Soldiers had to 'live off the land' as we called it, and had to live on potatoes, swedes and whatever we found in the fields
My name is Emrys Davies. I was born 22 June 1925 in a little village just outside the Rhondda Valley. I joined the Home Guard when I was fifteen and then I was called up in 1939 and I went to Brecon to the Dering Lines (1) that we train as an infantry soldier.
After twelve weeks training I went from there to Herne Bay in Kent to join the 4th Battalion Welch Regiment. The regiment was a TA Battalion, Territorial Army battalion, who came from Llanelli in west Wales, and they were known as 'The Saucepans' because there was a tin industry there. Our rugby team went to play the team at Llanelli and we beat the home team and the mayor of the town presented our colonel with a saucepan and we put that saucepan flash on our shoulders and the saucepan itself was placed on the colonel's jeep and when we went to Normandy it was on the bow of the ship during our crossing to Normandy and was put onto his jeep during our fighting there. It got blown out twice and he put it on the Bren Gun Carrier (2) then to make sure it was safer, but it was blown up again. And that saucepan we had came with us all the way to the end of the War.
We went across to Normandy on D plus 20 (3), which was 26th of June 1944, and we broke out of the Normandy campaign then after a lot of fighting on 5th of August 1944 and we liberated a little village called Maizet which I go back to every year to celebrate with the people there which give us a fantastic welcome.
After that we went 'draw bulletsí at the Germans right back up to Calais because at that time the Germans were firing V1's, which were flying bombs, to bomb in London, so we had to drive them to make sure they wouldn't cause any more damage. Then we drove the Germans right up as far as the Albert Canal and there we were exhausted because we come so far. We were physically exhausted and we were exhausted for petrol and ammunition. In fact, priority was given to petrol and ammunition and we as soldiers had to 'live off the land' as we called it, and had to live on potatoes, swedes and whatever we found in the fields. By the time we got to the Albert Canal we were very very tired.
There was a period of about two weeks where we had a folly war where the Germans didn't want to see us and we didn't want to see them.
I stayed in Germany then, in occupation, until 1947 when I came back home and returned to my job as a grocer until I got married in 1950.
(1) Dering Lines, near Brecon, was the infantry training centre in Wales.
(2) The Bren Gun Carrier was a small military vehicle. It was used to carry soldiers and equipment and was usually mounted with a gun.
(3) 'D plus 20' refers to the twentieth day after the D-day landings on 6 June 1944.