Frank Booth was born on the 24th January 1921. He lived at 6 New Gate Holmfirth, Huddersfield West Yorkshire. His father was not named on his birth certificate and gives a clue as to why he writes to Mr & Mrs Booth, rather than Mum & Dad.
Before the war worked at Dobroyd mills manufacturing cloth in a small village close to where he was born called Jackson Bridge.
He had an eye for the ladies, writing frequently to Margaret’s Hartley & Swift, Helen, Grace & Isabel Fenders! He also played the accordion and loved listening to (and later playing) the guitar. He was 5’ 10” tall and a size 10 in boots, size 15” collar.
Guardsman Frank Booth 2658941 No. 3 Company, 2nd Battalion, Coldstream Guards was a very brave soldier, involved in the evacuation of Dunkirk; Operation Dynamo (1940) aged only 19. He also fought at the front line in Tunisia; Operation Torch (1942) aged only 21, as detailed in his previously published 1942-43 diary.
Unfortunately his 1944 diary doesn’t appear to have survived, at least not in my possession. He starts this 1945 diary in occupied Italy near Pesaro on the Adriatic coast, mainly playing his music for dances for the soldiers and (lots of) local women. Thankfully he survived the war safely.
He had an older brother Bill (Willie Sykes Booth 4615305) who also in the army as a Private during the war in 5 Section 50 Pioneer Corps. He also had a younger brother Francis Geoffrey Booth C/JX 352205 who served on aircraft carrier HMS Vengeance during the war, to whom he writes frequently. Although he never married he was survived by niece Janet Booth, daughter of Bill.
Went to house with Mandel and played accordion.
Went to house with Mandel, Sgt Hirst. “7am”. Played accordion.
On guard tonight. Wrote Margaret.
Moved off and arrived at Cesena.
Went to cinema to see “The Heavenly Body”. Letter from Grace, Margaret and Isabel.
Painting stands all day.
Wrote Isabel and Margaret. Finished painting the stands. Keep at the Pelman training.
Posted parcel of babies clothes to Frank and Alice. Visited house with Mandel.
Posted first lesson to Pelman Institute. Started work sheet and lesson No. 2. Posted letter to Margaret.
Went to see South African concert party “Modern Airs” and posted letter to Grace.
Received letters, Bill’s wife, Francis and Isabel. Dance at Eden Hall and on guard tonight!
Party at Sig’s Sergeant’s Mess. I played accordion in band for 1st time for one hour.
Dance for Tactical Army at A.M.G. hall. Swell place, with chandeliers, good dance floor etc. also tapestries and pictures.
Played again for police dance yesterday and today, very good shout. Write to Hohner people for pieces for the beginner on base and treble.
Letters from Margaret and Isabel. Must write tomorrow. Played at Eden ballroom this afternoon.
Got off, went to house with Pat. Good dance.
Got off for the day. Went to cinema in Pesaro today.
Played at Police do with accordion and guitar.
Played at Sergeant’s mess (Sigs). Good do.
Visited dive with Mandel. Caught by police. New band room.
Batman for Major. Wrote Margaret. On guard tonight. Getting hard-worked. War in Europe end May-June?
Played at Sigs dance in afternoon. A.M.G. hall at night. Had a rare thing 9.30 hrs am.
Play at A.M.G. hall. Wrote Isabel. Played in house for Sgt. Major.
Went to Pesaro for strings for guitar, violin.
Played for Tactical Army.
Played for Sgt Mess and officer’s dance.
Played for Rear Army dance.
Played for Police dance.
Played at Eden ballroom for Sig’s dance. Accordion practice.
Played at A.M.G. hall for dance. Tank workshops.
Went to ENSA show and took kit up for Sgt’s dance. Practice on accordion.
Wrote Isabel and Margaret. Play Eden hall for main Army.
Went to play at St. Angelo for tank troop’s workshops.
Rear Army dance. Not too bad.
Went to A.M.G. dance (Italian band) and played for Sgt Major in house. Don’t go on that game, it isn’t worth it?
Played for Sig’s dance in the afternoon at Eden Hall. On guard tonight.
Had a clear day, went to pictures in afternoon and visited house at night.
Played at the Municipio.
Day off, went to Pini’s for a drink of wine.
Played at Rear Army H.Q. dance.
Broadcast at Cesano theatre for 1 hour. Practice in afternoon. Ticked up No. 2 form Pelman course.
Played at Eden hall (Sigs dance) and went to the bakery. Unit dance – Engineers Band.
