RAF Broadwell Chapter 9



I awoke the next morning with the sound of an explosion. I thought I was back in Arnhem until I noticed the bed.


The Germans were sending shells into the town. One had dropped outside our window. All the glass was blown out but the blackout boards saved us from the flying pieces.


A few moments later we were ordered to leave the place as an ammunition truck had caught fire outside through the shelling.


I gathered up my few clothes. They were still wet through and went downstairs into the huge garden that surrounded the place.


It was a lovely morning and there seemed to be hundreds of soldiers about. Photographers and reporters were interviewing some of the chaps. I looked round for somewhere to dry my clothes.


I met Stan Graham from "E" Squadron, a very old friend. He looked most cheerful. We sat down together and talked. He said he was glad to have got away from Arnhem. I had seen him before on the Saturday in the wood when he had silenced the S.P. gun.


I found Mick a few moments later. We were glad to see each other. He told me he had had little difficulty in crossing the river.


We wandered round the grounds talking to fellows we recognised. We met one or two chaps who had been into the town for a shave. We decided to try our luck after lunch.


Immediately after dinner we went into the town. It did not seem to have suffered the horrors of war much. On the main road we found a barbers but it was closed. The next one we found was closed too but the lady of the house was at the door and said she would get her husband to open the shop for us.


We each had a haircut, shampoo and shave. The barber and his wife were very kind to us, bringing us apples and pears to eat whilst we waited. There was some English and American reading matter. I looked at the date. It was dated 1938. I reflected that probably less than a fortnight ago the place would be littered with German publications.


Just as we were leaving we heard six explosions in rapid succession. The barber's wife looked anxious. We reassured her that it was nothing to worry about.

When we got back on the main road we found a shambles. The barber's shop we had tried first had been hit by a shell. Five others had burst close by. Several bodies lay in the road and ambulances were rushing to their aid. We could not stop in case we were wanted back at the barracks. We moved on. The war was not over for us yet.


Beck at the barracks we found everyone getting ready to move. Trucks were waiting and after hanging around for about an hour we moved off to a barracks near the bridge, previously been used by the Jerries.


This new place was a lot worse than the other one. Being near the bridge it had been badly damaged by bombing, as had all the residential property close by. The civilians were all living in Air Raid shelters. I noticed that a continuous umbrella of allied fighters flew overhead.


We could not get a meal here. We were pushed up into the attic where there was no lighting. After dark we had several alerts and one or two bombs were dropped. Fortunately we suffered no damage. I was very tired and quickly fell asleep.

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