War on the Wheels

War on the Wheels
The story of the people

Wednesday, 3 August 2016

Getting the right mix of people

One of the big challenges for the RAOC in WW2 was to get the right skills, and this meant looking to industry, motor manufacturers and distributors and the big retail groups. Those recruited from these companies would have to become soldiers and work alongside seasoned regulars. An regular officer later recalled the challenge.

'The climax came when I received a draft of 350 privates who were mostly ‘departmental managers’ from a vast chain store. Their Managing Director had dug himself into the War Office and was now a field officer with one month’s service. Their wives had driven to the camp in expensive limousines and parked them around the parade ground while they searched for billets….The mutterings among ex-corporals back from France became a steady rumble, especially when one private, with a foreign name, announced incautiously that he expected to be a sergeant in three day’s time…That evening I heard on the telephone the high-pitched voice of the deaf commandant, “I understand you’ve got in your company a Private X who handles a million pounds’ worth of packing a year for Fuchs and Bieber.?”

This man was found and his skills put to good use, nevertheless good management was needed to integrate these skilled men into an Army.


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