Tom RenoufI went over to see how they were and the MO [Medical Orderly] just says, 'well they're dying' and I stayed with them.
Tom Renouf – Film 1As a schoolboy Tom [and his friends] followed the war avidly. In particular the exploits of the Highland Division. Conscription was something you just did and as sonar he left school he volunteered for the Black Watch. In this the first part of his epic interview Tom recalls those early days in the Regiment. Being scalped and reflecting on the weight Tom recalls the early days of his training. It was a boy to man moment and he recalls in detail being kitted out, being scalped and being issued with his Lee Enfield Rifle.
Tom Renouf – Film 2Tom recalls the build up to D-Day and has some vivid recollections of the general sense of optimism all along the coast. Barracked at Micheldever near Winchester he remembers seeing a performance by the American Boxer Joe Louis. Then its D-Day and Tom has to negotiate the scramble nets.
Tom Renouf – Film 3After the Canadians assaulted Sword beach the Black Watch followed up as part of the 51st Highland Division Tom recalls a quiet beach with many dead. Tom then heads for the reinforcement camp and joins A Company who have already suffered heavy casualties. After a period of relative inactivity its then time for all his training to kick in at the Battle for Rauray. Tom reveals what true fear feels like.
Tom Renouf – Film 4Tom talks in detail about survival in a war zone. Its a fascinating chapter of his interview where he explains how his life in a slit trench was governed by the next meal.
Tom Renouf – Film 5Tom recalls the terrible numbers of casualties he saw from his protected slit trench. He had a fatalistic outlook and expected any day to be his last.
Tom Renouf – Film 6In the midst of a battle where ground is quickly lost and taken it was natural for men to find themselves separated from the rest of the unit. Tom recalls the Stragglers Posts.
Tom Renouf – Film 7The Highland division helped at Pegasus Bridge from the 10th of June onwards a good ten weeks in the beach head before Operation Totalise. Whilst the allied forces after the breakout tried to capture German forces in Normandy in a pincer movement. The Highland Division were to head towards the Seine to capture one of the German escapes routes which ran between Caen and Lisieux. Over the next ten days the Highland Division fought day after day town after town until they were stood down for a break. During this sustained period of fighting Tom is shot and injured. When he gets to the RAP he finds two of his friends. Its a desperately sad moment.
Tom Renouf – Film 8Tom talks about the lottery of survival in Normandy. Without doubt he had luck on his side and he recalls some of the moments where really his time should have been up . He then returns to the line where the Highland Division along with the Canadians were driving the Germans across the River Maas.
Tom Renouf – Film 9The Germans last through of the Dice to save the war had started the Battle of the Bulge Montgomery had committed 30 Corps of 3 Divisions into the Ardennes 6th Airborne 53rd Welsh and the Highland Division to counter the Germans and plug a weak point in the allied lines. The Highlands main objective was a place called La Roche in the Ardennes. Its here that tom describes another enemy. The cold. In February the Highland Division was involved with the Battle of the Rhineland, Operation Veritable, they assaulted the Siegfried Line through the Reichswald Forest.
Tom Renouf – Film 10At just 19 years of age Tom is promoted to Corporal. He soon realises the weight of its responsibility when he is tasked with taking a German HQ.
Tom Renouf – Film 11During the initial attack on Goch, Tom finds himself under siege from a sniper. But its an 88mm shell that almost take him out. The Highland Division was again chosen to be the assaulting division so were withdrawn from Goch to practise crossing the Rhine on the River Maas. During the build-up they were visited by Montgomery and Churchill.
Tom Renouf – Film 12Tom and the rest of his platoon board the Buffalos that would take them across the Rhine. They managed this undetected by the Germans but, was not long before the shells started to drop and casualties were building up. Then Tom gets leave. 10 months of pent up emotion are left on the platform in Edinburgh station when he sees his mum and sister. One can only imagine how he felt.
Tom Renouf – Film 13Tom returns to the fighting for the last 3 weeks of the war. Despite the obvious allied superiority the Germans are holding out and there is still a very real risk of death. Tom recalls the last shell of the war.
Tom Renouf – Film 14Tom received the Military Medal for his part in the Rhine crossing and they enjoyed a victory parade in Bremerhaven. There was still work to be done and on one occasion at Bremervörde, Tom is keeping watch on three high ranking German POWs. And keeping watches was one of the perks of the job!
Tom Renouf – Film 15It was at Steyerberg that Tom truly felt the war was over. We could smell the flowers instead of smelling cordite. We could see the trees in blossom rather than seeing dead cows and dead bodies Thank you Tom for sharing this incredible account of your military service.
I went over to see how they were and the MO [Medical Orderly] just says, ‘well they’re dying’ and I stayed with them.