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VE Day - 75 years on

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Danny M2Z08/05/2020 10:59:09
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When I saw that today was the 75th anniversary of VE Day my thoughts immediately went to my parents and grandparents and how relieved they must have been to survive,

If they (my parents) had not been lucky then I would not be here to tell you how my dear mum was evacuated to what became known as 'doodlebug alley'.

Missed her bus to work one day when some V1's came over the house so mum stayed in the bath until the buzzing stopped. A V1 hit her usual bus.

Dad flew in Wellington bombers as one of the Poles who joined the RAF. Apart from that, he managed to get from Poland to England in 1941 (or as the family tells it "The Germans were one day to the west and the Russians were one day to the east, so the family walked south for a few months to the Black Sea. Ended up in a place named Odessa and caught a freighter to Beiruit)"

Dad made a crash landing in a damaged Wellington and managed to survive although not all of the aircrew were so fortunate,

When I was very young, mum took me to see the a bombsite in Bow, East London, It was the place that her school used to be before she was evacuated.

After all that I have no right to complain about the times that we live in and so am just greatful to be here in the first place!

So let's just all get on with it!

* Danny M *

Andrew Johnston08/05/2020 11:24:54
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I asked my mum yesterday about VE day. She said she can't really remember what they did, if anything. She remembers listening to Chamberlain's speech in 1939, announcing we were at war, like it was yesterday, but not VE day. She lived on a poor council estate in London, so the cash and resources needed for any sort of party simply weren't available. My grandfather was in the building trade; if it rained and you couldn't work you didn't get paid. which meant the family didn't eat. So I suspect there was just world weary relief that it was over. Except of course that it wan't, as rationing got worse and continued for nearly another decade. Rather oddly, bread wasn't rationed during the was, but was afterwards.

Andrew

Howard Lewis08/05/2020 11:35:26
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As a very young child, I can remember being taken from bed, and seeing an aircraft flying at rooftop height in the next road, before my head being bumped as we we went down into the Anderson shelter, to sit on upturned flower pots, by the light of candles.

Later, in late afternoon walking near an airfield and seeing bombers starting their engines.

At that age, the reasons did not register. At grammar school, some of our masters had fought in the war, one as navigator in a Hampden, and another had been in a tank badly damaged, like him, in the western desert.

They did tell of their experiences, and only later came some understanding of what they had suffered.

They came back, very many did not. We owe them a debt of unimaginable size.

Howard

Steviegtr08/05/2020 13:00:33
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I can only imagine how awful it must have been. Yes we are lucky that most of the world is at peace & may it stay that way.

Steve.

Brian Oldford08/05/2020 13:50:50
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Sadly there some individuals that are so bigoted that listening to what they say you could be forgiven for thinking that conflict had never ended.

 

Edited By Brian Oldford on 08/05/2020 13:51:17

Neil Wyatt08/05/2020 14:05:16
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Quite a few family stories.

One of my dad's tales is how, as a boy during the war, he heard a Lancaster coming over very low, it crashed in a nearby wood. He went to the crash site and was there before all was cleared.

One thing that stuck with him was that the bomb aimer' was killed in position. For decades he worried why the bomb aimer would have been in position flying low across rural England. He spent ages studying records of downed aircraft and couldn't find a record of the crash site.

His conclusion is that it was on a training flight for the dambusters raids, which resulted in the crash being hushed up.

My Mum's uncle was in a Japanese POW camp and apparently he had been known to granb a grasshopper and eat it without thinking about it. He never described his experiences.

My late Mum was born in 1939, she recalls being under a table during air raids and a house in the street being hit. She once asked me not to play War Pigs because the siren at the beginning freaked her out, as did the civil defence one they tested once a week back in the 70s.

