Ivan was initially a runner between two sections of Belstead Home Guard. He recalled being issued with a Browning Automatic Rifle (BAR). At the age of 17 he reportedly joined the Auxiliary Units.
Ivan recalled his Home Guard mobile squad had a base in Bentley Woods, with a steel cover over the entrance shaft with a tree stump as camouflage. The exit was through a bank of holly bushes.
In 1943 he went on to the Royal Air Force becoming a wireless operator.
|Unit or location||Role||Posted from||until|
|Copdock Patrol||Patrol member||1941||1943|
Ransome and Rapier Factory, Ipswich
Ivan worked at Ransome & Rapier in Ipswich during the time he was in the Home Guard and Auxiliary Units. They were making machinery such as concrete mixers which were needed for making new RAF runways. He had a lucky escape when some German raiders attacked Harwich and swept on to Ipswich. One of the planes was shot down and the majority of the engine crashed through the roof and landed a few feet away from Ivan’s work bench. Luckily that day he had bothered to go into the air raid shelter!
Ivan also joined the Air Training Corps and was very keen to join the RAF. He was working in a reserved occupation but pleaded with his boss until he was released so that he could volunteer for air crew.
He got his call up and trained as a wireless operator. After his training he had been promised a weekend with his new wife, but the leave was cancelled due to some RADAR instructor wanting to do extra on the Saturday morning. Ivan decided to skip it and of course got into trouble. He was sent to the “glasshouse” as punishment, and on account of that missed a crash that his crew had without him, and in fact never went on any official Ops. He did the conversion course from Wellingtons to Lancasters but then the war ended.
After demob, Ivan went to work on the railways, first on the track gang, where they had to deal with bodies on the line at times, and later as a shunter operator, and then as a guard on freight and then passenger trains. Ivan had many tales to tell of accidents and near misses, one of the worst being a load of old bombs being taken for disposal, there was a problem with the level crossing gates not closing to the road in time, and the heavy braking resulted in several bombs breaking their straps and busting through the front of the wagons.
Though remembered as an Auxilier, Ivan is not recorded on the nominal roll.
He married Sarah Gordon late in 1944.
He was one of the volunteers who would attend open days at IWM Duxford to show a display and talk about his wartime experiences, using home-made props of Auxiliary Unit equipment.
Ivan always considered himself lucky and enjoyed his life to the full. He always loved telling stories from his interesting life and making people laugh.
Hugh Frostick and Autobiography "Mister Lucky" ISBN 9780995793811 (available from www.frostick.co.uk)
East Anglian Daily Times 17 Mar 2009