- Warming WW2 stories from your area..
Last night i was reading up on War time on the Quantocks, this was brought on when i found an old Illumination shell up in the hills.
In 1943 a contingent of American troops 40th Tented General Field Hospital and American nurses were stationed in a specially built camp in Alfoxton Park as part of the preparations and build up to D-Day. They were welcomed by the locals who were entertained by concerts of folk songs and spirituals given by the black soldiers.
This all caused great excitement for the children in the area, and one lady recalled this:
if she was on the A39 as US troops were coming past they threw gum to them from the passing lorries, any that were not caught they were forbidden to pick up by the teaching staff – they did of course. She also remembers troops coming to the school yard for water from a standpipe again the children were forbidden to talk to them – you know what happened.
It was interesting to hear how school games were swapped for cutting wood and other practical tasks.
And as for the home guard.. Well the Quantocks Home guard was based in a hut and to start with they weren’t too armed..
”At first we had no weapons, but old Ernest Browning bought along his sledge hammer and I had my shotgun
I never did find out why a illumination shell was up in the hills, but i did learn lots about war time in Holford. Very warming stories too.
Without getting all PC about the whole thing.Posted 5 years ago
Does anyone else have stories from their area, that’s warming as well as entertaining in a humorous way.yossarianMember
27 September 1940
Seasalter is a small village located on the north coast of Kent, facing the Isle of Sheppey and the estuary of the River Swale. This part of the coast is famous for its oysters, fishing and sea marshes, which over the centuries came to serve as a source of salt production, giving the settlement its name. Eastward, the village is a stone’s throw from a fishing town of Faversham. To the west, a vast expanse of swampy marshland stretches broadly in all directions, bounded only by the sea to the north. Mud, clay and the badness of the water made the place unhealthy for settlement. There was one exception: the Sportsman Inn, a remote pub established in the 17th century at the coastal road between Whitstable and Faversham.
Throughout the late summer of 1940, the marshes gained a new role as an emergency landing ground for crippled aircraft. Located alongside an aerial route towards London, the marshy flats were often picked up by airmen to bring down their damaged aircraft. Even though the wheels-up landing could be treacherous if made on a swampy part of the marsh, this quality was not easily observable from the air and anyway, the approaches were clear of obstacles in all directions. A Dornier Do 17 came down on the mudflats at Seasalter on 13 August 1940. Another bomber crash-landed just off The Neptune pub at Whitstable on 16 August.
Waiting for even more downed airmen and aircraft was a detachment of 1st London Irish Rifles, billeted at the Sportsman pub with orders to capture any aircrew shot down in the countryside.
On 27 September, a Luftwaffe bomber would crash-land almost at their door.
The aircraft was a brand-new Junkers Ju 88A-5, the newest variant of this bomber which had been put into service only a few weeks previously. It was characterised by the extended wings, improved handling and upgraded navigational aids, and represented a state-of-the-art of the Lufwaffe’s bomber arsenal.
Piloted by Unteroffizer Fritz Ruhlandt, the Ju 88 was among a force which, despite fierce RAF opposition that day, fought their way through to the capital. Bad luck struck on their return leg from London, as Ruhlandt’s aircraft was hit by the anti-aircraft fire. The blast damaged one of the engines of the bomber, which lost power and gradually had to fall back from its formation. This made it a subject of further interest on the part of roaming Spitfires, which made repeated attacks trying to finish it off. Soon, both engines were out of action and Ruhlandt had no choice but to nurse his aircraft down to a crash landing.
The men gathered at the pub watched as the stricken aircraft approached the Graveney Marsh just outside their windows. The pilot brought down his plane skilfully on the grassy part of the marsh. It came to a halt several hundred yards from the pub.
The Captain of the London Irish regiment gathered an armed patrol of a dozen or so soldiers of the “A” Company, who grabbed their rifles and then departed to investigate the crash scene and put the crew under arrest. Although the aircraft was visible from their position, the distance across the marsh left the Germans a few precious minutes to act. This time was resolutely used by Ruhrland and his crew, who first evacuated the aircraft and then started working on destroying it. An explosive charge was placed under the wing. To secure the destruction of the classified equipment on board, the Germans decided to shot it to pieces, using hand-operated machine guns which were part of the bomber’s armament.
