April 28: Reflections at the End of the War I.


Rationing continued at this time.

I was pleased to come home in September 1943 after being evacuated for more than three years from the end of the ‘Battle of Britain’ until the bombing had almost stopped. The whole course of the war had changed from the time when we were expecting a German invasion and we slept under the stairs whilst the whole house shook to the thunder of the ‘ack ack’ guns. Now the boot was very much on the other foot it seemed, with the 8th Army in North Africa pushing the Germans back, the Russian army tearing the Germans apart in furious tank battles, whilst the British and American bomber fleets were wreaking enormous damage on German cities and industries.

But I was worried that the situation could change again and all this death and destruction had for us young teenagers a moral imperative. Yes, I knew that the Axis powers had done dreadful things both before and during this conflict. But I had become aware that the British and other powers who had emerged victorious at the end of the First World War bore a lot of responsibility for the situation the Germans were then placed in and the deprivation and indeed starvation they suffered. This led to the breakdown of the democratic system and the rise of the Nazi dictatorship.

We had confidence in the strength of our Empire and the power of the Royal Navy but we did more or less nothing to strengthen the League of Nations the precursor of the United Nations. We had failed to support France, our principal continental ally, who had suffered terribly during the war, when the Germans re-occupied the Rhineland and subsequently invaded Czechoslovakia and Austria. Moreover, we had failed to negotiate with the Russians despite the fact that Nazi Germany was putting pressure on Poland and so Russia would clearly throw in her lot with the Germans when they invaded Poland in 1939.

The war had to go through more bloody phases before peace of a sort returned.

First we suffered the V1 flying bomb attacks. The first versions were easily shot down by our fighters and ‘ack ack’ batteries but the V2 were frightening because they came at a very high speed without any warning and wreaked enormous damage on London. Indeed the Government seriously thought about evacuating the Capital.

Fortunately the allied armies who had invaded the continent in 1944 managed to capture the launch sites before the Nazis could send even faster and more devastating rockets. But this transformation of warfare and the even more frightening use of atomic weapons made us all realise just how frail and vulnerable we are.



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