Played at Engineers (Rfy Co) dance. A decent affair.
Band practice today. Also General McCreery’s visit.
Played at Municipio.
No dance because of Cesena Bishop’s embargo.
Broadcast on the Army Troops Radio.
Played at Eden hall and went up into house with Bill.
Played in Eden hall. Went to bed at ten o’clock for a change.
Day off. Went to pictures. Played accordion in house for Chappie.
Played at Eden hall.
Played at St. Angelo, stayed overnight.
Day off. Went for a walk visited the NAAFI (Berkely) and played accordion for dancing.
Wrote to Isabel and Margaret. Went to dinner at the NAAFI (Berkely restaurant).
Played at Eden hall in the afternoon.
Day off. Went to Ancona to get accordion. £10.
Played at Eden hall.
Played at the Municipal hall Main Army dance.
Played at Eden hall. Private gramophone recital.
Played at St. Angelo. Good do. Had a bottle of Worthington’s.
Sgt. Picks got back from leave. I got back from S. and sent off £4 for cigs. Should cover us for 3 months as from today.
Sigs hall dance at night.
Went out with Doris in the afternoon Municipio.
Day off. Went for a stroll. Sgt. Major’s party with A.T.S. at night. Just the job.
Played at Sigs hall, went to ENSA show (R.E.’s)
Went out with Doris in the evening. Very intelligent, very quiet, too much like a pin-up girl.
St. Angelo. Pretty good. 2nd Lt. down with malaria.
Practice in band room.
Went to Virgin City with Mandel. Had a tiff with barman.
Dance at Municipio. Monty pushes. What the luck.
Went with Blondie, Georgie and Frazer to Virgin City. Great time of it. Pelman book 4 nearly finished. Sent off £4 to Isabel.
Received music from Isabel. Sent off £4 again today.
Got the piano tuned. Finished book No. 4. Wrote to John Hilton.
Played for Signals Sgt’s mess.
Played in YMCA Cesena.
Went to see Italian ENSA show. Good accordion band (4 accordions, double bass, drums, guitar.
“Newmarket Races” item. Note about the piano being dirty from S. M. Paton.
Played at DR’s (Sigs hall). Look after the band more.
Day off. Painted up.
Day off. Painted up.
Played at Berkely club Cesena.
Took kit to Sigs Sgt’s mess, didn’t play.
Played at Municipio. Saw Camp about guitar. Sent off £2 to Isabel, payment for accordion straps and music.
Rear Army Camp dance. Municipio.
Did a spot of painting. Played at Municipio.
Painted the backs of several stands.
Sigs Sgt’s mess dance.
Sant Angelo dance.
Hospital dance. 83rd General.
Rear Army dance, Sgt’s Mess.
Played at Rear Army dance. Read Pelman book No. 5.
Waiting to be tried. Wrote Institute and also Comforts Fund. Went to cinema.
Given 14 days C.B. starting today. Band meeting 7.30.
Painted stands. Practiced accordion.
Played at Sgt Mess for dance. No A.T.S. Went to cinema.
Practised accordion. Wrote Isabel.
Accordion practice and cinema. Band practice.
Accordion practice. Went to cinema. Henry Cotton got married. Laceby.
Played at Sigs Sgt’s Mess. Cabaret show.
Practiced accordion. Had a rare thing, and also returned money 500 Lira. Got drunk on whisky, beer, etc. Leave whisky alone.
Last day of C.B. Practised accordion. Loaded canteen wagon.
Moved out of Cesena. Moved into tents near Ferrara.
No practice on accordion.
Living in E.R.I.P. tent with the drummer and the sax player.
Mucked around with Fraser.
Played accordion at nearby village dance.
Digging all day and played for house dance.
I play accordion for house dance.
Main party arrived. I play accordion for house dance.
Went down to Venice. Bought stockings. Received cigs.
Gala day. Played guitar in band at 4 o’clock, 7-9, 10-11. Good do.
Cleared up the stage. Went to the cinema at night.
Away on advance party to 96 kilo’s from border. Packing tents up. Played at village dance.
Worked all day putting tents up.
Putting and sorting out tents. Wrote Margaret.
Wrote Mr & Mrs Booth, Francis and Isabel.
Put up further tents and supervised Italians. Went to the French woman’s house.
Helped sanitary. Distributed NAFFI. Went to French woman’s house.
Made cricket pitch with Italians. On pass today. Stayed in.
Went to Joe’s house, a drop of red wine.
