Third day of Operation Dynamo, the evacuation from Dunkirk. 17,804 men reach Britain.
The War at Sea, 1939-1945, Volume I: The Defensive, S. W. Roskill. This first volume in the British official history of the war at sea covers the period from the outbreak of the war through to the first British disasters in the Pacific in December 1941. Amongst other topics it covers the Norwegian campaign, the evacuation from Dunkirk and the first two years of the Battle of the Atlantic. The text is meticulously researched, and is rooted in a detailed study of wartime records, both British and German. [see more]
World War II Today: May 28
French mountain troops capture the port of Narvik, forcing the German defenders (GebirgsjÃ¤ger units and crews of sunk destroyers) into the surrounding hills and towards the safety of the Swedish border and internment.
Belgium formally surrenders to the Germans.
The British and French reject capitulation and continue the evacuation and rearguard actions at Dunkirk.
Roosevelt says Neutrality Act to be repealed.
Lord Woolton announces experimental egg rationing, further restrictions on fish and milk successful prosecutions under Food Control Orders during war now total 17,319.
British and Commonwealth forces begin evacuating Crete through the port of Sphakia on the southern coast of Crete. The withdrawal is to be covered by two recently landed Commando Battalions. However the garrisons at Retimo and Heraklion will be evacuated separately.
Britain starts rationing of eggs and tightens rationing of fish and milk.
The Russian pocket Southeast of Kharkov continues to be broken in. 200 Poles are taken from Warsaw to the village of Magdalenka and shot. Among them are three women brought on stretchers from Pawiak prison hospital.
Heavy fighting continues at the southern end of the Gazala line, although by now Rommel’s forces are beginning to run out of fuel and his tanks are becoming scattered. In order to shorten his supply lines he decides to punch a hole through the Gazala line.
The U.S. 15th Air Force attacks Italian oil refineries at Livorno.
The US 8th Air Force attacks synthetic fuel-producing plants at Leuna-Meseburg.
In mission to Cologne, US Eighth Air Force B-17s attempt use of GB-1 “Grapefruit” glide bombs for the first and only time.
The British Twelfth Army HQ is set up in Rangoon.
British capture traitor William Joyce (“Lord Haw Haw”) in Flensburg, Germany, to be hanged in 1946, the last British person to be executed for treason.
Shot Down Over Dunkirk 28th May 1940
On Tuesday 28th May 1940, four Blenheim IVF aircraft of No, 254 Squadron ’A’ Flight based at RAF Sumburgh in the Shetland Islands were detached to RAF Detling in Kent to operate with No. 248 Squadron on sea patrols covering the Dunkirk evacuation. These aircraft completed their first 3 hour patrol of the North Foreland Calais-Dunkirk circuit on 29th May and this was repeated later in the day on 30th May, after their first attempt was aborted due to fog over the Channel.
This is the story of the last patrol made by the Blenheim fighter aircraft and in particular, that of No. L9481, the subject of the painting. It is told by the only survivor from the No. 254 Squadron aircraft and describes the experiences of the Observer, Pilot Officer G. W. Spiers over a period of twelve hours.
At 0450 hours on Saturday 1st June 1940, two Blenheims of No. 254 Squadron and two of No. 248 Squadron took off from HAF Detling to make a three-hour shipping cover patrol of the Dunkirk evacuation shipping route. The patrol was commanded by Flying Officer J. W. Baird in Blenheim L9481 with his crew Pilot Officer G. W. Spiers Observer, and Wireless Operator/Air Gunner LAC R. Roskrow. Soon after take-off first one and then the other of the No. 248 Squadron Blenheims radioed that they were returning to Detling due to aircraft unserviceability, The two No. 254 Squadron aircraft commenced their patrol at about 0500 hours and had made several circuits up to 0745 hours. During two of these circuits, they engaged in unresolved encounters with first a Junkers 87 aircraft and later with a Heinkel Ill.
At about 0750 they started their last circuit before returning to Detling and at 0755 they were at 8,000 feet approaching Dunkirk, two miles out to sea flying parallel to the shore, when they were attacked by eleven ME 109 aircraft diving on them from the South in line astern.
