Today marks 70 years since the Second World War D-Day landings, and the sombre occasion has prompted one former Hemel Hempstead soldier to think back to his time in the military.
Brian George, who hails from Dacorum, got in touch with Hemel Today from his current home in Nottingham, to regale tales of his service in the Territorial Army for the Royal Anglian Regiment.
At 64 years old, Brian wasn’t even alive when British and Allied troops stormed the beaches at Normandy in a surprise attack on German infantry in June 1944, marking the start of the invasion of Nazi-occupied Europe.
But, he said: “I, like large numbers of people, will be watching the D-Day commemorations taking place both in France and the UK.
“I am reminded of my own service in the Royal Anglian Regiment as a private soldier in the Nato part of the TA, for a period of some 18 months during 1974 and 1975, during the cold war period.”
Brian served as both a private infantryman and a radio operator with the 14th Platoon, 5 Coy, 5 Battalion, of the regiment at their barracks in Hemel Hempstead. He recalls a pub in the town being used as a communication centre.
He said: “The whole time I was on 48-hour standby, with my mates in the company, to go to Germany in the event of a gas attack by an east German commander. My life expectancy was ten days in Germany if that happened.
“At this time one remembers past service to one’s country, which is an honourable thing and a positive highlight in one’s life, and a memory of one’s own contribution to the continued wellbeing and stability of the UK.
“I do not regret the period of service, or the intensive army training, or the many all night exercises. Good luck to all who serve.”