During the war our small village of Rousdon had a searchlight battery to the west, anti aircraft guns and mine fields on the cliffs to the south and a Royal Air Force signals establishment to the east where a caravan site exists today. Tall radio masts and interconnecting wires warned that it was a place not to be talked about. We befriended a Welsh airman from here who would turn up to do the garden and repair broken parts of the chicken runs which had fallen into disrepair since granddad had died.
The first German prisoners of war I saw were with a platoon of British soldiers relaxing for a break and a Woodbine cigarette just up the road from our house. One of the soldiers told me that the job of the POWs was to go ahead of the marching patrol and set up a pretend ambush. Being brimful of anti-German sentiment, as you were in those wartime days, I felt this to be a bit dangerous for our soldiers and excitedly quizzed my Tommy friend about those two Huns. He suddenly alarmed me by shouting across to one of the Germans saying “Hey Fritz, little matey here wants to know how Adolph’s getting on”. The German beckoned to me with a crooked finger saying “Kommen sie hier”. I scarpered off down the road as fast as my 9-year old legs could take me, much to the great merriment of the soldiers.
On D-Day plus one allied soldiers in Normandy, exhausted by their first day of battle, turned on battery operated radios supplied to their units, to hear the first sounds of the Allied Forces Network. Introduced by a recorded message from the supreme commander, General Dwight Eisenhower, the AEF comprised American and Canadian broadcasting services, together with and the services of the BBC to bring to the troops the comfort of popular music and news from home.
With the invasion under way there was undoubtedly a feeling of excited interest in the classroom. Headmaster ‘Charlie’ Freeman had fixed a Daily Telegraph map of the invasion area to the wall and gradually small flagged pins showing Stars and Stripes, the Union Jack and the Canadian Maple Leaf inched inland. As British troops approached Caen however there was a stall in the movement of the Union Flag.
After delivering assault troops onto the beaches of Normandy surviving landing craft returned to embarkation ports to pick up reserves and equipment. It was on one of these returned vessels a war correspondent witnessed the loading up of one of the complete hospital outfits bound for the forward areas of the invasion. Officially described as an evacuation hospital the personnel included nearly forty US Army nurses. The hospital was so complete that it could be operating within an hour of its arrival at its destination.