Chiswick Man Publishes Father's Memoir Of War

Richmond Gorle fought at El Alamein


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A Chiswick man has published an account of his father’s war experiences including details of his involvement at the Battle of El Alamein.

A handful of veterans gathered in a remote desert cemetery outside the Egyptian town six weeks ago to mark the 70th anniversary of what was called Britain's "greatest victory since Waterloo".

Peter Gorle, an engineering consultant, has spent years editing the memoirs of his father Richmond, who saw service in North Africa, Sicily and North West Europe. The book, ‘The Quiet Gunner at War’ has been described as a “delightfully fresh and well written account of war at the sharp end of North Africa, Sicily and North West Europe.”

Mr. Gorle explained that his father, who was awarded the Military Cross, finished his memoirs in 1958 and the manuscript was then left bound and sitting at home for forty years. He died in 1973 without it being published.

“ I decided to do something about this, so my job became to verify the details and also to get pictures and put an index onto the book. He had a phenomenal memory and his descriptions of battle and life as a soldier are very vivid and accurate,” says Mr. Gorle.

“ I found two sons of his two commanding officers, and I did a lot of work in the Imperial War Museum. I tried to put a framework to it.”

Originally Richmond Gorle wanted to be in the Navy but he was rejected for being colour blind and joined the Army. In 1939 he was stationed in India. He was recalled as the War started and initially involved in training recruits at Plymouth before going north to help re-form the 51st Highland Division Gunners at Inverurie. The 51st Division in France held back the Germans while the Dunkirk evacuation took place but were forced to surrender when plans to evacuate them were held up by fog.

With his regiment, he travelled by sea to Egypt and thereafter saw intense action as part of Monty’s Eighth Army at El Alamein and the long gruelling advance to Tripoli and the invasion of Sicily. Gorle describes the horrors of war in the mountains and towns, with the locals almost oblivious to the momentous events unfolding around them.

After attending Staff College, Gorle rejoined the fray in North West Europe. His new Regiment, part of 15th Lowland Division, fought through Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany, alternately receiving thanks and welcome from those liberated and fierce and deadly resistance from the retreating Germans. As well as describing his own immediate world, he perceptively analyses the wider war situation.

He was awarded the Military Cross for action at Blerick, and was Mentioned-in-Despatches. Like many of his generation, he understated the dangers he and his comrades had faced. He spent the time recovering after an accident in Hong Kong writing his memoirs.

"He never spoke of his war experiences at home while my sisters and I were growing up which was typical of his generation. But this book is not just a family memorial but very relevant as it is the 70th anniversary of El Alamein," says Mr. Gorle.

' A Quiet Gunner at War' is published by Pen and Sword.

December 3, 2012

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