World War 2 Veteran, Denis Hosgood, had Slindon College pupils completely enthralled by his memories of real-life danger, near-misses, deep friendships and human compassion on both sides of the War.
Denis was thirteen years old when war broke out. He left school when he was fourteen to work in a factory that made submarine detectors and by the time he was fifteen, determined to do something to be part of the war effort, he had joined the Home Guard. Finally, Denis was accepted for Primary Training in the Queen’s Own Cameron Highlanders as an Infantryman. He was soon at the Front, seeing action whilst fighting during the invasion of Normandy and the Battle of Le Havre when he suffered a severe head wound, with shrapnel lodging in his jaw. The German POWs got help for him and their swift action probably helped to save his life.
Denis was sent back to Cardiff, Wales for hospital treatment and during the flight home the nurse propped him up so that he could see the white cliffs of Dover and know for sure that he was back in ‘Blighty’.
Subsequently, Denis served in India and Japan, visiting Hiro and seeing the impact of the Allied bombing on Hiroshima. Denis is now 89, but the memory of his experiences and the people he met and served with remains as fresh and powerful as when he set out as a young man to do his bit to protect his country.
Pupils had the opportunity to ask Denis searching questions about what day to day life and conditions had been like on the Front. They were moved by his stories of hand-to-hand combat with bayonets and once, in disbelief, having to dodge ‘stonking’ by their own artillery who were firing on British soldiers by mistake. They were interested to hear in detail about the weapons and tanks used and the medals and commendations that Denis had earned.
Mrs Hopkins, our Business and Community Liaison Manager who arranged this event said, “our heartfelt thanks go to Denis for bringing his memories alive for our pupils who have already studied ‘The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas’ and ‘The Machine Gunners’ but nothing can compare with hearing about the war from someone who was actively involved”.