News: In 1834 a 13 metre long Iguanadon fossil was found in Queen’s Road in Maidstone
Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.

Author Topic: Home Life in WW2  (Read 136885 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Offline unfairytale

  • Established Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1311
  • Appreciation 31
Re: Home Life in WW2
« Reply #45 on: January 15, 2010, 20:29:58 »
Some V1s were carried close to thier targets on the south coast by Heinkel HE111s.
When you've got your back to wall, there's only one thing to do and that's to turn around and fight. (John Major)
http://www.flickr.com/photos/unfairytale/sets/

Offline Paul

  • Established Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1481
  • Appreciation 61
  • Batpigs'n'Boobies.. ;)
Maybe it's big horse I'm a Londoner. :{

Chatham_Girl85

  • Guest
Re: Home Life in WW2
« Reply #43 on: January 15, 2010, 19:14:25 »
ive read in a book on the v1 and v2's and according to the author he says that the first v1 fell on Fareham in hampshire? but records say it was in London

im not sure what to believe, the account is very plausible

Offline peterchall

  • Established Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 3620
  • Appreciation 166
  • 25.06.1929 - 12.03.2016
Re: Home Life in WW2
« Reply #42 on: January 15, 2010, 16:56:39 »
Another flashback about the V1s. The opening attack happened overnight, and the AA gunfire was continuous; no sleep that night. News bulletins next day talked of "attack by pilotless aircraft" and we actually thought that they were 'real' aircraft capable of picking out individual targets without a crew on board, rather like the drones used in Afghanistan today, and that didn't help our nerves. Not until we saw some in daylight did we realise exactly what they were.

These flashbacks keep interrupting my afternoon kip :)
It's no use getting old if you don't get artful

Offline kyn

  • Administrator
  • Established Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 7431
  • Appreciation 409
    • Sheppey History
Re: Home Life in WW2
« Reply #41 on: January 15, 2010, 16:55:50 »
I think I've covered most of my "warlike" experiences and have it in mind to go on to subjects like school life and entertainment, including rationing.

I will certainly look forward to anything you are happy to share!  Your posts are very interesting, I tend to be more interested in the social side of history so I really do enjoy your posts  :)

Offline peterchall

  • Established Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 3620
  • Appreciation 166
  • 25.06.1929 - 12.03.2016
Re: Home Life in WW2
« Reply #40 on: January 15, 2010, 15:48:56 »
Lyn L, thanks for the compliment.

Your dad not mentioning his army life until he was 90 is typical and I think a great pity, because it's vital that future generations know enough about the past not to make the mistakes we did. I am far from being a war hero, as you have probably learnt by now, but if I have made a modest contribution to making it known what it was like to grow-up during a major war then I am satisfied.

I think I've covered most of my 'warlike' experiences and have it in mind to go on to subjects like school life and entertainment, including rationing, but before I do, there's this:
Some of the things I hear from my family who lived in Dover during the war, leave me dumb-struck.
Here is a summary of a snippet I've just found in 'Frontline County': Mr William Harris and Mr Reginald Blunt became the first people in the county to receive the George Medal. For nine weeks they worked from dawn to dusk on farms near Deal at the height of the Battle of Britain. They operated their threshing machine within range of guns in France and while enemy aircraft were constantly over the area.

Earlier I outlined some statistics for the Medway Towns. Here are some for the whole of Kent, taken from 'Front Line County':

In the following list, the first figure is the number of incidents resulting in fatalities caused by bombs, mines, machine gunning, plane crashes etc; the 2nd by shelling from the continent; the 3rd by V1s; the 4th by V2s.

            1940 = 147/10/0/0
            1941 = 60/4/0/0
            1942 = 30/3/0/0
            1943 = 19/10/0/0
            1944 = 24/22/34/2
            1945 = 0/0/1/8

There were 29,272 HE bombs/mines:  approx 728,000 incendiaries:  1422 V1s:  V2s not stated.

Casualties were: 1608 fatal:  7894 injured.

5209 properties were wrecked, 16,170 badly damaged, 181,267 slightly damaged.