Memoir of Pilot Officer G. W. Spiers
I was sitting in the seat on the right-hand side of the pilot. Looking out to my right I could see the sand beaches with numerous clusters of troops queueing to embark on small craft. As I looked up I saw recognisable ME 109 German aircraft diving in line astern towards our rear starboard quarter. I managed to count eleven 109s and as I looked downwards I saw our other Blenheim who had, been flying in line astern of us, pass beneath to starboard with both
engines on fire.
As soon as I had seen the enemy, I had yelled to Baird "fighters" and in the meantime he turned to port and headed for North Foreland giving the engines full power. We were slowly picking up speed in a shallow dive but a cold feeling in the small of my back, made me realise we were "sitting ducks" for fighters.
In temper and fear I shouted to Baird to manoeuvre the aircraft about, at the same time I made demonstrations by waving my hand in front of him. Whether or not he understood I never found out, as the cockpit suddenly filled with acrid smoke and flying fragments as the dashboard and instruments disintegrated in front of me, under a series of violent crashes and flashes. Suddenly it stopped. The smoke started to clear and I looked back through the armour plate to see what had happened to Roskrow the Gunner. The fuselage down to the turret was a mass of bullet holes which which were accentuated by the sun beams that shone through the smoke. All I could see of Roskrow was a bloody green flying suit slumped over the gun controls.
Turning to Baird I immediately realised he had been hit although he still held the controls. His head was slumped forward on his chest and blood ran down his right cheek from a wound in the temple that showed through the side of his helmet. Another wound in his neck had covered him with blood and it had gushed all over my left shoulder. He looked very peaceful with his eyes shut I was sure he was dead. It was miraculous that I had survived that burst of gunfire into the cockpit. The two foot square Perspex panel had many holes in it. The bullets had passed me and gone into Baird and the cockpit panel.
I was now in the unenviable position of any member of aircrew who is not a Pilot as I was flying on my own and it was now up to me to save myself. My immediate reaction was to bale out, so I went forward into the navigation compartment and attempted to lift the Navigator's seat which was on top of the bale-out hatch. The seat would not fold back and was locked solid in the down position, and after struggling to raise it, for what seemed minutes, I realised the aircraft was beginning to roll to port. I then clambered back to the Pilot's cabin and viciously hit Baird's arms off the controls. Leaning over I pulled back the throttles as the engines were still at full power and were vibrating excessively. Yellow flames from the port engine were beating against the front and side windows and standing at the side of Baird I was about to level the aircraft to prevent the vicious sideslip, that was causing the flames to play on the cockpit, when suddenly the windscreen shattered. I felt a hot searing wind on my face, I felt my cheeks, nose, throat and mouth shrivelling under the heat but have no recollection of any pain. As soon as the aircraft righted, the cockpit cleared of fire and smoke and a noticeable peace descended as the cut back engines purred and the wind gently whined through the shattered
Some miles off to port I saw an armed trawler and as the aircraft was now at 5,000 feet, I thought I could glide to it without having to open up the engines. As I lost height the speed of the sea passing beneath magnified alarmingly, and although the thought of using the flaps and lowering the under- carriage, to reduce speed, occurred to me, I realised that I could not take my
eyes off the sea for the impending ditching. The trawler was now only a quarter of a mile off and closing fast, and I was only slightly higher than mast-head height. The aircraft was easy to control from my awkward position leaning over the pilot. I concentrated to keep the wings parallel to the water as I realise the danger of dipping a wing tip. The ripples on the calm sea closed nearer and nearer until there was suddenly a most violent jolt. Although the impact took only a fraction of a second it seemed like a slow motion cine film to me.
I can still visualise the water bounding in through the nose like a dam which had burst I remember turning my back to the barrage and gently cushioning on it. The silent cockpit was now full of blood coloured sea and I struggled to reach the normal entry sliding hatch above the pilot's head. My feet kept slipping on the floor and I could make no progress despite the numerous attempts.
