The Veterans

Eric Tipping

A few words written by Eric Tipping World War 2 veteran

When I was 16 years old there was much talk of an invasion here in England. I put up my age to 17 to be able to join the services and later became a member of the Worcestershire Regiment. Our training completed I travelled to join the 1st Worcesters who were in the front line in Normandy, after much delay landed on a beach at Arromanches, Normandy. Our move to join the battalion was slow owing to the congestion, during our night stay, ‘standing patrols’ were put in place for security of the area. When we eventually got to the battalion things were now moving and as soon as we arrived we were on the move again. It was a job to get ones bearings, but things began to sort themselves out. I became involved in every action of the battalion for the rest of the 1944-1945 campaign in N.W. Europe. The weapons I used for most of the campaign were; a German sub-machine gun, and German Lugar pistol, both I removed from a German soldier who I captured.

“Now in my 90’s I still remember the day when I was to report to the Norton Barracks to become a soldier. It was December 1943 and I was an 18 year old boy. Arriving at the barracks I saw about 20 other boys waiting. After a short while we went through the archway of the ‘keep’. Our lives were to change from that moment on. We were handed our ‘kit’, including a rifle and spent the next 6 weeks learning how to become soldiers. We finally got to our last parade when our names were called out and I was posted to the ‘Worcestershire Regiment’. I fought with them until my demob as a Corporal in 1946”.

The National Order of the Legion of Honour (French: Ordre national de la Légion d’honneur), is a French order established by Napoleon Bonaparte on 19 May 1802. The Order is the highest decoration in France and is divided into five degrees of increasing distinction: Chevalier (Knight).

Barry Freeman

Barry was born in November 1924 at Netherton, near Dudley, north Worcestershire, and is now 91 years young.

As a young man he helped to run the Hageley Scouts, which he loved to do.

He was called up and reported to Norton Barracks on 1st April 1943, where he spent the next 6 weeks training to be a soldier. On completion he joined the 1st Battalion Worcestershire Regiment and was assigned to the Transport Department, where he underwent a further 10 weeks training. He passed his driving test and was given a licence, which he still uses today!

Barry was to initially drive a Half Track, but the main function was as support vehicle to the forward troops.

He landed in Normandy in June 1944 – When they did finally land Barry noticed how quiet it all seemed, however all that was to soon change.

For periods of the campaign Barry was also attached to a Canadian Regiment, with whom he went on many missions. After the war had been declared over (May 1945) he was shipped off again, this time as a guard at the Panzer Barracks in the small German city of Hamm.

After his Demob he went back to work in his mother’s shop before taking up a plumbing trade. He also had a love of photography.

Barry now lives in Stourport.

Sergeant Joseph Johnson. Service No 7829

A short episode in the history of a WW1 soldier,

Sgt. J. Johnson is listed on the Memorial in Church Lane. He lived in a house named ‘The Poplars’ in Littleworth (near the Parish Hall) from his birth in 1885. He later married Esther.

Joseph joined the 2nd Battalion Worcestershire Regiment and served in 1914. He was mentioned in dispatches and was awarded a commission before he died in Plaegstreat of machine gun wounds on 7th November 1914.

Buried in Perth Cemetery (China Wall), Belgium, Grave VIII. C. 10

During his training period at Norton Barracks in August 1914 he wrote some fascinating history of life as a trainee soldier. He continued to write home whilst he was at the front in France.

10th August

…….the medical officer is here inoculating all the men against Typhoid. The men seem to be getting restless and want to be off or to be finished. There is great difficulty in accommodating the troops, there are so many of them…….

23rd September 1914

…I was hit in the calf of the right leg with a piece of shell which burst over the trenches, but am able to do my duties. Another piece passed my breast taking a piece out of my coat and cutting the button clear in two, but it never touched my flesh.

24th September 1914

….the morning is just beautiful, the sun is shining in all its glory but is marred by the sound of distant guns…..we were relieved out of the trenches last Monday. Sgt. Williams and I held a meeting….how heartily the men joined in singing “Onward Christian Soldiers” and “Have you any room for Jesus”.

15th October 1914

….we were attacking the enemy to capture a village. My Captain (Elliot) was killed and also my rival runner Private Styler. We were running across a ploughed field and the last words I said to Styler were, “come on Styler 220 yards to go”……15 of us stayed behind and buried the Captain erecting a small wooden cross at the foot of the grave.

It is really heartbreaking to see the battlefield after the battles, strewn with dead bodies and wounded and to see terrible wounds they received….the cries of one poor German who lay all night in the wood wounded, went right through me. Even as I right this letter the guns are spreading death and destruction all around and since we arrived at Mons we have not been out of the sound of guns. Today we lost our General Hamilton.

19th October 1914

… will be glad to know that my name has been sent to the War Office recommending me for ‘service in the field’, but you know I do not deserve it… was whilst in the trenches at a place called Vailley that the incident occurred. We were attacked by the enemy in overwhelming numbers and were forced back for a while but I was left with seven men in the trench and could not get away on the account that the army was shelling us….it was here that I caught a piece of shell in the leg. As soon as the shelling stopped I got the seven men safely back to our lines. So you see it was a necessity.

Relatives of Sergeant Joseph Johnson still live in Littleworth.