‘A lot of accidents when we trained with live ammunition’
Local war veteran Allan Doughty is in his 89th year, but can still vividly recount details from the Second World War.
He enlisted in the army at age 18 and served for exactly five years and three months as a drill and weapons instructor, beginning in 1940.
He recalls the atmosphere was tense when war first broke out. “Everyone was, I wouldn’t say scared, but they were concerned that we might be fighting.
“Some fellows went overseas, but I didn’t go because I was attached to the training battalion, so I stayed in Bermuda the whole time.”
He said there were training accidents which caused a few injuries and in one case a “boy was shot in our unit”.
“It never came out in court exactly what happened, but one guy was killed and there were a lot of accidents when we were training with live ammunition or when people made mistakes and threw a live grenade when they shouldn’t have.”
Mr Doughty said there was a scarcity of food and other items in Bermuda during wartime. “There were a lot of horses at the beginning of the war and very few afterwards because people ate their horses.
“For the most part the Island had good food [vegetables and biscuits], but it was rationed just the same as everywhere else.”
It was also an “exciting” and “different” time for Bermuda. There were thousands of soldiers here from America and England, which made it challenging for some men to meet women, he said.
“I didn’t get any dates. In fact I never met my wife until I came out of the army. The competition wasn’t so good.”
For Mr Doughty, Remembrance Day is an important time to honour those men and women who fought for the Island, particularly those who lost their lives in war.
The Royal Gazette: “I remember mainly the fellows who were lost in my units and there were some outside that I knew who were killed in the war. Others were wounded and died after the war due to their injuries.”
It’s because of these brave people we enjoy many of the freedoms we do today, he said.