The film showing at the Scala cinema in Salford on Monday the 6th February 1939 was "All Quiet On The Western Front" staring Lew Aqres.
A pal of mine named Harold Kline, (a grocery assistant for the Co-op) who was army mad", had been trying to get me into the Territorial's since he'd joined after the Munich crisis in September 1938. He was now a Lance Corporal.
It was a dark rainy evening as I trudged up Whit Lane with Harold Kline. "See this film and then decide," he said. "Drill nights are Tuesdays and Thursdays, so you could enroll tomorrow "if you're not too shit scared,"
It was still raining when we came out of the Scala and the film didn't have such a fearfull effect that the following night under the scorn of the Regimental Sergeant Major. I took the King's shilling and signed on for four years.
My mother, who knew more about the army than I did; (though I would never have believed so at the time,) had refused to sign the consent form. I blackmailed her into signing by threatening to give my age as 18. Her signature almost certainly was responsible for saving my life, because without it I probably never would have reach nineteen!
I would have preffered to have joined my late father's regiment "The King's Own" of which I knew much, but the Lancashire Fusiliers I'd "never heard of 'em."
Just the same I was thrilled with my new uniform and weekend shoots at Holcombe Brook expensive paid.) So by the time the summer camps became the main topic I was well into the army routine.
We marched from the Drill Hall in Great Clowes Street to the goods entrance of Victoria Station in New Bridge, where we entrained after being issued with packed lunches including pork pies. I don't remember the cost of the lunch but the pork pies were flying all the way from Manchester to Gower. Pork pies, cards and a monotonous journey that's all I can recollect.
The summer of 1939 was a scorcher! and no doubt it was for me the first inkling of what my father an ex Indian wullah and First World War vet had intimated when I was hardly old enough to understand. "Rise and Shine" "Quick's the action, Sharps the word." Thirsty? You don't know what it means! I was beginning to understand. Marching with full pack, carrying the bren, its tripod and those bloody ammunition boxes. The War Office sees the British Soldier, as far as carrying capacity is concerned, on a par with the army mule, a fact which still rankled some years later in the Far East. When you look at some of these politicians today and try to estimate their physical capabilities, you'll understand what I'm talking about.