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It happened in a field

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by Waterloo50, Sep 22, 2017.

  1. Waterloo50

    Waterloo50 New Member

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    Hello, this is my first post here so I'm hoping that I have put this in the correct place.

    Just about everything I know and understand about WW2 comes from books, movies and documentaries. I have also spent many a happy hour exploring museums and old WW2 ruins not to mention a few hours in the archives but here's the thing, Some of the best information that I have gained comes directly from source, namely, the people that were there. Having read through a lot of the brilliant and interesting forums here, I was reminded of an unusual meeting that I had with an old farmer.
    I was working on a construction site in a field in the middle of nowhere when this old chap approached me, I asked him what he was doing walking in the middle of the site when there were so many heavy plant vehicles moving about. He explained to me that he used to own the field that we were working in but he had to sell it to make ends meet. To cut a long story short, he started to reminisce about the time a lone German bomber crashed into the very field that we were working on, he pointed to a row of trees by the roadside and said,
    'they are a lot taller now but that Jerry bomber was just above them, it was being chased by a Spitfire', you should have seen it, 'he said', 'it was on fire but that Spit pilot was letting him have it, all guns were blazing' he then went into detail about how the bomber clipped the last tree and smashed into the field whilst taking out a part of his barn'.

    I appreciate that its not the most exciting story but for me it felt like I was reliving that moment with him, I could have sat and listen to him all day, he remembered D-Day and he recalled watching massive formations of British and American aircraft flying overhead, he described the arrival of the first American troops and the hard times that he and his neighbours endured due to rationing, listening to him was far better than reading a book or watching a documentary.

    Apologies for the long post but I was really trying to make the point that we should all value the people that lived through that terrible time, for me personally, their experiences are more valuable than anything that I could gain from a book.

    Does anyone else have a similar story, I would really like to read about your experiences of chatting with the people that were there.

    Many Thanks in advance.
    Waterloo.
     
  2. LRusso216

    LRusso216 Graybeard Staff Member Patron  

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    Not quite like your experience, but my father's unit had reunions in the 50s and 60s. I was fortunate to attend some as a youngster. I got to know many of the men who served with him, in fact one of them was my godfather. When they were together, they reminisced about their shared experiences, some of which I heard. They recounted the story of a man who won a battlefield commission but didn't live long enough to collect his pay. They also told of being pinned down for quite some time until someone in the unit rolled away and relieved the pressure. I was too young to appreciate the stories, but they remain in my memory. We remained in touch with them for years, but the issue of their involvement sadly didn't come up outside the reunions. I made a shadow box in my father's memory. You can see it, and other things in my media collection.
     
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  3. CAC

    CAC Ace of Spades

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    Welcome aboard...
     
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  4. Waterloo50

    Waterloo50 New Member

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    I know what you mean about 'Remain in the memory', I once spent several hours in the company of an old soldier who had been with the BEF at Dunkirk, he was a great character. He told me that he was far to tired to stand in line on the beach to await evacuation, both he and his mates decided to go and look for food. they found a burnt out German truck and in the back of it were a few cans of meat, they shared the food and because the area was being heavily mortared they decided to take shelter under the same truck, the problem was they all fell asleep, that was until they were rudely awakened by some rather angry looking Germans, they spent the rest of the war in a prison in Dresden, not a good place to be considering what the allies had in store for it.
     
  5. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    Welcome aboard, You'll probably appreciate "War Time Wednesday" and some of Smiley's posts.
     
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  6. TheFonz

    TheFonz recruit

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    The story is not boring at all. Being in the states, there isn't a whole lot of World War II action to speak of where a local old-timer can point and say "I remember when this or that happened there during the war." It must be really interesting to live in an old land such as Britain, where history covers just about every square inch of the island. There was a lot action around where I live during the American Civil War, but of course no one left for whom it was a living memory!
     
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  7. Mussolini

    Mussolini Gaming Guru WW2|ORG Editor

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    Likewise - where I grew up in NJ was all revolutionary war things (George Washington's HQ was in the neighboring town, the worst winter of the war was spent camped in my backyard, etc) but not really things to 'see' or hear a first-hand account of. Sadly, people able to speak from first hand experiences of WW2 are few and far between these days. I can only imagine how many stories will never be remembered or shared.
     
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  8. Waterloo50

    Waterloo50 New Member

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    Quite right, Britain has a lot of history and because we are only a tiny island just about any historical location can be reached within a day. WW2 history is everywhere, we still have plenty of pill boxes and tank traps that were built to halt operation Sea lion, old American airfields, in fact, there's an airfield located just a few miles from my home where the actor David Niven was based and about 45 miles from my home in the opposite direction are 3 abandoned USA airfields. One of the airfields that I visit regularly is a place called RAF Upottery which was home to the 506th and the 101st Airborne, its the place where Easy Coy were based and launched their D-Day attacks from. I think most people would be very surprised to see just how much of the place still stands, the runways are still intact as are the Control tower, Officers mess hall and soldier and airmen quarters, if you visit the place on a summer morning just as the mist is rising of the land, the whole place seems to be alive with ghosts.
    Very close to Upottery Airfield is Dunkerswell another old USA and Canadian base, it was home to Liberators of the 479th Anti-submarine Group.

    Here's a couple of pics from Upottery, home for a while to the men of Easy Company.
    upload_2017-9-29_18-47-8.jpeg upload_2017-9-29_18-47-20.jpeg upload_2017-9-29_18-47-31.jpeg
    [​IMG]
     
  9. Waterloo50

    Waterloo50 New Member

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    I agree, I never pass up the opportunity to listen to those that experienced the war, One of the most interesting people that I met was a lady who's husband was with the Parachute regiment at Pegasus Bridge, 'A bridge to far', the reason why this lady was interesting was because she was a very close friend of Major Allison Digby Tatham-Warter, you probably remember him being portrayed in the movie, he was the officer that strolled across the bridge armed with an umbrella, we spent hours talking, she showed me pictures of her husband, sadly her husband died in the 1960's from a brain tumour, she explained to me that her husband had only just survived a bad crash in a Horsa Glider, he gathered his belongings and both he and a few other men made for a jeep, it was whilst he was sat in the jeep that an unexploded mortar round came out of nowhere and hit him on the head, the thing knocked him out cold and left one hell of a dent in his helmet, he survived the war but he constantly complained of headaches which ultimately took his life. A sad story but its those kind of things that keep me fascinated in WW2, its the side of war that you don't always get to read about in books.
     

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