World War 2 Stories for Sheffield

                          Bill Hopkins 

Diverted to Iraq

By Actiondesk Sheffield

People in story: Bill Hopkins, Leeds
Location of story: Middle East
Background to story: Army


This story was submitted to the People’s War site by Bill Ross of the ‘Action Desk – Sheffield’ Team on behalf of Bill Hopkins.

I served in the Royal Artillery throughout the war. I was a member of the local T.A. Artillery Regiment; we went on our annual fortnight’s camp in August 1939 and this lasted until my discharge in March 1946. It was the longest fortnight of my life.

Our Regiment left the UK in 1941 for service in the Far East. The Japanese occupied our Far Eastern destination. We were diverted to the Middle East, serving in Iraq and then Persia before transfer to North Africa, coming under F.M. Montgomery’s eighth army. We made our way home through Sicily, Italy, Austria and France – a four year journey.

The Iraq of those days, despite having a character known as Rashid Ali, was extremely peaceful compared to the present day ‘post war’ Iraq. We were there for just over 15 months and we could go out unarmed. This changed when we went to Persia (present day Iran) where we had to go armed everywhere.

There are fewer and fewer survivors as time goes on, I am now in my 86th year and I don’t think there are many left that served in the Artillery Batteries and Regiments.

My wife was a member of the Red Cross Blood Transfusion Service throughout the war. We met in 1946 and were married in 1948.