‘Someone was looking after me’: Veteran shares WW2 memories

8th May 2020

A resident at Fairlawn care home in Ferndown has spoken his memories of the war and Bovington Camp after visiting the nearby Tank Museum.

A team from the museum, in Bovington, Dorset, visited the care home before the lockdown to interview 98-year-old Albert Birnie.

Albert was a first class gunner in the 3rd Battalion, Royal Tank Corps, during the war and is thought to be one of the last surviving veterans who served at Bovington Camp.

He told them he served in Poland, Greece and Egypt, but only joined the RTC after making a mistake when he enlisted, signing up for the RTC instead of the RTC (Royal Corps of Transport), as intended.

After being deployed, Albert had several near misses and was taken as a prisoner of war (PoW), but said: “A voice told me, ‘Albert, you’re not going to die in this war’, so I wasn’t afraid.”

After being released as a PoW, he was sent, along with other soldiers, to an airfield to be flown home. While getting on the plane back to England, he noticed two brother’s had been separated.

Albert said: “I exchanged places so the brothers could be together and went on the next flight. When we got to England, I was told yesterday’s plane crashed on landing, all lost their lives.

“Again, I was lucky,” he added. “Someone was looking after me.”

After his military service, Albert had several jobs including as a bricklayer and working in a factory in Ringwood.