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  • Don Davies (1932-). British Army, Llandybie

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Description

Part One: Recollections of World War Two in Llandybie Donald ‘Don’ Davies was born in 1932. He had a twin brother, sister and an older brother who died in a tragic accident aged just 4yrs. Don’s father worked in Pen-y-cae Colliery, Llandybie, for 44 years. In the first of the two attached audio recordings, Don can be heard describing his childhood. He vividly remembers watching the Swansea Blitz in 1941 from his home in Llandybie; recalls the story of a German pilot shot down in these raids, and the regular visits to his parent’s house from Italian POW’s, in one case forming a bond which survives to this day. Don also remembers the impact upon the civilian population in Llandybie following the arrival of the American troops. Remarkably, in Christmas 1941 Don and his brother Dennis sent a Christmas Card to the Prime Minister and in return received a personally hand-written and signed letter from Winston Churchill (see attached photo). By 1948, Don had left school. He was initially employed in a factory manufacturing bedspring’s before becoming an apprentice car mechanic in a local garage. Two years later, Don was conscripted for National Service in the British Army alongside his twin brother, Dennis. After undertaking their basic training in Brecon with the Royal Welch Regiment and preparing to leave for Korea, the twins were held back at the last moment by their CO. Frustrated and disappointed they didn’t understand the reason why. Many years later their mother told them that she had made a personal appeal to the CO to ‘look after her boys’ as she had ‘lost one’ already. Both Don and Dennis served the whole of their two years National Service in Dering Lines, Brecon. In the second of the two audio recordings, Don recounts his long service in Territorial Army Volunteer Reserve (TAVR), with whom he served for the next 30years. During this period, he was invariably the driver for the Company Commanding Officer, reaching the rank of Sergeant with postings in the UK and Germany. In 1982 at the grand old age of 50yrs, Don was called up to the Falklands conflict but due to another ‘quirk of fate’ on the way to Southampton Docks narrowly missed out this posting. During the mid-1970’s film Director Ken Loach filmed his TV series ‘Days of Hope’ which contains scenes filmed in and around Defensible Barracks Pembroke Dock with Don’s 224 TA Squadron used as film extras. Much to his amusement, Don was ‘promoted’ to play an Officer in the film whereas the genuine Officers were demoted by the Director to play Privates. Now aged 88yrs, Don remains ‘an Advanced Motorist’. Throughout his career he worked in motor transport, initially as a mechanic, driving lorries and staff cars in the Army, six years as a bus driver, and then as lorry driver with the National Coal Board. For the final ten years of his career, Don was the Transport Foreman in the N.C.B. depot in Ammanford. Due to the Thatcher government closures of the coal mining industry in 1984/5 Don, like so many others’, lost his job. Today, Don retains his friendships from his Army days and in Italy with the 96yr old wife of the Italian POW who regularly visited his parent’s house during WW2, and he remains proud of his association with the local Bangladeshi community around the Ammanford area. Dates of Interview: November 2020 - January 2021

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