Hitler and Grand Admiral Raeder discuss possibilities of invasion of
Rear Admiral Kurt Fricke draws up fresh plan for invasion called
“Studie England”, preliminary rounding up of craft begins.
After returning from Tanneberg Hitler declares his seriousness about
Hitler issues directive number sixteen.
Thirteen divisions are earmarked for
invasion. The same day the army finishes detailed plans for a landing on a broad
front on the English south coast. The main thrust as in France is to fall to
Field Marshal Von Rundstedt commander of army group “A”. His six infantry
divisions are to embark in the Pas De Calais and hit the English beaches between
Ramsgate and Bexhill. Four divisions of Adolf Strauss’s ninth army are to
cross the Channel from Le Havre landing between Brighton and the Isle of Wight.
Further west three divisions of Field Marshal Von Reichnaus sixth army are to
embark from the Cherbourg peninsular to land in Lyme Bay. Ninety thousand
men would form the first wave and by the third day two hundred and sixty
thousand men would be ashore. In addition airborne forces are to be dropped in
Lyme Bay and other areas. Six
armoured and three motorised divisions will follow in two days, after one week
there will be thirty nine divisions and two airborne divisions ashore. The objective is as follows, group “A” are to push in a line between Gravesend
and Southampton. The Sixth army are to head
north to Bristol to effectively cut off Devon and Cornwall. The secondary
objective is to put a line between Malden on the east coast north of the Thames
to the Seven river blocking of Wales.
Hitler meets military chiefs
on the Obersalzberg. Raeder, Keitel and Jodl are present from OKW as are
Brauchitsch and Halder from the army high command. Raeder is hopeful of success
using both captured French ships and the Italian navy for protection from the
issues directive 17.
Aug 1, 1940
Directive number seventeen for the
conduct of Air and Naval warfare against England. In order to establish the
conditions necessary for the final conquest of England, I intend to continue the
Air and Naval war against England
more intensely than before. To this end I issue the following orders:
The German Air force force is to overcome the British Air force with all
the means at its disposal and as soon as possible.......
After gaining temporary or local air superiority the air war is to be
carried out against harbors, especially against establishments connected with
food supply...... Attacks on harbors on the southern coast are to undertaken on
the smallest scale possible, in view of our intended operations......
3. The Luftwaffe is to
stand by in force for Operation Sea Lion.
I reserve for myself the decision of terror tactics as a means of
The intensified air war may commence on or after August 6...... The navy
is authorised to begin the projected intensified Naval warfare at the same time.
The directive signed by Keitel on
behalf of Hitler on the same day read in part:
The C.in C., Navy having reported on
July 31 that the necessary preparations for Sea Lion cannot be completed before
September 15, the FUHRER has ordered: Preparations for Sea Lion are to be continued and completed by the Army and Air force by
September 15. Eighth to fourteen days after launching the air offensive against
Britain, scheduled to commence around August 5, the FUHRER will decide whether
the invasion will take place this year or next.In spite of the Navies warning
that it can guarantee only the
defence of a narrow strip of coast (as far west as Eastbourne), preparations are
to be continued for the attack on a broad basis as originally planned......
Requirements for the navy are 1,722 barges, 1,161 motorboats, 472 tugs and 155
12-17th. Luftwaffe attacks
Goring begins air offensive, Operation Eagle. Three air fleets are used,
number two under Kesselring operating from the low countries and northern
France. Number three under Sperrle based in northern France and number five
under Stumpff based in Norway and Denmark. Fleets numbers two and three totaled nine hundred and twenty nine bombers, eight hundred and seventy five fighters
and three hundred and twenty six dive bombers. Number five was much smaller totaling
one hundred and twenty three bombers and thirty four twin engined
Goring switches tactics to the destruction of the Royal Air Force sector
Goring sends one thousand bombers daily to England. All fighter stations
in southern England are extensively damaged as are six of the seven sector
Keitels signature lays down final plans, orders are given for
diversionary tactics on the British east coast to lure away British forces.
Movement of shipping from Germanys northern ports to embarkation areas
Hitler issues directive number 18.
