I got a letter at home to say report to a certain place so I had time to say cheerio.
We were all issued with free tickets and took the train down to Gateshead. There were twenty odd from Consett. There are names of fifty five men killed in action from the Benfieldside alone whose names are remembered in St Cuthbert’s Church, Benfieldside.
They brought two girls in at the office.
Ernie Caldwell, an area manager brought a girl in called Lily Amiss to assist. When I left for the army Bill Baron brought his brother’s daughter in as an office girl, Ella. There were more changes after that.
They put five bob in the kitty for me every week.
When I got back I got about £80 bonus. I had to work for six months before collecting it. I spent it on a motorbike. It was a 41/4 B.S.A. Cost me £105.
Percy, my elder brother, was a bit lame, so they wouldn’t take him. He had a crippled knee. They made him work on forestry work during the war. He was foreman of a group called Bowes-Whitfield in the forests during the war.
Billy joined the Royal Flying Corps in 1916. He became a bomber pilot.
The medical was a disgrace.
It was arranged in these schools. There were no cubicles or anything you just went into a room.
There were no curtains on the windows – you just took your clothes off and threw them on the floor.
You went to a doctor in the nude.
People could look in the window and see you; they were wide-open. There were no curtains – it was absolutely crude