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Kaga simpson
Peacehaven, East Sussex
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61 of 81  Tue 25th Jul 2017 12:29pm  
Member: Joined Sep 2014  Total posts:1863

We waited for the follow up invasion, but the days passed. Church bells were banned, only to be rung if invasion, then in Sept, a week before our blitz they rang. The chiefs of staff issued the code word Cromwell to all military, police and Home Guard etc. - 'Invasion Imminent'. A large force of planes was crossing the Channel, turned out to be 1000 planes to bomb London. 1942. We sent over 6000 men and 8 destroyers to invade Dieppe, they ran into a German convoy, both sides surprised. Question: why hadn't the navy cleared the Channel, or known they were there? The Channel was too shallow for U-boats to operate (depth charges) so how did this German force sink one of our destroyers? I have no idea of German losses. This convoy were no wooden rafts, they were German Navy, if they could sail up the Channel, then they could have sailed across it as troop carriers. Hitler didn't need to invade, our Army and tanks were of no danger, we could hardly drive into Berlin, but the Russians could - what he did, he made better defences along the coast, with a smaller force, took his victorious army to Russia and knocked on Moscow's door. With the occupation of so many countries he had more than tripled his workforce, airfields, factories etc. He was driving us back to Cairo in the Middle East but his Army was stretched. Had he not taken his Army to Russia there would never have been a D-Day for us.
Wartime defences
LesMac
Coventry
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62 of 81  Wed 26th Jul 2017 10:30am  
Member: Joined Dec 2011  Total posts:294

Throughout this thread we have discussed the possibility of a successful German invasion. The Germans themselves abandoned the idea of a landing by sea. A daylight, and it must have been daylight, invasion by aircraft was also not feasible for the reasons that I have shown above. Germany only had one option for a troop aircraft and that was the Junkers U 52. The 52 was an ex-passenger aircraft that had been modified for war purposes. Very robust and reliable, it was capable of towing a glider. One drawback, it had a top speed of about 150 mph, half the speed of a Spitfire, an easy target. The incident at Slapton. Please don't misunderstand me. I believe that every life is precious. Just one death in war is a total disaster for some family. I have not 'Googled' Slapton but I would guess that if there are a dozen pages no two will give the same report. I don't know how many died, could be as many as 700. Yes, 700 different tragedies but looking at the war as a whole that was nothing. By comparison 50,000 Bomber Command crew were lost. Between Germany, Canada, USA and England there was about half a million deaths just for the Allies to get a good foothold in Normandy. You mentioned Belsen, I have been there. Listed on a black slab are the number of people that died there, also the number of those inmates that died after liberation because of the treatment by their German guards. There is also the grave of Anne Frank. On the whole a most depressing place. How many people died in the war? I have no idea but if the number is known the numbers that died at Slapton will be insignificant. Ken's book is still available at Amazon for less that £3.00, buy it, a good read. How secure were we? E-boats roamed the North Sea, eastern Atlantic as well as the Channel. Not many of them but they were small and very fast, they largely depended on accidental encounters. The German crew must have thought all their Christmases had come when they encounted the Americans at Slapton. That incident does not imply that the nation was at risk of imminent invasion. Yes, that one boat did have some small impact but it certainly was not a pivotal point in the war and it also didn't in any way imply that Britain was in danger. On the contrary it was the Allies that took the war to Germany. As for Barbarossa. Joe Stalin had an agreement with Adolf, hadn't he? Adolf would never break his word, would he? This mistake could be settled diplomatically, couldn't it? Barbarossa was a shock for Stalin, he trusted Hitler, so he did nothing for seven days. In that week, as you say, Hitler was knocking on the Stalingrad door. Then Stalin woke up. And the tide turned. The whole warlike life is full of 'ifs' and 'buts'. What if there had been no Pearl Harbour? What if Churchill hadn't become Prime Minister? What if Adolf hadn't survived WW1? What if there had been no Barbarossa? The list could go on forever. The war was not won on what could have happened but what did happen. My father and his two brothers fought with Bomber Command. I had other relations in the forces that we at home were concerned for. In spite of that and the privations at home we were optimistic and confident of the final outcome. There were no defeatists in my family.
Wartime defences
Kaga simpson
Peacehaven, East Sussex
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63 of 81  Wed 26th Jul 2017 10:31am  
Member: Joined Sep 2014  Total posts:1863

