A Question for the Vets.

Discussion in 'Postwar' started by Gage, Jan 17, 2009.

  1. Gage

    Gage The Battle of Barking Creek MOD

    Can I ask the vets of this wonderful forum (if someone hasn't already - merge please mods), how did you feel when the war ended?
    And how did you settle back into 'Normal day to day life'? Into a steady home and work life?

    If you don't to answer then I understand.
    Many thanks. Gage.
     
    Paul Reed likes this.
  2. Ron Goldstein

    Ron Goldstein WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran Patron

    Gage

    Thought I'd start you off if only "pour encourager les autres".

    You ask
    How did you feel when the war ended and how did you settle back into 'Normal day to day life'?


    Immense relief, obviously and much cause for celebration but tempered, in my case, by the loss of a dear brother who had been killed flying as a Rear Gunner on the last big raid over Nuremberg.

    My "Group" number of 48 meant I had to wait until mid 1947 before I was finally de-mobbed.

    In late 1946 my then Squadron Leader, one "Loopy Kennard" tried to get me to re-enlist in the 4th Hussars.

    He first tried bribery "I will immediately give you an extra stripe (I was a Corporal at the time) and it is also not unknown for SQMS to get early commissions" to scare tactics " You will find it awful hard to get a job out there".

    I was not to be persuaded however and couldn't wait to get out and back to "Civvie Street".

    My father promptly offered me a job in the despatch side of his small factory in Gt.Eastern St.

    I jumped at the chance to earn what was then appeared to me to be the enormous salary of £12.00 per week and was soon absorbed back into the everyday problems of post-war Britain.

    One incident comes to mind.

    I was in the West End of London one morning when a particularly low flying aircraft suddenly roared overhead.

    Without even thinking, I hit the deck to the bewilderment and amusement of anyone near me at the time.

    It seems that some lessons learnt in the line would never be forgotten :(

    Cheers

    Ron

    ps
    This is how I felt when the war actually ended in Italy
    BBC - WW2 People's War - VE Day, As Seen from a Field near Venice
    and this is how I ended my service days.

    January 1947
    In January l947, just three months short of four years from the time I set sail to North Africa I was posted home to Barnard Castle in Northumberland. I arrived just in time for the worst winter in some people's living memory and spent a large amount of time digging trains out of snowdrifts. For almost three months I then kicked my heels until in March I was finally released to return to civilian life.
    February 1947
    England was in a state of Crisis as fuel was almost unobtainable.
    Rail travel grounded to a halt. Heavy snowstorms and sub-zero temperatures our barracks a place of purgatory and there was not a single toilet that worked in the barracks. We spent all day digging trains out of snowdrifts and as virtually everyone in the camp was on the point of being de-mobbed rank meant nothing at all. For the first time in my Army career I saw officers under the rank of Captain being ordered to join snow clearing parties and issued with spades to do some of the digging themselves!
    March 1947
    22nd March
    This period , the last three months of my Army life, was boring, to say the least and I welcomed any chance to do something different. This probably accounted for the fact that I must have volunteeredfor the job of prisoner’s escort of which, details now follow.
    While I was fighting in Italy, somebody who shall be nameless had apparently been a naughty boy back in England and had been sentenced to a term in Lincoln jail. He’d just finished his sentence (two years) and I as " Corporal in charge of Escort" plus one other trooper were to meet up with him at the prison and escort him back to the Army at Darlington
    The ex-prisoner lived in London and as we had to change stations at Kings Cross I agreed to let him visit his folks in Caledonian Road before we finally took him back to camp.
    Mindful of the fact that if I lost a prisoner it was a court martial offence I took no chances and we kept him on handcuffs all the way to his house and afterwards all the way back to barracks.
    Demobilisation
    The long awaited day eventually arrived.
    From Barnard Castle I travelled to by train to York where my official de-mob took place.
    The large hall where I made my good-byes was packed with hundreds of men trying on the latest that Montague Burton had to offer although if I remember rightly you could have any colour suit providing it was navy or brown and any style providing it was single breasted or double breasted!
    I had been in the Army for four and a half years, and as Dad, G-d rest his soul, would have said, 'It's enough already'. It was time to go home.

    Three months after I was demobbed I received a payment from the War Office of six shillings and four pence. This was accompanied by a pay form that explained that the money in question was two day's ration allowance for escorting a prisoner back to Darlington from a jail in Lincoln!
     
    Gage likes this.
  3. Gage

    Gage The Battle of Barking Creek MOD

    Thank you, Ron.
    I pass Lincoln prison most days. Thankfully I don't have to escort any prisoners.
    Didn't realise it took so long to get de-mobbed. Can you remember that first day at home, Ron?
     
  4. Ron Goldstein

    Ron Goldstein WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran Patron

    Can you remember that first day at home, Ron?


    Funny enough, I can't remember a thing, probably because I rememember too strongly my first home leave and this seems to overwritten later memories of homecoming.

    In November 1945 I had my first home leave since March 1943.

