University of Oxford
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Voluntarily Enlisting for the War

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

My mother and father lived with their two years old son, Kenneth, in Edmonton, North London, and the year was 1940. Dad was 35 years old and had his own heavy goods lorry, with which he did long-distance haulage for various large and small companies. He was, therefore, in a reserved occupation and would not be subject to conscription. Nevertheless, he wanted 'to do his bit for King and Country'.

As he was a first class mechanic, Dad wanted to join the RAF as ground crew. So, he set off on his bicycle against a strong headwind and, not being a keen cyclist, he soon became tired and fed up. He therefore decided to stop at the first recruiting post he came to. Hence, my father enlisted in the London Irish Regiment.

When he arrived home with this news, my mother was not at all happy with her husband, referring to him in somewhat derogatory terms, especially regarding his mental stability.

Having joined the London Irish Regiment, Dad was soon in trouble when, having been noted as a proficient driver and mechanic, he was ordered to be chauffeur to the regiment's senior officers. He promptly refused to obey, on the grounds that he had volunteered to serve his country in fighting its enemies, and not playing wet-nurse to a bunch of drunken officers on their regular binges. He was, unsurprisingly, immediately put in detention, commonly referred to as the 'glasshouse'. Dad responded by getting letters written by Mum, who was a competent and experienced secretary, to all the authorities that they and others could think of, including his local Member of Parliament. It was not long before Dad was released from detention, but was transferred from the London Irish Regiment into the Kings Royal Rifles Brigade, the world's fastest moving regiment. The standard marching rate is 120 paces per minute, whereas the KRRs march at 160 paces per minute, which is basically a trot. To my Dad it seemed that, while he had won one battle, the Army had definitely had the last laugh over a man approaching 36 years of age.

Dad served the whole of the war in the Middle East.

He told how he was often involved in driving around in the desert, before the first battle of El Alamein, in trucks camouflaged with painted canvas on timber framework made up to look like tanks and heavy artillery.

Telegraph poles were used to represent gun barrels. This deception fooled the enemy into believing that the allied forces were much stronger than they really were. History records, quite surprisingly, that it really worked.


Item list and details

1. Photo of Frederick Goodin 2. Photo of this story

Person the story/items relate to

Frederick Goodin

Person who shared the story/items

David Goodin

Relationship between the subject of the story and its contributor

My father

Type of submission

Shared online via the Their Finest Hour project website.

Record ID