Wartime defences. How easy that slips of the tongue now but 39/40 was a humdinger of a winter. The ground was solid for about six-inches deep, bottles of milk froze solid, the slough was almost solid ice. The council had laid our pieces of Anderson Shelter on the front garden, but dad had to shovel hot ashes on the back garden to get a start with the spade, the metal was so cold it felt as though you had burnt your skin, the grooves were full of ice, within seconds your mittens were wet through and fingers and toes had hot-aches that brought tears to your eyes. But the two swans on the slough had gone into the lean-to washroom to try to get some warmth, half starved - my aunt fed them, we got some straw from the farm and made them comfortable. That evening I was telling dad about it. "Yes, that's it", he said. We went to the farm, bought several sheaves of straw and over the next few days dad thatched the inside of the shelter with the straw, with nails, string and battens - now it was warmer and more pleasant. I believe the winter was freezing until April. And still the phoney war continued.
Wartime defences
Norman Conquest
Allesley
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64 of 81  Thu 27th Jul 2017 2:26pm  
Member: Joined Oct 2014  Total posts:831

LesMac. Thanks, I have Ordered Ken Small's book. Its called The Forgotten Dead.
Just old and knackered

Wartime defences
Kaga simpson
Peacehaven, East Sussex
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65 of 81  Thu 27th Jul 2017 5:13pm  
Member: Joined Sep 2014  Total posts:1863

LesMac, I did not say anyone had a defeatest thought, neither did I say a successful invasion. More of a what happens next attitude, and the church bells certainly rang in the south of England, I can't say for certain if they did in Coventry. Nothing had happened to Coventry in May/June 1940, it was the phoney war, no one could visualize the blitz a (few months away) or what would happen anywhere, all we knew that we had been driven out of Europe, we were being driven back in the Middle East. And we hadn't won the skies in May/June 1940. We had no idea even what the next day would bring, I don't think we could visualize what we were in for, ordinary people in the street, completely naive of what warfare really meant. If the 'top brass' thought we were about to be invaded, then why shouldn't the people. 1942. Part of the German Navy sailing in the Channel and we did not know? E-boats in the Channel. To me the Channel war had not been won by either side. 1944. Slapton Sands. Insignificant, not to me, to me a real big cock-up on an English beach by English 'top brass'. 1940 - LesMac, no disrespect, but how do you under rate the Germans at that time? The Germans dropped para's in Poland with success, the German Navy failed to take Oslo, so the German para's went in, took the main airfield. The German para's took the bridges in the south Ardennes, allowing the 10 Panzer Div to cross. The German para's took most of the airfields in Holland in a mass drop, allowing their groundforce to join up with them. I think this was about two weeks before the church bells in England rang out. 1941. The Allies held Crete, of vital importance to both sides, so the Germans sent in their para's, but we were reading their radio signals, the island was ready, they had heavy casualties, and Hitler gave them the shoulder. Believe me they were crack troops, and fully experienced both man and machines.
Wartime defences
Kaga simpson
Peacehaven, East Sussex
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66 of 81  Fri 28th Jul 2017 10:17am  
Member: Joined Sep 2014  Total posts:1863

LesMac. Way back 1970 or 80 time there was a Panorama-type of programme on the tele about the Slapton Sands fiasco, they went to US and interviewed survivors, wonder if that was your Ken Small? I think the survivors said they were in lock-down at the time but I can't find out if they were or not.
Wartime defences
LesMac
Coventry
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67 of 81  Fri 28th Jul 2017 1:21pm  
Member: Joined Dec 2011  Total posts:294

Hi Kaga. I didn't leave the army till 1980 and then a further five years working for Maersk Shipping, took my wife with me then. All those years I only watched TV half a dozen times, suppose I was lucky there. So I really cannot answer your question. I once owned a camper van and while in Devon the fuel pump failed. Ken stopped and asked if I needed assistance. He spent several hours running me about to buy the part. He wouldn't leave us till the van was running. Since then I met him about a dozen times and if pressed he would talk about the incident at Slapton. He spoke about his efforts to get the tank ashore and all the red tape involved. He even had to pay the American military the scrap metal value of the tank. He only wanted it as a memorial to those who died. The complete recovery cost him thousands. Sadly Ken died some years ago and I haven't been back to Slapton since.
Wartime defences
mcsporran
Coventry & Cebu
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68 of 81  Fri 28th Jul 2017 4:28pm  
Member: Joined Oct 2013  Total posts:338

There is a 46 minute documentary film about Exercise Tiger as it was called on YouTube
Wartime defences
Kaga simpson
Peacehaven, East Sussex
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69 of 81  Sat 29th Jul 2017 2:49pm  
Member: Joined Sep 2014  Total posts:1863

mcsporran. Thank you, for me very enlightening, still trying to get to grips with this internet.
Wartime defences
Kaga simpson
Peacehaven, East Sussex
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70 of 81  Sun 30th Jul 2017 11:27am  
Member: Joined Sep 2014  Total posts:1863