On a lighter note, my Grandfather taught radar and other skills at Cranwell in the war, previously he had been a sonar/radio operator on battleships and submarines. He went back as a civilian instructor, but gained a commission as a Flight Lieutenant. My dad has a book with photographs of scenes in Poland signed by four Polish pilots that were among many he gave extra tuition to in the evenings. When my uncle was born he hitched a ride in a Lancaster being ferried by a polish fighter ace (it was British policy to take such fliers away from front line duty) who made an unofficial stop at the aerodrome near my great-grandfather's farm and dropped him off near the boundary so he could nip over the fence to get home and see his newborn son. I don't recall the name but my Dad has it in his Dad's log.

My other Grandfather was a coppersmith in the RAF, my Nan used to have a perfect little spitfire he had made from a penny - a popular object made by those with the skills it transpires.

Neil

Ady108/05/2020 14:15:20
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An amazing period in human history, all my rellys came back from round one AND round 2 including one who was on bombers from 39 to 45

The end of WW2 kick started the golden age of model engineering in Britain right up until about 1980

Plenty of stuff from back then still being used to this day

Their names shall live for evermore

Mick B108/05/2020 14:22:10
2219 forum posts
125 photos

I had a grandad on each side. It was a complicated story, but if events had developed much differently from the way they did, my parents would never have met.

KWIL08/05/2020 14:33:54
3562 forum posts
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I can remember the party in the church hall and at a later bonfire, a soldier in battle dress turned up with his pockets full of large thunderflashes, exciting to say the least.

Mike Poole08/05/2020 15:06:04
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Martin Baker have sent one of their Gloster Meteor’s WL 419 up to give a display for the village, seems like somewhere else is getting a treat as he has not landed yet and has been out of sight and earshot for a while.

Mike

Gary Wooding08/05/2020 15:26:30
993 forum posts
254 photos

I was born just before the war and was brought up in Tottenham, N.London. My dad was in the Fleet Air Arm and was away for the duration. We didn't have a shelter and took refuge under the stairs when the bombs were falling. I recall that a V1 fell about 1/4 mile away and the blast shattered our windows. My mum was really distraught because the glass pieces went in the sugar bowl and she had to dump all the precious sugar.

I have vivid memories of hundreds of planes going over en-route to Germany., and remember a radio reporter mentioning our bombers' success in raids on Berlin. At the time I thought that Berlin was just a little distance past Walthamstow. I don't really recall the excitement of VE Day but I certainly remember the street parties with us kids sitting at a long row of cloth covered tables groaning under jam sandwiches, cakes, jelly and blancmange, with the women and mums doing the serving. I discovered many years later that Shani Wallis was one of the serving ladies. She lived next door to my uncle and aunt.

SillyOldDuffer08/05/2020 15:27:27
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Posted by Neil Wyatt on 08/05/2020 14:05:16:

...

One of my dad's tales is how, as a boy during the war, he heard a Lancaster coming over very low, it crashed in a nearby wood. He went to the crash site and was there before all was cleared.

One thing that stuck with him was that the bomb aimer' was killed in position. For decades he worried why the bomb aimer would have been in position flying low across rural England. He spent ages studying records of downed aircraft and couldn't find a record of the crash site.

His conclusion is that it was on a training flight for the dambusters raids, which resulted in the crash being hushed up.

...

Neil

Might have been Dambuster related, but aircrew trained all the time and on a gigantic scale. I couldn't find any RAF numbers but for the USAAF.

in less than four years (December 1941- August 1945), the US Army Air Forces lost 14,903 pilots, aircrew and assorted personnel plus 13,873 airplanes --- inside the continental United States . They were the result of 52,651 aircraft accidents (6,039 involving fatalities) in 45 months.

Think about those numbers. They average 1,170 aircraft accidents per month---- nearly 40 a day.

My uncle trained as a Liberator pilot in Canada and flew several exercises from there to 'depth charge' bomb ranges in New Mexico. Being in Coastal Command he thought it ironic anti-submarine training was mostly done over land, and the target was a submarine parked in the desert. Makes sense though, getting lost or mechanical failures over the USA would be safer for trainees than same problem mid-Atlantic.