Band practice tonight. Wet again under marquee.
Had tooth out. Worked on goal posts. Went to house.
Built small road buttress. ½ hour on accordion. Sprained my wrist. Visited house with washing.
Raining like hell. Put up two EPI’s. Party, didn’t play much because of wrist.
Went to see M.O. Excused duty and had arm in sling. Good work on Pelmanism.
Read 11-12 books on Pelmanism. Finished on book 10. 6 packs cigs up to now.
Finished books 11, 12, 13 on Pelmanism. Wrote Francis. Stayed in and played accordion a little by ear.
Read books, wrote letters all day. Played accordion a little at night.
Italian fiesta. Wrote Francis & Margaret.
Took accordion to Udine. Wrote Isabel. Last day of rest following sprained wrist.
Did a little work and played accordion at party. (Soficani Cavanaugh.)
Did a little work and visited house.
Working with Italians.
Busy working putting up tents. Visited house.
Away on leave to Venice Lido. Got accordion from Udine.
Fitted up at the Excelsior on the sea front.
Spent a lot of time in boats, gondola’s and walking about.
Sent off post cards to everybody including Peter Swift.
Stayed with Janeti in the “bosco”. What a night of it.
Mucked about San Marco’s Square. Went to cinema.
Made gramophone message at the NAFFI – EFI. Sent it off to Isabel.
Arrived back from Venice. Received two packs of cigs.
Looked after bath house. Played at house from 9 till 12.
Went to Camp Fanton at 6.30pm. Left business in the area. Drunk again.
Had a village dance in café with accordion. Took Pat along.
Had a good drink with Pat (Coldstreamer). Swimming and boating.
Had letter from Margaret and replied too it. Swimming and rowing.
Staying at a place called San Danielle.
Played guitar and accordion. Swimming in lake.
Night spent in walking. Watched the corn machine.
Went with A.T.S. girl. Blooming awful. Horse riding.
Go for swim. Play for dance in café 9 till 12. Very good vino bianco.
Wrote Isabel and Francis about leave.
Walked round the village. Swimming, rowing.
A chap was drowned in lake. I ran a village jig in the local pub.
Raining cats & dogs
Played in the smaller café in a village near St. Danielle.
Visited the English speaking Italians. Went to village “barn dance”.
Ran a jig in the larger café.
Ran a jig in the larger café. Walked home “etc” with a woman and had a good time of it.
Take soap and cigs to Louisie. Visit papa.
Play for dance in village café.
Plenty of swimming and rowing.
Ran a village dance. Take Louisie.
Visit Louisie at the house. Have a great time of it.
Went to Louisie house. Quiet night.
Visit St. Danielle.
Had Louisie again with me. Visited the house.
Ran dance in village café. Got paid for it. The first time.
Lots of swimming and rowing. Very little sleep.
Went up to St. Danielle for the night. Drinking.
Played at village dance and stayed with Louisie.
Margaret throws the sponge in. The girl who waited too long!
First day back in camp at Rear HQ Udine.
Did tents and wall building. Sigs canteen. Letter from Bill, also photos.
Went to Udine on pass.
Went up to café in village 4 kilos away. Plenty of vermouth.
Went to Udine on pass. Pictures and dined on Italian cooking.
Played in village café at Mandel’s request. Lot of vermouths.
Was up at Signals canteen. Also visited H. Mess. The last of the silk.
Accordion practice by ear. Sweltering in the heat under canvas. Sent parcel off to Isabel. Advance party. Doing the last Pelman book 15.
Went to open air cinema – Bob Hope in the Princess and the Pirate. Accordion practice.
Had a good drink of vermouth. Spent evening in playing accordion and drinking.
Letter from Isabel. Practice accordion at night less music.
Received a letter from Margaret. Practiced accordion. Wrote back.
Practiced accordion went to open air cinema on village green.
Got awfully drunk in Udine today on champagne. P.S. Really drunk.
Received letter from Isabelle stating she received parcel and also £1 note. That makes £5 she has got for our benefit on leave.
Played the accordion in Officer’s Mess (H.) Had enough to drink.
Sweltering in the sun all day. Thunderstorm in evening. Practiced accordion.
Practiced accordion with music. Sold cigs and choc for 600 Lira. Chromatic scale. Letter from Margaret.
Went to St. Danielle to see Louisie. Got back in time for cinema. No accordion.
Worked hard all day on stage (am) and bath house (pm). Wrote to Isabel.
