Dennis attended the Military University at Schrivenham from 5/9/1941 until 19/3/1942. He was posted as a cadet to 133 OCTU group. The note in his records reads “W.O.U.M. 695/ A.B.I.E. Lt 8/8/41 and RA records letter AA/60/34/695 dated 15/8/41.” WOUM refers to a note that allows an officer to wear slightly different uniform because of an injury, which may be related to his hospital admission in Orkney (click here for link). There are no photographs of Dennis for the time he was in Schrivenham.
On 19th March 1942, Dennis was given his commission and sent to the 59th Heavy Anti Aircraft regiment, the Royal Artillery. As a lieutenant he would be in charge of around 30 men, and would lead them on operations. On his transfer form, he filled in some details about himself, including an additional comment: “Hobbies: sport and photography. Up to joining present regiment have produced shows of all types for the army, and am keenly interested in entertainments.”
There is a note in his record to say that on the 29th June 2042, he “joined depot,” at Woolwich. This was the Royal Military Academy, where commissioned officers received training. No further information is given about the type of training he received.
In June 1942, Dennis was at Easington with Mary and some other soldiers of his troops. In the middle photograph, Dennis is the one on the right. Luckily enough, he was 6’5″, which makes him easy to pick out whatever photograph he is in.
In July 1942, Dennis visited Blackhall Rocks. Because of the presence of other troops in the photographs, I’m assuming that this was a military posting rather than a leisure visit. The title of the pictures says “81st HyAA Regt RA. I’m assuming that this is an error on Mary’s part – in fact, he was posted to the 59th HAA Regt RA. There is no mention of the 81st HAA Regt in Dennis’ military record.
Dennis was posted to 158 depot at Woolwich again on 4th July 1942, indicating that he had further training, and he was medically examined on 23rd July 1942. He was given an “A” rating, which meant that he was fighting fit.
By August 1942, Dennis was back in Cullercoats with Mary. There is a picture of them laughing, with Mary sitting in the pram. I was quite surprised to see how much time he spent with other soldiers relaxing, and how much time he had with his wife and son. I imagined that even in the home service, troops would spend a good deal of time away from their families. Still, here he is, smiling with Mary, outside her father’s house.
A quick note about my grandmother. She was a tease into her 80s, until the dementia got hold of her. She liked to push people’s buttons and she liked to flirt. I loved her to death and thought her flirting in her 80s was hilarious. Given the fact that it’s biologically impossible for him to be my grandfather, I imagine Dennis might have thought it was less amusing. Certainly in the picture on the right, it is entirely unclear which of the two men is her husband.
There is a photograph of Dennis taken on 26th September 1942 at Weston “outside hotel,” my grandmother notes. Weston was a long way from anywhere that was known to Dennis; I’m not sure why he is there, sitting in a beach chair. It is the last picture before he goes off to war. After this point, the military records outnumber the photographs (rather than the other way round).
Some of the details, I am not sure about – partly because of an apparent contradiction between different versions of the Army’s records. For example, in Jan 1942, Dennis is in the records as being in Schrivenham, doing his officer training. He had not yet received his commission. However, he is specifically mentioned by name in the same period as being in Bone, which is in North Africa (now called Annaba, in Algeria), in January 1942 (see below). He is also called “Lt Trinder,” but his military record shows that he was not given his commission until 19th March 1942. I’m not sure how to square these difficulties in the records. Anybody who understands the vagaries of military history better than I do?
Further troop movements regarding shooting practice at Northumberland (Redesdale Camp). Geoff and Mary were in Cullercoats, near Northumberland, around this time, which would make sense.
According to his army record, Dennis was given the substantive rank of Lieutenant in the 59th Essex Regiment on 1st October 1942. The regiment appears to be moving about the UK quite a lot, and is in Penkridge in October too.
I rather enjoyed these instructions to Dennis’ regiment in preparation for going overseas – including warning about VD, and supplies of Mepcrime and condoms!
They remain in Penkridge until December 1942.
In November 1942, Dennis had a new passport issued. In the best tradition of passport photographs, it is completely unflattering. I wasn’t aware that there was a requirement for troops to have passports to travel, but it does seem to have been issued in advance of him going abroad.
Although Dennis seems to have spent much of the war prior to 1942 in the UK, he was about to go to North Africa, where he would see much more action.