- A Cowes Resident -

(I received this about a year ago. Either the sender's name was not appended or I have somehow managed to mislay it. If the latter is the case then I apologise and hope that the author will make contact again so that this matter can be corrected.)

I am a survivor of WWII as I claim to have served in uniform, at age 7 or so, with American troops. That was as a Cub Scout, so I was doing National Service at an earlier age than most, by serving meals and refreshments and washing dishes at an R and R station on the Isle of Wight, for American sailors awaiting the D-day invasion. My friend, John Bucur, now aged 90 landed at the D-Day invasion. He went on to become the Chief of Neuro-surgery at the Fairfax Hospital. My brother-in-Law, Raymond Stretch, landed at Normandy too. His unit fought against the Nazi SS, in re-capturing the town of Fontenay, France. He died, a year ago, having visited the Normandy beaches on many of its anniversaries.

My home at Cowes, Isle of Wight, had High Explosive bombs fall within two blocks distance. One completely destroyed a steam laundry. Two separate incendiary bombs were extinguished on the footpath outside of my home – dealt with by my Dad using sand. Indoors, I was covered in shattered window-glass, from the blast of a HE bomb, that was dropped on the local shipyard by a Stukka dive-bomber. I often slept at night in a brick built street air-raid shelter, whilst my father, who by day built warships in the local shipyard, served in the Home Guard, manning anti-aircraft artillery. When I walked to school, I was frequently confronted with blocked-off streets, with the notices “Danger! Unexploded Bomb!” causing me to find alternative routes. My maternal grandfather, until he was injured in combat, served in the Royal Navy. My paternal grandfather had been killed at the Battle of the Somme, in WW1.

Eventually we heard this From Winston Churchill on the wireless:- "Yesterday morning at, two forty-one a.m., at General Eisenhower’s headquarters, General Jodl, the representative of the German High Command and of Grand Admiral Doenitz, the designated head of the German state, signed the act of unconditional surrender, of all German land, sea and air forces, in Europe, to the Allied Expeditionary Forces, and simultaneously to the Soviet High Command.""Hostilities will end, officially, at one minute after midnight tonight, Tuesday, the eighth of May…We may allow ourselves a brief period of rejoicing. Today is Victory in Europe Day. Long live the cause of freedom. Advance Britannia. God Save the King.”

A few years later, I joined the RAF in March 1953 for National Service. I did square-bashing at Hednesford and then had my RAF Police training at Netheravon, starting in June 1953. This was immediately after the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II and the very first ascent of Mount Everest, by Norgay Tensing and Edmund Hillary. I was, thereafter, in the Provost branch, stationed at Number 4 District, RAF Police, at Duxford, near Cambridge. Our duties included patrolling East Anglia. I was a colleague of Steve Linge and Michael Floyd, both corporals, who were killed on duty in March 1955, driving in the Fens in their LandRover, in a blinding snowstorm.

In about 1956, I did two weeks of reserve service in the guard-room, at RAF Ventnor – the WWII Radar station on the Isle of Wight, from whence I come. This Radar station was a crucial part of Britain’s defence, during the “Battle of Britain,” in 1940.

Continue at On Parade or Take Leave