Wednesday, 12 February 2014

Memories of a Chelsea Pensioner: 'The End of My War' by Chelsea Pensioner George Bayliss

'I was transferred into the second battalion of the Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire regiment, and we were posted to a place called Bougie, just outside Algiers. From there, we were sent to Egypt, where we did all our mine training. When we were actually working, we were individuals, but if I made a mistake, if I went up, my mates went up. Our officer used to tell us we were allowed one mistake, and we'd never make a second.

George enjoying the company of a Battersea Dogs & Cats Home resident
The memory that sticks out in my mind most about mines was at Monte Cassino. The Germans were up on the hill looking straight down on us and we had to clear all the mines where the bridge was coming over. We cleared all that, that was after crossing the river in little boats. Then when the bridge was up we had to get the tanks over. You've got a job to do, and you just get on with it.

George (front right) enjoying a day trip to the Hurlingham Club
We were based in Northern Italy, just north of Rimini. We were resting at that time, having been at the line for a couple of days. We had this message come through, our officer said "A and D company walks down into the minefield" - they wanted us to take our jeeps forward and then go and get the mines out. Well, we went out and the first jeep went over OK, the second jeep, OK. I was in the third jeep. We got a little way along the road and WHOOOOF; our back wheel went over a mine. I was blown about 15 or 20 yards up the road. That was the end of my war. You never forget. Life is what you make it.'

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