David Driver

At boarding school in S.E.London during 1940-41 I was a member of the School Cadet Force and joined the LDV (later Home Guard). There were numerous air raids, and one night an incendiary bomb penetrated the roof of my boarding house. I and another boy went up into the attic with a stirrup pump and bucket of water and put out the fire it had started. Later the housemaster went up to check that the fire was out, missed his footing and fell through the ceiling!
In 1942, after 2 months at a training camp at Wrotham, Kent, I was posted to 166 OCTU in the Isle of Man. I was commissioned in the Queen's Royal Regt. in February 1943, and seconded to the Sudan Political Service for which I had already been selected. I was sent out by sea to the Middle East via the Cape. We sailed in a convoy of 81 ships escorted by a destroyer and seven corvettes. We had a relief garrison for St Helena on board our ship - two previous attempts to send out troops had failed with the ships being sunk. U-boats attacked the convoy off West Africa with several ships being hit. After over seven weeks at sea we reached Cape Town, and because of U-boat activity we were sent overland to Durban. Once again U-boat activity prevented us from sailing, and we travelled by train, steamer up the Cargo River, car from the Cargo to Juba (Sudan), down the Nile by paddle steamer and finally train to Khartoum - a journey from UK of over four months.
I was, on arrival, commissioned as a Bimbashi (Captain) in the Sudan Defence Force and posted as a company commander to a Nuba Battalion. Being a keen Rugger player I attempted to form a truly “All Black” XV, but dropped the idea when I repeatedly found myself under a “scrum” of 29 large, sweaty soldiers! The battalion was sent to Eritrea, where we were stationed in both Cheren and Asmara. For some months my company provided the guard for a large Italian POW camp in Asmara. On New Year’s Eve 1943, five prisoners escaped under the wire and I barely escaped a subsequent Court Martial! I later escorted all POWs to Massawa where they were embarked on a ship for India.

I was released from duty as a district Commissioner in November 1944.