A funny thing happened on the way to the parade

Harold Gregory in uniform.pngHarold Gregory, a resident at Heathcote Court in Mansfield, Nottinghamshire, served with the Royal Signals during World War Two and recalls a gas mask mix up just before D-Day that left him red-faced and got him in a spot of bother with his Sergeant.

"I was travelling back off leave from Warrington to the South Coast a few months before D-Day and sat in one of the small compartments with the only luggage that I had, a respirator, which was safely tucked in the rack above my head.

A young ATS girl (Auxiliary Territorial Service, the women's branch of the British Army during the Second World War) came and sat near me and also tucked her respirator in the rack above my head.

Much to my disappointment she got out at Stafford, complete with her respirator. But, unknown to me, she had accidentally taken my respirator and left hers behind! I didn’t notice this error and I returned to my unit with the wrong case.

What a shock I had when, a few days later, on respirator parade I had to show the Sergeant that my respirator was in good condition. As I opened the respirator satchel, to my horror, along with a respirator, out came cosmetics, silk stockings, unmentionables etc. To say my face was red would have been an understatement!

The Sergeant was none too pleased either as he had an Officer in attendance at the time which also added to the embarrassment for me! 

The end of this story is that the very nice young ATS lady and I met up to exchange our respirators and wrote to each other a time or two thereafter, but we lost contact when I was posted over to Normandy on D-Day plus 10 (10 days after D-Day)... with my own respirator this time!"