    As a temporary ‘tenant’ at my parent’s home in North London I found myself sleeping on a couch in the front room, no problem for me since I had been sleeping ‘rough’ for the past three years.
    In the early hours of the morning I was un-intentionally woken by my mother who had just entered the room. When I asked her what the problem was she replied "I was just bringing in an extra blanket to cover your head because I thought there might be a draught coming from the window" !
    At the time and even now, some sixty odd years later, I laughed as I thought to myself "G-D, its just as well she never saw some of the places in which I’ve been sleeping!

    Fuller details here:
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/ww2peopleswar/stories/77/a2072477.shtml
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/ww2peopleswar/stories/42/a8889042.shtml
     
  5. sapper

    sapper WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    Yes I recall it very well. I had been discharged fro Hospital to continue treatment in civilian hospitals. I found myself outside Many miles from home. Two crutches unable to walk,,, somehow or other I had to get home.......

    At last i got there. recovering from a fractured spine fractured leg and a lost knee. later to be bone grafted and plated.... Weak as akitten.

    The country was completely bankrupt.WE had no fuel no food and brothers and sisters younger than me (20) There was clothes rationing but we could not afford them anyway. Then the harsh winter of 1947.
    Sapper
     
  6. Gage

    Gage The Battle of Barking Creek MOD

    Thanks Sapper. Long way home indeed!
    How did you feel that Britain was so drained but other countries seemed to be much better off to cope with the future?
     
  7. Smudger Jnr

    Smudger Jnr Our Man in Berlin

    He first tried bribery "I will immediately give you an extra stripe (I was a Corporal at the time) and it is also not unknown for SQMS to get early commissions" to scare tactics " You will find it awful hard to get a job out there".


    Craig,

    My late father told me a story similar to Ron before he was demobbed.
    He too was offered to be made up to Sergeant and that jobs would be hard to find on return.

    My father, like Ron, would not be persuaded and returned to work at English Electric, Strand Road, Preston, where he had worked before his army service.

    My father told me that for the first 6 months he found civvy street very hard to adjust back into.
    He would gladly have gone back in the army except that my mother had a say in matters!
    He remained at English Electric until his retirement.

    Regards
    Tom
     
  8. sapper

    sapper WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    For those of us that came home severely wounded, the outlook was quite terrible. The first thing was to try to get back into work...Who would employ a man that looked at though he had just come from being a Belson Victim. The country could only buy food if it could make enough by exporting.

    They were terrible times......As for war disabilities pensions? SHOCKING! But the the country was broke. We never had time to think about other countries. I was more concerned where I could find a bit of Fuel to keep the younger siblings warm.

    My company would not have me back they said I was a danger to myself and to others in the workshop....Sadly they were right I was sent away for more treatment.

    Let me go a little further. I had suffered a spinal fracture my knee top gone my legs smashed so bad that there was no bone left to join. So they tried a bone graft out on a goat...then if is was successful, they tried it on me, Even so they could not get enough bone so one leg is shorter than the other. I am also plated. And with out braces my trousers fall down, where they took the bone. Then The injuries caused blood clots in the lungs Pulmonary embolism/ I was sent to the last hospital for amputation

    The average civilian has no idea of ther severity of the wounds many men incurred.
    Sapper
     
  9. Gage

    Gage The Battle of Barking Creek MOD

    Craig,
    My father told me that for the first 6 months he found civvy street very hard to adjust back into.
    He would gladly have gone back in the army except that my mother had a say in matters!
    He remained at English Electric until his retirement.

    Regards
    Tom

    Thanks Tom.

    The average civilian has no idea of ther severity of the wounds many men incurred.
    Sapper

    Very true. The dead are remembered while sometimes the wounded are not.
    Thanks for reply, Sapper.
     
  10. Kieron Hill

    Kieron Hill Senior Member

    I read in a book about a soldier in the Royal
    Northumberland Fusiliers and his demob
    after 6 years of blood and tears, good
    times and bad. his first thoughts were to
    take a holiday with his wife, get a job and
    settle down.....Get a job he thought!!!
    This brought him crashing to earth, his
    old work area had been blitzed during the raids.
    he searched through the evening papers
    and decided to go for three jobs.

    Gentlemans Outfitters, I've come for the
    job - Got any references? No I've been in the
    Army for six years

    Grocers - Surley I can weigh a pound of sugar,
    I'm looking for a job I've been in the army for
    six years and rose to the rank of corporal -
    "So did hitler" he barked.

    Jewellers - In a German voice "Vat part of
    chermany did you occupy?" Berlin was the
    answer proudly "Ah! you are a Rat! The chap I
    just sacked vos also a Rat, he took seven
    watches and left fag in der till, Once a Rat,
    always a Rat.

    The above is just an out line of the story
    in the end he re joined the Army. It must have been
    really hard for servicemen returning to civvy
    life...we can only read their plight from books.

    Image taken from Jon, caption reads "Don't
    worry old man, Pte. Blenkinsop assured me
    he'd fix us up with a job"
     

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