The earliest day for sailing of the
invasion fleet has been fixed as September 20 and that for the landings
September 21. Orders for the launching of the attack will be given on D-minus-10
day, presumably therefore on September 11. Final commands will be given at
latest on D-minus-3 day, at midday. All preparations must remain liable to
cancellation 24 hours before zero hour.
Massive bombing of London begins, six hundred and twenty five bombers
protected by six hundred and forty eight fighters, attacks are kept up on air
fields and sector stations.
Goring and Hitler meet to discuss the state of the Royal Air Force,
Goring gives assurances that the invasion can now take place.
Armada sets sail, air bombardments continue.
Tom and his pals had been
sure that the invasion would take place that summer, Hitler would have too
invade England to crush the last country in Europe offering resistance to the
fascists, slight though that might be at the moment in view of the heavy defeat
and miracle of Dunkirk, the bulk of
England’s heavy equipment laying still on the beaches and surrounding villages
of that ruined area. All through the summer they had been waiting for it and so
had the government in Whitehall and on September the seventh Churchill released
the code word Cromwell signifying that the invasion was imminent. This had
caused no end of problems, the endless ringing of church bells, the blowing up
of several bridges in Norfolk and Kent by the royal engineers which when it can
to it only helped the axis as it stopped English re-enforcement’s from
reaching the beleaguered forces on the south coast and several casualties by
those stumbling over hastily laid anti-personnel landmines.
So throughout July and August 1940 while the government mined beaches,
laid thousands of miles of barbed wire, constructed fortified points Tom and his
pals had laid traps of their own in the woods near their houses as well as
laying in what they called emergency rations as no doubt were thousands of
others around the country. On any day that summer troops could be seen digging
ditches and anti-tank defences ,the fields and common areas near the boys home
now resembled an alien landscape covered with barrel-like blocks of concrete
,iron posts buried in holes, wrecked cars and machinery
the purpose to stop the landings of German aircraft and gliders. The main
bulk of the home forces were situated in the south east corner of the Country
for they was where the military chiefs expected the blow to fall.
lived in the village of Marden Hill
a small rural community some
fourteen miles north of Eastbourne and six
miles west of Ticehurst in East
Sussex. It had been a quiet village up until the outbreak of hostilities now it
had almost half the population again as it had six months ago the pre war
population of three hundred and
twenty swollen to close on five hundred by those people evacuated from London
with the onset of large bomber raids. The school hall was full as was the manor
that stood on top of the hill these two buildings having been designated as
temporary accommodation for transitory peoples being re-located to the
south-west of the country. Even though there were
now several dozen additional children in the village Tom and his friends
did not mix with these lads from London as the felt they were intruding on their
patch, besides what was the point of making friends with lads who would be
moving away all to soon.
The village mainly comprised mainly just
of the main street , the buildings all dated from the middle of the
seventeenth century, the bulk of the properties bedecked with climbing ivy’s
and the such like, in the spring the whole of the main street looked like a
flower festival , however in the summer as now although it was still very
picturesque the buildings and street had taken on a rather dusty and run down
look even though the brass foot plates at the doors were kept gleaming as were
the interiors. The other main part of Marden
Hill was the green , a few acres of common ground around which some two dozen
properties had been constructed in the middle of the green was the village duck
pond though over the last ten or so years this had a tendency of drying out in
high summer and the ducks either left for a while or
wistfully at the remaining little pool in the middle wishing probably for a
downpour to restock its supplies. Just north of the green facing onto a part of
the main road (called the Ticehurst
Road) stood the church, still very much a focal point for the majority of the
village folk, the other main meeting place being the Bulls Head stood on the
opposite corner. The church was a medieval building and on a Sunday the building
always a good attendance as not
only did Marden Hill residents attend but also those from outlying districts and
even a few from Wadhurst. The vicar was man in his mid-forties
with a waist-line measuring roughly his age a welcoming grin and a rather
dishevelled mop of hair on his head. Tom and his friends while believing in god
did their best to avoid the church if at all possible. Over from the church on
the north side of the road was Mrs Hopkins house which also doubled as the
village post office. All manner of gossip could be picked up from this building
regarding who was dating or seeing who and the like , Mr Hopkins had recently
taken to writing on a chalk board at the front of the shop notices like 140 for
16 referring to recent air battles over Britain making it almost sound like a
cricket match. The boys often went to the chalk board to find out the latest
scores which sparked furious debates amongst them.