The sound of the machine gun fire had a startling effect on the unsuspecting British troops. They took immediate cover on the ground, taking it as shots being fired at them. They also returned fire. It is debatable whether there was an officer’s order to do it, or if shots were fired through panic and confusion of the moment. Either way, the Captain ordered his small force to split, positioning some of the men along the dykes of the marshland to provide cover for the second group, which advanced along another dyke towards the Junkers.
As they crouched within 50 yards of the aircraft, the Germans, realising they were now under fire, tried to wave a white flag. Unfortunately, this time the British troops were highly suspicious towards their intentions and the shooting continued until the Germans were finally overpowered. No one was killed, but two of the Germans were lightly injured during the fighting.
As the crew was about to be taken away, one of the British soldiers overheard a remark about a bomb in the aircraft which the crew expected to go up shortly. Reacting quickly and with considerable bravery, Lieutenant Christopher Cantopher managed to defuse the demolition charge.
So typically for the Battle of Britain, the entire episode ended in a pub. The captured crew was taken back to the Sportsman and invited for a pint of beer and cigarettes. The tension settled down completely, Ruhlandt’s foot injury was attended to and souvenirs were exchanged between the sides.
“The men were in good spirits and came into the pub with the Germans. We gave the Germans pints of beer in exchange for a few souvenirs. I got a set of enamel Luftwaffe wings.”
Corporal George Willis, piper of the 1st London Irish Rifles
In the end, the Luftwaffe air crew was picked for further investigation and then sent to a prisoner of war camp. The largely intact Junkers Ju 88 was recovered from the marsh and taken to RAF Farnborough for closer examination, the recovery operation providing another break in the monotony of life at the marshes.Posted 5 years agowwaswasSubscriber
My mum spent several hours in a ditch next to Shoreham Airfield during WW2 when a swimming expedition got interrupted by German bombers.
My father in law lived in Dorset and got given a tobacco tin full of English money by an American soldier on 4th June 1944. Probably thought he wouldn’t need it again 🙁Posted 5 years agoacehtnMember
Used to have one of them mortar rounds, we used to take them to school along with sherman tank shells 🙂
Neighbour dug up a battered German helmet on the range
Loads of Americans around the area in WW2.
North Hill above Minehead was a garrison and tank training ready for the invasion of Sicily, not so much ordanace turns up these days.
On the hill are a few buried bunkers and the foundation slabs of the workshops and whats just called “the tank ramp”, close to that are some more building foundations and steps, one building remains the old radar station. Listed bunker down at Dunster marsh farm and several pill boxes litter the area.
The invasion of England defence plan.
Stop lines where drawn up and defence positions dug in. If the west country was invaded, a fighting withdrawl was to happen, the stop line was around Taunton, this was the line of last defence and to be held at all costs. A lot of bunkers have long gone, some are now being listed and protected.
On a story of humour.
Local farmer and black marketeer used to invite yank officers round to farm, while he got them smashed on cider the stable lad was draining the jeeps fuel tank, left enough for them to get back into Minehead.
Another scam was with the coloured troops (This is STW so avoiding colour words) they mostly where confined to the hill and not allowed into town, and they worked in the kitchens. They would sink cans of food into the pig swill bins, and in return the farmer would smuggle cider back on base for them in his tractor.
🙂 Sharki vist the top ship in Porlock, they have a little display in the bar from when the germans crash landed a bomber on Porlock beach, bit further down the cost was a waterhole used by U-boat crews to top up. 2 sunken U-boats in deep ish water further down coast, nothing to see unlike coast kids mini subs in Scotland.Posted 5 years agoacehtnMember
Post war story.
Back in 1960’s the MOD decided to clean up some of the stuff they left buried…. you know just in case.
Some of the local lads saw the big piles of stacked shells on the cliff tops.
