‘This captivating account . . . is the story of an ordinary soldier, but an extraordinary man. I commend this book most warmly.’ Richard Dannatt, General The Lord Dannatt GCB CBE MC DL, Chief of the General Staff 2006-9
The son of a Hull butcher, Neville ‘Timber’ Wood volunteered in 1939, at the age of eighteen, to join the British Army’s Tyne-Tees 50th Northumbrian Division. Timber was in many ways an entirely unremarkable soldier – he won no medals for gallantry, though he exhibited conspicuous bravery day after day, for years, and he rose no higher through the ranks than Lance Corporal. Nonetheless, he had an extraordinary war. As a driver for the Royal Army Service Corps, Timber’s job was to get ammunition and high explosives to the front line. It was a job with a high casualty rate, sometimes higher than front-line troops.
The 50th Division was the principal fighting division of the British Army in the Second World War. Four men of the 50th were awarded Victoria Crosses, more than any other division. It was last off the beach at Dunkirk and the first back on it on D-Day; the division was at the heart of El Alamein and the major actions which followed; it took part in the invasion of Sicily and fought all the way from Normandy to Germany, where Timber saw first-hand the horrors of the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp.
Timber’s story is pretty much the British war experience from the point of view of an ordinary soldier. He was even captured, saw Rommel and escaped. This book, written by his son Mike, is based on Neville’s extensive wartime diaries and original documents he retained from the war as well as on long conversations between the two of them when Mike transcribed the diaries as a gift for his father in 2006. Timber died in 2015.