Next door to the post office stood Mr Fultons butchers shop and next to
that stood Mr Griffiths the green grocers and that accounted for all the
shopping facilities of Marden Hill. The only other buildings of note were the
school and the Squires manor as previously mentioned the school was now occupied
by refugees from
London which meant the local boys
and girls education was suffering, the parents were concerned over this but not
the boys. The situation of displaced people was the same at the manor house, the
hall itself the outbuildings and even parts of the stable were full to
overcrowding but the squire hoped that within a short period of time the sad
citizens would be away to places further a field in the north and west country.
was now fifteen years old, a strong, healthy lad who was not unaccustomed to
long hours of work on his fathers farm which lay just south of the village. His
closest friends were John, Frank and William (or Bill to his mates). Johns
father was away serving on H.M.S. Royal Oak somewhere out in the Atlantic
escorting merchant vessels that still struggled to bring in the foodstuffs and
war materials for the war effort. Bills father was either a prisoner of war held
in France or Germany or buried somewhere on the beaches of Dunkirk, there had
been no news of him since the ill fated B.E.F had departed those few months ago.
Franks father was still around he worked in London for the Ministry of Defense.
and his friends spent a lot of time helping out on the farm as there was more
than enough work to be done. Seven other people were employed there full time,
two of those had been with Mr Hurst for several years the other five were quite
recent acquisitions from the Land Girls Army as Mr Hurst attempted to bring more
and more land under cultivation to meet the demands the country was putting on
all farmers to increase the tonnage of grains being produced. The work was hard
but the boys enjoyed it competing with each other all the time for a few kind
words from Toms father as he had now in all intents and purposes become all the
boys fathers. John, Frank and Bills mothers also helped out as at meal times
there were as many as fifteen meals to be prepared, it was for them on the whole
a nice existence they all had enough to eat which was more than could be said
for some folk. After meals Toms father would turn on the wireless and listen to
the news from London, not that it was ever good at the moment everything seemed
to be going the Germans way.
Wednesday in the middle of August the boys were out in the fields when Bill
looked up into the sky. High above a furious dog fight was taking place, a lone
German Dornier bomber was trying vainly to avoid the attention of a spitfire
though at the altitude the aircraft were flying the boys were not a hundred
percent sure if it was a spitfire. Already one of the dorniers engines was on
fire leaving a greasy trail of black smoke behind it although the pilot was
still trying violent evasive maneuvers to escape its inevitable fate. The boys
on the ground cheered wildly and dashed across the fields trying to keep up with
the action, suddenly the bomber shuddered appeared almost to stop in mid air its
wings crumpled upwards and the fuselage carried on , on its own accord for a few
moments before spiraling sharply earthwards along side the wings, Tom heard a
loud blast a few seconds later as
the wreckage of the bomber smashed into the British countryside some miles away
from where the boys were. The boys were overjoyed, how could the British be
overcome with heroes such as the fighter pilot?. Little did they know that these
aces were nearly at the end of their tethers flying several sorties a day,
having to land on damaged or hastily repaired landing strips with machines that
were wearing their parts rapidly as spare aircraft were in short supply along
with replacement pilots, they just
could not be trained fast enough to counter the pilot losses that the Royal Air
Force were suffering, casualties on landing were nearly as high as those
sustained in combat. If the damaged rate to machines and pilots continued at the
same rate the air force would cease to exist in a few short months.
