Excerpt from Dunkirk to D Day
On 3 April, Bill Williams (COS RAOC), accompanied by Dick Hunt, took off from Hendon in an American aircraft to Marrakesh via Prestwick. They slept on the steel floor of the aircraft. The itinerary began at Marrakesh where they stayed at the Mamounier Hotel, formerly a Sultan’s palace. They travelled on to Algiers where Bill met with General Humphrey Gale and, one of the Class of ’22, Wallace Pickthall. Gale was then Chief Administrative Officer to General Eisenhower’s Allied Forces HQ, Wallace Pickthall was appointed Director of Ordnance Services at Allied HQ and would gain a priceless insight into allied working for a seaborne invasion. Alan Fernyhough was serving in North Africa and so could see at first hand the qualities of the man which he described in his History of the RAOC:
‘Brigadier Pickthall was not the man to shirk this task even though he was shrewd enough to know that it was likely to get him more criticism than credit. He had all the knowledge and experience of Ordnance work necessary for the appointment, but his chief qualification was that he had qualities of personality and character most needed at that time. His transparent honesty, integrity, friendliness and sense of humour ensured the maximum co-operation. The Americans liked and trusted him. Even those who prided themselves on being hard-bitten, “Vinegar Joe” types found difficultly in keeping up the act. His loyalty to his own staff evoked from them respect, admiration and a determination not to let him down. Yet, he lacked that element of ruthlessness which must be available in such a ruthless war.'
I also write about the North African campaign in War on Wheels.