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Rodger Pettichord

Living memories of World War Two

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Hi all.  I was looking at the ORBX description of the Old Coot's Club as being for people "of a certain age."  Recently, I've been doing a lot of reading about WWII and the Cold War in background for a novel. It occurred to me that not only are we rapidly losing the generation that fought in the war, we also are starting to lose the following generation "of a certain age" that has any first-hand memory of the war years. For example,  I was born in 1943. My first memories are of playing with ration coupons, watching flights of B-17s go over, and learning not to pop a sugar-substitute pill into my mouth (bitter as hell). I remember the family joy at the end of the Pacific War where most of my family's draftees were fighting. This Forum includes folks from all over the war's range, including perhaps some Japanese and German brothers. Who remembers what from WWII's when?

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It´s my parents generation from all over Europe that can tell the stories of sirens sounding them to go into shelter to cover from the attacking bombers. And I have no stories of surviving soldiers, it is only the children and mothers who could tell.

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I was barely 3 years old and don't remember much but I can vividly recall going to the beach at night with my parents and watching the troops from Fort Ord loading onto LSTs. I still have my ration book - even little kids got one. I can also remember the blackout covers that were required on all car spotlights. Over the years I've often wondered why I can remember these things but have no recollection of much else in those years. Funny how memories work..........Doug

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I remember at 4 years old accompanying my father from home in Birmingham up to his origins in East Yorkshire - he wanted to check that his mother (my grandma) was still safe and well in her home in Hull. The only thing that was worrying gran was to make sure that her prize possession, a caravan parked on the coast at Withernsea, had not been damaged, so we took a very slow train across, and then a slow bus ride, and found the van was fine. Unfortunately, there was no transport back to Hull until the next day, so we slept in the caravan that night. I'd gone fast asleep, and was woken by this dreadful sound - air raid sirens howling - and Dad grabbed hold of me and started running across the caravan park towards the air-raid shelter. And I remember looking up at the dark night sky and seeing searchlights cutting through the dark, and the lines of tracer, and beautiful colours of what was probably bursting shells. And I apparently howled my eyes out when Dad wouldn't let me stay outside to see the rest of the show!

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My most vivid memory of WW II was Aug. 1945.  My older brother, sister and I had walked to the Clarkston, WA beach on the Snake River from our little home in Lewiston, ID to swim and were crossing the bridge across the Snake on our way home when all hades broke loose.  Horns blaring people shouting, guns firing.  Three frightened children finally found out it was just announced that Japan had surrendered.

We thought hey the war's over dad would be home.  Running, walking, resting the 3-4 miles to home seemed to take forever.  Disappointment was very real to find out it would be months before dear old dad got home from the China, Burma, India theater of war.

 

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Lived by the main marshaling yards in York UK when the Baedeker raids were on..I remember watching York railway station burning  from my bedroom window and  hearing the bombs as they marched down Queen St..I remember the Nunnery, destroyed and a number of Nuns dead.. I also remember seeing the eight miles of dual carriageway lined with tanks and guns waiting for "The Big Push".

This and much more..All  down to politics, as originally the German and the British come from the same stock.  I have many good German friends.Teecee.

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Sorry Nick..you are wrong.. there was nothing political in my post,..the request was for memories, you got mine.. I believe I would be the most  apolitical person in the world.. Without my final comment it would have appeared that I held anger toward the German people.Teecee.

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No, just two guys from the same city on the same forum  having a discussion about what is politics, and what is not.. Teecee.

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Gentlemen.

 

You can't see the post I have hidden, my post is directed at its author and to show it would simply draw attention to its content.

If I had not hidden it and not added the post that I did, even more people would have probably been upset.

The last line of Terry's post and its response presented the opportuniy for the comment I have removed and the post would have

been just as useful  to Rodger without it.

 

It shouldn't be too hard, memories are just reporting what happened, the hidden post had started to dig up the potential

for political commentary on the past and that is not happening in these forums.

 

Not unusually, I find myself in a no win situation, so if you could just follow the advice for the rest of the topic, I would be

much obliged.

 

 

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Sad memories .. it was terrible.

 

Fortunately we're a country without army since 1948

 

good luck with your novel

 

Cheers

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Born on Guam in '49 and have memories of Japanese soldiers being pulled out of the jungles in the early to mid 50's. I still flinch at the sound of a siren as a result of almost daily air raid warning practices. Regardless, wonderful memories of a tropical paradise now ruined by tourism.

