Walter Crewe 8th Armoured Division 1942 War Diary




In this very brief 1942 war diary, 29 year old Corporal Walter Leonard Crewe is in England preparing to go overseas with the 23rd Armoured Brigade, 8th Armed Division of the British Army.

He visits Freetown Sierra Leone, Cape Town South Africa and Aden, en route to Egypt including Alexandria & El Alamein.

Occasionally he reuses this diary to record events from 1943. He is married to Audrey (Mary) Jean Crewe and they have a child together, born on the 9th January 1943, called Jane Charlotte Anne Crewe.

There is a very sad story associated with this diary in that unfortunately Walter did not survive the war – being killed on the 25th January 1944 at the Anzio landing in Italy – Operation Shingle. Mary never remarried and stayed in the family home till her death on the 10th December 2009.



For the first time in my life I am going to keep a daily record of events. This should be an eventful year. To date I have been in the army for fifteen months and am likely to embark for overseas any day now.

W. L. C.
1st January 1942

January 1942

Thursday 1st

Off. Uneventful. Phoned Mary.

1943 Agedabia.

Friday 2nd

Duty driver DorkingGroombridge. Letter from Burton and “Meadow View”

Saturday 3rd

Mary came down for week-end, Crest Hotel.

Sunday 4th

Mary returned- if only we could be together for good. Phoned Westview spoke to both Ma & Pa.

Monday 5th

Stand by. Lingfield – Groombridge. Pictures, not so good. Phoned Mary.

Tuesday 6th           

Duty driver Dorking Groombridge. Letter from Burton. Priv. leave commences.

Wednesday 7th

Off. Uneventful day.

Thursday 8th

A run to Hove – called at “Meadow View” – saw Mary and her people, could do with a few more runs like this! Pictures in the evening.

Friday 9th

Stand by. Dentist – two stoppings.

1943 Jane Charlotte Anne born Jan 9th 1943 8lbs 5ozs!

Saturday 10th

Stand by. Trip to Tunbridge Wells. Called at Eastleigh saw Margaret.

Sunday 11th

Duty driver Dorking. Phoned Mary. First fall of snow.

Monday 12th

Pictures. More snow.

Tuesday 13th

Bikes taken off the road. Drivers supplied with two cars. Roads icy.

Wednesday 14th

Tobogganed with White and Jacobs. Phoned Mary. Roads still icy.

Thursday 15th

Stand by. Water trailer, Tunbridge Wells. Pictures. Roads still bad. Letter from Burton.

Friday 16th

Dental parade. Five fillings

Saturday 17th


Sunday 18th

Church parade. Phoned Mary.

Monday 19th

Stand by. Pictures.

Tuesday 20th

Tobogganed with Jac & Davey.

Wednesday 21st

Phoned Mary.

Thursday 22nd

Pictures. More snow.

Friday 23rd

More snow. Wrote Burton & “Meadow View”

Saturday 24th

Overnight rain washed all snow away.

February 1942

Thursday 5th

7 days leave.

Saturday 7th

Hippodrome Brighton.

Tuesday 10th

Meadow View with Mary.

Wednesday 11th

Hippodrome Brighton.

Thursday 12th

Returned from leave.

Friday 13th

Phoned Mary. Pictures.

Sunday 15th

Phoned Mary.

Monday 16th


Thursday 19th

Pictures. Phoned Mary

Friday 20th

Duty driver.

Saturday 21st

Stand – by.

Friday 27th

1943 Crossed Tunisian border – Ben Gardane.

March 1942

Tuesday 31st

Seven days embarkation leave.

April 1942

Thursday 2nd

Appointed A/U/L/LCPL.

Sunday 5th                 

Extension of embarkation leave phoned through.

Monday 13th

Returned from leave

Wednesday 15th

Driver to convoy to Liverpool.

Saturday 25th

Mary came down. Stayed at “Crest”.

May 1942

Sunday 3rd


Tuesday 5th

Entrained Crowboro’ 7 o’clock.

Wednesday 6th

Embarked S.S. Mooltan Greenock 6 o’clock. S.S. Mooltan P&O Liner 21,000 tons, ex armed commerce raider. Sister ship Rawlpindi.

Thursday 7th

Sailed downstream, opposite Dunoon anchored. Interesting watching various craft pass by – warships, subs etc.

Friday 8th

Wrote two letters to Mary.

Sunday 10th

12 o’clock midnight set sail S.S. Mooltan destination unknown!.

Tuesday 12th

Mid. 2. NCO i/c sick parade.

Wednesday 13th

Mid. 3.

Thursday 14th

Mid. 4.

Friday 15th

Mid. 5.

Saturday 16th

Mid. 6.

Wrote to Mary. Calm.

Sunday 17th

Mid. 7. Cruiser’s plane on patrol. Hot – calm – somewhere near Canary Isles.

Monday 18th

Mid. 8.

Tuesday 19th

Mid. 9. One of our blokes spotted a shark.

Wednesday 20th

Mid. 10. Saw a shoal of flying fish – “Short Sunderland” on patrol circling around – saw shark for first time. Slept on deck.

Thursday 21st

Mid. 11.

Friday 22nd

Mid. 12. Anchored Freetown for provisions & water. Interesting scenery – Autumn!

Monday 25th

Engagement 1940.

Tuesday 26th

Under way again. Weighed anchor Freetown 1.30pm. Additional escort fleet auxillary. Mess meeting.

June 1942

Monday 1st

Wrote to Mary.

Saturday 6th

Arrived Cape Town 12 noon – mid winter. Shore leave 6.30pm. Fruit – fruit – fruit!!!