They found out what happens when you check them off the cliff 🙂Posted 5 years ago
Lads are knocking 70 nowsharkiMember
I’ve seen the TopShip display. It’s great.Posted 5 years ago
I’ve also read the stories of the U boat men playing football with rolled up overalls on a secluded beach, as he stretched their legs and collected fresh water. That was near the Hunters Inn, so maybe the same pub and story you know of.the teaboyMember
My wife’s granddad died 2 weeks ago.
He was in the first wave on D-Day and evacuated a few days later with shrapnel wounds.
He went on to a long career with the police.
His claim to fame is/was being Lincolnshire’s oldest driver on a speed awareness course at the age of 93. “only 38 in a 30”!
RIP TomPosted 5 years agoThurman MermanMember
The house I grew up in in Bath belonged to the sister of Sir Stafford Cripps.
Nowt special – just a victorian terrace about two miles out from the centre.
There was apparently a very elaborate and sturdy air-raid shelter under the garden shed. Dad bricked it up but allegedly found loads of wartime paper and plans.
Dunno whatever happened to them..Posted 5 years agocarlosgMember
At the start of WW2 my grandad worked at the forge In Kirkstall (Leeds) he swapped shifts with another bloke who needed a different day off , the Germans scored a direct hit that night where my grandad would’ve been working.
When he joined up he was in the Royal Engineer corp in the far east (I got his photo album after he died) and was one of the witnesess at the Japanese surrender.Posted 5 years agobentandbrokenMemberormondroydMember
Taking you a bit literally with the thread title…
This link, from Deal, where I grew up, shows traces of Fougas flame defences behind the garden wall on Dover Road. There were lots of these experimental defences around the coast, including Deal and Sandwich. The little holes in the wall, in line with the big blocks behind, would have been horribly lethal flamethrowers…
Here’s an old photo of one of the fuel tanks…
Posted 5 years agobentandbrokenMember
cranberry – Member
bentandbroken – was that for bombing practice? There seem to be a couple of bomb craters to the south-west.
Its part of a ‘bombing range’
There is a ‘target‘ with concentric rings as well. Hopefully you can see it in this link (it works well in some views, but not others)Posted 5 years agoebygommMemberPosted 5 years ago
WAAF Margaret Horton had an ‘unexpected ride on the tail of a Supermarine Spitfire’ while acting as a tailweight: she was sitting on the tail of the plane, as was common practice, in order to stop it overturning while it taxied to the end of the runway, a hazard stemming from design drawbacks, strong wind and bouncy grass field. The pilot, anxious to be airborne, forgot about her and failed to stop to allow the WAAF to jump off the tail. As soon as the plane was in the air, the pilot realised that there was something very wrong with the handling of his aircraft. He radioed the control tower to report the problem. The emergency services were called out and the pilot talked back in without being told what had happened. The aircraft landed safely with Margaret Horton still in one piecePookSubscriber
One of my local rides goes through an old POW camp; home to a number of Italian and German officers.
Legend has it that an imprisoned u-boat captain, having seen a local pub when being marched back from the local fields, asked the camp commander if they could have a gentlemen’s agreement that he would be allowed to go down the road for a pint if he promised to come back; that he would not try to escape.
The commander, being a bang up british gent, agreed; they shook hands, and he opened the gate to allow the nazi officer out for a pint.
Later that night, having walked to the wartime british pub in full nazi uniform much to the surprise of the regulars, the u-boat captain returned to the camp and his imprisoned status keeping to the gentleman’s agreement made with the british officer. He then went back to plotting how to escape once more.Posted 5 years agobigjimSubscriber
If you’ve heard of Wojtek the bear, my grandad was in that company of the Polish army and travelled around the world with Wojtek. Wojtek died in my local zoo, too. The book by Aileen Orr is quite nice and worth a read, quite sad in many ways. The company logo with Wojtek carring a shell is one of the few things I’ve considered having tattooed on me.Posted 5 years agojamj1974Subscriber
I don’t know how heart-warming it is but the main Spitfire factory is a couple of miles or so from my house. I get a strange sense of pride when I go past… My secondary school was a post office for the US Army. Some of my fellow pupils met some veterans who had served there. My great grandmother a lovely but feisty lady was only just missed by a Luftwaffe rear gunner. She was so sick of the disruption and damage caused by attacks on the nearby Kenley aerodrome that she got out of the shelter during a raid and shook her fist as the aircraft literally flew down her road at low altitude.Posted 5 years agoepicycloSubscriber
Most of the men in my area joined the local regiment – the Queen’s Own Cameron Highlanders.
