The countryside was alive with life and colour. All the jewelled colours of the
rainbow, like butterflies on the tips of beautiful plants and trees lazily shaking in a warm, light Devon breeze; most of the roads had been covered by ancient willows, their branches arching
over like great bridges, grasses rustling against their boughs. On the other side of the
embracing willows was a shelving, inviting, golden sandy bank. The sea a haven for all
wildlife; the glistening fish visible from the beach. The last of the day's warm sunlight was
shining, calmly beautiful, on our backs.
"Fire!" All our guns opened up. The gunnery officer had us charging, full pace, over
the sand-dunes. Those sand-dunes! If I was a blind man I reckon I could still feel my way over them to our exact positions again.
"Fire!" As I shot my rifle my stomach rumbled; it was almost tea time.
Then up and
charging over the sand-dunes again. Sometimes I felt as if I was going to run up and down the
sand-dunes for the rest of my life, only having breaks for tea.
We'd become fit, though. Fit, tough and ready. We'd need to be ready. We knew it was coming, knew that we weren't really all going to grow old running up and down sand-dunes. It was coming and coming soon.
We moved that night. Into trucks, thirty at a time. Full burgeons, rifles, everything
clanking and knocking together. Into the truck, falling over feet, tin cups, rifles. Squashing up
as close as we could. "Move, you lazy slob", "Get off my foot, Lardy", "Stop hogging all the
space in the corner".
Off we went. Bumping through the dark lanes, in the dark night. Good-bye lovely
Devon. Good-bye quiet nights. Good-bye safety.
The mistily fading...