David Hallworth: The Army Years
Updated: Jun 19, 2020
These are a few stories that my Nana-Grandad, David Hallworth, recently shared with me, as we sat down and talked about his life. We focused on his early days as a Lancashire Fusilier in the 2nd Battalion Regiment. Born on the 1st February 1935, in Lancashire, David grew up in a family of 6 children.
David Hallworth meeting Commander-in-Chief of the Anglo-American Forces in Trieste, Sir John Winterton. Believed to be in Hospital after the 'Bayonet Incident' which I have included below.
He was an inquisitive child, and didn’t enjoy school that much, evident by his truancy records. Where did he go to hide? Whilst he sometimes hid in tunnels surrounding Worsley - “I used to swim across the canals”, he found refuge in a forest not too far from his home. He set himself a challenge, to climb one tree and then make his way across the treetops to see how far he could get.
“Where I lived, there’s a forest, and I used to go in the forest. I used to like going in the forest and climb the trees. I see how far I can get through - go on the top. From the next tree to the next tree. I look at the branch and think, ‘will that hold me?’ But I never fell off.” Even just imagining this would make me cringe with the thought of falling, but David wasn’t worried. He said that, “If you start to get scared, you’ve had it.”
It appears that he has been living life with this same motto, and has achieved a lot, both in his family and through his career in the army.
The beginning. David joined the army at an early age. Legally, he was too young to enrol, but he had the will and he found a way. When I asked him, ‘What made him want to join the army as a career path?’, this is what he had to share:
“I did join the fusiliers in 1952. I was 16. [I joined the army] because I wanted to. I used to admire the soldiers, as they used to come on parades and that, you know, around the area, and not always the fusiliers, but when the fusiliers come down – they looked very smart. As I said to dad, ‘Am I old enough to join the army, dad?’ He says, ‘when you’re ready, I’ll let you go.’ So, I go. I’m going, and I joined the army.”
A reporting testimony given about David Hallworth, recalled him as: “A mature and responsible man. He is capable of organising and controlling small groups of men. Honest and sober. He has had experience as an instructor.” Through his life as an Army Instructor, one painful story comes to mind. What started as a practice session ended with a bayonet in the upper thigh only a few measly inches from the crown jewels.
“That was in practice. But he slipped the bloke, that was doing it. I was doing training; I was the instructor. And I give it [bayonet] to this young lad, and I said now you’ve seen it that many times, when I shown ya, you come to me. And as I tried to grab the rifle, he pressed a bit harder….and oooo [yelp]", David Hallworth exclaimed.
Life in the army wasn’t just looking smart and marching through towns on parades, and David learnt that quickly. You had to be extremely fit, healthy and active. He recalls this moment from his training:
"And they say, ‘We’ve got something for you, tomorrow morning I want you all on parade, and you’re going for a little route march’, a little route march? We went for about 10-15 miles. My God, that’s going out and coming back. I says, ‘do you do that every time?’, ‘well, you do it again, when you’re fit, you won’t be doing it.’ Because some of the gear you’ve got to carry, you’ve got to be fit to do it."
You would think that hiking everyday would tire an infantryman, but this doesn’t appear to be the case. In his spare time, David would often climb mountains in Austria. Ropes? No. Just his hands and his feet.
"I’ll tell you what. Climbing the Schmeltz (from an ex-German Ski Camp), it was good. Mates go with you, I was an NCO, corporal, and I say ‘if anyone wants to come, you’re welcome’, and they all say ‘yeah, we’ll come with you Dave’. Feet [no ropes], boots."
I asked, ‘What were some challenges you faced?’, and it continually ended up with jumping out of planes and helicopters.
"They turned around, ‘who would like to jump from the helicopter?’ And, they wanted volunteers, and idiot volunteers, but with [being] an NCO, I’ve got to do, you see. So, I said ‘ok, I’ll go’. And, I said, ‘what we get?’ [they replied] ‘in the helicopter’, [then I said] ‘In the helicopter?’, I said ‘my God, you can blow you out there, you know, the windows, the doors don’t close properly, you fall out.’ I said, ‘alright, fair enough.’ But, you have a shute on your back. But you’ve got to hang it up. There’s a hook on it. You hang it up in the side of ‘copter, and if you fall out, that shoot will open any road. And that’s what I did. I jumped out, I didn’t fall out, I jumped out. The parachute opened straight away."
On another occasion,
"I jumped from the plane, down [to the top of a mountain]. And just wait. [everyone else was) down there (at the bottom]. Yes, they had to [walk from the bottom]. I was the NCO. I was up first. I didn’t have to walk all that way. I can walk down."
David was interested in broadening his horizons and was interested in enrolling in the British special forces. Historically, the majority of SAS Candidates have either a Commando or an airborne forces background, which shows that special consideration must have been given for his case.
"That’s when I joined the SAS, Special Air Service. And I wanted to change my regiment, ‘cause I was a Lancashire Fusilier, and I was an NCO there. I was a corporal, not a sergeant. And I says, ‘I want to go to the SAS, is it possible?’ He says, ‘well, I tell you what, we’ll let you go, to see what it’s like. And if you don’t like it, you come back.’ Guess what, I came back. Oh, the things you had to do. You’ve got to be blooming Hercules, to do what you do in the SAS."
Remembering his time in service, he said this heartfelt pot of gold.
"I enjoyed the army, I did. It was a long time [12 years] and they didn’t want me to leave. They didn't! An officer turned ‘round to me and said, ‘why you leaving?', I said, '1. I've got a wife.' He said, 'oh, that’s alright, you can go work the quarters, you know, for married couples'. I said, 'no thank you', I said, 'I've got a wife and I've got two children.' I says, ‘that’s my main aim now'. [The officer replied] 'oh, alright, fair enough, we'll see you again.' 'I've never gone back.'[chuckling]."
These are the Army stories from my Nana-Grandad, David Hallworth. A man that has endured tough and challenging moments throughout his life, encountered beautiful moments, survived WW2 as a young lad, married a lovely wife, had children and multiple grandchildren, but throughout it all, he has stayed loyal, honest, and kind, whilst being an awesome and funny bloke in the process.