Working all day. Practiced accordion. Saw the education officer. Shall I go in for a trade or school certificate.
Worked all day packing up. Letter from Francis. Practiced accordion. Party – beer & vermouth.
Worked all day.
Acquired blue silk blouse. Played a little.
Working all day. Played accordion a little.
Heaved tents around all day. Must get proper accordion practice and thinking about getting a trade?
Peeled potatoes all day. Played accordion a little.
Moving tents. Ordinary work. Spoke to Sgt Major about promotion and an entry into a mess.
Wrote to Bill, Mr. Booth, Margaret, Isabel.
Practiced accordion practically. Peeled potatoes. Had chocolate.
Holiday. Did nothing all day. Practiced accordion. Party.
V.J. holiday. Accordion practice. Saw about the book keeping, but have decided to wait till after leave. Wood machining and carpentry?
Not much chance for accordion. Turning civvies out.
Turning civvies out all day. Accordion practice at night. Good accordion practice lately.
Turning civvies out. Worked all day, but good accordion practice.
Worked all day. New YMCA at Treibach. Picture house usher at night. No accordion.
Went to see Austrian folk show. No accordion practice. Very busy all day.
Saw Marie, German girl. Had a great time with her.
Worked all day. Played accordion belong to Cpl. Cook, Main H.Q. in YMCA canteen. Isabel music arrives.
Got playing accordion with Cpl. Cook of Main Army. Got some good pieces to practice and learn.
Worked with tents all day. Played accordion a little at night.
Plenty of work these days with the tents. A little accordion practice.
At Police party with accordion. Was awfully drunk. No music practice.
Went to see the English film “Blythe Spirit” with Jim. No practice.
Stayed with Ed main cookhouse. Tried to play with him, a little practice.
Hand high party today.
Hard at work with tents. Accordion practice.
Helped in the bath house. Played accordion without music.
Case of the ? and the ?. Not very pleasant.
Went out with A.T.S. girl. All ended at the cinema.
Play accordion at Camp Commandant release party. The case of the ?.
Set off from H.Q. arrived at Villach camp. 1st move.
Arrived at Sedan, French Ardennes. Cruised a little French textile town.
Arrived at Calais. Slept over night.
Came up from London and stopped with Mrs Barrow. Moved to Hade Edge.
Came to see Millie and played with dance band (guitar).
Wrote to Francis, Isabel and Margaret.
Waiting on for Bill and also for my credits.
Bill arrived during night. We got drunk etc.
Row with the family but we (Millie, Bill and I) went to police. They go to infirmary tomorrow.
I travelled to Blairgowrie arrived at 5 o’clock. Slept overnight in YMCA Huddersfield.
Listened to a very high-brow concert. I didn’t like it.
Went to hear boys – band contest. No free love. Visited ? Park. Saw Dougie ?.
Went to Scottish Church (Blairgowrie) with Isabel. O.K.
Went for a walk into country with Isabel. Spoke to “Woody”.
Went to Dundee. All shops need coupons. Cinema at night.
Went for a walk in afternoon with Isabel. Cinema at night.
Went to Scotch dance. Very good.
Go back today. Rail crash. I was on train previous.
Stayed with Millie’s people. Had tea with Clifford. The best week’s holiday I ever had.
Went to Grimsby and arrived about 4 o’clock. Awful time of it.
Went with Margaret. Very awful company and am thoroughly cheesed off.
Came back from Grimsby. Satisfied to get away. Finish writing. Awful.
Slept in lounge of YMCA. Dancing at CO-OP hall.
Went with Mary, and slept with Margery. Stayed the night.
Stayed in the morning at Margery’s, then got away to meet Mary.
Arrived at Millie’s. Went to Harvest Festival, Hade Edge. Club at night Stanton Arms. Not satisfied without Isabel.
Attended a sale of harvest foods. Paid /6- for butter! Very dull indeed.
Went to Huddersfield with Millie. Visited Picture House and Palace.
Set off, via 8 o’clock Penistone bus. Went to dance in London.
Met a guardsman. Visited Trafalgar Square, Hyde Park. Two women at night.
Went up to Euston station up Tottenham Court Road. Got watch mended, saw Scandalli accordion.
On the boat and arrived at Calais. Stayed overnight.
Set off in Blue Train. Travelled to Paris. France is flat agricultural country. Large but thinly populated.
Slept overnight in corridor of train. Arrived Torino passed through Simplon.
Stayed in barracks. Wrote Isabel. Went out into Torino had a very good night playing accordion. Paid Lira.