On September the second the four lads were lounging around by the gates
of Hurst farm watching vapor trails of aircraft several thousand feet above
them, their tasks for the morning had been completed, Frank was complaining that
he had wrenched a muscle in his arm moving some sacks of potatoes but as is the
case with young lads none of the others were particularly interested with his
problem but it if it had been one of them with the sprain they would have
complained much louder and longer than Frank.Tom sauntered over to the wall on
one side of the gates and placed a tin can on it. This was one of the boys favorite
pastimes hitting the can with a stone from a distance the rules were
to strictly adhered to, no one was allowed to set foot over the line etched by
Toms boot in the dust, stones had to approximately of the same size and
weight and no one was allowed to throw out of turn it was one of the games they
played to show their mastery over each other. Bill was to throw first he cocked
his arm wound up his body like they had been American baseball players do in the
movie tone news and chucked the stone with all his might. The stone left his hand
hurtled over the wall to a loud "Hoy!" from the far side, the boys
raced to wall and peered over to be greeted by the sight of Mr Jones the postman
picking himself of the ground where he had fallen flat to avoid the missile. Mr
Jones dusted himself down looking none to pleased "Having fun then are we
lads." he said walking up to the gate. Bill was very red in the face
"I’m sorry Mr Jones I had no idea that there was anyone coming up the
maybe next time you'll check first, that could have given me a right old crack
had it connected" Tom swiftly apologised on behalf of them all .
"That's all right Tom, just as I say be a bit careful in the future."
The postman turned around from the waist to get a good grip
on his sack and swung it onto the yard wall and proceeded to dive his
hand inside to retrieve a few letters for Toms father. "While I’m here
Bill Ive got a letter for you in my sack, give me half a jiffy and Ill get it
out for you."
a letter for me, that's brilliant, I hardly ever receive mail." The boys
crowded a bit closer to have a look." I wouldn't be to happy with that if I
were you lad Ive seen to many envelopes like that recently." the postman
commented as he turned to walk back through the gates. "Don't listen to
him," said Frank "it could be anything, go on get it open." Bill
looked long and hard at the envelope for all intents and purposes it could have
been a rattle snake in his hand as he slowly drew the letter up to eye level. He
ripped the top of the envelope and pulled out it contents , his stomach clenched
and he felt momentarily weak as his own personal fears were realised, he had
been drafted and was to report to Aldershot in four days time. His friends
however were jubilant when the contents became known. "Gosh Bill you really
are lucky , just think you'll be able to use a machine gun and everything,"
said Tom. "Or drive a tank like my Uncle Tommy in Africa."
get myself shot or captured like my dad ." replied Bill," my mum will
think like that Bill nothing will happen to you, you'll be all right you know
Five minutes later the four boys could be seen walking back to the farm
house the three younger lads chattering away about Bills good fortune, and Bill
his shoulders slightly stooped bringing up the rear in silence.
When Bill mum read the call up papers she broke down on tears. "They
have had one already what more do they want? " she sobbed, "first his
father and now him." Mrs Travers put one of her meaty arms around her
shoulder trying to console her
friend "Don't cry on so June it will be all right I’m sure, here wipe you
teats away love with this" she said passing a spotted handkerchief to her
friend with her spare hand. But June was inconsolable and the boys shuffled out
of the kitchen embarrassed at seeing an adult cry. Bill took his leave of his
pals saying he needed time to himself.
The night before Bill was due to leave the boys went of by themselves to
the hill top overlooking the Heathfield road and the village, Bill had never
been a strong boy and was worried as to how he would fare with the other
recruits. He had got over most of his early misgivings thanks to his friends and
was quite looking forward to donning a uniform for the king, but the rigorous
training he was to undergo still daunted him. "Don't worry Bill, millions
of blokes go through it and your a lot stronger and tougher than most of the
city boys, why you have working on
this farm for ages doing all sorts of things that's got to count for something
hasn't it?" said John encouragingly.
because your thin doesn't mean you wont make a good soldier." added Tom
glad your confident because I’m not, besides what's the point the Germans will
of invaded before Ive had a chance to finish my training."
way, uncle Adolf wouldn't dare to invade until our finest soldier is trained
otherwise it would be easy for him." Frank said. The other three laughed,
Tom stood up and put his left in the air in a parody of a nazi salute. "Ve
cannot invade yet Herr Bill is nut yet trained it vould not be fair." the
others laughed again and Tom collapsed on the floor with them in giggles.”
Really though I wish I didn’t have to go.” Bill said. “Don’t worry Bill
we will be there with you soon enough our sixteenth birthdays are only just
around the corner.”
soon enough for my liking it would have been really great if we could have all
gone into this together. Bill looked away from the other three and stared at the beauty around
him, the sun was just starting to set setting the sky on fire with vivid reds
and purples of every shade, the small village below them with its wisps of smoke
issuing from several chimney tops its thatched roofs and villagers about their
business occasionally glancing skyward as though they expected a rain of bombs
to descend down from the skies looked to him like something out of a Grimms
fairy story and he wondered if he would ever look down on his home again.