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This really my memory since I was born in 1944, but in July of 1943 my -parents and two other couples -- my mother's cousins and their wives - went on a weekend trip to the New Jersey shore.  It was the last time they got together before the men were shipped off to Europe.  In April of 1944, two of my second cousins and I were born within two weeks of each other.  A fine weekend it must have been.  All three men returned safely from the war, although my father was wounded a few weeks after going ashore on D-Day. 

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I was living in Copenhagen, Denmark, in 1940 at the age of 6. I remember clearly the day the Germans invaded the country. We were awakened early in the morning by the roar of many trimotor Junkers flying overhead. My father said that they were probably going to Norway, where there were British troops. But after he went to work in the city, he called home and said there were German soldiers with machine guns on every street corner. I also remember the German capitulation in May 1945, when I was 11 years old.. We heard the news on radio from London and then saw lots of people looking out their windows - could this be true? About 20 minutes later people streamed onto the streets dancing and singing. We lived in an apartment and all the neighbors got together for a big party. Some had some real coffee, others had some liquor, my mother had a big cake, some had some smokes - all rare goodies at the time, but generously shared.

 

Of course I have lots of strange memories from the war years, but it would take a book to put them in writing.

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Those really are memories of the war..Thank you for sharing them, and to be honest, I think that you should write everything you remember down, as there are very few people left that are old enough to have clear memories of those dreadful times.. My own memories are only of a 4-6 year old..yours are memories  as an adult. Thanks again. Teecee.

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18 hours ago, johnost said:

I was living in Copenhagen, Denmark, in 1940 at the age of 6. I remember clearly the day the Germans invaded the country. We were awakened early in the morning by the roar of many trimotor Junkers flying overhead. My father said that they were probably going to Norway, where there were British troops. But after he went to work in the city, he called home and said there were German soldiers with machine guns on every street corner. I also remember the German capitulation in May 1945, when I was 11 years old.. We heard the news on radio from London and then saw lots of people looking out their windows - could this be true? About 20 minutes later people streamed onto the streets dancing and singing. We lived in an apartment and all the neighbors got together for a big party. Some had some real coffee, others had some liquor, my mother had a big cake, some had some smokes - all rare goodies at the time, but generously shared.

 

Of course I have lots of strange memories from the war years, but it would take a book to put them in writing.

 

jonost,  I have to agree with teecee about publishing your memories. As I researched the war years, the most valuable resources I found were the self-published personal memories of those who had been there and done that, many of them children back then. One account of the immediate postwar years by a German who had been a feral orphan in those times of deprivation has really stayed with me. Another by a woman who was one of the children removed from London to the countryside during the Blitz. I found them all inexpensively on Kindle ebooks and was much inspired by the stories. These living memories are valuable. my friend, don't let them be lost.

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I was almost 5 and living in California when Pearl Harbor happened and my memories are time compressed because of the general panic and urgency of so many people trying to get off the West Coast.  I remember traveling on a train to Arkansas to see my Great Grandfather that was packed so full that there were no seats available.    There were 6 of us, my Mothe,r Grandmother, Aunt, and my Brother, and Cousin.  Three scared women traveling with 3 rowdy boys ages almost 5, 3, and 2.  It was a great adventure for me but it must have been hell for the women.

 

Because of my young age and being lucky to live in the States, the war years were an adventure for me filled with dreams of flying fighters in combat, unaware of the true horrors of warfare.

 

I do remember the Gold Star Flags in my neighborhood and the screams and crying of the women when the Western Union Bike Messenger stopped at their house.  That guy had one hell of a tough job, I don't think that I could have done it.

 

I was one of the lucky ones, too young for WW2, Korea was winding down when I joined the Navy, and too old for Nam.

 

So many of our group were not so lucky and were touched directly by the war and the terrors it caused and I will never forget what they had to endure.

 

As I said earlier, I was one of the lucky ones.

 

Dale 

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Hello,

I have removed another post, which although reasonable, has no place here.

Please stick to posting your own memories only.

If you don't wish to share your memories, or you don't have any, please don't

add a post to this topic.

Comment in this topic is neither required nor appropriate for these forums.

