Ernest John Mole memories

Ernest John Mole c1920 - 2000

Father: Ernest George
Mother: Mary (Polly)
Daughter:    Patricia Margaret 23 April 1942
Son: Michael Christopher    29 November 1946
Daughter: Anne Howard 29 June 1955
Brother: Leslie George
Sisters: Eva Bernice
Esther Mary
Phyllis Beatrice Joan 17 May 1923

I passed exams to go to Grammar School, but as there wasn't enough money to send me, I had to leave school at the age of 14 years old. I started work at Moor Farm, Peldon for Mr Ted Martin, He was a poultry farmer and seed grower.
I stayed for a couple of years. I then worked at Fingringhoe Mill, which was badly damaged by fire.

At 18 I joined the Army on November 10th 1938, as there was very little work to be had. I enlisted in the Royal Tank Corps, which later became the Royal Tank Regiment. My training was done in Bovington, Dorset, where I stayed for 18 weeks. From there I was pasted to the 4th Battalion Royal Tank Corps, at Farnborough, Hampshire.

Soon after this war was declared on September 3rd 1939, and I was sent to France on 20th September 1939, where I stayed until evacuation of Dunkirk, May 27th 1940, During my time in France, we spent a lot of our time digging tank traps etc., also helping local farmers on their farms - turnip pulling etc. During the evacuation of Dunkirk, on the way to Folkestone, on an old Isle of Man paddle steamer boat, I was wounded with 2 bullets from aircraft I was caught in the buttock and hip, and also the corner of my trench coat was ripped away by bullets. Thirty four soldiers and comrades were killed around me. I went to hospital in Leatherhead, Surrey, and then transferred to Could den Hospital After some weeks I had two weeks leave, and went to my home in Peldon, Colchester, Essex.

After my leave I went to Aldershot training and two weeks later got a posting to East Grinstead, where we were blitzed day and night during the Battle of Britian, July 1940. One particular bomb dropped just outside the window, but fortunately it didn't explode. It turned out to be a thousand pound bomb which, had it gone off, would have blown us all to smithereens. The bomb disposal unit came next morning to dig it out. They dug until nightfall and reached the tail fins, 20 feet down. Next morning it had sunk even further, but the managed to get a rope around the fins by midday, and safely pulled it out and defused it.

My next posting was to Welbeck Abbey, in Workshop, Notts., to form the nucleus of the 11th Royal Tank regiment. After three - four months training with troops and civilians, we were sent to Lowther Castle, Penrith, Cumberland (Cumbria) to join the C.D.L. Secret tank training, Canal Defence force. We then moved down to Pembroke for gunnery training, and from there to Folkstone, and again, not long after we sailed from Glasgow for the Middle East, being 25th July 1942 by this time.

We sailed round Cape of Good Hope up to Madagascar, twelve days up the Red Sea. After 16-18 days to South Africa, and landed at Suez. Spent approximately 18 months in Middle East, changed tank at Rafah, Visited Jerusalem, Bethlehem etc, but had dysentery when I was to visit Nazareth, was also in Palestine etc. It was a big camp at Rafal in the desert. Worked on convoys etc. Sailed for home from Alexandria through the Mediterranean and arrived in England 25th February 1944.

At home station, then from 9th August 1944 was at Lowther Castle, Penrith, preparing for the rest of the battalion returning from the Middle East, Also to Mutton Hall for training work. At Lowther we did tank training on Helton fells, and Brampton and Askham fells, day and night. I drove a been carrier which is driven on tracks, and on September 1940 I passed my first aid course, so from 5th March 1941 all during the war I was a Medical Orderly.

On 10th August 1944 I was posted back to France via Arromanches much activity until end of the war, and was amongst much action in Belgium, Holland and Germany. There was a lot of activity around Bayeux, but Caen was not yet in our hands. We took 90,000 German prisoners to prison of war camps at Caen and Bayeux. The battle of Falaise gap, there was much burial of the dead etc and many booby traps. We moved to Belgium and I stayed with a Jewish family for 2 weeks in Jamise, He was a bank manager.

We crossed the river Schelde Sept/Oct 1944, and so to the Dutch border. We went to two Islands named North and South Brabart, occupied by Germans, nicknamed the German Peptic Ulcer Division, because they all had stomach troubles, They escaped and we followed with infantry and pushed on via Nijmegan, Farnham, Osnabruck, Bremen, and Hamburg. We crossed the bridge at Farnhamr but didn't stay, and came back out to Elst. The Germans were on the other side, but left after we crossed the river with our Buffaloes, we made our way to Hamburg, Hanover, Bromseriagh and so on till we reached the River Elbe near Lindberg, when Germany finally surrendered on May 8th 1945. All the bridges were blown on the River Elbe and also Bailey's Bridge, which our Royal Engineers put back up by morning.

I had a long stay in Jespe with a lovely German couple, Ernst and Luise Hamsamon I had a brief glimpse of the gestapo chief Heinrich Himmler in Lunerburg, traveling in a truck. At Lantern there was a big air glider drop, the biggest of the war. There wasn't much resistance from the Germans. We met up with the Russians and Italians. Churchill stuck his neck out and traveled to the Rhine in Germany and crossed the Rhine in one of our Buffaloes, He got out of his tank and spoke to us, and one of the things he said was "Chase the beaten enemy into the den of inequity"! (Berlin) Also Field Marshall Montgomery was with Churchill.

With thanks to Cathy McLaughlin for sending us these memories, originally from Anne Ellerton, daughter of Ernie.

2015
ID: EJM_001
Source: Mersea Museum