The 'Stonehouse' Souls Family at War
By Ronald Anthony Souls
This article was published in the March 2000 edition of Soul Search, the journal of The Sole Society.
Percy Harold Souls 26th November 1884 - 28th February 1920
Percy emigrated to Vancouver Canada in 1907, living with his Great Uncle Capt. William Soule (see vol. 1 no. 11). His occupation was Surveyors Assistant, so presumably he held a pole whilst the surveyor used a theodolite!
Canadian Army Record number 463994 Private Soule (note surname change). He enlisted on SS Baltic 1st April 1916 and arrived in England (Shorncliffe) 11th April 1915.
He was transferred to France in 8 Battalion C.E.F. Served as a cook (most important job – an army marches on its stomach!). On 31st August 1913 he suffered an infected left arm and lost the tip of his index finger, so he was transferred to hospital at Seaford, Sussex 23rd May 1918.
On the 18th October 1918 he was invalided back to Canada and discharged as medically unfit on the 20th May 1919. He subsequently died during an Influenza Epidemic on the 28th February 1920.
Percy is buried in the Veterans Plot, Mountain View Cemetery, Vancouver.
Information from a letter sent by Percy to his father in January 1919.
Frances Edward Ernest Souls 1894 - 24th August 1918
Frances enlisted in the Royal Gloucester Hussars then transferred to No 27636 16th Battalion Warwickshire Regiment.
He served in France during the Battle of Paschendale in 1917 and was killed in Action at Courcelette on the 24th August 1918. He was buried at the Adanac Cemetery, Miraumont, France.
John Harold Souls 18th December 1889 - 14th January 1959
John was a Railway Clerk when he enlisted in 1916, No 021245 in the Army Ordnance Corps. After the Russian Revolution in 1917 he was posted to Vladivostok and travelled on the Trans–Siberian Railway as Far West as Omsk and Tomsk, supplying arms and ammunition to ‘White Russians’ (former Csar’s men). He left Vladivostok late in 1919, returning via the Pacific, across Canada by rail and the Atlantic. John was discharged to the Army Reserve on the 3rd March 1920 .
Ronald Anthony Souls, Born 2nd July 1927
Ronald was ‘Invited’ to join the RAF in August 1945 just prior to VJ Day, RAF No 2233162 and then ‘Kitted out’ at Padgate – I still use the shoe and hairbrushes issued then although now there is not much need for the latter! Time was spent ‘Square Bashing’ at the ex US Air Force station at Kimbolton and as a Driver at the motor transport course at Weeton, nr. Blackpool.
I was posted to Egypt in January 1946 via ferry from Newhaven to Dieppe, a 36-hour train journey through France to Toulon, an American Liberty ship to Alexandria, then by truck to Kasfareet on the Suez Canal. Then I was sent to M.T. Section, 112 M.U. Wadi Yasara. 112 M.U. was an isolated wartime stores dump with 300 RAF and over 1200 prisoners of war. The Italians POW’s were repatriated in June 1946 and replaced by Germans – useful for me as I learned their language at school, although they had as many dialects as us!
The M.T. Section vehicles consisted of: International Fire Tenders, Austin ambulances, Thorneycroft – Coles Cranes, Bedford ‘Queen Mary’ artics, Canadian Dodge 3 tonners, Bedford Water Bowsers, Chevrolet 15cwts, Humber Snipe and Canadian Ford V8 Staff Cars, Willys Jeeps, Ariel and Harley Davidson motorcycles.
On arrival I found only 5 RAF NCOs (all demob happy) with all other drivers being POWs. We supplied stores to all Middle East RAF units but also became increasingly involved in withdrawing equipment from Nile Delta stations and from Palestine before formation of the state of Israel. RAF Heliopolis was a pre war station with permanent quarters – unlike 112 M.U. where all except officers and sergeants had tented quarters. Our commanding officer arranged for all the officer’s mess equipment to be ‘liberated’ from Helipolis before closure but when our convoy arrived we found the Egyptian Air Force had taken over a day earlier and all was lost!
The only ‘enemy’ at 112M.U. were the locals who cut through the 10 mile perimeter wire at night and loaded up camels with sheets, shoes etc. from isolated sheds. There were searchlight posts manned by POWs with one RAF guard at each but the perimeter was almost impossible to cover over undulating sand dunes. One night the exhaust noise of a jeep was heard so all thought ‘orderly officer on his rounds’. However the sound faded away – the ‘locals’ had stolen the jeep from MT workshops so it was lost forever.
One journey to Cairo I stopped for a drink at an ‘in bounds’ Greek owned milk bar. Next day I was ill and later taken to hospital near Suez suffering from paratyphoid. All MT section personnel were put in quarantine in a tent near sick quarters for almost a week. No one developed the disease so all were delighted at a few days off.
Fred Taylor in my tent played in the unit table tennis team so I drove them to the various camps near Suez. I acted as scorer – a real neck-jerking job following that game!
‘Lofty’ Harrety, also in my tent, had an eye infection and was taken to a Cairo hospital. I visited him there and lent him £3, as he had received no pay. He was posted directly home from hospital and discharged as unfit. He repaid his debt by sending my father a postal order – he is the only ‘forces pal’ I still visit at his home in Hartlepool.
One day I drove an officer to Ismailia, taking some furniture to his wife’s flat. I parked the 15ct. Bedford directly outside and sat in the lounge window continually watching as the district was dubious! When we left the engine was dead and we found the battery had been stolen from under the step on the far side of the truck! Fortunately the officer had his motorcycle at the flat so we went on it to the nearest RAF station to ‘borrow’ another battery, leaving his wife with orders to sit in the truck in case anything else vanished!
We had a regular issue of a tin of 50 Woodbines but as I never smoked I sent them all home to my appreciative father.
During the 2¼ years I was at 112M.U. I had two periods of leave: Two weeks in Cyprus, and another fortnight at a NAAFI leave camp at Port Fuad (opposite Port Said ). En route to the latter my friend and I were walking towards the ferry when a gang of youths ran past attempting to snatch our wristwatches. I had my kit in a back pack so was able to foil them as both my hand were free but my friend carrying a hold all was not so lucky – he lost his watch.
I left Port Said for ‘blighty’ on the ‘Otranto’ in March 1948 calling at Haifa to pick up British members of the Palestine Police Force. They were the last British to leave Israel and one, Cliff Taylor, joined Walsal police, reaching the rank of Detective Chief Superintendent.
We docked at Southampton, eventually being demobbed at Kirkham on 24th March.
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