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Aborting the flight to Egypt


Farming while in the army
George Daniels Master watchmaker
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After that, I was sent up to Yorkshire while we waited for an overseas posting. We were due to go to Germany, but at that moment the war was declared over, we didn't have to go to Germany, so we wait in Yorkshire at a farm and there's this dour old Yorkshireman who is going to get our labour free of charge. He knows he's not going to have to pay anything for it. So we turn up, 30 of us, and we made hayricks and cleaned out his sheds and did a lot of work. Never got any money, we were very bored off with that, and so next morning we saw our platoon sergeant and we explained we didn't care much for this job, you know. Well, he said, I'll go and have a word with the old boy, so he went and had a word with him and pointed out the advantages of paying everybody a shilling at the end of the day, and he'd get his haystack for 10 bob or whatever it was. And so that was all right, he took a bit more kindly to us then.

And he said to me one day, I want you to get the hay wain out and go up to yon field and we're going to load it up with the bales and bring it back. So my only experience of horses had been looking nervously at the milkman's horse as he was delivering the milk in the suburban streets and I'd never been nearer to a horse than that. And I went into this stable and there were these two horses and, sort of, 15 feet high and they had feet like dinner plates, you know, enormous heavy horses, and they looked disdainfully at me. They realised I was a total mug, you know, they're going to have a bit of fun out of it, and they did. And we got them in the traces and led them outside and then one of them laid down in the traces and stirred it all up and got his feet tied together... couldn't get him free, and I was asked by the farmer to hold his hind legs down while... there was no way I was going to go anywhere near his hind legs! So we got him untangled in the end and we got out and we got the hay and we brought it back, and that horse remembered me because we got him in his stables and I was up the front putting some hay in his manger and it turned round and looked at me out of the corner of his eye and then it leaned over on me. He must have weighed two tons and it leaned over. So I ducked down below its hip and scooted out of the stable and with my pitchfork, I jabbed it in the rump. Of course the horse screamed when it felt this pain, but it kept him off me, and there was this fearful row about it because the old farmer reckoned I had tried to kill his horse and I had to explain to my colonel, you know sir, well you see sir, I've just been very expensively trained to go to Germany and the horse is trying to kill me. So that was that and I never went farming again.

George Daniels, CBE, DSc, FBHI, FSA (19 August 1926 - 21 October 2011) was an English watchmaker most famous for creating the co-axial escapement. Daniels was one of the few modern watchmakers who could create a complete watch by hand, including the case and dial. He was a former Master of the Clockmakers' Company of London and had been awarded their Gold Medal, a rare honour, as well as the Gold Medal of the British Horological Institute, the Gold Medal of the City of London and the Kullberg Medal of the Stockholm Watchmakers’ Guild.

Listeners: Roger Smith

Roger Smith was born in 1970 in Bolton, Lancashire. He began training as a watchmaker at the age of 16 at the Manchester School of Horology and in 1989 won the British Horological Institute Bronze Medal. His first hand made watch, made between 1991 and 1998, was inspired by George Daniels' book "Watchmaking" and was created while Smith was working as a self-employed watch repairer and maker. His second was made after he had shown Dr Daniels the first, and in 1998 Daniels invited him to work with him on the creation of the 'Millennium Watches', a series of hand made wrist watches using the Daniels co-axial escapement produced by Omega. Roger Smith now lives and works on the Isle of Man, and is considered the finest watchmaker of his generation.

Tags: Yorkshire, British Army, Germany, WWII

Duration: 3 minutes, 16 seconds

Date story recorded: May 2003

Date story went live: 24 January 2008