The Raging Summer
Extract from Chapter 15 – Like Whippets True to Form
The first war-time Americans had rolled through our streets, missing their way over the Black Mountains from distant tank-training grounds, rolling bewildered through them at the wheels of bouncy jeeps, cigars chomping, with their ‘T-shirts and big arses’ as Dai Chavez identified them. But the sound of the rumbling tumbling wheels of war were already dying in the distance. The only real scene of war we were ever to be thrilled by here was when Edwin Beer brought the war home to Rumni. And in a way that was for him true to form....
Edwin Beer had been called up into the army. ‘England’s last ‘ope,’ as Dai Chavez greeted him when he came home again in his khaki uniform and brass belt buckle, his Royal Army Service Corps forage cap straight on his head, over a huge red smile.
In the army they gave him to do the only thing he was really capable of doing: the job of despatch rider. And he could do that. With his long capable legs gripping the tank of a Royal Enfield motorbike sprayed Army camouflage-brown, he’d passed out with honours from the rough-riding army dirt-track despatch riders’ course, and was given the job of riding in front of armoured convoys.
With an armoured column making its way down through the Midlands and towards the Channel ports in preparation for D-day, there was Edwin Beer riding motorbike despatch rider, out in front.
Coming down through the Midlands he’d had this idea how proud his mam would be to see him, so he’d made a little detour through Birmingham, struck through the Malvern Hills and up over the Black Mountains, proud to be showing his mam....
Legs astride the motorbike, with the goggles masking his grin, he came riding proudly down through the middle of Upper Rumni High Street and turned up by Colliers Row. Behind him came sixteen tank transporters, thirty-seven half-track armoured vehicles, twelve Priest self-propelled guns, three dozen six-inch field howitzers on their trailing gun-limbers and seventy-four trucks full of Royal Artillery personnel.
They gave him a Royal Artillery court martial for that. Then a Royal Artillery discharge.
‘I reckon they reckon the Germuns was paying him a few bob a week just to stay on our side,’ smirked Dai Chavez…