Military Section

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          Name 



Douglas Frederick Wooster

Birth: 17th March 1917, Colne, Lancashire, England          Tree         Memorial Plaque

Death: 21st May 1984, on the SS Canberra

Royal Artillary, Gunner, 373 AA Company

Service no. 1611188, Conscripted 29th July 1940, discharged 5th December 1945.


The Call Up

Douglas was working in his father's painting and decorating business in Colne when he was conscripted into the army in 1940. An appeal was made to the hardship committee for a postponement as his father sought to keep his only son at home and working in the family business, but to no avail. A medical had already been completed, but the presence of two summons for medicals suggests that for whatever reason the first one was not completed.










Nearly five months passed before Douglas was formally called up and for whatever reason, he was five days late. Not the best of starts to his military life, although in his first letter home, he does refer to finally being here after "all this bother" and in his second letter he sounds quite cheerful as it appeared that the Major was taking a lenient view of his late arrival and things were much better than he had imagined. The following letter arriving at his home the day after he joined up.

 

                                  1st letter home 29th July 1940 (Word version)

Letter home 30th July 1940 (Word version)

So where was "here"? His first posting was at Pollington Barracks near Snaith on Humberside. Things were in a desperate state when he arrived and amazingly the camp had only six rifles at the time and the major gave instructions that should an invasion occur, with such terrible odds, no fighting was to take place.

A variety of documentation survives from Douglas's time at Pollington:

Detail sheet:

Kit List:                                            Grade Card:                                                Rail Warrant:

   

At some time he was moved out of the barracks and billeted in a nearby farmhouse. The following letter from the local stationmaster giving him times of trains to get home when on leave is a far cry from today's instant information society!

From Pollington, Douglas was transferred to Oakham in Rutland (now Leicestershire). On 23rd February 1943 Douglas married his fiancÚ Sarah Wilkinson.

A letter from Douglas to Sally in the build up to the big day survives: (Word version)

Free travel pass for wedding

23rd February 1943, St. Pauls Church, Nelson, Lancashire

Later on in the war Douglas was transferred to Hayling Island in Hampshire where he subsequently finished his military service. Some documentation from his time there survives, including a receipt for "the live body" of a soldier he escorted from Euston to Manchester for court martial on 13th October 1944 when going on leave.

There is also a letter from his father which is somewhat less than complimentary about his sister Mildred.

Douglas's Royal Artillary membership card and service book:

Discharge

With the end of the war in Europe in 1945 Douglas, along with countless other conscripts who were lucky enough to have survived were due for discharge. However, this did not happen instantly and something of a battle ensued to try to get him out. Never a natural soldier, arguably this is the point at which he and other highly skilled tradesmen added their greatest value with destruction all around the country, rebuilding of the infrastructure was now the main focus. The glowing testimonial from his commanding officer in his discharge certificate confirms that he was training other conscripts in his own trade.

His father even wrote to the local MP Sydney Silverman at the House of Commons:

Finally on 4th December 1945 Douglas was discharged from service and a variety of documentation is presented below:

Telegrams to Sarah and parents and railway warrants for the journey home:

Documents relating to re-instatement of employment:

Release letter and service record:

And finally, the financial bits:

 

 

 

  Page last updated

  17 February 2014