I don't suppose British losses in the US are included in the USAAF figures, or USN aviation casualties.

During wartime the military are coy about reporting losses and even more so about reasons. The truth has to wait for patient analysis of the archives long after the shooting stops. Might never happen: the Ark of the Covenant is last seen disappearing into a giant US government warehouse!

Dave

 

Edited By SillyOldDuffer on 08/05/2020 15:28:12

Mike Poole08/05/2020 15:32:28
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04906eb0-5c47-4ad6-a556-4786c66a25b7.jpegIt wasn’t the end of the war for everybody, this was my Dads VE Day, nearly 17 hours in the air.

Mike

Edited By Mike Poole on 08/05/2020 15:36:55

Speedy Builder508/05/2020 16:03:40
2642 forum posts
217 photos

japanese surrender.jpeg

You may ask yourself what this is. Its a period photocopy of the Japanese surrender document that arrived in the UK at Heston Airport en route to Downing Street. The director of Heston Aircraft cheekily asked for a photocopy of the document which was approved. Even more cheekily, my father who was the Chief Draughtsman at HAC took care of the wet negative once the dignatories had left! The celebrations were on VJ Day 15th August before the official surrender document was signed and arrived in the UK. History is quite curious.

**LINK**

Neil Wyatt08/05/2020 17:00:30
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My goodness Speedy, that's a very historic document. I hope you don't mind but I've taken the liberty of inverting it:

instrument of surrender.jpg

If you wish, email me the full resolution image and I will send you back the inverted version.

Neil

SillyOldDuffer08/05/2020 17:41:06
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A mystery emerges! There must be a story behind this. Compare with what claims to be a photo from the National Archives. They're slightly different! Spacing rather words, some extra ideographs, and the 1 in dates varies. Cecil Harcourt's signature is a bit different too.

They both look authentic to me! Were there two ceremonies? A dress-rehearsal? My guess is multiple copies, typed as originals, and all signed at the same time, one for the Governor of Hong-Kong, one for the UK, one for the Japanese etc. Not polite for signed originals of an important document to be of carbon-copies. Later, photo-copies for wider distribution.

Dave

Speedy Builder508/05/2020 20:23:48
2642 forum posts
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Dave, back in the day, a "Photocopy" was a wet process where a "negative" was produced (the copy that I have) and then positives were run off from the negative.

John P08/05/2020 20:27:11
415 forum posts
265 photos

A photo from the 8th of May 1945 , Dad is second from the left,they were
just about to fly and was stood down as it had come over the radio the war
had ended ,so they all got out and had their photo taken .He was a navigator
and the oldest in the crew here at 22. The flying continued after in training
to go to Japan .Shortly after VJ day his flying stopped he had had enough
of operational flying and took a ground job until his de-mob some years later.
He never spoke much about the darker sides of the war ,he just said he never
had done very much and only talked about the lighter moments of service life.

He passed away last October just a few weeks short of 97 ,until he lost his sight
in 2010 he could still identify every star in the sky,and knew most in the southern
hemisphere,he had been ill with Parkinson's for the last 9 years and no longer
was able even to write his own name but could still multiply any two 3 figure
numbers in his head, not bad at 96.
I suppose it was just good luck that he and many others survived that time
when so many did not.
On this day we all remember them,God bless them all.8th may 1945.jpg

Neil Wyatt08/05/2020 20:29:24
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Almost certainly multiple typed top copies.

Neil

Cornish Jack08/05/2020 21:29:30
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Mike Poole - your Dad's logbook page features an airfield in Northern Burma (Myanmar)- Myiktila. I flew in there in the middle 60s - probably little changed from your Dad's time, other than the operating conditions.! A fascinating country, like so much of our one-time spheres of influence, potential wasted

rgds

Bill

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