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A Soldier's Story: Neville Timber Wood s War, from Dunkirk to D-Day

Mike Wood

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Biography: historical, political & military

Lance Corporal Neville 'Timber' Wood was among the last British soldiers to be evacuated from Dunkirk, he served in North Africa and Sicily, took part in the D-Day landings and saw Bergen-Belsen liberated. This is his extraordinary story.

'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 nineteen, 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 supplies of food, but above all ammunition, to the front line. It was a job with a higher casualty rate 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; they were at the heart of El Alamein and the Sicily landings and fought all the way from Normandy to Germany, where he 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 letters home as well as on long conversations between the two of them after Mike had the diaries transcribed as a gift for his father in 2006. Timber died in 2015.

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Praise for A Soldier's Story: Neville Timber Wood s War, from Dunkirk to D-Day

  • The British Army and nicknames go hand in glove, so it was probably not surprising that Neville Wood was christened Timber by one of his early colleagues. So started Timber's adventures that lasted seven years from May 1939 to April 1946. T81874 Private Neville Wood (later to become a non-commissioned officer) of the Royal Army Service Corps served his country throughout the Second World War and this book is his story. This captivating account traces Timber's preparations for war, the withdrawal to Dunkirk in May/June 1940, landing on D-Day 6th June 1944 and onward into Germany, much of his service being with the famous Tyne-Tees 50th Northumbrian Division. It is the story of an ordinary solider, but an extraordinary man. It will be a compelling read to the military historian and the general reader alike. I commend this book most warmly.

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Mike Wood

MIKE WOOD is the youngest of Timber's three sons, the one to whom he talked extensively about the war. Timber kept diaries throughout the war and many original documents. When Mike transcribed the diaries in 2006 it led to a flood of reminiscences. A Soldier's Story is the memoir that emerged from Timber's diaries and stories. It is Mike's first book.

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