 

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I also have another little gem from wartime. Apparently, I'm lucky to be typing this! The family were living in Rubery, Birmingham, UK and I was a babe in arms when the air raids started . My mum was a gentle, slightly anxious soul, and always bowed down to authority, particularly my Dad. He had told her that if the air raid sirens sounded, she was to get herself to the air raid shelter in the back garden and not come out until the All Clear siren sounded. So when the siren sounded, and being in a panic, that's what she did, completely overlooking the fact that the son and heir (me!!) was peacefully asleep in the pram in the back yard, and remained there for two hours until Dad came home, and was horrified to find me there unattended, and no sign of Mum! When he finally discovered her in the shelter, and asked why the hell she had not either collected me and taken me to the shelter, or come out and collected me when the All Clear siren went, she apparently told him that in the panic, she had done as told and run immediately to the shelter, and then been too terrified to come out again, and she had not heard the All Clear as she had been covering her ears because she was frightened. We always laughed at her later in life, but here I am still alive and well, having lived to tell the tale:lol:

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I was born in 1946 so have no real memories of anything until about 1949/50. I do remember my dad was managing a farm outside Gunnedah for a man who owned a business in the town. At the time the local picture theatre used to hire searchlights to promote certain movies. When they turned them on you could see the searchlight beams arcing across the sky from miles away.

 

Another memory involves the beloved Tiger Moth. Some of dad's army buddies purchased surplus TMs and used to buzz our house. Me being only 2 or 3 was terrified of them and used to run and hide under my bed. Even when driving past the airport heading into town I used to hide on the floor in the back of the car. That was until one Sunday on our way home from Church when dad pulled into the airport and spoke to some guy and next thi9ng I was sitting on my father's knee several hundred feet above the airport. I looked down and cold see my mum and 2 sisters. From that moment I became hooked on flying.

 

Also who remembers Jim Reeves singing "Bimbo"? In later years mum used to tell me that I used to run around the house singing:

 

Bimbo, Bimbo where you going to goeyo

Bimbo, Bimbo what you going to doeyo

Going down the road to see a girleyo

 

One other memory I have is the 1950 floods when the Namoi River broke its banks and water came up to within about 50 yards of the house.

 

That is the earlies memories I have.

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Born in Edinburgh in '38 my really vivid memories of ww2 were those horrible air raid sirens and the warden patrolling the streets hollering at those who had light showing.  As the Americans showed up on leaves we learned a new catch phrase "Any gum chum"?  My cousin Jack and I had great success.  When VE day was declared the prisoners in the local camp gained a modicum of freedom - well do I remember their exhibition football games.  A lot of talent and very impressive to this seven year old's eyes.

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I forgot to add to my memory that that aircraft was a Klemm swallow. Later I was to discover its rego was VH-UUR. It had originally served with the missions in PNG and eventually found its way to Australia. At the time I had my 1st flight it was owned by a fellow named Alex or Eric Oliver. Currently it is owned by Dr. Roy Fox and is based at Bankstown and is still airworthy.

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I was born in Feb. '43 and my earliest memories are very faint. We lived in many places as my father was with a field artillery unit that was training up to be sent to war.

He flew L-4 and L-5's as an artillery spotter.

Here's two photos of myself and my father sometime in late 1944 at Ft. Sill, Oklahoma, and one of my dad.

Scan51.jpg  Scan53.jpg

 

Scan37.jpg

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Another post removed.

Rodger, you asked for memories from the forum members.

Please don't use the topic to post third party anecdotes from

wartime and its consequences.

 

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It seems that  this this topic is too controversial..Perhaps we should leave it at this and close it off.. We do not needs ill feeling on the site..Teecee. (Terry)

Edited by teecee
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Thanks Terry,

It's not, but there seems to be an irresistible temptation to add comments and "memories"

that are not those of the contributors.

 

I am sure that we all have knowledge of and opinions about war and its dire consequences but

they have no place in this topic or indeed in these forums.

 

Rodger asked for experiences and memories and that is what this topic contains and very interesting

they are too but it must not stray off topic, even a little bit.

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Nick, I take no offense if you think it best to shut this one down. After all, I was one of those who violated the premise. The thread is becoming very interesting, but also apparently is becoming more of a hassle for you as Moderator.  I support whatever you decide all the way.

