Initial training was “square-bashing” - lots of marching and drill and physical exercise carrying small tree trunks and crossing water having transferred to the South Staffordshire Regiment on 20th September 1940. This was short lived as on 13th October he was transported to Birmingham and transferred to the King’s Own Regiment in order to assist the clear up following air raids. They were billeted in partly constructed houses on the Pheasey Farm Estate. With no doors or windows and facing January weather, the unit kept warm by pinching fuel from the cook house. Some of the soldiers were ex colliers and were adept at shifting large quantities of coal. Food was very poor and once they were served mashed potatoes that were neither peeled nor scraped and probably not even washed.

On 27th January 1941, Gordon was on the move again, firstly to Liverpool and then Lochwinnoch, Renfrewshire to join the Royal Artillery, Maritime Division which would become the First Regiment, Royal Artillery in 1943


The Maritime Division was formed to provide gunners for DEMS (Defensively Equipped Merchant Ships). The arming of some merchant ships was necessary to provide some protection from submarine attacks which were increasing to what would become the Battle of the Atlantic. The Royal Navy also trained gunners for the duty.

After gaining his Navy Gunlayer’s Badge to operate 12 Pounder and machine guns, Gordon was paired with another two gunners and sent back to Liverpool to join an armed merchantman sailing out of the River Mersey.

RA BadgeDEMS army.htm_txt_12 pounder