“come on “ said Tom, interrupting his thoughts lets go down “I for one am
The mood that night was not as it normally was in the kitchen at Hurst
farm, there was little laughter and what there was was forced, for behind every
ones was waxed smiles was the thought that Bills going was in a way the start of
the German invasion and that in all
reality Bill would be dead within a few short months.
In the morning they all helped him finish of his packing while his mother
and the other ladies helped cook a farewell breakfast for him, it was a
veritable feast, with hot and cold meats, eggs, toast and gallons of scalding hot tea. Ten o’clock came and it was time for Bill to go. Bills mother went
upstairs with him to get his bags and it was several minutes before the both
re-appeared red eyed and hoarse.” Don't worry Bill everything will turn out
fine, why, in a few weeks time you’ll be home on leave looking smart as smart
in your new uniform I’m sure you will cut quite a dash when you return.”
Mr Travers I hope I live up to your expectations.”
sure you will William,” his mother said putting her arm around him for maybe
the final time. Bill clung to his mum as though drowning. “don’t worry so
Bill, now get of with you before you miss that train.
boys left with Bill to escort him to the station, the weather had taken turn for
the worse overnight and the sky was sullen threatening a downpour at some stage
in the day and it was with low spirits that the four of them tramped through the
village up to the train station as they were passing the post office Miss
Hopkins came out to wish Bill luck and pushed a bag into his hands for the
journey, inside was a whole pound of bullseyes. Bill thanked her and they
carried on their way, several people they saw waved and wished him luck in the
coming weeks. They got to the station at twenty passed ten, ten minutes early so
they helped themselves to the sweets and sat around and waited “Have you got
your time table with you Bill,” Tom asked.
its in my pocket.”
, well at least you’ll make it to Aldershot then.” Frank laughed and at that
moment they heard a whistle and the train came into view blowing up vast clouds
of steam as it alighted at the platform. The boys all shook hands and private William
Tomlinson boarded and was away amid lots of waving and shouting. The walk
back to the farm was one of the depressing walks of Toms life, the skies had
finally opened and he felt totally wretched inside and when he got in and toweled
himself dry he went to his bed and cried until his voice was hoarse.
the seventh was a day to remember. It started out as a normal day with the three
boys getting up with the sun, doing a full day of work in the fields, eating
their evening meal and retiring to bed as usual at about nine o’clock. As they
lay in bed chatting to each other
about Bill and how things might be possibly going for him, Toms attention was
drawn to the window by a faint red flickering on the horizon in the direction of
London. “What do you think that could be?” He asked.
looks like a big fire in the distance to me.” Frank replied.
on then lets get dressed and go up to the top of the hill, we should be able to
get a much better look from there.” Said Tom.
dad will go barmy if he finds us out at this hour.” John said, as always the
voice of reason when untoward things were about to happen.
if we are all quiet he wont, will he, come on lets go.” Tom got out of bed and
started pulling on his cloths, Frank was right with him and after a moment's
hesitation so was John. Once dressed they sneaked quietly down the stair case
out through the back door and sneaked straight into
Toms dad and the women who were already outside looking at the dun glow
on the horizon. Tom plucked up courage and spoke “Dad, what is that glow?”
Mr Travers turned round with
a worried expression on his face, “They’re burning London lad, the Germans
are burning London.” He repeated it softly to himself, his thoughts wandering
from the sight in front of his eyes as he thought of the poor souls who would be
dead or homeless in that inferno before the night was out. ‘How many’ he
thought. He had no answer. Very faintly almost on the edge of hearing a faint
rumbling could be heard as the rain of bombs continued unabated. “Come on
lads, inside with with you , this is no sight for eyes such as your,” he said
shepherding them towards the kitchen, the boys didn’t protest.
Monday the ninth Mr Travers purchased a copy of the Times. The headline read ‘Massed
air attack on London’ Mr Travers read the article to the women and boys. ‘In
the heaviest German air attacks yet made, severe and widespread damage was
caused in London on Saturday evening and again on Saturday night. The enemy paid
a heavy price, 99 aircraft-about a quarter of his force-being destroyed.