On 19th and 20th November 1940, 8 shells fired from the French coast landed near Rainham, and on 24th November 2 landed near Bearsted. On 13th June 1944, several fell in the Maidstone area, killing one woman. Nobody seems to know the reasons for these isolated incidents.


It's no use getting old if you don't get artful

Offline Lyn L

  • Established Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1161
  • Appreciation 77
Re: Home Life in WW2
« Reply #39 on: January 15, 2010, 12:29:29 »
Peter, your stories have made great reading, I was born 1946 , a demob baby, my Dad having been in the RAMC, most of his war years were spent in Iceland, but he was in Germany and received his  Oak Leaves form 'Monty' himself,  it wasn't until he was almost 90, that he ever spoke Army life,  the only ever reference to his medals being " I went ashore for a dozen eggs", we did eventually find out how he got the leaves. My sister and 2 brothers were evacuated from London to Banff, Scotland, they were on a farm there, but 1 brother wasn't at all keen on the farmers wife, ran away one day, and they eventually found him asleep in a barn, surrounded by Highland Cattle, their recollections of WW2 are mostly peaceful times, but my sister had a great time back in London when peace was restored there , she was 17. All I can remember is ration books, when  did they finish.
Half our life is spent trying to find something to do with the time we have rushed through life tryi

Offline peterchall

  • Established Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 3620
  • Appreciation 166
  • 25.06.1929 - 12.03.2016
Re: Home Life in WW2
« Reply #38 on: January 15, 2010, 09:57:32 »
P.S. Was your Dad in the local Home Guard? I am intrigued by his slight sympathy for the german aircrew - it sounds like an attitude stemming from WW1, when many Tommies seemed to have hated the War itself rather than the Germans?........

As so often when putting something on the forum I find it brings back other memories, and I'd like to add to my previous reply to the above.

I remember before the war, as a boy of about 7, being rebuked by my father for the enthusiastic way some friends and I were playing soldiers; something like "if you knew what it was like you wouldn't be playing at it". He disliked violence and saw his 21 years of soldiering as helping with a deterrent, as per the saying 'if you want peace, prepare for war'. So, as Alysloper says, his hatred was of war itself, but he saw the Germans as starting both world wars. This was the subject of the family arguments; some said that not all Germans wanted to fight, he said they were all in it as a nation.

So, while his sympathy for those German aircrew may have been partly due to respect for a professional enemy, it was also his dislike of the violence involved, rather as you might say to a naughty child, "look where your stupidity has got you".
It's no use getting old if you don't get artful

Offline peterchall

  • Established Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 3620
  • Appreciation 166
  • 25.06.1929 - 12.03.2016
Re: Home Life in WW2
« Reply #37 on: January 14, 2010, 22:03:22 »
I don't think there's a lot I can say about V2s, and looking at Paul's map in Topic '2 V2s hit Sheppey', I can see why - there wasn't more than a half dozen within hearing distance of Medway. If I remember rightly there was one or two news reports of gas main explosions before the Government came clean and told the truth. Thereafter there was nothing we could do. They could be seen lifting from their launch pads by observers on the continent and a warning issued, but I can't remember if this actually happened.

They were supersonic, so one consolation was, if you heard it, it hadn't hit you! I might have heard some 'thumps' in the distance, but the only close one I can remember was when I was out on my bike with a mate and there was an enormous bang, followed by a rumbling as the sound of its approach caught up with it. 'Front Line County' lists a V2 falling at Rochester on 18th February 1945, so I suppose it was that. Rochester archives say it was Strood, and I can't find out where.

There was actually a V3. This was a gun being installed in France. It would have had the range to reach London, but I think it only fired a 6 inch shell, so wouldn't have been very effective. Someone may know more.
It's no use getting old if you don't get artful

Offline peterchall

  • Established Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 3620
  • Appreciation 166
  • 25.06.1929 - 12.03.2016
Re: Home Life in WW2
« Reply #36 on: January 14, 2010, 20:35:39 »
I am writing from the viewpoint of the Medway Towns, as you know. When I think of what it must have been like to live near the coast, especially in the Dover area, it makes me feel very humble.
It's no use getting old if you don't get artful

