WW2 - RAF in Canada
Memories of Miss Masters Grandparents – Albert & Mary Hodson
Albert Hodson - Wednesday 16th June 1943 was a glorious day. The day I boarded a train at Blackpool along with hundreds of RAF ground crew personnel for Guorock on the Clyde to embark on the troopship “Stratheden”. June 16th was rather a special day – it was my 22nd birthday. Our convoy left the safety of the Clyde the following Saturday evening and after a few days, presumably somewhere in the Atlantic Ocean, we encountered the fiercest storm imaginable. Of the 23 men on my mess table only 3, fortunately I was one of them avoided the dreaded “mal der mer”.
Round the Cape and eight weeks later we disembarked on Friday 13th August in Bombay. Black Friday! Two years later some 30 miles north of Rangoon in Burma the war ended. We moved on to Singapore. My squadron No215 at first flew Wellingtons, Liberators and finally Dakota transports. Yes, the war was over but we used every available aircraft every day for month after month to bring hundreds of POWs and civilians, mostly Dutch, to Singapore from the Dutch East Indies – now Indonesia. This work continued when I was repatriated to the UK in August 1946 to finish my service in Norfolk. It was rather an interesting trip!
Mary Hodson - I was 20 in the Autumn on 1940. WWII was in its second year and Mancunians had hardly noticed it until then but were now alerted by the occasional nuisance raid. In December 1940 the raids intensified and on Christmas Eve they were particularly heavy. My father, an air-raid warden, had been up all night but went to work as usual winding his way through the damaged buildings of Manchester towards his place of employment when he collapsed and died at the aged of 51. I was called to identify him. 1940 was not a good year. In 1943 I wrote to an old school chum who was serving with the RAF in India. Our correspondence continued until he returned home in August 1946 after completing his stint overseas in India, Burma and finally Singapore. A regular courtship ensured and we married two years later. He is called Hodson and I was called Hobson. You can say he was “HOBSON’S CHOICE”. He still is after 61 years!
Memories of Mrs Selman’s Parents
Being told about rationing and how oranges were a treat, and that my Mum and her sister used to share a poached egg. Clothes rationing, how shirt collars were taken off and turned to make the shirt last longer. Socks were darned.
Mrs Selman’s thoughts – I still give my kids an orange at Christmas. Being grateful we have so much choice.
Memories of Mr Stacey’s Grandma
My Grandma used to tell me about how she and her sisters used to stand at the windows of her childhood home near Barnsley and watch the air-raids on Sheffield, over 10 miles away. The air-raid sirens used to haunt her and she hates to hear the sound of them, especially at the end of “Dads Army”.
Mr Stacey’s thoughts – I’m inspired by the British spirit during and straight after the war. People stuck together and were not beaten and wouldn’t allow themselves to be defeated. I wonder if we’d show so much solidarity today. I hope so!
Memories from Hull - Mrs Wetherell’s Mum
I was nine years old and had an older brother and sister. We were all evacuated, my brother to Scarborough, my sister to Carnaby near Bridlington and myself to Alne outside York. On 2nd September we were assembled at school and were told it was a practise run. Before the day was through we realised we wouldn’t be going home. When the train stopped at Alne, we went in single file and handed a carrier full of groceries to be given to the people we were staying with. I only stayed for about six months as I couldn’t settle so my Mother brought me home.
We had a mud dug-out in the garden, the council provided but we never used it because it was always full of water. Later they built larger cement ones with bunk beds in it. My Mother and I slept in it for a year as the air-raids were frequent and Dad joined us when the sirens went off.
My school was at the back of us and were surrounded by search lights, barrage balloon on the school playing field and guns further round so you can imagine we had plenty of targets surrounding us for the German bombers. One night our school was bombed and one night we had to evacuate as an un-exploded bomb had been found. Another night two families were bombed and the children who went to school with me were killed.
It was always dark at night because of the blackout, no street lights, blackout curtains or shutters and cars had the headlights blacked out apart from a little slit. We lived on the outskirts of Hull which in 1940/41 was the most heavily bombed city in the country.
Memories of Mrs Wilsons Step Father - Edward (Ted) Juniper
Landed on Gold Beach on “D” Day as part of the Durham Light Infantry aged 19. There were 1200 men in his battalion but after two half months only 300 men remained. His outstanding memories are of large scale fighting and mass destruction. By the end of the war only 9 men remained from the original 1200. The remainder returned home injured or were killed in action.
Mr Wilson’s thoughts – That young men were able to live through and survive this horrific war, and that so many were prepared to sacrifice their own lives for the freedom of future generations.
Memories of Mr Thomas’s (Science) Auntie - Pauline
During an air-raid on Leeds an anti-aircraft battery was stationed in Cross Flatts Park. My Auntie was walking through the park when the battery fired its guns. When the shells exploded they created fragments (shrapnel) some of which fell and narrowly missed her.
Mr McGinty’s thoughts….
Seeing all the McGinty’s who had lost their lives during WWI. Their names are engraved on the headstones in cemeteries across France and Belgium which I am fortunate to visit every year on the year 10 Trenches trip. McGinty is not a common name but many died in the war. Too many. My inspirations are the women who organise the cemetery of the last post at Menin Gate in Ypres. This famous bugle song is played at 8 O’clock every single night of the year (even Christmas day). It is important for these individuals that we never forget the sacrifices that were made in 1914-1918 and 1939-1045. They are absolutely right.
Memories from Mr Padgett (D&T Technician)
My Father was 24 when he got called up in 1939 and had only been married less than a year. He never talked much about the war but after basic training he was in the tank division and spent time in North Africa and at the end of the war he was in Italy before he got demobbed. I wasn’t born until 1948 but I remember he brought a couple of mementoes back ‘rifle bullets’ I hope they weren’t live ones. Years later we went on holiday to Italy and visited Venice where he was stationed and had a chat with a few Italian ex servicemen and they were very friendly with no animosity between them which is when you realize now that most of the ‘Enemy’ were just ordinary people doing what they were ordered to do.
Every remembrance Sunday since then, when he was fit enough, until he died aged 85 he always joined the remembrance parade proudly wearing his medals and remembering those that didn’t make it back.