The Centre has a substantial collection illustrating life in various armies  during wartime and this material is also incorporated into our Key Aspects section including personal experiences of the campaign in North Africa and many others. The collection encompasses the various countries caught up in this conflict and we are proud to include stories relating also to the women’s services in this section all in biographical form and supported with relevant photographs, audio-clips and documents.


Clive 'Teddy' Teddern - Pioneer Corps

Teddy was born in 1923 in Hamburg and was raised in a liberal Jewish household. His father was a doctor in general practice but in 1934 new German racist laws deprived him of his practice. In 1939, Teddy came to Britain with the kindertransport........

David Kaye - Prisoner in Concentration Camps

In September 1939, the German Army occupied Lodz (Poland). My family and myself had to wear the Star of David. We were short of food. In 1940 we were all placed in the Lodz Ghetto. We had only one room between the whole family, there were five of us.

Denis Swinney - Army Captain

Denis Swinney Portrait

Denis was born in 1913 in Morpeth, Northumberland and went to Sedbergh school. He joined the Territorials in 1937 and was commissioned in the Royal Engineers, going to France with the 50th Northumbrian Division in January 1940. After the long retreat from Arras to Dunkirk he got his men away in folding boats from the beach at Bray Dunes. In April 1941 the Division went to the Middle East and event

Desmond Earley - Lt. Essex Regiment

Like many others of my age I served six and a half years in the army during the Second World War from the age of 21, starting as a private. Much of this period was very humdrum, first learning to be a machine-gunner then moving about the country to repel an enemy who was expected to invade but who never did. Lt Desmond Earley Had he invaded I doubt that I would be here now since with others, I

Geoff Steer - Cpl 1/4th KOYLI

Geoff Steer 1/4th KOYLI

Geoff Steer - Cpl 1/4th KOYLI I was born in St Helens, Elsecar in 1923. My father worked at Elsecar Colliery as a miner. Those were the days of getting bathed in front of the fire in a tin bath, no such thing as pit baths. In the early 1930s my father had an accident which caused complications. He died at the age of 38. We then moved house to Harley, back where my mother was born, to live with my

Geoffrey Wooler

Tommy washing for me while I recover

Geoffrey Wooler was born in 1911 and studied medicine at Cambridge, starting his medical career in 1933. In the RAMC he served in North Africa, Sicily and Italy.

George Davidson DSM

I joined 20th ML Flotilla but I wasn’t enjoying it very much so I volunteered for parachute training. One day the skipper of the boat announced my request for draft to parachute training had been granted. He then said they had an interesting party coming up and if I chose, I could be included so I said, “Right, I’ll stay.” This developed into the raid on St Nazaire.

George Parsons - Pioneer Corps

George Parsons was born in Birmingham in 1919, Small Heath. I had quite a job getting into the Fusiliers because I was in a reserved occupation, I went and did two camps with the Royal Fusiliers down in the New Forest, and then I was on the rear party for the second camp and we were kept back, and then we came to Balham giving out, we were working on, sort of, getting rifles, gas masks, things li

Godfrey Talbot - War Correspondent

From the Battle of El Alamein in October 1942 to the fall of Rome in June 1944, War Correspondent Godfrey Talbot was among the half-dozen or so best-known voices on BBC radio. For countless listeners at home he seemed to provide a much-needed link with the men of the Eighth Army in North Africa and Italy.....

Harold Woodcock L/Bdr TA

Harold Woodcock Portrait

Harold Woodcock was born in 1921 and joined the 58th Anti-Tank Regiment, Territorial Army in May 1939 while he was living and working in Brighouse. He attended a fortnight’s training camp in Northumberland in the summer of 1939 and was called up on 1 September 1939.

John Best - Cpl Royal Marines

John Best and his father.

My father was disgusted, largely I think because he couldn't accept the fact that his son couldn't pass a medical and he let me know about it about five times a week. - He became a Royal Marine...