Offline unfairytale

  • Established Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1311
  • Appreciation 31
Re: Home Life in WW2
« Reply #35 on: January 14, 2010, 19:53:55 »
What a great read. Some of the things I hear from my family who lived in Dover during the war, leave me dumb-struck. I expect people today would react in just the same way if put to the the test but I'd rather not find out.
When you've got your back to wall, there's only one thing to do and that's to turn around and fight. (John Major)
http://www.flickr.com/photos/unfairytale/sets/

Offline peterchall

  • Established Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 3620
  • Appreciation 166
  • 25.06.1929 - 12.03.2016
Re: Home Life in WW2
« Reply #34 on: January 14, 2010, 13:13:56 »
i look forward to your stories about the doodlebugs :)

Fieseler Fi103, V1, Flying Bomb, or 'doodlebug'.


They came in a continuous stream, one at a time. You couldn't relax between air-raid alerts, because there was no 'between'. They were going to crash, and whether they did it as programmed, or were shot down, the effect was the same. We had got through the Battle of Britain and the blitz being frightened only now and again, we had got the upper hand and we were now on the way to certain victory. Then this inhuman thing came that couldn't be frightened away but which frightened me all the time. It was like having climbed a mountain only to fall back down again. Even today I can't listen to a recording of those V1 engines without getting the creeps.

We had to go about our daily routine, of course, but did so with one ear cocked all the time for that awesome noise. At night we slept in the Anderson shelter. I can remember listening to many V1 engines, and you could generally tell if they were going past or going to come over the top, in which case you hoped they would keep going before the engine cut (1944 version of 'Not In My Back Yard').

When the propeller on the nose had made a set number of turns the controls tipped the V1 into a dive and usually gravity caused the engine to cut, hence the few seconds silence before the big bang. Sometimes the engine failed and the V1 simply glided to earth. We didn't know it at the time, but deliberate information was fed to the Germans that the bombs were over-shooting London. This caused them to reduce the range so that they fell short of London and on us instead!

After a while the defences got organised and the number of V1s getting through was reduced. They put a balloon barrage west of the Medway, and I remember the howling noise of the wind through the balloon cables. After our armies occupied the launch sites in France the Germans continued to launch the V1s from bombers over the North Sea, and the final casualties from V1 occurred at Dartford on 16th March 1945.

Here are my personal memories of the V1:

The first V1 on the night of 12th June (I think). I was in bed when I heard what sounded like a motor bike overhead, and called to my parents "that plane's in trouble". Then later there was the distant 'thump' when it crashed at Swanscombe. Then a week later they started the full attack.

Being in the garden when a V1 came straight over the house with a fighter behind firing at it. Luckily for the good of our health, he missed!

Here is a quote from my Topic 'A Civvy RE', when I worked as a Trainee Electrician for the Royal Engineers, listing the places I worked in:
"Watling Street TA Drill-Hall: Opposite Woodlands Road, now the site of some flats. It was the Gun Operations Room (GOR), controlling all the AA guns in the area, and it made my day if we had to work in the actual ops room - unfortunately I think this only happened a couple of times. It was at the peak of the flying bomb attacks, so there was continuous action with a plotting table etc, just like the RAF ones familiar in films. The message "diver, diver, diver" was a code related to flying bombs. We definitely made the job last while we were there and it was tempting to break a light switch so we would have to go back next day! We serviced the emergency generator there."

Seeing one hit by AA fire and explode in the air.

Watching exhaust flame of a V1 at night as it flew right over us from the direction of the Thames Estuary, evidently having been released over the North Sea.

And that's about it. I saw and heard lots of them that obviously weren't coming my way, and I think that shows the difference between what you can sometimes think and what actually happens. The fatal incident rate from V1s was less than that from bombing in 1940 (5 in about 10 weeks as against 14 in about 22 weeks), yet we were far more affected by the V1s as far as morale was concerned. Perhaps it was because the Battle of Britain came to its peak slowly, whereas the V1 attacks were a surprise (at least to the civilians) and until the defences got organised were very intense and continuous, and we were war weary. What's more, the V1s were robots, giving us our first idea of the world to come.

