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Quorn, England

Contributed by Marie Gray Wise.
My father, Pfc. William J. Gray from Philadelphia (photo below), was posted in Quorn from Feb. through June 5, 1944 prior to the D-Day Invasion. As you can see, he was grateful for the friendship of the people of Quorn and thoroughly enjoyed The Apple Tree there.
Marie Gray Wise

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Quorn - by William J. Gray, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Quorn is a small English village inland from the sea a good 40 or 50 miles. Not known particularly for any one industrial achievement, or in fact, not even known to exist by the world in general, and England in particular. Situated 9 miles from Leicester and 2-1/2 miles from Loughborough, it has no important strategic value, and there's no reason why anyone should want to go there intentionally. Should any wayward traveler stumble upon it, they might shrug their shoulders and forget it almost instantly---but for its exceptional friendliness for strangers.

Such strangers were the troopers of the veteran 505th Parachute Infantry when they boosted the population of Quorn by some 2,000 odd. By invading the town's limits in the wee dark hours of a cold March morning, their presence gave rumor mongers all the combustible material necessary to precipitate another side war between the colonies and England.

Much smaller in area and lesser in population than most of the neighboring townships, they more than made up for it with kindness and human understanding. Any tired or hungry soldier (English or American) would not have to look further than the first pub they entered. The people of Quorn had the unusual knack of getting along with any type of soldier, be he the friendly type or the other extreme

The natives of Quorn never failed (or hardly ever) to welcome their new-found friends into their homes. First off, they'd introduce the stranger to the little woman.

"Ma, this here bloke is Joe Brown, from Pennsylvania!" he says.

The wife would accept the introduction nonchalantly as though Pennsylvania was somewhere near London. Their comrade in arms' affection greatly rejuvenated the well-worn, but not battle weary paratroopers, troopers whose actions had played a great part in two invasions and were yet to be instrumental in four other major campaigns.

The lift in morale the regiment experienced in Quorn was so terrific, that when General Eisenhower stated to the assembled division that he wouldn't think of attempting the invasion of Normandy without us, he was saluted by steel helmets slamming into the concrete runways. I don't believe there's any other officer who can claim this distinction. However, Ike was equal to the occasion. He smiled, whether he approved or not we never learned. However, I believe this demonstration convinced him of the division's tremendous spirit - greatly revived by the people of Quorn.

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The Apple Tree
by William J. Gray, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

The troopers of Headquarters Company, 3rd Battalion scouted Quorn in record time, locating all eight or ten existing pubs. They then held a hasty conference in the tent - occupied by seven characters totally unalike except for their shared quality of unpredictability.

The group debated on an outlying pub as their town rendezvous. Doc Quillen presided. "All right, men, you've found the targets. Let's pool our statistics."

"How about that one in the rear end of town - the Apple Tree? It's in a good spot and has a good water supply available - you know that little stream in the rear of the pub that the limeys say is a river," Bevo said.

"It's got a lot of good escape routes near at hand, should ah- flight become necessary." John De smiled at Bevo. They were the two biggest guys in the tent and everybody was looking forward to the time they'd tangle. Bevo ignored him.

"And you know," Baby added enthusiastically, "I don't think I've ever seen a policeman or officer within 200 yards of the joint."

Monroe gave his vote with that southern twang of his, "That's becuze they all usually have their hands full down at Leicester. I guess they don't give a hill of beans for that litt' ol' establishment."

"I hear tell that the regiment's city patrol was occupied last night by a mighty battle in Loughborough." John King said the town's name with a huge sigh of pretended exasperation.

"Ain't it a shame?" John De whistled.

Doc looked around and pronounced, "I hereby declare the Apple Tree as the official rendezvous for this here tent."

"Amen to that," King concluded.

The Apple Tree gang thrived on this unusual situation, which allowed them more freedom while still being under the nose of Regimental Headquarters. They were more likely to run into the Officer of the Guard than an ordinary MP. They kept their rendezvous a secret and were never caught.

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Copyright of content contributed to this Archive rests with the author.
WW2 People's War is an online archive of wartime memories contributed by members of the public and gathered by the BBC. The archive can be found at www.bbc.co.uk/ww2peopleswar.


   
 Submitted on: 2009-08-07
 Submitted by: Various authors
 Artefact ID: 487
 Print: View artefact in printer-friendly page or just on its own.

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