C Company, 16 DLI at Winchelsea, 1942 Pte G Forster

The item below is taken from a 1997 telephone conversation with George Forster.

The entire C Company was billeted in a 'big white house' opposite the church in Winchelsea, the men sleeping in quite crowded conditions in palliasses on the floor.

The NAAFI. ‘From our billet your used to have to turn left out of the billet door, go down to the corner where the pub was.’ This would be the New Inn. ‘Turn left, go right round the back and it was a little bungalow. It was only a little place.

'After we'd finished our training we used to come back and get out tea. We used to finish training about half past four at Winchelsea and then if you weren't on picket or guard we'd say, "Let's go and have a pint," and we used to go to the pub on the corner or go round to the NAAFI and have pie and chips.

'If you went into Hastings, the beer was pretty good. We often used to go out and have a pint. If you sat in the billet and they wanted someone to clean the knives and forks in the Officers' Mess they used to collar you. So what you did was get out quick. Cook house duty? Well, they used to use janker wallahs for that mostly--blokes who'd been absent without leave, blokes that had misbehaved. But they used to make it up with us if they hadn't got enough to peel the potatoes and carrots or whatever.'

Inspections

'You used to have to fold your palliasses into half. You had all your gear out, your boots and your packs all out and your blankets folded up into one size, everything was uniform.'

And if you got it wrong?

'Report to the Orderly Officer--whoever that was. We used to do it on a morning before we went on parade and then we were out drilling and messing about on fieldcraft and things like that. They used to come round.

'One bloke was billet orderly. We had to have one bloke in the billet in case anybody came in to steal anything and he used to sweep the floors and that and the Orderly Officer used to come round with the Orderly Sergeant.'

How was the billet orderely chosen?

'They used to put it on the notice board.'

What was the "stick man"?

'When you went on guard you used to have a spare man. If you wanted eight men on guard you picked nine. What used to happen was you were inspected by the Orderly Officer and he used to come round, look at your rifle. look at your webbing to see if it was blancoed, tell you if you wanted a haircut, see that your steel helmet was on square: and the bloke who he reckoned was the smartest, they used to call a "stick man" and he used to go and fetch the tea. I can't remember ever getting it!'

Pte George Forster 1942

Pte George Forster was called up into the Reconnaissance Corps in early 1942 and transferred to C Company of 16 DLI in April 1942. Photograph courtesy of George Forster. The annotated postcard below of Winchelsea Beach(‘now deserted’) is courtesy of Jimmy James.
Winchelsea Beach

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