John Dee Shapland - General, British Army

John Dee Shapland was born in 1897 in Budleigh Salterton, Devon. In 1914 he trained at the Royal Military Academy, serving as Second Lieutenant with the Royal Garrison Artillery, 20th Heavy Battery.

Ken Randall - SGT Royal Artillery

Ken Randall Sgt Royal Artillery

In 2001 the Centre received wartime material relating to former Sgt Ken Randall who served with the 5th Survey Regiment, Royal Artillery from 1939 - 1946. Mr Randall died in 2000, and his material was donated to the Centre by his nephew, Mr David Saunders.

Ken Ward - Pioneer Corps

Ken was born in November 1922 into a liberal Jewish family. His father ran a private music school in Frankfurt and played the organ at the Synagogue. Ken's early years were very happy; he had three elder brothers and his father's music school prospered despite Germany's economic problems. However, once The National Socialist Party came to power, Ken soon became a second class citizen.....

Leslie Alexander Barrett - Gunner RAA

Gnr Barrett L A

Leslie Barrett was born in London in 1908 and left England at the age of 15 to work on a dairy farm in New South Wales. He later moved to Sydney where he married and had twin daughters before enlisting in the Australian Army in 1939 as a Gunner in the Royal Australian Artillery (RAA).

Lieutenant John Roderick MC

Lieutenant John Roderick M.C. Chevalier de Legion d’Honneur

I was 23 years of age at the time of the raid. I took over 3 Troop from Godfrey Franks in late 1941. I had Bung Denison and John Stutchbury as my Section Commanders. Bung, for the Raid, went with one of the other parties while John remained in mine. Speaking for myself, I thought we were a very happily constituted troop with a great deal of enthusiasm and sparkle. TSM Smith, with his Guards traini

Major Gerald Jackson

Major Gerald Jackson had served in 6RTR during the retreat towards El Alamein in June and July 1942 and took part in a series of engagements which took their toll both on tank numbers and on crew-members. He then joined 10 Corps HQ as Personal Liaison Officer to Brigadier George Webb in time for the October battle.

Maurice Naylor CBE - Gunner

Maurice Naylor served in 53 Brigade of the 135th Field Regiment, 18th Division. He was captured by the Japanese following the surrender of Singapore and endured years in Japanese POW camps.

Patrick Dalzel-Job - RN

Patrick Dalzel-Job

Patrick Dalzel-Job was born near London in 1913. He suffered ill health as a child.Patrick was commissioned into the Royal Navy on 8 December 1939, and requested a posting as far north as possible....

Robert Frettlöhr

Robert Frettlöhr was interviewed for the Second World War Experience Centre in 1999 and has been a Friend of the Centre since its inception. He was born in March 1924 in Duisburg. His father was the manager of the telephone section of Thyssen, a large steel company and when Robert was fourteen he began an apprenticeship there. Robert joined the Hitler Youth.

Ron Higgins Ely Cpl RAC

Ron H Ely Cpl RAC

Ronald Higgins Ely was born in 1916 in Rothwell, Leeds and before the war he worked locally as a tailor. In August 1939 he and some friends went on a cycling holiday in Germany, later he would be close to the same place in his Tank...

Sir Denis Forman Kt OBE

Sir Denis Forman

....From the Officer Cadet Training Unit at Dunbar, a posting was arranged to the 11th Argylls. In 1940 a promotion to Captain was followed by an enthusiastically received transfer to the 47th Division's Battle School at Barnard Castle, where Denis met his Chief Instructor, Lionel Wigram.....

Thelma Kellgren (Nee Reynolds)

Thelma Kellgren, 'Day Off' Thelma Kellgren's childhood was spent in Amesbury, a small New England town in the United States. After graduating from High School she was accepted at the Peter Bent Brigham Hospital Nursing School, affiliated to Harvard Medical School in Boston. At 'The Brigham', Thelma was trained in general nursing and particularly in obstetrics, paediatrics and psychiatry. She