‘I got called up so off I went to war only 18’ tells North Woolwich veteran

A photo of Bob Burroughs taken while serving in the Royal Artillery in North Africa & the Middle Eas

A photo of Bob Burroughs taken while serving in the Royal Artillery in North Africa & the Middle East. Picture: Arnaud Stephenson - Credit: photo: Arnaud Stephenson

Teaching hundreds of Egyptian and Greek soldiers to use artillery was Bob Burroughs’ responsibility during the Second World War.

A photo of Bob Burroughs taken while serving in the Royal Artillery in North Africa & the Middle Eas

A photo of Bob Burroughs taken while serving in the Royal Artillery in North Africa & the Middle East. Picture: Arnaud Stephenson - Credit: photo: Arnaud Stephenson

He admits feeling ambivalent when he was called up for service as an 18-year-old in March 1945.

“I didn’t feel strongly one way or another – I got called up and I had to do it so off I went,” Bob, of Albert Walk, North Woolwich, remembered.

A photo of Bob Burroughs taken while serving in the Royal Artillery in North Africa & the Middle Eas

A photo of Bob Burroughs taken while serving in the Royal Artillery in North Africa & the Middle East. Picture: Arnaud Stephenson - Credit: photo: Arnaud Stephenson

He was sent to Egypt for a year and Palestine for two years, with one of his memorable moments being playing football on the original HMS Ocean.

“The weather was lovely but it was quite strict in that we had to do what we were supposed to do,” Bob, now 87, said. “Some of the Egyptians and Greeks wanted to be our friends, especially with those that were working in the kitchens.”

A photo of Bob Burroughs taken while serving in the Royal Artillery in North Africa & the Middle Eas

A photo of Bob Burroughs taken while serving in the Royal Artillery in North Africa & the Middle East. Picture: Arnaud Stephenson - Credit: photo: Arnaud Stephenson


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He met his future wife, Sylvia, when he was back in England on a month’s leave and started writing letters to her soon afterwards. They’ve now been married 64 years.

Bob says Remembrance Day means “a lot” to him, particularly as he comes from a military background, with his grandfather, dad, uncles and cousins all serving in the military.

A photo of Bob Burroughs taken while serving in the Royal Artillery in North Africa & the Middle Eas

A photo of Bob Burroughs taken while serving in the Royal Artillery in North Africa & the Middle East. Picture: Arnaud Stephenson - Credit: photo: Arnaud Stephenson

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As usual, he has been helping to sell poppies to raise money for the charity in its run-up and will attend the annual Remembrance Day service at Brick Lane music hall.

Bob received the 1939-1945 Victory Medal and a General Service Medal for his years in the military but he also treasures the medals awarded to his father, Robert James Burroughs, who served in the Royal Horse Artillery during the First World War.

A photo of Bob Burroughs taken while serving in the Royal Artillery in North Africa & the Middle Eas

A photo of Bob Burroughs taken while serving in the Royal Artillery in North Africa & the Middle East. Picture: Arnaud Stephenson - Credit: photo: Arnaud Stephenson

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