Twenty-two of our aircraft are missing, but the pilots of nine are safe. The
attacks were concentrated on the thickly populated riverside area east of the
city, and it is provisionally estimated that about 4000
people have been killed and some 1,300 to 1,400 have been seriously
injured’. This was the first of the tactics that Hitler was to employ against
on that day more refugees appeared in the village, all looked worried and tired
and when asked what their destination was the answer was uniformly the same “Away
from London.”. They had a pitiful amount of possessions with them, just a few
things that could be carried or pushed along in a hand cart. Children were
crying and the mothers were trying their best to keep them happy. As the day
progressed the numbers slowly increased all were unkempt and disheveled looking.
The trains to the West were packed as well it was as though the entire
population of London was on the move. Tom, Frank and John spent the day digging
a pit in the woods and filling it with sharpened sticks, for they now felt that
the invasion was imminent. The bulk of the villagers were of the same opinion
and the topic of conversation that night in the ‘Bulls Head’ was one of
when the blow would fall and what could be done to stop it. Most reckoned
before the end of the month would see the Germans landing on the British shores
and not a few doubted that the invasion could be halted by the ravaged army
England had its disposal at the moment. “Why our boys left a load of equipment
behind when they pulled out of Dunkirk, and I know because my boy was there and
he told me so,” said Old Nic one of the farms' hands from Stubbs farm. “And
these Germans are fearsome fighters by all accounts.”
we beat them in the great war and we’ll
beat the bastards again.” retorted Mr Fulton the butcher.
but we had the frogs and the yanks on our team that time, but not now we’re on
I don’t know why your all talking of this invasion anyway, I’m sure Adolf
will try it but what about the
royal navy? They won’t be sat on their backsides twiddling their thumbs, the
krauts have got nothing like our navy. Why they’ll be blown out of the water
before they desecrate the shores of blighty.”
those half trained spaghetti eaters aren’t a patch on our boys.”
I’m not too sure, I’m not being defeatist or nothing, but I’m not happy by
a long chalk,” he said drinking his pint and going to the bar for a refill.
When Nic was at the bar Mr Fulton leant over to Toms dad. “And what do you
tell the truth,” he said taking a swig, “I half agree with Old Nic, but what
really worries me is if the invasion happens and the Nazi’s are triumphant
what’s going to happen to my boys.” No-one apparently had an answer and one
by one they finished their drinks and left the pub bidding the landlord
goodnight as they went. As Mr Travers made his way back to the farm he could see
again the red glow of the burning city.
September the eleventh the whole village was woken suddenly by a series of loud
explosions there was a short moment of quiet and then an even louder series of
bangs. In the morning everyone was full of speculation as to what it could have
been. Some were of the opinion that the invasion was already under way and the
bangs they had heard were artillery shells, others thought that they were stray
German bombers who had ditched their load before returning to France. All day
there was confusion with people locking up possessions and burying curios and
the suchlike and it wasn’t until mid morning that the answer to the bangs
became apparent. Miss Hopkins the postmistress and switchboard operator came up
with the answer, apparently two German bombers had lost sight of their targets
in the dark and flying blind had seen a light in Wadhurst and had ditched their
bombs prior to departing from home. Six people were known to have lost their
lives and another five were seriously injured, not only that a
local farmer had lost fourteen of his livestock in a direct hit.
