Just one of those extraordinary things … My book of Anthony Cotterell’s wartime journalism, This is ‘WAR’!, was published by Spellmount in 2013, and it was six years later when suddenly a photograph was sent to me of the Sherwood Rangers tank crew with whom Anthony was embedded in Normandy after D-Day.
The photograph was sent by Alan o’Grady, a relative of Jack Hogg who is the one on the left. The other known crewmembers were Cook, the commander of the tank (very probably the more commanding figure on the right of the photograph), and Cherry, the driver, a young man with flaming red cheeks. Jack may have been the one Anthony referred to as ‘the desert warrior’; he had been in North Africa, and endlessly had the mickey taken out of him for his reminiscences.
Anthony directly refers to Jack when recording the banter which went on between the members of the tank crew, as can be read in the extract from Anthony’s writings below.
From “This is WAR! The Diaries and Journalism of Anthony Cotterell, 1940-1944”, edited by Jennie Gray
THE TANK CREW
Hogg, the operator, who was on guard, was singing ‘Only for ever’ followed by ‘It’s foolish but it’s fun’
Jack, the desert warrior, started a dissertation on how something obviously sounds different in the desert.
‘Tell us about the desert, Jack,’ said Cook unkindly. ‘Tell us what it was like in the 8th Army.’
The desert warrior maintained a disgusted silence.
‘Tell him about the time you joined the Army, Cherry,’ said Hogg. ‘Tell the desert warrior.’
‘You blokes want to watch yourselves and all,’ said the desert warrior.
‘The way you’re going on you’ll have no mucking rations left.’
‘Liable to get pneumonia,’ said Cherry. ‘I’ll tell you when I first slept like this in a tank in a minute.’
‘All right you mark my words,’ said the desert warrior.
‘I’d like to redesign this tank without the diff so I could stretch my legs out,’ said Cherry.
They began to settle down to sleep.