29 October 2003

Ullswater: WW2. Latter Years. 1944-1945.

The latter years of WWII arrived, in 1944 I was 10 years old and I started to take an interest in the war, not just in the proliferation of war movies but also in the actual battles being fought. In June 1944 D-Day was to arrive, the Germans held most of Europe but the war was starting to turn in the favour of the Allies. The Germans were being pushed back in North Africa and the strength of the Allies was building with the help of the USA industrial machine. Saturation bombing was beginning to take place by the Allies of Germany and the occupied Western European countries. The armies of the Allies were rapidly building up in southern England to that secret day which was to be later known as D-Day, the day when the Allies invaded occupied Europe.

I remember most distinctly following the progress of the war, looking at the daily newspaper front page each day on which invariably there was a war map giving the allies progress in retaking France, Belgium, then Holland, Denmark and all the other countries occupied by Germany. Then on another front, the invasion of Italy and the slow, difficult progress up the boot of Italy.

Then later came the crossing of the Rhine into Germany itself. I remember reading of the battles; the bombings of the industrial might of Germany and the crippling of its war machine, the casualties, and the deaths of civilians by the thousand from the bombings and the battles. I followed them all each day in the newspapers.

On one of our school holiday visits to Chilwell where Dad was posted during the war I shall never forget the waves of Allied planes one afternoon. This I learnt later was a major bombing raid of Germany, the biggest. The land around Chilwell, Nottinghamshire was flat and we could see from horizon to horizon in all directions, it was black with planes, bombers, fighters and fighter bombers, the might of the Allies, wave after wave of them all heading for Germany.

The Midlands of England was the collection point for the planes from all the airfields throughout the British Isles for the bombing mission and we were situated in the middle of it. Words can hardly describe the awesome sight as I, turning round and round looked and saw planes close packed in every direction, wave after wave of them.

As children we all seemed to take everything in our stride. I find it hard to put into words how I felt, I think we as small children, standing safely on the side lines saw it more as a game played by adults, our side were the winners and they were the losers.

I find it difficult to write this piece, back then I thought with the feelings of a child and now I think with the feelings of an adult, the two thoughts seem to conflict.

I may end up re-writing this piece.

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