William (Bill) Gladden

Photo:William (Bill) Gladden in uniform.

William (Bill) Gladden in uniform.

Bill Gladden

Photo:Bill with his taxi driver in 2011. As part of a convoy of 80 taxis Bill will travel to Holland in May 2012 along with a group of veterans to celebrate the Dutch Liberation.

Bill with his taxi driver in 2011. As part of a convoy of 80 taxis Bill will travel to Holland in May 2012 along with a group of veterans to celebrate the Dutch Liberation.

Bill Gladden

'A mass of green'

William Gladden recalls socialising with Land Army girls whilst serving in Britain.

'Something hit me'

William Gladden talks about being seriously injured in France.

Recollections of life in the Army and being seriously injured in France.

Working on the Home Front

Bill was a boy of fifteen years of age when war commenced in 1939. At the time he was living with his parents in Woolwich. Initially Bill was employed in the building trade but with little prospect of work he found employment at the Woolwich Arsenal. Bill remained at the Arsenal until it was subject to a particularly heavy air raid. Subsequently, Bill returned to the building trade and became involved in repair work in the Plumstead area. He recalls the sometimes gruesome nature of the work:

‘We had a few repairs to do on a house...where the front of the house had had fragments of the bomb coming through and decapitating one of the ladies sitting in the room there and we had that mess to clear up.’    

'Something hit me and that was it'

In 1942, Bill was called up to join the Army. After training he joined the Airborne Armoured Corps, transporting tanks across to France by glider. Once in France his main duty was reconnaissance work on motorcycle attempting to establish the position of the Germans. Not long after arriving in France, Bill was injured by enemy fire:

‘We’d come back in the Orchards of Romeoville where we harboured...and a Tiger Tank come in to the orchard and started blasting us with these 88 mm, his machinegun. I don’t know what hit me but something hit me and that was it. That was my luck. They carried me over to the old barn, where we carried my mates in the past and then I had emergency operation.’    

Bill had sustained damage to his leg and was sent back to Britain. He remained in hospital for the next three years. Bill’s regiment went on to fight in the Ardennes and later in Palestine and Bill in some ways feels he missed out: ‘I envy...all those I speak to who saw the war through...I was a little bit sorry that I missed all that. But it just wasn’t for me.’

Downloads

Interview with William Gladden
Interview with William Gladden (153k)
To read the full transcript of William's interview please press the above link.

'A mass of green'
'A mass of green' (76k)
Transcript of audio clip with William Gladden.

'Something hit me'
'Something hit me' (76k)
Transcript of audio clip with William Gladden.

This page was added by Malin Lundin on 21/02/2012.

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