World War II

Memories: A secret rendezvous

Recollection prior to D-Day - a secret rendezvous

© Susan Comber-Dault 

Location: north of Romsey
Date: Spring 1944

By Robert J G Comber, Rifleman
Queen's Own Rifles of Canada, R.C.I.C.

Freda Sque and Robert Comber in BrockenhurstSpring 1944, I was located in Boscombe, Hampshire. I was a Bren Carrier driver, and every day I worked on my machine along with all the other men who would be with me in the days to come.We took special pride in our equipment for we knew that one day soon they would be a means of strength preservation.

April 1, 1944 we moved from Boscombe Gardens to the open country north of Southampton in a small place called Chilworth Manor. Here the rifle companies carried out rigid drill and P.T. With their nets and ropes they'd go scurrying off through the trees like the monkeys in a jungle. Or perhaps they would suddenly pop up out of a hedgerow beside you or go wriggling off down a ditch like a lizard, to pop up further down and make an organized charge on bayonet dummies. To see these fierce organized charges made one feel full of pride, as they were good. One could see that all this training had a clear purpose behind it. One day they would bring honour and freedom to their own and other peoples of the world. About this time orders came to take all the Bren Carriers away to be waterproofed at Gosport. There the first fittings were attached.

April 25, 1944 from Gosport we went to a secret rendezvous north of Romsey.

Our new home was a huge forest. On entering one could not help admiring the magnificent beauty of the flowers and ferns that were just awakening from their winter's sleep. The cry of a hen pheasant disturbed from her nest, the chattering of gray squirrels peering through the bracken, the caw of the rooks building their nests in the tall oaks. This was a place of secluded peacefulness. All too soon we realized that it was too good to last.

High above us in the blue was a tiny silver thread, the vapour trail of a German plane eight miles up. This was one time that his camera must not detect the scene below him. If such evidence was placed in the hands of our enemies hundreds of planes would fly over this night and hurl tons of destruction on the mechanical might of our invasion forces. Such a disaster must never happen. The siren sounded and a deadly silence settled down on that shielding forest.

wedding of Freda Sque and Robert ComberNo sound or movement betrayed us. Even the wild creatures seemed to sense the impending results of detection. Slowly the ominous distant hum trailed its feathery wake across the sky, alone and undisturbed. He was too high to be shot down, far above the range of our ack ack guns. Camouflage was our only safety. In that we placed our entire confidence.

Suddenly, the woods were pierced with the shrill, nerve racking wail of the 'All Clear'. Once more it was safe to move about and carry on with the important work that was far from finished.

Late afternoon on 5 June orders came down to proceed with the invasion.

On 23 July I was wounded by friendly fire one mile from Falaise, France. I was taken back to continue my contributions to the war effort.

On 24 November I met, Freda Sque, who was in the Women's Land Army on New Park Farm in Brockenhurst, Hampshire, we fell in love and were married 20 June 1945 in Brockenhurst.

Photo 1 caption: Freda Sque, Women's Land Army and Robert Comber QOR in Brockenhurst 1945
Copyright: Susan Comber- Dault

Photo 2 caption: wedding of Freda Sque and Bob Comber, St Nicolas Church, 20 June 1945
Copyright: Susan Comber-Dault

Rifleman Robert Comber’s World War II memories continue on the project’s Interactive Portal. Follow this link ”Memories of a Rifleman” to continue reading Rifleman Comber’s accounts. 

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