I asked Dickie Rodgers – winner of our Reminiscence Competition – about his working life.
‘I joined the British Army when I was just fourteen. I had to pretend that I was older; of course they were willing to consort in the deception. There were hundreds of underage boys who joined up then. They were necessary for the war effort.
I fought through the Second World War. I was a paratrooper. I was injured three times; shot twice, once in the shin and once in the groin.’
Dickie indicated the locations of his old war wounds, tiredly rather than proudly.
‘Then I was injured by a bomb.
I was not discharged, even temporarily.
The only break I got was the time I spent in hospital.
That last time was close to the end of the War. It was the
The Navy took us in, using those landing craft where the front could be lowered when the beach was reached.
The Germans were waiting for us!
They were dug in.
Two Germans popped up just ahead of us. One reached his arm back and slung a hand grenade in my direction. It exploded in my face.
Luckily it wasn’t very powerful or it would have killed me. But it was powerful enough to do considerable facial d
I have the scars yet (and Dickie pointed them out to me!).
I was enraged. They opened up on me with a Schmeiser – a hand gun.
I had just put a new clip in my bren gun – 32 rounds of .303 ammunition. I stood up and approached them. I mowed them down with the contents of the clip. I aimed for their heads.
‘You’ll not be going back to the Fatherland!’ I screamed, in my anger and my pain!
The blood was pouring from my face.’
I knew that Dickie was among the few survivors of the misguided
Dickie Rodgers has a reputation as a tough character.
His eyes showed a tear arising in the corners.
‘All good fellas ….’ he muttered. ‘Just the same as you (he meant as himself).
We all depended on each other. . .’ His voice, filled with emotion, trailed off.
I was sorry to have asked.
Despite this, Dickie hasn’t a single good word for today’s British Army.
He was interned in ’72 and beaten up – by the Paratroopers, of all people. Though he worked much of the post-Army years in
‘Did you quit the Army immediately after the War?’ I asked.
‘No! A battalion of us was sent to
There was some trouble in
Then we were sent to
Dickie is a man of strong views and does not mind expressing them.
‘I hate the Americans now too. See that Bush ……….’
I could sense that Dickie’s blood pressure was again rising dangerously – not good for a man who has recently suffered a stroke.
I made my excuses and left!