Sunday, December 23, 2007

Xmas Airgraph from Niccar

Niccar replied to my "Customised Airgraphs" thread like this:

"Hi Ron
Just seen your posting about the airgraph that was sent to you by a relative of a private Caplan concerning the Jewish new year and
Yom Kippur and how it spurred you on to look up your diary to rediscover what you were doing at that particular time well about six months ago one of my nephews asked me about my army service and
I typed about six or seven pages of pure comedy some bawdy and informed him of the many sites like this one to fill in all the gory details that I would not or could not do, he duly thanked me for a good laugh and sent me an airgraph that I had sent to his father and mother for Christmas
1943 from Italy it has the box at the top with their address franked by the army post office (three times I might add )and my details on the top of another larger oblong box with the words Christmas Greetings from The Eighth Army and underneath was the shield of the eighth on a black background a palm tree on the left and an oak tree on the right side underneath were these words ( together you and I we will see this thing through to the bitter end ) all the words were in old English script and it is dated 4/11/43 if only I were more knowledgeable about computers perhaps I could have posted it to the site"

Wot Mate? Like this one ?

Just to set the record straight, Boabbie, who kindly sent me the Airgraph, is not related to the Caplan family but simply came across it amongst his father-in-laws effects and sent it to me as an item of general interest.


Blogger Boabbie said...

I think Niccar should retrieve his notes to his nephew and get them on
to this blogg and let us all have a laugh.

Sunday, 23 December, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Boabbie
Saw your comments regarding the comedy pages I wrote for my nephew
about my early army years and wondered if your sense of humour is in any way compatible to mine remembering that these incidents are all true but are probably insignificant compared to what other folk think of as humour so a little bit of imagination is required I volunteered for the army along with thousands of other lads when I was sixteen and a half but insisting I was nineteen and asked to be put in a machine gun regiment after seeing a film I think was called “The North West Passage” starring an old actor called Victor Mac lagan he also starred with John Wayne in the “ Quiet Man “and in the aforementioned film he was seen firing a Vickers machine gun from the hip a virtual impossibility as a five gallon water can is required attached to the barrel to keep it cool never the less my request was granted and I was put in the Middlesex Regt a machine gun Regt and in retrospect suited me fine being a Londoner and the Regt being a London Regt I did six weeks basic training in the barracks of the Cheshire Regt then back to London to be taught the Vickers machine gun that has hundreds of parts and so began ( with apologies to Spike Milligan) my part in “ Hitler’s downfall “ or was it.
Our camp was adjacent to Hounslow Heath which in those days was a large open space although public, large area’s were cordoned off for military training we had a grenade range and another area where the two inch mortar was demonstrated and it was at that place that my doubts
began to creep in, should I have joined the Royal Navy ?,
We marched over to the Heath about 5 o’clock one evening for a demonstration on the mortar and were told a smoke screen was to be laid
covering us from oncoming troops (which obviously were imaginary)
and a discussion took place as to having the wind blowing at us so the smoke screen would cover us and the required trajectory of the mortar barrel that turned out to be almost vertical because a lower trajectory might affect the public area, well the mortar bomb was dropped into the barrel and we all watched the bomb climb swiftly skywards it was at this stage that we saw that the wind had affected the flight of the missile and it was being blown of all places behind us which didn’t do much for our morale at that time but nobody came to any harm and there were a few muffled laughs afterwards much to the annoyance of the demonstrators
who marched us quickly back to camp I know this doesn’t merit a good old belly laugh but any kind of laughs were at a premium to raw recruits
so if you get a smile there is other stories that go along the same line

regards niccar

Wednesday, 26 December, 2007  
Blogger Peter G said...


Great story! Keep them coming.

As to the two trees, which you describe as a palm tree and an oak tree - are they not a palm tree (for North Africa) and an olive tree (for Italy)?

Just a guess on my part as the image is rather small and I have not seen it reproduced or commented on before.

