Army Transport

Most of the time there was no transport to concern yourself about in the Belgian army. On the times that you were allowed to leave the barracks, you went on foot, either into town, to the army shop or the nearby pubs and restaurants.

On a number of occasions we were transported in the back of an army lorry, usually to places like the firing range, or twice to exercises with the artillery pieces, once in the Ardennes, another time on the Lüneburger Heide. The first I had made the mistake of leaving my sleeping with the equipment in another lorry, and even though the sun was shining and it felt warm outside the lorry, it was freezing once the lorry started driving – the canvas obviously not giving much protection against any draughty created by the moving lorry.

The other major type of transport was the military train going from Düsseldorf to Brussels, which we used to on leave and come back from it. Whilst the train going from Brussels left and arrived at a reasonable time, the reverse journey started somewhere in the middle of the night.

So on the evening prior to the start of our leave we went to bed at the standard time of 11pm, only to be woken a few hours later for transport to the train station. You then tried to get a few hours sleep on the train that obviously had seen better days. One winter journey turned out be on a train with no heating, and one time when I woke from a nap, I found that my clothing had frozen against the window.

Obviously comfort was for sissies, and not something the army would condone if it could help it. Still, I survived, and it makes for a decent yarn to the grandchildren.


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