As I held my breath many of those past happiness which had occurred during my life passed through my mind as I realised I would not escape. I had never pray to God with such agony or earnestness. I tried to suck water into my lungs to hasten the end but I was unsuccessful and only swallowed it. My lungs were bursting and my pulse pounded in my ear drums, brilliant flashes and yellow spots appeared in front of my eyes I thought of the sea bed its creatures and crabs. I had relaxed my efforts and I had started to sink downwards. I had sufficient consciousness to realise my right leg was straight and not in contact with what I thought to be the floor of the aircraft. Thinking this may be a way out, I drew my left leg up to it and paddled my way down in fear that my parachute harness and helmet lead would be entangled. After I had descended several feet I slowly backed away and then swam to the surface and broke water
about five yards away from the starboard side of the aircraft. To my surprise it was not lying horizontal below the surface of the water but the stub end of the fuselage was pointing upwards at 80 degrees with a jagged scar from which the turret and tail had been torn off. The steep angle was the reason why I could not reach the normal exit hatch.
Being an experienced swimmer I think that I had been trapped inside the fuselaqe for over three minutes. My parachute floated, in front of me and this I quickly discarded. My face now started to sting and I carefully abandoned my flying helmet.
During this time I could see the trawler steaming up towards me and they were starting to lower a boat. I blew up my Mae West and started to swim away from the aircraft towards the trawler. The seamen stretched out a pole on the end of which was a fish net and this they passed down to me, I thrust my right fingers through the mesh and they started to pull me up, but my qrip
failed when I was just clear of the water, and I fell back into the sea, The next attempt was successful as I interlocked my fingers on either side of the mesh.
I was pulled up over the side and stood on-the deck with helping hands of the seamen supporting me. One pointed to my blood stained shoulder and asked if I had been wounded, I said I didn’t think so and added that if they took my wet clothes off they would soon find out.They helped me to walk along the deck towards the galley but as I made a step I realised I had injured my ankle, l found it was not very painful when I walked on the toes of that foot.
In the warm galley they sat me in front of a hot stove but the cheery warmth of the fire was agony to my face. So they moved me away nearer the door where it was cooler. They cut open the left sleeve of my tunic but soon realised I had not been wounded. After dressing my face with ointment they took off my wet clothes. My legs had several small lacerations and they found there were small particles of shrapnel -and metal in my skin. This they quickly removed and bound up the small wounds. After dressing me in seaman’s clothing they took me below to the skipper's bunk and he came down and introduced himself clutching a half pint glass filled with rum, I remember drowning the rum in virtually one gulp and asked him for a cigarette, he soon returned with a tin of Woodbines and put them in a net that was above the bunk that I lay on. The slow drags of the cigarette and rum soon put me into a dreamless sleep, I awoke up about ten o’clock by the sound of heavy gunfire and a crashing of feet running on the deck above when suddenly there was an ear splitting explosion that shook the ship, I was thrown out of the bunk and the blanket I had placed over my sore face chafed the skin from my left cheek. A sailor came down into the bunk via the vertical iron steps and took me on his shoulder to the upper deck where he told me there had been a bombing attack on the shipping lanes by many Junkers 8 aircraft.
The skipper came over and said he had notified the Admiralty of my rescue and added he hoped the trawler would be ordered to Ramsgate to put me off. He said his crew were exhausted after a continuous week at Dunkirk and I might have been an excuse to get them back, however the Admiralty had refused this request so the skipper said he had called over a tug which was returning to Ramsgate I noticed we were just off-shore in about five feet of water when the tug came towards us. The skipper offered me back my Mae West for the voyage remarking it was better than the Navy issue. I told him he could keep it as a present and he was delighted adding that he could soon patch the bullet hole in the neck rest which he demonstrated by inserting his finger.