Tuesday, 01 January, 2008  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Peter
nice to hear from you and think your explanation of the trees in the airgraph was far more accurate than mine as I have said before in other comments I am a Londoner
and not familiar with Botany I was once asked about a particular plant and said
I wouldn’t know the difference between a double Begonia and a double Hernia to which the reply came back you would if you had one.
The story of the mortar bomb was at the time the country was desperate for some good news late 1941 but the saga continued with my introduction to the Vickers machine gun as a young recruit I was keen to let everyone see how well I had remembered the different parts as we were being shown how to perform all the
crews jobs, my turn came and I was to be number one which meant sitting behind the
tripod and calling out all the parts the instructor pointed out on the gun well the instructor was a sergeant that had been brought back from Dunkirk and was a very nice person off duty but obviously very keen on duty so he began pointing and I shouting out all the parts, that one? the “water jacket” I said, that one? “the thumb piece “ that one ?“ the tangent back sight” he came and stood beside me and said in a very gentle voice just call me Harry and me in my stupidity didn’t realise the sarcasm in his voice not thinking he wanted me to say sergeant this and sergeant that so I said “the tangent back sight Harry” in those days we wore forage caps he grabbed me by my hair through the cap and lifted me right into the standing position and looking in his face which was blood red and he screamed” I’ ll give you Harry you will be taking the effing colonel out on the booze next” with my ego severely dented I sat pondering what kind of idiot I was and feeling very despondent my father had already said when I told him I had joined the army “they don’t want you they want men” so now I was determined to become a good soldier but the saga goes on if anyone can have a giggle at this kind of comment


Friday, 04 January, 2008  
Blogger Peter G said...


LOL. Your stories get better and better. Do keep 'em coming.

Monday, 07 January, 2008  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for the encouragement Peter meet the jelly bomb

When the Canadians landed at Dieppe during the war it was an exploratory landing and they paid dearly for it so when they returned they told how they encountered a type of warfare that they hadn’t been trained for i.e. street fighting and so all infantry regiments at that time were told to take up training for this type of warfare so it was to be the next part of the story of my recruit days. As the blitz on London had not been over very long there were lots of places that were ideal for that sort of training in our case it turned out to be Bermondsey south of the Thames where there was street after street of empty houses with no doors or windows most had no roofs but great for the job in hand our chosen street was a row of about twenty terraced houses and our instructor was a very large Welsh Major possibly about eighteen stone in weight and a voice to match, he began by explaining he intended to blow a hole in a brick wall big enough to allow men to get through one after the other and proceeded to prepare a sticky bomb which looked like a very large toffee apple with which I would presume a Bakelite casing, plastic not being around in those days as he pressed a button in the handle of this contraption the casing fell to the ground and what appeared to be a ball of gelignite about a quarter the size of a football wobbled on this handle so without further ado the whole platoon was down the road before it did in fact roll off. We all waited for the explosion but what came next was far worse .The Majors voice shouting a tirade of abuse along with cowards and language you wouldn’t like your maiden aunt to hear so we all went sheepishly back to where he was standing to be told that there was no detonator in the handle anyway, so he stood an old box against the wall scooped the jelly bomb up and placed it on top of the box got another bomb and said this time you will stand here until I say so and you will WALK to the corner he then put a detonator in the handle and told us it was an eleven second fuse touched a button and away went the casing after what seemed like an eternity he said now walk when the last man cleared the corner I think some needed a change of underwear there was an almighty bang and when we went round the corner we found he had blown about five houses completely down so much for a hole in the wall I think the bomb was designed to stick to the tracks of tanks with intentions of disabling them but any soldier trying to get close enough to a tank would be crawling on all fours and quite likely to stick the bomb to his tin hat and give himself a nasty headache I think the jelly bombs were eventually discarded I never heard of them again throughout my

Wednesday, 09 January, 2008  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

In the story about the mortar bomb the date given should have read late 1942 and not 1941

Friday, 11 January, 2008  
Blogger Boabbie said...

Hi Niccar sorry I took so long to get back to you about your tales of derring do. They bring back so many memories. In 1956-1958 when they were feeding them and not needing them as we were often told
many of the nco's had of course been through the war. There were numerous tales like this I.E someone whowas thought of as a smart Alec might be slipped a handgrade without a fuse on the range.When it did not go off he had to go out there with a block of gun cotton with a short fuseto dispose of it and as in your case with hthe sticky bomb it was walk dont run. Keeping your ears and eyes peeled for "a" a handy depression near bye the "thing" "b" the tell tale zzit of the fuse in the grenade going and "c" a tell tale wisp of smoke from the grenade.You can bet they were not so smart after they had got a change of underpants.


Saturday, 26 January, 2008  

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