Churchill decided to sacrifice them at St Valery en Caux to delay the German advance to allow the Dnkirk evacuation. They were told they would be evacuated from St Valery, but weren’t told of the high cliffs between them and the beach. The company my grandfather was in fought close combat with bayonets for 3 days because they had no ammo. He had some impressive bayonet scars himself.
So what was good and warm about that?
Eventually they got to surrender and so a decent proportion of them survived WW2 unlike WW1 which wiped out a generation of Highlanders, and I got to keep a grandfather.Posted 5 years agosandal100Subscriber
The guy I work with, his father was at Arnhem. This is his citation:
During the Battle for the Bridge at Arnhem, Private Lygo was No.1 of a PIAT detachment attached to No.3 Platoon. This Platoon was holding a forward position, east of the Bridge, and was subjected to almost continuous enemy attack. On the 19th September three armoured cars approached close to the Platoon and started firing into the building. Private Lygo fired four bombs obtaining three direct hits and thus forcing them to withdraw. During this time the fire of the armoured cars was directed almost entirely against him. Soon after this two Mark III tanks approached and shelled the Platoon at very close range. Once again, though under heavy and direct fire, Private Lygo engaged the tanks and succeeded in burning out one and forcing the other to withdraw. Private Lygo’s PIAT was the only Anti-Tank weapon in the vicinity and it was mainly due to his coolness and courage in the face of devastating fire that the Platoon was able to hold this house for so long. Throughout these engagements he was isolated from the remainder of the Platoon and was acting entirely on his own initiative. On the second occasion he deliberately exposed himself to heavy fire in order to work his weapon forward to a position where he could get a more accurate shot.
Not warming but impressive!Posted 5 years ago
My father was in charge of one of the forts off Portsmouth at one point during WW2, and told of one Stuka raid where a bomb fell near the kitchens.
A door opened from the remains of the building and the chef appeared, covered in red.
It turned out he had been in the storeroom and some shrapnel had flown past, smashing the tomato ketchup jars that were near him and covering him in ketchup!Posted 5 years ago
Another of my fathers stories involved fishing trips during breaks, where they went out in a wooden rowing boat and dropped grenades over the side, and then collected the stunned fish as they floated to the surface.
After a while one of the grenades managed to rotate itself such that the large plug section in the base shot upwards and through the bottom of the boat, sinking them!Posted 5 years ago
Other stories involved reciting that flame-throwers were much the most effective weapon in the jungles of Burma, using the bloated backsides of people who had been shot and fallen into the river near some bridge as navigating landmarks, and how, if they captured any Japanese soldiers they would keep them for a few days and then let them go. When they got back to their own lines they would be executed because of the shame of being captured, and also questioned over why they had been released, believing that they must have ‘talked’.
The autobiography of George MacDonald Fraser, the guy who wrote the Flashman novels, is very good – also based in Burma but with the Cumbrian regiment.
His opinions on modern day PTS are interesting, blaming the media, etc for not allowing people to push those feelings/traumas ‘down’, stiff upper lip style, to ignore them and forcing people to be more aware of them.Posted 5 years agogusamcMember
last visit home dad showed me some army photos – he was transport, you could see the smile on his face as the memories kicked in
Gearbox McCormick – named after incessant gear changing
Crazy Daisy the Bedford Basher – the odd accident and in convoy everybody wanted to be with them as they could work out bomb patterns and drive through them
quite a few photos of muscly fit people sitting on lorries and landrovers, not seen them before in 53 years…seen every other bloody family photo so often it’s tedious, maybe next visit I’ll see what else comes out
One day he got to drive some very senior officer to dest X and he got lucky and got the special truck – the boys had got a bigger engine and done some ‘work’ on it and it was a bit tasty for it’s time, so off they went, got to the destination and the very senior officer (who said nothing on the journey) turned to him and said Wrong Destination – dad looked at him, then checked his orders and said No Sir this is Dest X, the officer then smiled and started getting out and said ‘you should have landed this at the bloody airport son, wait here for me I’m going back tonight’, he also got somebody from the officers mess to take dad coffee/sarnie – something that very rarely happened.Posted 5 years agots4or5Member
flap_jack – Member
Lady 6 doors away is 90, worked at Bletchley Park. Still keeps the code of silence. Respect.
