Woolwich & Districts
Nine Lives - WARTIME MEMORIES
Goldstein, aged 86 (November 2005)
the right with his brother Louis, 1941
the Second World War I was in the army for 5 years 3 months,
from October 1940. I did not enlist at the beginning of the
war as I was a self employed Builders' Merchant and so was given
a year to make the necessary arrangements for the business before
started out as Rifleman 6852725 attached to the Kings Royal
Rifles, later becoming an acting Lance Corporal. I was stationed
just outside Winchester in Hampshire. At one point when the
camp was bombed I was faced with dead fellow soldiers surrounding
me - one of several times when I narrowly escaped death myself.
remember one day when a notice went up in the barracks in Chiseldon,
just outside Salisbury, asking for anyone who could ride a motorbike.
Myself and another soldier, Nobby Clark, volunteered our services
though neither of us had any experiences of motorbikes; we thought
there might be something more interesting for us to do and indeed
this was the case.
virtually taught ourselves the ins and outs of the motorbike
and doffed our crash helmets and khaki canvas rucksacks, we
became despatch riders. At this point we were stationed at Bulford
in Wiltshire. We would report to a military office each day
where we were given a route for the day where we were to deliver
our precious dispatches, many labelled 'Top Secret'. One of
the destinations was Wilton House, where I understand in recent
years coincidentally a despatch rider's bike has been on show.
was then transferred to my hometown of Woolwich in South East
London, where, having served as an infantryman, I then became
a gunner in the Royal Artillery, stationed in the Academy building.
I became very familiar with that building as, officially being
known as a glazier, I was more than once given the task of replacing
the glass panes in the windows of the Academy when they were
blown out during bombing raids. Naturally, this area suffered
greatly during the blitz, as down the road was the famous Woolwich
Arsenal, a prime target for the enemy.
occasion when I nearly lost my life was when I was on my bicycle
going from my shop on Plumstead Common to my barracks. A bomb
fell, almost turning over a tram, and I was tossed off my bicycle
- I really felt I lived the proverbial 'nine lives' during the
War is an online archive of wartime memories contributed by
members of the public and gathered by the BBC. The archive can
be found at bbc.co.uk/ww2peopleswar'