It is with great pleasure that I have just posted up a number of letters which Major Petch posted home during the early days of the BEF at Dunkirk, together with some memoirs written soon after the Dunkirk evacuation. The papers make interesting reading and contain a number of humorous anecdotes. His letters and diary were kindly provided by Mrs Jill Garrett, the daughter of Major Petch.
Major Leslie Petch was mentioned many times in Dad's WW2 autobiography. Dad was his batman and despatch rider during the time of the British Expeditionary Force in France and at Dunkirk, when they were on the beaches together, when Dad observed, 'Major Petch, was a tower of strength to us all and I could almost feel him suffering inwardly for the safety of his lads.'
Dad described Major Petch as "a good, kindly man and I enjoyed attending to his needs. He adored his B Company and looking after him gave me much pleasure. He would say, ‘Now then, Cheall - I am doing so-and-so today. I will need you to accompany me’. It was good while it lasted. He really was a gentleman and never forgot that the lads were human beings as well as soldiers."
Click this War Diary link to read more.
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Bill Cheall fought at Dunkirk, North Africa and Sicily, was in the first wave on Gold Beach on D-Day, and finally went to Germany. Since Bill's WW2 memoirs were published, many former comrades and families have come forward with stories and diaries of their own, all forming part of the jigsaw of Bill's war. The aim of these podcasts is to bring the memories to life and honour the soldiers, airmen and seamen who were connected to Bill in some way.
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