From there we put on our clothes and marched from Gateshead across the Tyne Bridge and up to Fenham Barracks.
There we were issued with the kit. It was absolutely terrible – neither touched, nor fitted. Things hardly fit, tunics were thrown at you; you weren’t even shown how to put a puttee on. The Corporal tried to show us. It was touch and go. What a right lot we were. The boots had me crippled. They were made from a heavy raw leather. It was thick with no flexibility in it at all.
”You’ll get them changed at Shields.” Said the Sergeant.
They didn’t even give you paper or string to wrap your suit up to send it home. You had to go to the canteen and buy a sheet of brown paper and some string to wrap your goods up in for 4d and send them home. You got a label to fill in and they delivered your bundle to your home for free.
We then walked from Fenham down to the Central Station.
From the station we took the train down to South Shields to Mortimer Road Schools which were commandeered.
The first thing we were taught was how to put puttees on.
I was given a pair of second hand boots and changed my tunic which was too big. We slept in one of the main halls on palliases with a couple of blankets.
The British Army reintroduced puttees after using canvas gaiters in the 60’s-70s. I can still remember winding them around my ankles in the early 80s’s. As I remember around 1984 high leg boots (laced up to just below the calf muscle) were introduced and the puttee was no more.