The tug which I later found out hailed from the Portsmouth came alongside. Waving goodbye to the trawler crew I clambered aboard the tug on whose decks squatted forty or fifty exhausted North African Moroccan troops, I think the tug's skipper was delighted to see me as he had no other crew and wanted to have a chat with someone in English. He soon let me know he didn't think we would reach Ramsgate, he cursed the fog and he cursed the dive bombers but what really seemed to disturb him, was a horrible knock coming out of the engine and he was
sure this would soon pack up. I regret I cannot remember the name of the trawler neither can I remember the name of the tug. We set off in the direction of England and after an hour or so ran into very thick fog and the sound of ships that were accompanying us soon disappeared and we found ourselves very much alone.
The skipper had no chart aboard and the fog closed in to only fifty yards Visibility. After a time we could hear surf breaking but he consoled me by saying it. was the Goodwin Sands and asked. me to go forward and point in the direction of any deep channels that I could see on the sand bottom. I seemed to spend several hours doing this apart from one or two breaks when the fog lifted. We saw no ships neither did we hear anything but the breaking of the surf.
Suddenly about eight o'clock in the evening the fog lifted and we were not too far off Ramsgate. He sailed up to the pier and I was taken off and sat on the ground. Some of the injured from other vessels made a terrible sight, particularly one Frenchman who had a large chunk of shrapnel protruding from his forehead, I seemed to be the only airman but there were many many troops of various nationalities who looked unkempt, filthy and completely exhausted. The volunteer Red Cross workers were working among them making them as comfortable as they could. I was soon attended to when an attractive young auxiliary nurse came across and looked at my face. She immediately burst into tears when she saw me and said how terrible it was the sailors had put grease on my face. She then started to clear the grease away with wadding and this
was a most painful operation as all the skin was coming off leaving me in red raw patches. She then put a cooling salve on my face and I felt much more comfortable. I was then asked where I would like to go, they said I could go to Ramsgate Hospital which was taking many of the casualties but I said as we were near an RAF Station at Mansion I would sooner be with my colleagues. A car soon arrived and I was taken to the Station Sick Quarters where they gave me excellent treatment. My foot and ankle were X-rayed and I found that I had a small broken bone, however it healed very quickly and within a fortnight i was able to go on sick leave.
For many years I believed the bodies of Baird and Roskrow lay in the wreck of the Blenheim at the bottom of the channel. However some two or three years ago I went to Runnymede Memorial which is a Memorial giving the names of all Allied airmen who have unknown graves.I failed at that time to find the names of either of them on the panels.I have recently spoken, to the War Graves Commission and they told me that Baird's body was recovered and that he is buried in the communal cemetery at Malo-Les-Baines which is two miles east of Dunkirk and his remains lie at Plot 2, Row A Grave No 30. They told me Roskrow's body was never recovered. However his name was engraved on Panel 19 of the Runnymede Memorial, I had been unable to locate it as I had been looking under the rank of Leading Aircraftsman but Roskrow's name was engraved under the rank of Sergeant. I imagine he had been promoted to this rank during the period when he was listed as missing in action.
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What if: Britain Had Made Peace With Hitler?
In May 1940, Leopold Amery, a prominent Conservative member of the House of Commons, rose to castigate Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain for his failures as a wartime leader—particularly for the recent British fiasco in Norway. Echoing Oliver Cromwell, he faced Chamberlain and declaimed, “You have sat here too long for any good you have been doing. Depart, I say, and let us have done with you. In the name of God, go!”
Amery’s rebuke helped to trigger a vote of no confidence, and Chamberlain was forced to step down on May 8.
What if the following then happened?
Because the Conservatives retain a majority, the new prime minister must come from their ranks. Some suggest Winston Churchill, first lord of the Admiralty, who had recognized the reality of the Nazi threat years before. But many find his judgment erratic and vividly recall his authorship of the Gallipoli disaster in 1915. Chamberlain, who continues as leader of the Conservatives, prefers Lord Halifax, former viceroy of India and current foreign secretary. While he has no formal say in the matter, King George VI is known to favor Halifax too. Initially reluctant to accept the post, which obliges him to step down from the House of Lords, Halifax yields, and on May 10 the king asks him to form a government.
