French, and our job was to look for targets for the gunners. They'd decided, top generals, they decided, instead of tanks going ashore and waiting until they'd got ashore to fire, they'd fire from the boat! But they had to have somebody in front of them to find out where the targets were. That was my job... well, our job, and I was a Marine Corporal in charge of this Marine attachment on this little boat... We'd done our job, and we'd come under some kind of fire from the Germans, in fact, we were the only target they had for quite a while. Luckily the boat was on the small side, with the waves going up and down, nothing hit us. We were in more danger from our own firing over the top of us, rocket ships I mean. And well we done the job and the skipper said ‘Right, we'll take these men ashore' - three Canadian, I think it was a Major, Corporal and a Private - they were finding the targets for the Canadians gunners on the tanks, and we were all heading towards the shore and we just got hit. Now whether we hit something or we hit a mine or something hit... I've no idea, but I was thrown out of this boat in this turret and landed upside down on the sandy bottom, luckily, and my mates, my own lads, pulled me out, and we were sitting on top of this boat, because it had sunk in seven feet of water. This Canadian Major, he's six foot tall and he drowned in seven feet of water, because he had a wireless on back. The two other Canadians, and our skipper and the seaman lost their lives, there and then. And one of our lads Bert Taylor, he was called, he was from either Grimsby or Hull, and he was smashed up. We looked after him the best way we could, we were picked up, eventually and finished up in a hospital ship. I wasn't too badly... I were wounded, but not too badly. And he... err, I can't... I won't describe them... and he's saying ‘Don't tell me wife...'
A Farnworth warrior...
Anyway, so I finished up then going to Burma with the Royal West African Frontier Force, and I joined an artillery battery there. The artillery by the way in Burma was basically mortars and the odd 37 howitzer. And I met these Africans, and when I think about this, it's funny! I said to them ‘You teach me to live in the bush, and I'll teach you to be good soldiers!' Now how can a daft fellow from Farnworth say that? But it's true!
About six months later, I'm on parade. It's my turn on this particular day to muster the parade, then when it's all ready you report to the Officer in charge. So this African Sergeant Major made sure they'd all turned in and then he called the parade to attention to report to me. He didn't salute me. I had no rank. I was a bit of a maverick, that's why I had no rank, and I couldn't take instruction off people I had no respect for, and there were a few of those people in my mob, straight from Sandhurst. They knew nothing, but they had to assert themselves, so I didn't get any rank at all. Anyway, I'm there and this chap called the parade to attention, he marched up to me and gave me what I thought was a stick, a present, and not until years later did I realize they were making me a warrior, that's the stick. I came home, lent it to somebody, and it got used for firewood in 1947!