England 1942 Part 6 Crowborough-2

The majority of the time in Crowborough was spent on classroom work as the need for training new soldiers and cross training veterans in new skills is constant in an armoured unit. At the same time the powers that be, possibly fearing the men may have become a little soft while enjoying the hospitality of Elstead and Hove, felt physical training needed more emphasis. A regimental assault course was established under the not so tender supervision of Sergeant R.H. Woodhouse. The entire Regiment ran this course several times over the next few weeks with varying degrees of success and enthusiasm. In addition, route marches and forced marches both day and night on road and cross country, became a regular routine. These started off slowly averaging 8-10 miles in a morning, but advanced steadily to 15, 25, and 30 miles and culminated with a gruelling 24-hour cross country jaunt of 60-miles without rations. However, these strenuous exertions where not totally without benefit as there is some evidence that least some of the longer excursions included a break in the vicinity of one of the numerous pubs dotting the countryside.

Christmas of 1942 found the Regiment preparing for yet another move. The men however were in good spirits having just received packages from home with many scarce and useful gifts. The officers and sergeants served the men a traditional dinner. During the afternoon of the 25th in a gesture arranged by the Auxiliary Services Supervisor E.W. McKenzie the Regiment once again demonstrated their ambassadorial skills by entertaining the children at a nearby Children’s evacuation camp. It is not quite clear who enjoyed the time more, the men, or the children. It was quite clear however, that Captain D.F. Seabrook’s piggy-back rides were the hit of the day. In response, the camp headmaster sent a letter to the Commanding Officer which read in part, “We are very grateful for the splendid time you gave us last week. I am not in the least exaggerating when I say that this Christmas season has been the best spent in this camp and the children are very delighted with the time that they have had. The thought that prompted your action and the great kindness shown are very much appreciated.”

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