The War Archive of Trevor Greenwood
9th Battalion Royal Tank Regiment
27th November 1940 to 1st December 1945
Foreword by Julie Schroder
Richard Trevor Greenwood (1908-1982, always known as Trevor) and Jessie Whitaker (1910-1999, always known as Jess) were married in Stockport, Cheshire on 17th December 1938. They both came from Reddish, a suburb of Manchester just north of Stockport, and moved to a house in Hazel Grove, (S.E. of Stockport) after their marriage. Trevor, my father, was an electrical sales engineer and Jess, my mother, was a clerk at the Public Trustee Office until the birth of their first child, Barry in March 1944. On 27th November 1940, Trevor’s army training began in Gateshead, and from this day until his demobilisation in December 1945 he kept up an almost daily correspondence with my mother. These letters record in great detail his progress through the war, from the long period of training in Britain, through to active service in Europe and post-war policing duties in Germany. Trevor also kept a Diary, which covers the period of active service from D Day (6th June 1944), to 17th April 1945. The Diary was transcribed and published in limited edition by my brother, Barry, in 1988 under the title “One Day at a Time”, (with a 2nd revised edition in 1994), and I am currently engaged in the long process of transcribing the letters. Photos and documents from the archive are included at relevant points in the text. The diary has been up-dated with minor corrections for the website edition, and the letters will be added in complete months as we proceed with the transcriptions.
From the early days as a raw recruit, to his final rank of Sergeant and Churchill tank commander (15 Troop, C Squadron), Trevor was always a reluctant soldier, resigned to doing his duty, and gaining solace mainly from his copious correspondence with Jess. On these pages we are presenting the letters and diary together, each with its own preface giving more background information. Through the pages of this archive we can follow in great detail the journey of one man from civilian to battle-hardened soldier. There is frequent discourse on the political situation, and diatribes on religion and the army: there are harrowing accounts of battles, and vivid descriptions of the activities of his fellow soldiers both on and off duty. His impressions of the people and places encountered on his progress give a fascinating insight into the lives of ordinary people in war-torn France, Belgium, Holland and Germany, particularly in his descriptions from the various homes where he was billeted in Holland and Belgium. The gratitude of these newly liberated people provided a heart-warming respite, and the opportunity to foster real friendships, notably, in RTG’s case with the Cornelese family in Eindhoven: several letters from them survive in this archive. In sharp contrast, his later experiences in Germany gave rise to much agonising about his war-tainted attitude towards the German people. Throughout these pages there are numerous references to home, family and personal interests, particularly his great love of classical music, and there are intimate glimpses of his hopes and fears, and his ever changing state of mind. Above all, the one constant theme pervading this archive is Trevor’s unflinching devotion to Jess, and his longing to be re-united with her and Barry. Without this driving force the archive would not have been written, and without Jess’s reciprocal devotion, it would not have been so lovingly preserved.
To follow RTG’s progress within the broader military context, I would recommend ‘Tank Tracks’, Peter Beale’s fascinating history of the 9th Battalion RTR, published by Alan Sutton Publishing Ltd., and also available on the 9RTR pages of the Royal Tank Regiment’s web site (www.royaltankregiment.com).
Barry and I would like to dedicate this site to the memory of all those who served with Trevor in the 9th Battalion Royal Tank Regiment, from those who tragically lost their lives in service, to those like Trevor who survived, but whose lives were changed forever by the traumatic experience of active service on the front line.
Julie K. Schroder.
Birmingham, March 2008.