Albert was born in April, 1921, in Manchester, one of nine brothers all but one serving in the forces in WWII and all survived. Albert was a cinema projectionist and was due to be called up in April 1941 when he reached the age of 20. However he volunteered before that in the hope that he would have a greater choice of employment, perhaps in the Kinematograph Service of the RAOC. That was not to be as it was restricted to the lower medical grades so he enlisted in Royal Signals to be trained as a Wireless Operator.
He reported to 9th AA Div Sigs at Cardiff and within 24 hours, after a ten minute course of instruction, found himself manning the unit manual exchange! For two years, till mid-1943, Albert did very little. He was eventually posted to the AA Training School at Kingston, Surrey and at last started training as a Wireless Operator. He and three others who had joined the course after the main body had started were, after a while given a snap test – and failed. He moved to Eastcliffe Lodge, Ramsgate, to train as a lineman.
Albert then joined 115 Line Section moving from RAF Manston to Dover at a time when the first Doodlebugs arrived and his section was busy laying lines to the AA batteries tasked to shoot them down. He returned briefly to Kingston,was retested and returned to Dover as a Class 2 tradesman. In August (1944) he took leave, returned to Manchester and was married . The following month he was on embarkation leave prior to joining 120 Construction Section of 19th Air Formation Signals and sailing from Liverpool on the P & O Liner, the RMS Strathmore bound for Bombay via the Suez Canal.
He endured the ‘nightmare, week-long, journey’ to Camilla and his section carried on to Chittagong to relieve 6th (Ind) AFS. 120 Construction Section comprised two officers and 56 soldiers and was responsible for building the main telephone routes. He remembers erecting long river crossings, building routes across paddy fields – using metal poles that got very hot in the sun, living under canvas miles from anywhere and living on corned beef, tins of McConochies and hard tack biscuits – a reasonable substitute for Lancashire hot-pot!
Rangoon was re-captured on May 16th and the whole regiment moved there the following month. Here priorities were to restore communications to the airfield at Mingaladon. A notice appeared on unit orders invited volunteers to transfer to Combined Kinematograph Services. Albert applied and, much to his surprise, was accepted. He had a quick ‘trade test’ in the Royal Cinema, Rangoon and, before he knew it, was promoted Sergeant as he put it ‘Signalman at 10.00 am, Sergeant at 1.00pm!’ From then on Albert was employed on what he did best, giving mobile cinema shows, operating the 35mm projectors in the Boat Club Cinema and 16mm projectors at HMS Chinthe; all very varied and satisfying.
Albert won a raffle prize: 28 days leave in the UK! The journey was a test of initiative. Flight Mingaladon to Calcutta, to Bombay via Deolali and Karachi and aboard the RMS Strathmore – where he helped in the ship’s cinema. He returned to Burma by air and shortly afterwards the war in the Far East ended. In July 1946 he boarded a troopship for Tilbury and resumed his pre-war employment at the Fourways Cinema, New Maston .
Albert was intensely proud of his military career and wore his ‘Jimmy’ lapel badge to the end. At his funeral he entered St Leonard’s Parish Church, Middleton, to the strains of ‘Begone Dull Care’ and left to ‘The Evening Hymn’ and ‘The Last Post’.
God Bless Albert.
We will remember you !