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Robert Frederick White | 73 | Territorial Army – UK

Robert Frederick White | 73 | Territorial Army - UK

Served 2.5 years.

Gunner in the Territorial Army - British Army Reserves.

  • I was involved with the Scouts and it seemed a natural progression to join the Territorial Army; I had friends who were already a part of it, who also encouraged me to join (which I did so in 1964)
  • After he’d come out of the Reserves, he got a job as a glazier working at the docks. One day a big English ship sailed in, and was invited to come aboard. Long story short, Bob became part of the Merchant Navy where he travelled to Japan, South Africa, Mexico and Indonesia.
  • After a hand injury, got a job with British Caledonian Airways and travelled to Australia quite a bit. Fell in love with Avalon.
  • Was approached by a local at the Avalon RSL and was invited to join the sub-branch in 1980 and hasn’t looked back.
  • Whilst not a president or vice-president, plays an active role within the branch.
  • Has made friends for life during my stint in the Army.

Funny recollection during time of service:

When you put a shell into the breach of the gun, the number three does that, the number two is on the right hand side of the gun with this big stick of timber - the ‘rammer’. When they get the all clear, they take their hands away and ram it as hard as they can up into the gun. Then the cartridge is put in there, the breach is closed and the gun is ready to fire.

One particular day out in the field, it had been bucketing with rain (as often the case in England), the Sergeant in charge said “number four load the gun” - that was me - so I put the shell in and put my rammer behind it. I get “clear” and I put it up, I take the rammer out and… out fell the shell.

A live, 25-pound shell.

At the bottom of the gun there's a big metal mover you pull the gun up on to keep it stable. If the head of the shell had hit the stand the gun was on there would have been a good chance of it exploding. I was stunned, I just stood there. The Sergeant said “put the shell back in please”, and I said “my god…”. Being wet, it just kind of slipped off. I was certainly thanking my lucky stars it wasn’t a worse scenario. Should have bought a lotto ticket.

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