Today we conclude the memories of John Kinsley’s boyhood in London during World War II.
He told them to the United Methodist Men at the First United Methodist Church of Crystal Lake.
Down London Memory Lane with John Kinsley
In March 1945 Allied forces overran the launch sites and rounded up the scientists who developed it, most notably Werner von Braun.
Germany’s forces surrendered in bits and pieces and complete and total surrender occurred on May 6.
Spontaneous celebration all over Britain knew no bounds and I joined the crowds until late in the evening.
A few weeks after my 16th birthday I started work as an apprentice toolmaker, and as National Service was still in force I soon became eligible to be called up.
To my annoyance I found that due to the nature of my employment I was deferred from National Service as being essential for the country’s economic recovery.
From time to time I had been sent to look for
- sky hooks,
- glass hammers and
- long stands
and I failed to see how that could be regarded as an essential occupation.
However I found out that one could circumvent the Essential Works Order as it was called, by volunteering.
This I did, and aged 20 I became a soldier, and therein lies another tale.
Looking back over those formative years of my life I can honestly say I never knew fear.
The true horror of war was brought home to me in France when I visited the cemeteries of soldiers who lost their lives.
There were thousands of grave markers in neat rows of those who died, the vast majority young men, who had their lives ahead of them.
On Aug 6 and 9th atomic bombs were dropped on Japan and on the 12th Japan surrendered and WW II was over.
Some years later I visited Germany on business and in my conversations I found their focal point of understanding was that Germany had lost the war, not that they were responsible for it, and also the loss of millions of lives.
It made me sad.
On a service call to a company to which we had supplied machinery I met a German engineer.
I told him I had visited Germany and I asked him if he had visited England. He replied,
“Ja, London, many times I bombed it.”
We didn’t have much to talk about after that.