From Steve Dobson, son of Charlie Dobson 1st Bn HLI 1944-47
A few years ago, I was in touch with my Dad’s friend Angus McWilliam, who had remained in touch with my old man for many years, and was a whole week younger than my Dad. Angus had very kindly sent me some photos and memories to share on the HLI web site.
Angus and my Dad, Charlie Dobson, had remained friends since meeting on basic training in Northern Ireland in 1944. I’m told that there were three of them in their little gang with a Yorkshireman named Freddie Brannan making up the trio. Freddie Brannan took the photograph below, which shows Bob Hope, with his arm raised pointing at something. Bob Hope was with some American officers and was spotted by Freddie and other lads from the HLI, somewhere on the outskirts of Hamburg a few days before VE day.
Angus told me that despite the HLI being a Scots regiment, at least half of their number were Englishmen back in those days and that there was always lots of banter regarding the various football teams they all supported. Angus was in Hamburg when the war ended and he remembered that part of the Army rations given to the troops was a sweet ration of seven sweets a day. Angus, my Dad and their mate Freddie used to give their sweets, usually caramels, to the local German children. Angus said that the look of delight on the kids’ faces was wonderful to see.
The soldiers were also given a carton of 50, Woodbine or Players Navy Cut cigarettes a week and Angus, being a non smoker, did well trading them with Germans who were desperate for British cigarettes. The photo below is of Charlie Dobson with a pipe clamped in his mouth with a Scots guy who’s name neither Angus or my Dad could remember. My Dad gave up his pipe for a £5 bet when he turned 50, some 40 years ago.
Angus wrote that his memories of the HLI’s time in Palestine and Egypt are of extreme boredom and heat, being stuck in the desert for weeks at a time, with only the occasional jaunt into Jerusalem or Cairo to break the monotony.
Photo below is of Freddie Brannan on the right, with a soldier Angus named as Joe McDonald and was taken somewhere in Europe, Belgium or Holland or Germany, sometime in 1945.
Photo below shows a Corporal Murphy sat alongside Angus who appears to be doing a Winston Churchill impression and flashing the V for Victory sign!!
Angus McWilliam of Peterhead passed away 5th June 2013, three days after his 87th birthday. Angus had been unwell and living in a nursing home for some time. Sadly Angus’s wife, Helen, died only a few month’s previously. My Dad, Charlie (Dobson), thought that something was wrong because Angus and himself had always exchanged birthday cards as they were born only 7 days apart. My Dad had turned 87 on May 27th 2013, and for the first time in donkeys years no card from Angus. Angus had turned 87 on June 2nd 2013. Gone but not forgotten.