That same day, the Wehrmacht launches a massive offensive against the Low Countries and France. German panzer divisions reach the English Channel within a week, cutting off France’s best forces along with virtually the entire British Expeditionary Force. By the end of the month only Dunkirk remains out of German hands. It is estimated that, at best, only forty-five thousand British soldiers can be evacuated, and even then virtually all equipment will have to be left behind. Facing the worst crisis in the history of the British Empire, Halifax believes that in order to preserve that empire, Britain must seek a negotiated peace with Germany.
To open talks directly with Hitler would be fatal an intermediary must be found. The obvious choice is Benito Mussolini— his Fascist Italy is allied to Germany but as yet remains officially neutral. Halifax approaches American president Franklin D. Roosevelt, who offers his assistance in persuading Mussolini to accept negotiations, and on May 26 Halifax meets with Italian ambassador Count Giuseppe Bastianini. Although Bastianini opens the discussion by merely expressing a desire to explore ways of keeping Italy out of war, he mentions that Mussolini favors a general settlement that would “protect European peace for a century.” Halifax replies that Great Britain would consider any serious proposal “that gave promise of the establishment of a secure and peaceful Europe.”
Though some—particularly Churchill, who remains in the British Cabinet— adamantly insist on fighting on, Halifax believes Great Britain has no other choice, particularly since Operation Dynamo, the desperate evacuation of Dunkirk, has extracted a bare seventeen thousand men as of May 28. The following day Halifax persuades the cabinet to make a deal with Hitler to end the war.
The above account is far closer to what actually happened than one might think. Halifax really was the first choice to succeed Chamber lain. His exchange with Bastianini really did take place. Roosevelt did indicate to Mussolini his willingness to act as intermediary in British Italian talks. Only seventeen thousand British troops had been evacuated from Dun kirk by May 28. And from May 25 to May 28, the British Cabinet did seriously consider peace negotiations, using Mussolini as intermediary, with Halifax being the main proponent of such a course.
These events are ably re-created in historian Ian Kershaw’s new book, Fateful Choices: Ten Decisions That Changed the World, 1940–1941. The first of those fateful choices was the British decision not to seek negotiations.
Halifax in fact rejected the offer to become prime minister, so the job went to Churchill, although Halifax remained as foreign secretary. But Churchill lacked the firm grip on power that he would later possess. He could not peremptorily reject negotiations he had to make his case by persuasion. Ultimately he succeeded— with firm support, surprisingly enough, from Chamberlain, who along with Hali fax had been the key architect of Britain’s “appeasement” of Hitler in 1938.
Halifax might not have prevailed even had he been prime minister indeed, he might have changed his mind about the wisdom of negotiations. Yet he certainly enjoyed greater prestige than Churchill. And Chamberlain, who effectively held the balance of power, might conceivably have felt he had to support Halifax as the new prime minister and thrown his influence in favor of negotiations.
Once begun, the peace overtures would likely have gained momentum, particularly after the capitulation of France on June 22, 1940. The “general peace settlement” broached by Halifax and Bastianini might well have become reality.
What would such a settlement have looked like? The cabinet assumed that in exchange for not entering the war and for mediating the negotiations between Britain and Germany, Mussolini would want con cessions in the Mediterranean. Churchill estimated that Italy would seek the neutralization of Gibraltar and the Suez Canal, the demilitarization of Malta, and restrictions on the number of British warships in the Mediterranean. While Churchill considered these concessions unacceptable, they were hardly onerous when balanced against the preservation of the British Empire.
Hitler, who in July 1940 would assure Great Britain that he did not desire the destruction of the British Empire, might have accepted an armistice predicated on British assurances to play no further role in the European conflict. From Hitler’s perspective, such a solution would have freed him to turn all of his military might against the Soviet Union. But to ensure that the British would not renege on the deal, Kershaw believes that Hitler would have insisted upon the return of the colonies stripped from Germany after World War I, as well as concessions designed to hobble the Royal Navy, without which Great Britain had no chance for further intervention on the Continent.