In train from Torino. Train overnight.
Arrived at Villach camp.
Arrived at B.T.A. H.Q. in Klagenfurt after day from Alamein camp.
Played at Joyce Gotland’s party. Scandalli accordion.
Was on fire picket tonight. Played accordion. No mail.
Started joinery. Made 1 fire stand for buckets. Went to pictures and Austrian beer cellar.
Made 1 stand. Went to M.T. party. Quite a good show.
Made one fire stand. Went to the H.Q. dance. Got to know Gertie an Austrian girl who speaks English.
Went with Vincent and Betty to No. 1 Welfare Centre.
Went with Gertie to see “Arsenic and Old Lace” at the Viking.
Went to German cinema and enjoyed it.
Went to the lake at Bad Godesberg 4 kilos out of Klagenfurt. I saw a beautiful sunset from the top of the mountain.
Went out with Gertrude but stayed inside hotel. Politics talk with a liberal Austrian.
Went for a short walk with Gertrude. Played accordion in private and had a carry on with the girl wasn’t happy.
Wrote letters to Bill and Isabel. Went out with Gertrude.
Had Gertrude for final time. Played accordion.
Was with Ingrid. Played accordion. Gertrud in bed with headache.
Wrote Isabel. Saw Gertrude but didn’t go out with her. Went to garrison cinema show.
Already US as playing accordion in the canteen for 1 hour.
Saw Gertrude last night. Not too good.
Went to canteen and played accordion. Saw “Goodbye Mr. Chips”.
Went to HQ dance. Met Cathy and saw Gertie. Played accordion.
Went for a short walk with Gertie. Nothing doing.
Joe and I were sat drinking in the Trieste hotel. Gertie and the other went with Capt.
Had a jolly good drink of whisky and sherry. Fell out with Gertrude.
Went for a stroll with Joe in town. Accordion practice. Women always seem to want. I am to ask for apprentices and also education.
Played accordion and went out with Chris.
Got my watch back. Went to garrison cinema.
Dance, had a lot of beer and danced a lot.
Walked around town. Filled in forms for education and carpenter course.
Went to ENSA show “Gaslight” with Chris. Exchanged watch for 600 cigs.
Met Hilda and played Hohner accordion. The bass was rather harsh. Wrote to Isabel and W. Haig.
Was up at the A.T.S. billets.
Had a drink in canteen.
Went to Viking cinema. Walked to ATS with Anne.
Went to HQ dance. Attended with Chris.
Went to cinema with Chris.
Went to opera music Schubert with Ellen. Tea dance in Crusader club.
Had a drink of vermouth and beer at No. 6 workshops.
Went with Chris ATS girl to the cinema.
Went to tea dance in NAFFI. Met up with Anita.
Had a drunken brawl with Metcalf. Played accordion and associated with Anita.
Went to HQ dance with Chris.
Went with Anita to dance tonight. Minor brawl with Metcalf.
Bought pen and pencil. With Anita.
Went to Car Co. dance.
Stopped in Anita’s house. Played guitar.
Perhaps I go beginner’s course carpentry.
Went to cinema. Didn’t see Anita. No accordion.
What about Police dance tonight.
Went to dance at Car Co.
Went to dance.
Walked Anita home.
Walked Anita home.
Stopped in Anita’s house and went to 3 Coy Sigs dance.
Stopped in Anita’s house.
Stopped in Anita’s house. Very nice.
Stayed in Anita’s house.
Went to Austrian dance but came away from it.
Stayed in barracks and had drink of beer in canteen. Do not give Anita anything more.
Saw Anita home from NAFFI.
Waited for Anita in house. Getting cheesed off with her.
Went to HQ dance with Anita. Row about her mucking around with men.
Slowly getting Anita round to my way of thinking.
Scottie makes the acquaintance of Louisa – so do I!
Had terrible row with Anita. She was in tears and I was raving.
No work today but delivered coal to Villa Eugene. What about writing to Coldstreamers Association?
Got inebriated with Anita and family. A delightful evening.
Anita invited two blokes up to house so I had an awful time of it.
Stayed with Anita in house and had a delightful time with her.
Stayed in and wrote letter to Isabel. Bed at 9.30 hrs.
The last day with Anita. It was really smashing, we both love each other very much.
Set off for Florence today. Went down to restaurant in NAFFI and had a passing night.
Wrote to Anita and Vincent. Went into restaurant at Villach.
Went down to Klagenfurt to see Anita and had a marvellous time.