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Another memory just came to me. Picture the scene: It's 1943 or 44, I'm 3 or 4 years old, and I'm sitting all alone on the floor in the front room of our house in Rubery, Birmingham. There is a meal going on in the kitchen next door, Mum and Dad, and Mum's brother, Uncle Tom, and her sister Auntie Margaret, who have just come down to Birmingham from Hull, are all there.Little John is intrigued by the sideboard, and manages to turn the key and open the sideboard cupboard. This looks interesting - a package. Late Christmas present? Tear off the paper, and there's lots of smaller packets inside. I'll open one. Ooh, looks like sweets. I chew several of the sweets, but they don't taste so good, so I try another, and another and another packet. By now the floor around me is covered in discarded "sweets", but undeterred, I open all the other little packets. It's then that the door opens, and there's Uncle Tom., who has come to get his carton of Woodbine cigarettes, which were as rare as hen's teeth in those days. I think that's the first time I saw a grown man cry! And that's probably why I am a smoker1f600.png

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My memories are only of wartime NZ, of sweet rationing and there being no ice-cream.  We were fortunately insulated from the serious stuff in Europe.  I can remember my father in Home Guard uniform because he had been rejected from the military because of a serious knee problem.  He was sad about it all of his life, but if he had got in to the army he'd have gone into the bag in Singapore and no doubt worked on the Burma Railway.  Later in life I was grateful, but he always felt guilty.  But I can remember the day clearly that ice-cream came off rationing, oh joy: I was all of eight yrs old.

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My wife has written up the accounts of two WW2 bomber pilots.  The first was a Dutchman, who by fate joined the NZ airforce, trained in Canada, transferred to the RAF and miraculously survived a full tour in Stirlings.  After that he went on to Mosquitos as a Pathfinder, then had a full career as a KLM pilot.  True hero.  The second is an Australian who flew Lancasters through a full tour, and has written brilliantly of his memories.  Add to that I had a S/Ldr uncle in Mosquitos, he had to drop rank from Wingco to get in, while another uncle was a Sergeant Navigator who also wrote his story.

These men flew night after night over Europe taking huge risks. I salute them, and my relations told me, reluctantly of their war adventures, at the prompting of a keen little boy.

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Speaking of heroes, my great uncle (grandmother's brother) Robert Murray was Regimental Sergeant Major of the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders - killed in 1940 at the battle of Sidi Barrani in Egypt.

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Here's a strange one my Grandad told me.. He got gassed at one of the Ypres battled and was taken behind the lines to a hospital, and when he gave his name and rank to the bursar he was told that must be wrong they already had a soldier of that name.. It turned  out to be his father, my great grandfather. 

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The uncle I'm named after wanted to join the Flying Tigers in China, but couldn't.  He then joined the RCAF and flew Hurricanes in the Battle of Britain.  When the U.S. entered the war, he transferred back the Army Air Force, but they made him an instructor, which he hated.  He then volunteered for glider training and tok one into Normandy on D-Day.  He finally got his wish to fly fighters, Bolts,toward the end of the war, but didn't see a lot of action.  Amazing man. 

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My mother's brother was career "Old China Hand" US Navy. He served throughout the Pacific War on destroyer escorts, destroyers, and submarines. He was in all the major battles and had two ships shot out from under him. When the war was over, he was pretty much burned out. He stayed in the Navy, living close to my mom, and would visit us at least once a month for a day. My sister and I adored him because he always brought us Navy surplus stuff, like voice-activated speakerphones, Morse practice blinker cards, and such. Best of all, every visit was accompanied by a grocery sack full of candy bars of all sorts. Near his retirement a few years after the war, he got for me a fully-detailed, six-foot long familiarization model of a destroyer escort. It could be opened in sections and had been used in the classroom to acquaint new seamen with the ship. My dad mounted it on the wall above my bed. Best thing ever! My uncle spent most of the rest of his life drinking steadily. He married a retired barmaid of his own age who had been through a few wars of her own. They lived quietly if not soberly, doting on Buster their parakeet. His wife died, Bill got jaw cancer, and died without fuss. I so often think of Uncle Bill and the thousands like him who went through hell, won the war at considerable personal cost, and never really recovered from their sacrifice. Damn it, I should have done more for him, but then I was just a kid, and most of the vets we knew didn't want a fuss. They just wanted a beer and a cigarette and a little peace and quiet.

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