Dr. Fogg & Sir Daniel presents..

The Battle of Britain and my Dad’s part in Hitler’s Downfall.

In Foggy's articles on August 24, 2010 at 9:13 pm

 

   The British are celebrating the 70th anniversary of the battle of Britain, when Britain stood alone against the Hitler war machine. France, Belgium, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Holland, Norway, all rolled over like tame puppies when faced by the Nazi blitzkrieg. Many resisted but equally many collaborated to their undying shame.

It is my humble opinion that one man saved our nation. I am referring to Winston Churchill, the right man at the right time. He alone stirred our nation’s blood, the fighting spirit welled up in every British man and woman. He alone kept our moral up when many nations would (and did) give in. He knew that to win the war we needed the Americans and that we must hold on grimly until such time as they decided to do the right thing. Ok they leased us a load of rotting battleships and sent us food. My dad said that American pork set us all up with bowel worms. But I am not going to nit pick here, to be fair they sauntered along several years late just as we had the Germans on the run anyway. Just listening to Churchill’s speeches even 70 years later makes me want to rush out and refuse to buy a BMW. 

 

My Dad and his part in Hitler’s downfall.

   Now my parents farmed in a typical English village called Rowney Green, one shop/ post office, one pub and about 100 inhabitants. Agriculture was the main employment although the town of Redditch about four miles away had factories producing a wide range of goods, much of it for aircraft. It was not unusual to see a flock of sheep or herd of cows sauntering down the main road (well the only road). The village was also about fifteen miles from Birmingham and the area next to Birmingham known as the Black Country. This area was so called because of all the forges belching out smoke during the industrial revolution and beyond. It used to be said “If it’s made of steel it’s made in Birmingham”

I was born in 1948 just three years after the war, but my childhood was filled with the stories my folks had to tell, in fact I got to know them so well I often chirped in with reminders when they were relating the tales to others. My dad was a poultry farmer, he bred pedigree Rhode Island reds and was on the verge of becoming one of post war Europe’s top poultry breeders. He had been too young to be in the First World War and because of the importance of his work he was deemed to valuable to fight. It was what they called a reserved occupation.

 

 

Now the village soon organised a home guard unit, the leader of this was one Colonel Scott, a man who my father described as a pompous ass. He had been a Colonel in the First World War and therefore put himself forward as the natural leader, with his handle bar moustache and  public school la de da accent he figured he was Hitler’s worst nightmare. All over Britain communities organised themselves into home guard units with the intention of frustrating Hitler’s army with undercover saboteur sorties, or. At least that was the intention. Unfortunately they had few weapons, the odd farmers shot gun, pitch forks and perhaps the occasional bow and arrow even little pots of pepper to throw in the faces of oncoming Nazi storm troopers. Later in the war owing to Churchill’s insistence they did get serious weaponry and intensive training in tactics to harass an occupying army, but it was certainly optimistic to suppose that throwing pepper at an advancing force of Panzer tanks would have had much effect.

Every evening they would parade through the village, sometimes surrounding the post office or pub, or suddenly attacking Mrs Perkins washing with simulated bayonets (A broom stick with the wife’s carving knife strapped to it). When she complained Colonel Scott would remind her “There is a war on you know” they unfortunately failed to instil much confidence in the population and were the butt of many jokes. The BBC made a comedy series called Dads Army which is apparently spot on.

One Sunday afternoon there came a thunderous and quite unnecessary banging on my father’s cottage door. My father answered the door to see Colonel Scott in full uniform together with his squad (mostly in dungarees and with broomsticks for rifles). He informed my father that he had been conscripted into the home guard and that he should present himself at the village peace memorial hall (in memory of the peace after world war one) at 1800 hours tomorrow evening. Without waiting for a reply he marched his ragged band up my father’s garden path and out of sight but not before knocking his cap off as he passed the cooking apple tree. That evening my dad took his Rudge motor cycle and rode to Redditch where he enlisted in the Auxiliary Fire Service (Membership of the AFS automatically excluded him from Colonel Scott’s clutches).

I once found my dads old fire helmet and on noticing a dent in it I asked if it was caused by a Nazi bullet? “Sadly no” he said. It was caused by someone throwing a snooker ball at him during a fight in the AFS canteen. I asked if he ever saved anyone from a burning building? “No” came the reply. I asked if he had actually fought any fires? “Oh yes” he said. At last I had something to tell my friends about my dad the war hero. However the details were less than I had hoped for. The one and only fire my Father attended during the entire war was when the vicars garden bonfire got out of hand and set fire to the long cemetery grass although apparently he conducted himself with distinction..

All this is not to belittle what an awful time this must have been for them, every night scores of German bombers went directly over their farm, a seemingly endless stream. They were bombing the spitfire factories in Birmingham and the entire skyline in that direction was aglow. One night there was an awful crash and my dad and my uncle Les (dads younger brother) ran out to find a Wellington bomber had crashed in one of the fields. When they got there it was well ablaze and my father told me he saw the pilot burning in the cockpit. The pilot had tried crash land to avoid hitting the nearby town, it was all the more sad because it was a Canadian bomber crew that had experienced engine trouble whilst on the way to Germany. My father and his brother could do nothing as ammunition was firing and explosions taking place which made it impossible to get anywhere near to it.

On the night that Coventry was bombed my sister was being born in the nursing home in a neighbouring village. Dad was riding his bike to go and visit when an army lorry stopped and asked where Coventry was, dad pointed to the glow on the horizon, the soldier jumped into the lorry and drove away in the opposite direction. It was a lorry full of anti aircraft shells and the driver obviously decided not to be a hero. I had an uncle on my mothers side who was manning an anti aircraft battery in Coventry that very night, he told me that at the beginning of the raid they had the grand total of six shells. Coventry was almost entirely destroyed.

The people of Britain carried on regardless, it was not unusual for farmers and conscripted land girls to be working on the harvest whilst above in a clear blue sky young men in their spitfires and hurricanes were locked in a death struggle with equally determined German young men. The RAF were denying the Germans air superiority which was so important before a full invasion could take place.

In my next part to this I shall tell you about the captured German pilot, the Bomb that Bob Brown found when he was getting the cows in for milking, the afternoon the home guard surrounded the Danillo picture house in Redditch and the tragic death of Mr. Perry at the hands of Colonel Scott.

Dr Fogg.

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  1. you have drawn me into the past, allowed me to stand with your brave father and given me a vision of what had to be nights with no sleep and endless worries..

    I have a friend who was a young girl in London back in 1944 and she remembers the bombing and the bomb shelters very well, even at her current age. Events like that provide those unfortunate to live thru it stories to tell their children till one day, today in this case.. this story is written down and shared.

    I’m looking forward to the next part my friend.

    ~ Daniel

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