The Open Door

800 Company RASC (AD): D.F. Kiff

Group PhotoLEFT: ‘A’ Platoon 800 Company

Delahunty : Cartwright
Coombes? : Fitzgerald : Kiff
Jackson : Oliver : Johnstone

I joined ‘A’ Platoon 800 Company from 749 Company during 1945, and presume that the chaps in the photo (‘Open Door’, December 2008) were still serving with 800 Company. Sadly I do not recognize any of them.

However, I do remember by name, Major Rust, Sergeants Kay, Burgess, Hanley, also Corporals Essex, Starbuck, Fox and Doran a “Charles Atlas” devotee. Doran like many others, wore the Air Crew Europe ribbon, a great honour for Army personnel.

This period, and our early days in Palestine were ones of transition. Within our tents we had a colourful display of headwear, red, blue, khaki and green. The latter worn by CSM Smith MM, formerly of No. 3 Commando.

Our first camp at Gaza, was opposite an RAF airstrip, and our Workshop Platoon shared RAF buildings further down the road. In our role as a GT Company we were kept reasonably busy, with Details taking us far and wide. I recall our Monday morning runs to Tel Aviv to pick up civilian workers, no females to be carried. Also the long-distance trips from Iraq with stores, equipment etc down to Tel-el-Kebir in Egypt.

Our worst Details entailed carrying cement, and the mess it caused, this, plus a shortage of water for cleaning purposes, created a certain amount of resentment. Lorry cleanliness was of importance, do you remember, “Task for the Day”? At times different officers were posted to us, including a young infantryman, Lt Curtis, who was awarded the Victoria Cross in Korea (‘Open Door’, Oct 2002).

Our last billet in Palestine was Sarafand, and it was from here during May 1948, when the Mandate ended, we left for embarkation at Haifa and the UK. I spent a couple of weeks at Colchester, before demob, and understand that soon after, 800 Company was disbanded.

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