War Memories - Dennis and Eddie Jackson
as told to Sue Dunsmore
Dennis Jackson was born in 1924 and joined the Home Guard when he was 16. The captain of the Unit was a member of the Player family from Whatton Hall. They would meet every Sunday morning for training.
Dennis joined the Army at 18, the Royal Engineers at Chichester. He was posted to various places and then his regiment was sent to the Azores to build an Airstrip there and help to run an anti-air U boat campaign.
In February 1944 they were summoned home to prepare for D Day. The regiment sailed from the Thames at noon on Saturday 3rd June 1944, and by Monday night, they lay off the French coast. Dennis recalls, “We transferred to landing craft and began to clear under water mines, to enable the main force to land (on the beach).
We were due to capture a small port, code named “Poland”, which was in fact Caen, in 36 hours, but it took 3 weeks, before advancing all the way to Brussels, and on to Antwerp, ready for the Battle of the Bulge, in the Ardennes. After that all soldiers under 24 were sent home to Scotland, to form the 101 Beach Assault Brigade, ready for the Japanese campaign. The dropping of the Atom Bomb put an end to the Japanese campaign, and then we awaited our discharge”.
Eddie Jackson was called up on October 14 th 1940, to the Royal Engineers at Worthing, Sussex. In January 1941 he was a member of the 17 th Bomb Disposal Company, in Maidstone, Kent. His job involved digging up and dismantling unexploded bombs. A bomb could be safely left if it was in the middle of a field, but had to be dealt with immediately if it was near a main road or railway and a danger to human life.
Eddie worked all over Kent which was being heavily bombarded at that time. After the Company had finished their work, they were ordered to Leeds Headquarters, in Yorkshire, and a small detachment went to Redcar, clearing minefields along the North East coast as far as Hornsea.
Eddie then joined a specialist section to the Lowestoft beach, which was heavily shingled. High pressure water jetting was attempted to make holes but it wasn’t successful. He was awarded the British Empire Medal by Major General Sir Oliver Lees for his work on Bomb Disposal and Minefields.
Eddie continued to work on the Norfolk coast clearing minefields until July 4 th 1946. He travelled to York to be demobbed. Service personnel were usually given a large brown box, with a suit, raincoat, trilby hat and a gratuity payment for services rendered.
He worked for Joe Jallands in the decorating business at Bottesford after the war and then for W.J. Roberts and Bullock & Driffill, ” until his retirement.
Left: British Empire Medal