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.
One of my childhood friends had been orphaned and came down from London to be ‘adopted’ by relatives living in rural Wiltshire. As I was also an only child and my parents were regular churchgoers, it was considered that I might be suitable to play with him. He was a year or so older and from more affluent parents, and was able to teach me to roller skate and to build Meccano, (which may be why we both went on to qualify as engineers).
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.
I am a ‘Moonraker’, born in Wiltshire, but with a Dorset Mother and grew up a couple of miles from the supposed Moonrakers site, a large pond at Devizes. The story is that about 200 years ago, smugglers were there at night with their contraband when they heard that the Excise Officers were hard on their heels. The smugglers threw their barrels of goods in the pond and held them under the surface with hayrakes.
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.
This was a humorous phrase on the radio some years ago in affluent times, probably relating to the cotton and wool mills in the north of England. It may have resulted from the depression of the 1920s and 30s, but Read more »
Our Dorset dialect poet William Barnes wrote of Beaminster – ‘Sweet Be’mi’ster, that bist a-bound – By green an’ woody hills all round , .. ..Noo bigger pleace, noo gayer town, beyond thy sweet bells’ dyen soun’, .. But was Read more »
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.