Former Hoby man seeks testimonies from Second World War Old Dalby military depot workers for his new book

Major-General Leslie Williams, the father of former Hoby resident Phil Hamlyn Williams who is writing a wartime history of the RAOC
Major-General Leslie Williams, the father of former Hoby resident Phil Hamlyn Williams who is writing a wartime history of the RAOC
0
Have your say

The testimonies of those who worked and served at the Old Dalby military depot during the Second World War are being sought for a new book.

Former Hoby resident Phil Hamlyn Williams wants to tell the story of the Royal Army Ordnance Corps (RAOC), which was tasked with supplying all the Army needed for the conflict, aside from food and fuel.

Former Hoby resident Phil Hamlyn Williams is writing a wartime history of the RAOC

Former Hoby resident Phil Hamlyn Williams is writing a wartime history of the RAOC

He has a vested interest in the subject matter since his late father, Major-General Leslie Williams, led the RAOC during the war. He set up the huge Army depot in Chilwell in Nottinghamshire, from which the Old Dalby site was a spin-off.

“There were probably about 10,000 people based at the Old Dalby depot during the war - it was massive,” said Mr Hamlyn Williams.

“Anyone who worked there would be in their 90s now but there could well be some who still live in the Melton area.”

The site was also used by members of the community who helped pack supplies for troops for the D-Day landings in June 1944.

Mr Hamlyn Williams said: “There were 375 million items which needed packing for D-Day and Old Dalby was one of the depots used to do it. They had schoolchildren, members of the Women’s Institutes and off-duty firemen packing the items and it would be lovely to make contact with them.”

Mr Williams has been inspired by a series of scrapbooks compiled by his late mother, who was his father’s PA during the war - they were married after the conflict ended.

They contains press cuttings and other memorabilia dating from 1938 right through to the end of the war in 1945.

Mr Hamlyn Williams said: “The Imperial War Museum have some great archive material - they did some interviews in the 1970s with people who worked there in the war.”

One of the highlights for personnel at the depot was the visit, in November 1942, of the Chief of Ordnance for the US Army, Major-General Levin H Campbell.

He saw the huge array of hardware which was kept there, including bridging equipment, field guns, wireless and optic-testing instruments and Bren guns.

Members of the RAOC explained to him how mobile repair workshops were equipped there and then stored at nearby Stanford Hall ready to be sent to theatres of war.

After the war the Old Dalby Officers’ Association continued to meet, at the Spanish Restaurant in London, for at least 20

years under the chairmanship of the Chief Ordnance Officer, Brigadier Bob Hiam.

Mr Hamlyn Williams hopes to finish his book in time for the 70th anniversary of VE Day, which is next May.

He added: “Many stories have been told of World War Two but I don’t see in the bookshops the wider story of those who supplied the troops, often at great personal danger.

“I have my mother’s scrapbooks but what would bring the story alive would be the words of those people who were there.”

l If you served at the Old Dalby depot during the Second World War you can contact Mr Williams on 07761 836555 or philhwilliams@gmail.com if you would like to tell him your experiences.