the boys heard of the news via Johns mum, they were very excited and finally
after much pleading they persuaded Toms dad to let them go and have a look. The
boys got on their pushbikes and set off at once with Mr Travers warning ringing
in their ears. ‘Be back before dark and woe betide you if you get into any
Wadhurst was only a few miles away to the West and the countryside in
that direction was relatively level so after fifteen minutes furious pedaling
they arrived at the scene. One fire engine was still damping down the remains of
a building on the main road, farther down the town hall was damaged and the
clock face was smashed. At the rear of the building motor-cars belonging to the
town hall office staff who were on night duty were crumpled like cardboard and
overturned to be crushed beneath the concrete roof of the motor shelter, which
had collapsed. Nearby there was a large hole in the ground and a water main had
been ruptured. All that was to be seen of another car was a heap of scrap. Huge
pieces of concrete foundations of the motor shelter some of them weighing over a
ton were thrown high on top of a heap of rubble as pebbles on a beach. On the
other side of the road immediately opposite a motor showroom was completely
demolished as was the ironmongers next door. In the ironmongers lived and old
woman and her daughter who by a miracle had survived unscathed. The
confectioners shop nearby was also damaged (much to the grief of the local
children) as was a chapel a few doors away. The roads around were littered with
debris and in the main street an electric standard was demolished. A large
proportion of the earthenware pipes that carried the electric cables beneath the
pavement were hurled in heap across the road in front of the town hall. Amongst
the rubble of the various buildings, parts of possessions peeked out, part of a
chair here a curtain flapping there. Nearby the rest of the string of bombs had
fallen right across the green, the holes in the earth were very deep and
soil banked up all round the them. In some of them water had already
seeped and ducks had already made it a temporary home. The only locals present
did not look at all pleased with the boys ogling at the ruin and they soon took
the hint after quick and fruitless souvenir hunt. At the end of the main street
the boys were obliged to wait for a few minutes for a convoy of vehicles to
weave their way through the concrete obstructions that had been placed at the
entrance of all towns to hinder the movement of the enemy when they arrived.
Though at present all the purpose they served to was to annoy locals who were
for ever being delayed as they went about their business.
“Well did you satisfy yourselves
then boys?” Franks mother asked whey they eventually turned up just as dusk
was creeping on.
mother,” replied Frank “It was all very upsetting.”
it out of your heads lads it was a one off.” Tom’s dad added.
London isn’t is it dad?”
Travers stretched and cracked his knuckles. “Your right of course Tom”
September the Twelfth Mr Travers announced that he would be going away for a few
days and when asked where he replied that he was off to Tunbridge to receive his
partial training from the home guard stationed there. The following morning he
hitched up the horse to the buggy and set off. “See you in a few days, and
boys look after your mothers and don’t forget top do the list of jobs I want
doing while I’m gone.” Those two days while he was away were terrible the
Germans kept up their bombing of London, the airfields and ports. In the Evening
Argus on the night of the twelfth
there was a report that stated that German long range guns based in Calais were
shelling Dover. It was learned later that four people had died and five were
injured, damage was though on the whole was very light. Rumours went round that
German paratroopers had landed near Sunbury. The radio reports were not
re-assuring either, the government had now conceded that an invasion was indeed
very possible. Civilians were asked to keep a watch out for any suspicious
individuals and anyone who could not be readily identified were to be escorted
to the proper authorities. The army to began to show in much larger numbers,
lorries ground their way through the villages by day and night towing
anti-aircraft guns and howitzers, tanks to clanked their way slowly southwards.
There were even red cross vehicles in evidence.
from the impending invasion though everything for that time of year was perfect.
The corn looked like being a bumper crop, as were the vegetables that had been
planted. The fruit trees were bending under the strain of the fruit they were
carrying and the children were having the best scrumping season for many a year.
The orchard owners though did not see it that way and spent many an hour
watching their crops to foil the youngsters. The weather remained glorious with
hardly a cloud in the sky and the temperatures soared into the eighties, with
many people still taking their annual holidays on the south coast, even though
the beaches were barbed wired and mined.
Travers returned from Maidenhead on the fifteenth sporting a khaki uniform that
looked decidedly to large for him, a pair of boots and a tin hat. “They gave
us these as we arrived, I’ve spent the last two days putting in on marching
about and taking it off again. The rifles we were to have practiced with have
been diverted to god knows where so we had practice rifle drill with old broom
handles and chair legs. How we are to stop Jerry when he arrives I haven’t got
a bloody clue.” Mrs Travers gave him a big hug and took the uniform from his
hands. “I’m so glad to see you back safe and sound its been absolutely awful
with you being away, all sorts of rumors have been going about and I’m having
trouble getting all the things I need.
“There, There, don’t you
worry now I’m back and I’ll not be going anywhere again.” He sat himself
down and his wife poured him a cup of tea while the boys crowded round and plied
him with questions.
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