Peter Allen

Photo:The Allen family by Bathurst Park, Lydney, in 1927.

The Allen family by Bathurst Park, Lydney, in 1927.

Peter Allen

Photo:Peter's father pictured in 1955 having christened his grandchild John.

Peter's father pictured in 1955 having christened his grandchild John.

Peter Allen

Photo:Peter during a break in fighting on a day visit to Rome.

Peter during a break in fighting on a day visit to Rome.

Peter Allen

Photo:Peter pictured having a break from reparing guns and signal equipment on a small farm in central Italy. The girl alongside Peter was the farmer's daughter, Maria.

Peter pictured having a break from reparing guns and signal equipment on a small farm in central Italy. The girl alongside Peter was the farmer's daughter, Maria.

Peter Allen

Wartime memories of life in the Army.

Peter Allen was sixteen years old when war was declared in September 1939 and had just begun a bakery course at the Borough Polytechnic.

Closer to war

The summer of 1940 Peter had taken up a summer job at a bakery on the Isle of Wight. He recalls how he was suddenly closer to the war. Every Sunday a German fighter plane flew around the area. One day looking across to Portsmouth, Peter recalls, he could see the Germans attack Portsmouth and he remembers one of the many barrage balloons covering the skies of the city  being shot down and disappearing in the water. At the end of the holiday Peter returned to London for the start of the Blitz. He recalls ‘All along the Thames the sky was lit up by burning places’. Although escaping damage the first day of the Blitz, the family’s house was damaged six times during the Blitz.  During the times the house was under repair Peter slept at Toc H and went to church for his meals.

Army life

Eventually Peter turned eighteen and was called up for the army. He was sent to Scarborough for training for the Artillery Regiment to be a gunner’s signaller. Peter found the six months training quite interesting and learnt about Morse code, radios and the signallers alphabet. The regiment was moved to Kilmarnock in Scotland during the winter of ’41 to get ready to go abroad. The training went on in Kilmarnock and the soldiers had to practice getting guns on to barges on the ships, which had to be loaded if the army should invade. The soldiers were later sent off and put in brigades; Peter was placed in the British 1st Army.

Fighting

The unit was sent to Tunisia in January 1942 after boarding crowded troop ships at Liverpool. Peter experienced fighting in both North Africa and Italy and was nearly taken prisoner of war. Towards the end of war Peter's regiment was sent to Greece ‘to help to bring peace to Greece which we did’. The war finished while the regiment was still in Greece. When Germany had retreated from Greece they had burnt almost everything in their way, Peter recalls, and left things useless. There was a food shortage in the country and Peter was posted on a feeding point to feed the Greeks one meal a day at the port in Athens.

Back to civilian life

Discharged in March 1946, Peter had to face becoming a civilian. With no desire to go back to baking after five years in the army he eventually became a teacher. But the war made a deep imprint:

'In war there is a price to pay. Two...brothers were killed against the Japanese. Captain John Allen...[and] Leading Airman Mark Allen...I remember them every day.'

Downloads

Interview with Peter Allen
Interview with Peter Allen (88k)
To read more about Peter's wartime experience press the link above.

This page was added by Malin Lundin on 29/01/2012.

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