I heard a story recently about a lady who lived in Torquay until she died not long ago. She kept schtum about here activities in WW2 spying in France as part of SOE right until the end – except for an “appearance” on a modern TV documentary, disguised in a wig and dark glasses.
Clearly old habits die hard.Posted 5 years agoMosesMember
Not WWII, but I can top Carlo’s story.
At the start of WWI my grandfather was a guard at Hartlepool docks, a very important coal port at the time.
He was courting my granny at the time, & swapped shifts with a mate to take her out.
The German fleet shelled Hartlepool that night, & his mate was the first person killed on British soil in WWI. There’s now a monument to mark the spot.
Rob went on to win a MM, next bravery award down from a VC.Posted 5 years agoHarry_the_SpiderSubscriber
I heard this tale from a local bloke whose dad was in the forces during WW2.
He was coming home to Prestwich (Manchester) on leave to see his mum and decided to pop into the local for several pints on the way. Then a lone German aircraft flew over and shot up Bury Old Road – The RAF used the adjacent Heaton Park in Manchester as a transit camp.
At this point the pub emptied and several pissed up squaddies stumbled out into the street and blazed off quite a lot of ammunition at it. By some miracle neither the German pilot nor the drunken soldiers managed to hit anything of any significance, but it did liven up what would ordinarily have been a quiet afternoon.Posted 5 years agobreatheeasyMember
George, a young boy was shipped out of London during the war, as many were and moved up to the North East of England to live with a family. They had a young daughter called Margaret.
After the war George returned home but never forgot about Margaret, they kept in touch and finally he moved back up to the North and they got married and lived happily for 50+ years together until they both died a few years ago within month of each other.
RIP Uncle George and Auntie Margaret….Posted 5 years agoPigfaceMember
My mates dad told us this story about being a ten year old in Newport during the war. Apparently German bombers would navigate using the Bristol Channel. Him and his mate were up on the Ridgeway in Newport which is a ridge of high ground overlooking the town, docks and Bristol Channel. They could hear lots of planes flying around and the anti aircraft guns were firing. Out of the clouds diving quite steeply came a Heinkel bomber, they just stood watching this thing about 500 feet off the ground. The gunner at the front of it opened fire at them, my mates dad described the sound of bullets whizzing past them and hitting the ground where they were standing. A Hurricane came out of the cloud and shot the bomber down and it crahed into the channel. He said this happened in a matter of seconds, they were shocked and just stood there and an ARP man ran up to them to see if they were ok and took them home. No one got out of the plane they watched it go in. The next day they went back and dug up the bullets 🙂 The other thing he had from the war were shotgun cartridges that were called Rabbit cartridges but were really anti person shells that just contained 2 or 3 big ball bearings. A bit of subterfuge if the Germans had ever landed.Posted 5 years agoClongMember
Just a few:
Mother in law lived in london during the blitz when she was little. They would spend the nights in the underground and american troops would pass on though. The soldiers would often put chocolate bars in her hand as she slept.
My Nan was a showgirl who entertained the troops, if it wasn’t for a certain amorous american, my dad & i wouldn’t be here. This after my nan had leaned that my grandad was missing in action, presumed dead. He turned up in POW camp by bridge over the river Kwai. Nan had some explaining to do, but since they went on to have 4 other sons they presumably worked it out.
The Radar was developed at Bawdsey, which was accessible by a ferry. This was run by my mums side of the family, which at the time was my great granddad Charles Brinkley, who lost his hand on a shooting accident. This hand was replaced with a hook and resembled a tool used during the development. The tool became known as the Brinkley hook.Posted 5 years ago
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