Fred Bowden interview: More training for war

Travelling and training, various parts of the country, formed up into brigades, divisions. We finished up in the Guards Armoured Division which would be about 10,000 men I believe and there were other divisions around the country. Really what we were doing was building up. Really we had different thoughts on the matter …our comrades. We were going round the country, the war was going on, people were fighting in the desert and we were doing nothing. Just train, train, train. Some of us got a bit fed up of it. Still we were up north, up in Yorkshire, we had been there for some time. And we came down south and ended up in Eastbourne. We travelled down with our vehicles and incidentally I should say that my speciality in the army was in the Bren gun carrier. 

It weighs four ton, lightly armoured, about a quarter of an inch armoured plate and it will do 35, 40 miles an hour and my job was to sit in the back there with the Bren gun.

A Bren gun is a light machine gun. It’s the only machine gun that we used.

We came down to Eastbourne, As far as we were concerned we were training but we knew that something was going to happen, a second front was coming. We were restrained, we couldn’t get out of that area. We weren’t allowed out, except for one occasion and we were out training one Saturday morning in our Bren gun carriers, driving along the front. We were going out firing on a firing range and we stopped for some reason and an elderly chap said: “Have you heard the news? They’ve landed in Normandy this morning.”