Basil Dent

Basil was 18 in December 1941 and he was called up early in 1942.  He went before a Medical Panel of 3, including the local doctor, and was passed Grade 1.  He was told to report to Catterick and went into the 162nd Royal Armoured Corps.  This was probably because he already had a driving licence; It was only a provisional licence and there was no driving test.  He had grown up in Stockport where his father had a garage, and his friend used to borrow his ‘grannie’s’ car and in this Basil learned to drive.  All licences were made ‘Full’ after the war as long as you had held it for three years.  He got the train from Stockport to Richmond (Nr. Catterick) with 29 other young men from the Manchester area who struck up friendships.

Basil was stationed in Scarborough for 4 months.  Once a week he drove a lorry with the Unit’s laundry in to Hartlepool, going through Whitby and over the top to Middlesbrough.  The journey was one of 60 miles, which passed many other laundries on the way, but Basil liked getting off the base for a drive! 

Basil was then posted to Kent on Coastal Patrol, to the East of Hastings and round to Ramsgate.  Three patrols covered the coast in armoured cars.  Then he was moved to Pontefract Race Course and PT consisted of running round the course.  The next posting was to Wigton in Cumbria where he did invasion training, although Basil didn’t know it at the time.  He remembers doing a lot of shinning up ropes on the Pier as practice.  Basil later discovered they were being trained to be a Reconnaissance Unit with the 32nd Welsh Division.

Basil never completed the training because on an exercise in February 1944 the Bren Gun Carrier he was in turned over injuring the crew and Basil finished up with a broken back.  He was 16 weeks on his back in hospital and 6 months in plaster.  He was discharged from service in the Army the day after D Day.  The Normandy Landing is what Basil and his friends had been training for and the rest of the Corps went to France without him.

Basil returned to Stockport following his discharge.  He remembers V1s and V2s hitting Manchester and Liverpool.  Heinkels would carry the V1s slung under their wings halfway over the North Sea, launch them and the planes would then turn back.  A V2 hit Stockport and blew up a gas main

Basil was in Stockport on VE Day, where he was working with his father who had a fleet of 9 hire cars.  He heard Churchill’s speech on the radio, and from then on he was kept very busy as a driver ferrying people to and from parties.

Compiled by Susan Moores - May 2015

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