Ever since the fighting on the “Island” between Nijmegan and Arnhem right through the winter and particularly in February and March we had been with the 1st Canadian Army. What magnificent troops the Canadians were and how they fought with such tremendous enthusiasm. The conditions during this winter were particularly severe and it seemed a very long time since we had landed in Normandy in the June of 1944. As a Regiment, 179 Field Regiment RA had certainly suffered severe casualties, particularly amongst the officers and I, personally, was very relieved to hear that I had been fortunate enough to be drawn for leave to the United Kingdom. I heard this on the 17th March (St Patrick’s Day) and I arrived back in England on the 19th March to see Robin, my first born, for the first time.
It certainly was a tremendously happy week’s leave. Fatherhood was a completely new experience for me and baby Robin found me a complete stranger. I think he found it very odd to find this man intruding on family life as he had been either with Pearl’s parents or mine or with Pearl’s younger sister Beryl from his birth. Pearl and I were given every opportunity by our parents (who were so good towards young Robin) to enjoy every day to the best of our ability. Pearl’s father allowed me the use of Morris 10 ADW 356 and Pearl’s Uncle Theo, who kept a garage on Chepstow Road, managed to give me the petrol which was due with the coupons I possessed on leave. It was while on leave that I heard the news that we had crossed the Rhine and I felt anxious to hear how the Regiment had managed although I was not anxious to find out too soon. My leave finished on the 27th and I left Victoria Station at 11pm on Thursday 27th March. I had enjoyed a wonderful break and Robin, who was now seven months old, was just about getting to know me when I had to return to Europe.
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