THE FIRST BUCKINGHAMSHIRE BATTALION JUNE 1945 - AUGUST 1946 BAOR & DISBANDMENT
BASED ON EXTRACTS FROM THE REGIMENTAL WAR CHRONICLES OF THE OXFORDSHIRE & BUCKINGHAMSHIRE LIGHT INFANTRY VOL4 1944-1945 1
Having concentrated once more as a battalion and (for the first time) as a force with Nos. 810 and 846 Smoke Companies under command, the 1st Bucks settled down at Menden to what, as the weeks went by, became almost a peacetime existence. The only outside commitment was the provision of a guard (which was dispatched under Serjeant Larkin) at S.H.A.E.F. (Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Force) headquarters in Brussels. It was soon ascertained that the bulk of the T Force work in what was now I Corps district area had already been done by our American predecessors and the assessors began to drift away.
The band had by this time been re-formed and the instruments recovered from Brussels. It was in much demand, both military and dance sections, in the divisional area. The fraternisation ban was lifted and the only restriction which remained was a prohibition against entering German houses. As it was summer time this did not in any way deter the troops from doing what they wanted to do. The social tempo quickened. Cricket made its appearance; there were swimming galas; and D Company arranged a pig-shooting expedition with completely negative results.
At 2359 hrs on the 14th August the Prime Minister announced that the final milestone on the road to victory had been passed. The Japanese had surrendered. Those in age and service group 27 and over, who had been warned that “Burma Looms Ahead” was the real significance of the initials B.L.A., began to relax and the commanding officer decreed two days’ holiday. The clouds thereupon opened and the rain fell incessantly.
On the 9th October the commanding officer, Lieutenant-Colonel Boehm left and his replacement Lieutenant Colonel Nicol, on arrival, was immediately faced with an order that the Battalion was to make up the 43rd with men of age and service groups 32 and over, receiving in exchange an equal number of men of earlier groups. This exchange was duly effected and it began to appear that the 1st Bucks would be extinct as soon as group 31 was released; but the disbandment of the 30th Royal Berks provided a much-needed reinforcement.
By the coming of December the “target” side of our T Force role had diminished almost to vanishing point, but there was still much work to be done in the collection, packing and dispatch of equipment, much of it needed as reparations.
Christmas was celebrated with more than the usual gusto, for it was the first time for six years that the words “peace on earth” meant something more than an aspiration? The usual football matches, some serious, some not so serious; gargantuan meals; indoor hockey played in the local gymnasium under ice-hockey rules; concerts, dances and parties occupied the three days’ break at Menden, Witten-Annen, Lundensheid and Leichlingen—as throughout the British Army of the Rhine.
The 1st Buckinghamshire Battalion was ordered, in June, 1946, to be placed in that curious condition known as “suspended animation” while stationed at Ghent. The Battalion was finally wound up on the 7th August, 1946. 1. The Oxfordshire & Buckinghamshire Light Infantry Chronicle, Vol 4: June 1944 - December 1945 Pages 446-451
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