Sunday 7th

Shore leave nice place – very hospitable folk. More fruit!

Monday 8th

Shore leave invited out to supper – Afrikaans. Sent cable and airgraph to Mary also cable to Ma. More fruit.

Tuesday 9th

Shore leave – pictures – Citadel. Also visited Bioscope.

Wednesday 10th

Shore leave – pictures – “This Thing Called Love”.

Thursday 11th

Weighed anchor Cape Town 9.30am.

Monday 15th

Off Durban.

Tuesday 16th

Very slow these days.

Wednesday 17th

Water – water – water – very monotonous.

Friday 19th

Won 2nd prize at whist.

Tuesday 23rd                            

Freighters left for Madagascar – getting hotter.

Saturday 27th

Wrote to Mary.

1943 Mother died.

Sunday 28th


Tuesday 30th

Anchored Aden 10.30am. Hot.

July 1942

Wednesday 1st

Weighed anchor Aden 9.30am. Alone no escort.

Saturday 4th

Wrote to Mary.

Sunday 5th

Arrived Port Suez 5.0pm. Slept night on kit bags.

Monday 6th

Entrained Tor Tahag Station El Quassassin – what a journey – water melons for corned beef.

Wednesday 8th

Cabled Mary

Thursday 9th

Duty driver. Pictures – “Garrison”.

Friday 10th

Duty driver.

Sunday 11th

Pictures – “Garrison”.

Sunday 12th

Educational film Mob Centre. Air letter card Mary.

Thursday 16th

E.F.M. Mary

Friday 17th

Left Tahag arrived Amiriya.

Saturday 18th

Moved twenty miles to Amiriya.

Monday 20th

Air letter card Mary. Received cable from Mary.

Tuesday 21st

Green envelopes to Mary & “Meadow View”.

Wednesday 22nd

Moved camp to Sidi Zerieba forty miles behind front line.

Thursday 23rd

Sgt Wills left platoon. On guard.

Sunday 26th


Monday 27th

C.E. air mail Mary. Air letter card, M.Y.

Tuesday 28th

Cabled Mary.

Wednesday 29th

Moved to -.

Thursday 30th

Guard. Move to -. Bathe in Med’.

Friday 31st


August 1942

Monday 3rd

Exercise – wrote to Mary. Received five letters & three parcels from Mary.

Tuesday 4th

Moved 16 miles forward, El Amayid.

Thursday 6th

Alexandria. Sent bag to Mary.

Monday 12th

Wrote to Mary.

Saturday 15th

Received letter from May – June 6th.

Monday 17th

Wrote to Mary.

Tuesday 18th

Received air mail post & airgraph from Mary.

Friday 21st

Wrote to in-laws.

Sunday 23rd

Wrote to Mary. Received air mail post card from Mary.

Monday 24th

Air mail letter card to Mary.

Thursday 27th

Received letter June 14 – from Mary.

Sunday 30th

Air mail Green Envelope to Mary.

Monday 31st

Air mail post card from Mary.

September 1942

Tuesday 1st

Air mail letter card to Mary.

Friday 4th

First air mail letter from Mary dated July 15th.

Sunday 6th

Air mail letter from Mary dated July 21st.

Tuesday 8th

Air mail letter card to Mary.

Monday 14th

Air mail green envelope to Mary.

Wednesday 16th

Started gunnery course – 2 pounder anti-tank at 73rd Anti-Tank Regt.

Thursday 17th

Surface letter from Mary – dated July 5th.

Friday 18th

Sent air mail letter card to Mary.

Saturday 19th

Enlisted army 1940 – 2 years.

Wednesday 23rd

Air mail P.O.’s from Mary & “Meadow View” cable to Pa-in-law.

Thursday 24th

Cable to Mary via Salvation Army canteen.

Friday 25th

Air mail P.O. and two air mail letters July 26th & Aug 2nd from Mary. Sent air mail letter card to “Meadow View”

Tuesday 29th

Green envelope & air mail letter card to Mary.

Wednesday 30th

Air mail letter from Mary Aug 10th.

October 1942

Friday 2nd

Commenced my leave – Alexandria 5 days.

Thursday 8th

Returned from leave. P.O.’s Aug 27th & Sept 3rd airgraph. Sept 10th parcel. Letter Aug 16th. Cable. Letter from Ma-in-law.

Friday 9th

Air mail letter card & green envelope to Mary.

Saturday 10th

Half-way house Cairo.

Tuesday 13th

Airgraph from “Meadow View”

Thursday 15th

Snaps to “Meadow View” Post card & letter from Mary.

Monday 19th

Green envelope to Mary.

Thursday 22nd

Air mail letter card to Mary. Xmas cards.

Sunday 25th

Green envelope Mary.

Friday 30th

Cable from Mary. WLD! Ann!

Saturday 31st

Cabled Mary.

November 1942

Sunday 1st

Green envelope Mary.

Sunday 8th

Birth cable from Mary. Moved to Alamein.

Monday 9th

Wedding Ann. Moved to Gazal.

December 1942

Friday 25th

Agedabia. Turkey & Xmas pudding!!!

Saturday 26th

Made full corporal. 


W Burton
The Drive

Personal Notes

Walter Leonard Crewe
24 Gaisford Road

Tel No. 2034
Bicycle No. 934401
Bank Pass Book No. 31348/059

Size in Collars 15
Size in Hats 6 7/8
Size in Boots 8
Weight 10 st.
Height 5 ft 8 ins.

Anzio War Cemetery, Italy Corporal Walter Leonard Crewe T/220999 Royal Army Service Corps




Walter Crewe 8th Armoured Division 1942 War Diary

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