University of Oxford
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Memories of a Royal Signals Corps Corporal

online resource
posted on 2024-06-05, 18:59 authored by Their Finest Hour Project Team

My Father, Terence Lawler – Corporal - 2361395

• Terence joined up as soon as he could in 1939. He joined the Royal Corps of Signals because of his knowledge of Morse code from his days in the Boy Scouts.

• Terence was attached to the East African Rifles and was based in Kenya for some time – I think before going to Burma. He caught Malaria which kept reoccurring even into the late 1960’s. Apparently, he joked at his wedding to Myrtle in April 1945 that it was a good job that the photos weren’t in colour as he was still quite yellow! They both proudly wore their army uniforms at their wedding Terence dashingly wearing his Safari hat! In Kenya he learnt how to detect approaching trains from vibrations and sounds from the rails. He possibly used train rails as conduits for Morse code signals.

• Terence served in Burma. He told us about being the only radio operator with a unit in Burma jungle. When stationary Terence would be protected in the centre of a group of soldiers so he could communicate with command - their only link to the "outside world". He spoke of hearing Japanese soldiers talking near them in the night and of watching food being air dropped, and hoping it would land close enough for them to reach it before the Japanese arrived. He also spoke of his radio being transported on an elephant.

• Terence was very proud of Burma Star group and Lord Mountbatten.

• He said that when based in Africa he gave an order to a local African soldier who did not want to do what he was asked. To avoid doing it the soldier eventually chopped off his own hand with a panga! Terence was issued with a Panga and a spade for quickly digging a trench (blade with has 90-degree hinge) He managed to bring them home and they were well used (with a flourish) as tools in the garden. We still have them both!

• Terry was in Abyssinia in the War when Rommel was retreating. As a result of the quick advance over territory with few supplies he lost most of his teeth at c 23!

• He was in the army of occupation in Germany after the War. He said that he smuggled a camera and coffee home in a cut out book! He was otherwise very law-abiding!

• After the War he was recruited by Cable and Wireless because of his Signals experience. He was recommended by his former officer.

• After the War he was having a disagreement with a lady at work. She was emphasising her point by waving scissors up and down. This triggered something in Terry’s military trained mind and the next thing he knew he had floored her and removed the “weapon”. PTSD?


Item list and details

1. Certificate of transfer to the army 2. Photos in Nairobi, Kenya and elsewhere 3. Wedding photos in uniform 4. Release Leave Certificate 5. Soldiers Pay and Service Book

Person the story/items relate to

Terence Edward Frederick Lawler

Person who shared the story/items

Frances King

Relationship between the subject of the story and its contributor

He was my Father

Type of submission

Shared online via the Their Finest Hour project website.

Record ID