A bit about V2s to come.
It's no use getting old if you don't get artful

Offline peterchall

  • Established Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 3620
  • Appreciation 166
  • 25.06.1929 - 12.03.2016
Re: Home Life in WW2
« Reply #33 on: January 14, 2010, 09:43:01 »
Morning Ian,
Here is the best of my recollection after 70 years.

Dad came out of the army (Royal West Kent Regiment - the badge of the Dad's Army lot) as a Sergeant. The local HG unit was in Troy Town School and it was there that the 'bare bayonets' event occurred. But my main memory is of him belonging to the unit in Chatham Gun Wharf and the RAOC Depot at Darland, where he worked. He was a Sergeant, probably by virtue of his army service, which is why I think 'Jonesy' of Dad's Army should have been more than a Lance Corporal. At some stage he moved to the AA battery at Gillingham and eventually became a Captain. (No, he wasn't like Capt Mainwaring!). On reflection, the AA battery would be just the place where the HG would employ women, but don't know if that was so.

He was in Mesopotamia in WW1 and fought the Turks (as it seems your grandfather did - could he have been a RWK?) and they were 'good soldiers'. Yet to him the only good German was a dead one, and this was sometimes the subject of family arguments. So it was a bit of a surprise to us to hear his comments about the German planes. Perhaps, it was the respect that I think professional soldiers have for each other.

Peter
It's no use getting old if you don't get artful

Offline alysloper

  • Jr. Member
  • **
  • Posts: 143
  • Appreciation 7
Re: Home Life in WW2
« Reply #32 on: January 13, 2010, 22:31:17 »
Thanks for the compliment,

I'm sure the HG were amatuerish to start with. I can remember my dad coming home from a parade and going on about how he'd found some of them practising bayonet fighting with bare bayonets. Apparently he'd told them in soldiers' language that even the regular army didn't do that!

You mention women in the Home Guard, and I think I've heard about that before, but don't know where they served. Do you know any details?

Peter

Peter
Although women had been unofficially helping out in the Home Guard virtually since its inception, from April 20th 1943 a limited number of women were formally accepted for a range of duties including driving, operating telephones and clerical duties. The only uniform issued to the Home Guard Women's Auxiliary sections (as they were known) appears to have been a plastic badge!

regards
Ian

P.S. Was your Dad in the local Home Guard? I am intrigued by his slight sympathy for the german aircrew - it sounds like an attitude stemming from WW1, when many Tommies seemed to have hated the War itself rather than the Germans? My Grandfather was in palestine in WW1 but he died before I was born.

Offline peterchall

  • Established Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 3620
  • Appreciation 166
  • 25.06.1929 - 12.03.2016
Re: Home Life in WW2
« Reply #31 on: January 13, 2010, 22:14:44 »
Those rumours were early in the war. I'm not saying our government started them, but they probably wouldn't discourage them because if the public thinks the enemy is a 'bad guy', so much the better.

Until late August 1940 Hitler hoped to make peace with Britain, which is why only military objectives were bombed up to that point. So, while it was always possible that there were 'rogue' troops, I don't think that would have been officially approved. Some time about mid-war some captured British Commandos were shackled and badly treated, and in response a number of German POWs were put into chains and Germany was notified. So armies are generally restrained from ill-treating prisoners because of the possibility of retaliation, and soldiers who do commit atrocities are usually unpopular with their comrades for that reason. At least, as you say, those Canadians were Court-Martialled.

Fighting between the Germans and Russians was different - it was savage on both sides. I believe one reason was that Russia was not party to the Geneva Convention. When the Japanese ill-treated their prisoners they had no fear about retaliation because there were literally no Japanese POWs in Allied hands. I think it was General Slim, our CO in Burma, who said "we hear much about soldiers who fight to the last bullet and the last man, but the Japanese soldier is the only one to do so as a matter of routine".

So to come back to my personal memories, I do remember the news bulletins of how our prisoners were being treated by the Japanese, and how horrified we were, and I wonder now if it was good policy by the government to make a lot of this; did they think of the effect on the prisoners' relatives?
It's no use getting old if you don't get artful

 

BloQcs design by Bloc
SMF 2.0.11 | SMF © 2015, Simple Machines