Today we continue the London wartime memories of Crystal Laker John Kinsley. He spoke at the First United Methodist Church to the Methodist Men’s breakfast the first Saturday of October.
Down London Memory Lane with John Kinsley
The American Air Force bombed during daytime and concentrated on strategic targets.
The British bombed at night concentrating on population centers in major cities.
Germany complained bitterly about the bombing of population centers, and had to be reminded that it was they who started it by the blitz on London.
On some raids deep into Germany losses were as high as 40%, but it was not until after the war that we told about it.
We were however given wildly exaggerated figures on enemy losses.
The American Mustang P51, fitted with the Rolls Royce Merlin engine was developed in the US and towards the end of the war escorted bombers deep into Germany making a tremendous difference in the bombers surviving attacks by fighters.
Commenting on the raids, President Roosevelt remarked, “Hitler built a fence around his ‘Fortress Europe’ but he forgot to put a roof on it”.
On D day June 6, 1944 we were living on the South coast in Brighton and during that time army camps, troops, trucks, and tanks were to be seen everywhere .
There was some friction as the soldiers waited for action and it was said by the British soldiers of the Americans that they were
- over paid,
- oversexed and
- over here.
I read somewhere that there were 2 ½ million soldiers in the UK prior to the invasion.
The invasion took place along a 50 mile stretch of the Normandy coast and it was two days before we got confirmed reports of the success of the landings.
The story is told that nobody dared wake Hitler to ask for his permission to release the Panzers that were on hold near Calais.
That was a big a big help to the Allies.
We all watched progress on the Continent and the newspapers published detailed maps so we could better understand what was going on.
General Patton became famous for various reasons and I remember that it was reported that he was the first to urinate into the Rhine.
It made good copy for our usually staid press.
In Germany converging calamities, the bombing, the collapse of the economy, and the advancing Allied forces undermined the people’s faith in Hitler’s promises that his secret weapons would turn the tide of battle, but Hitler had demanded that they hold ground to the last man and they fought on when it was obvious that defeat was inevitable.
In September 1944 Germany launched a new weapon.
It was the V-2 rocket. It carried a one ton warhead and travelled at supersonic speeds at an altitude of 50 miles.
German records indicate that 1400 of them were fired towards London but only 200 actually reached us.
Their approach made no sound until suddenly there was an explosion for no apparent reason.
Initially the government’s explanation was that there had been a gas main explosion.
One day a woman passed by a soldier who was roping off a bomb crater and asked if was from a V2.
“No Ma’am” he replied, “It was one of those flying gas mains”.
It really frightened a lot of people causing some to leave London.
= = = = =