The reason this story was significant to me. About 12-14 months after this event we were nearing completion of our training and we were 'confined to camp', the Yanks called it lock-down. A few days later at lunchtime we were told to go and rest, there would be a night exercise. We had done night exercises before but this one seemed different, none of the old hands, cooks, storemen, would say anything. After dark we assembled on the square, we were loaded up with dud ammunition, old bren gun magazines, weapons, as if in battle, loaded on to lorries, and taken to the beach, just outside Hythe in Kent. Lined up at the waters edge, the tide out, backs to the sea, we were to fight our way up the beach under live fire. Cardboard gun nests before us, the whistle blew, we hit the deck, live bullets passed overhead, about every fifth one a tracer. Giant firecrackers were thrown around us - all hell let loose. Some time later the whistle blew, we loaded into trucks and went back to camp - someone started bitching in the lorry, a corporal said, "Stop bitching, you're lucky it wasn't Devon" or words similar. "What was Devon then?" The corporal clamped up. Bits and pieces leaked out - hundreds dead, more intrigue. In the fifties and sixties I tried to find out what really happened. In the eighties we bought a camper van, visited Slapton Sands, heard a little more but not the real story . . . until now.
Wartime defences
Kaga simpson
Peacehaven, East Sussex
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71 of 81  Wed 9th Aug 2017 12:31pm  
Member: Joined Sep 2014  Total posts:1863

LesMac. Hi, Your reference to Ken Small rang a bell. About 15 years ago we moved from Brighton to Peacehaven, so I joined the County Library, So with my wife's assistance we visited the library a few days ago - I asked if they had a book by Ken Small. Yes it had been taken off the shelf but was in the store room. As soon as I saw the cover I knew I had borrowed it years ago. I've just re-read it. At 17 plus I joined the Army, I had never been outside of Coventry, apart from being taken to Dudley Zoo once. When I got my papers I was to report to a camp in Pirbright in Surrey. For the first few weeks everyday we passed by Brookwood Cemetery, we were told it was a Canadian Cemetery from the 1st World War but twelve months ago some US soldiers had been buried there without military honours. It meant little to me then. At that time I also read Zig-zag, another wartime mystery place. When we visited Devon in the camper van we booked into a camper site, made friends. My wife wanted to play tennis, I wanted to visit Slapton Sands - we visited Slapton Sands. We had a small accident, "I knew we shouldn't have come. I could have been playing tennis now". We came away. I wanted to visit Shaftesbury, the mystery hospital of Zig-zag, but with the big van in country lanes I was in more trouble, we shouldn't have come this way. We came home. Both places remain a mystery for me.
Wartime defences
LesMac
Coventry
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72 of 81  Thu 10th Aug 2017 11:41am  
Member: Joined Dec 2011  Total posts:294

Slapton Sands is a misnomer as there is no sand there, the beach consists of small pebbles. My camper van wasn't large, just built for two. I bought a trailer tent for the use of my three sons so we were all comfortable. I don't ever recall camping at Slapton, as we liked Torbay we usually camped anywhere in that area. All just memories now. I served my apprenticeship as a mechanical/electrical engineer with the NCB at the Newdigate unit. At that time I had a lot going on in my life so I remained at the pit up to my 25th birthday then left to join the army.
Wartime defences
mcsporran
Coventry & Cebu
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73 of 81  Sun 20th Aug 2017 3:18pm  
Member: Joined Oct 2013  Total posts:338

Here's a sneaky look inside a 'secret' underground shelter in Coventry, though it's from the cold war era rather than WW2.
Wartime defences
MicahParsons
Coventry
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74 of 81  Wed 30th Aug 2017 11:40am  
Member: Joined Aug 2017  Total posts:6

It would be interesting to find out more about AA and bunker locations in Coventry especially around the Allesley Park location. I must revisit the area but I believe I saw a concrete location just outside of Allesley however it was fenced off so I could not get a proper look at the area.

Question

Wartime defences
Kaga simpson
Peacehaven, East Sussex
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75 of 81  Thu 31st Aug 2017 2:26pm  
Member: Joined Sep 2014  Total posts:1863

mcsporran, I would say the bunker and its contents (package new material) was from the late fifties / sixties time, nothing to do with the 2nd World War, it may have been refurbished from an older shelter but that looks to me, yes, an atom bomb shelter. American magazines had posted it was inevitable the Russians would drop nuclear bombs.
Wartime defences

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