In the short term, a negotiated settlement might have indeed preserved the British Empire. But it would have enfee bled Britain and extinguished Roosevelt’s interest in providing the country with support. He would have quite reasonably turned full attention to the defense of North America. And in the long term— especially given a Nazi triumph over the Soviet Union—it is unlikely that Great Britain would have retained its empire or even escaped eventual invasion.
Of course, no settlement occurred. In its “finest hour,” Great Britain fought on, creating a Grand Alliance with the United States and the Soviet Union, suffering 450,000 military and civilian deaths, and losing its empire and status as a world power anyway.
But gloriously, not cravenly.
Originally published in the November 2007 issue of World War II Magazine. To subscribe, click here.
Play The crises facing Churchill
The crises facing Churchill.
A defiant Churchill's cabinet implodes over Hitler's peace offer and the British Expeditionary Force retreats to Dunkirk. King George VI calls for a national day of prayer as Britain stands alone against the Nazis.
Play Trading secrets with America
Trading secrets with America
Andrew Marr lifts the lid on what was called the 'most valuable cargo’ ever to cross the Atlantic, as Churchill desperately sought to draw the United States into the war.
Play Mo Mowlam analyses the "Finest Hour" speech
Mo Mowlam analyses the "Finest Hour" speech
Mo Mowlam MP describes what led to Churchill giving the "Finest Hour" speech and gives her reaction to Churchill's inspiring words.
Play Churchill's extraordinary gamble
British forces are evacuated from Dunkirk.
Richard Holmes describes how Churchill took the "astonishingly risky" decision to evacuate British troops from Dunkirk. Holmes suggests that this was part of the same indomitable spirit that led Churchill to declare that he would die for his country before he surrendered.
Play Andrew Marr explains Churchill's dramatic decision
Andrew Marr explains Churchill's dramatic decision
Andrew Marr reveals why Churchill refused to consider Chamberlain and Halifax’s recommendations for peace talks with the Nazis, and how he passionately declared Britain would fight on to the end.
In 1935, while engaged in research on ancient historical materials in connection with the writing of one of his books, Dr. Thornwell. Jacobs, then President of Oglethorpe University, Atlanta, Georgia, was struck by the lack of accurate information regarding ancient civilizations. Determined to make an effort to preserve in a scientific manner every salient feature of present day civilization for the people of the future, Dr. Jacobs devised the plans for the Crypt of Civilization.
Because the first known date in recorded history, 4241 B.C., was 6177 years previous, Jacobs suggested that the Crypt be sealed until 6177 years have passed. The Crypt of Civilization was sealed on the 28th day of May, 1940, with instructions that it is not to be opened until the 28th day of May, 8113 A.D.
The Crypt, located under Phoebe Hearst Hall, is a room 20 feet long, 10 feet high and 10 feet wide (60 palms long, 30 palms wide and 30 palms high). The Crypt, resting on a bed rock with 2 feet of stone above it, is lined with porcelain enamel plates embedded in pitch. It is sealed with a great stainless steel door, welded in place.
In 1936, Dr. Thornwell Jacobs described his plan to create a permanent record – a time capsule – of what life was like on Earth for any future inhabitants, an article featured in the the November 1936 issue of Scientific American magazine. To assist him in this tremendous task, Dr. Jacobs sought the help of Thomas K. Peters, a scientist of versatile experience. Work on the Crypt commenced in August, 1937, and continued until June, 1940. During this period of thirty-three months, an astounding amount of knowledge was condensed: the accumulated knowledge acquired during the 72,000 months of the last 6000 years.
Jacob’s idea in 1936 created tremendous interest. Soon afterward the Westinghouse Company, which was building a pavilion for the 1938-39 New York World’s Fair, buried a project, which was not to be opened until 6938 A.D. It was called a “Time Capsule” and our language gained a new term almost overnight.
The encyclopedic inventory of items in the Crypt includes, in a swimming pool size chamber, over 640,000 pages of micro-filmed material, hundreds of newsreels and recordings, a set of Lincoln logs, a Donald Duck doll and thousands of other items, many from ordinary daily life. There also is a device designed to teach the English language to the Crypt’s finders. No gold, silver, or jewels are included to tempt vandals.
The Crypt of Civilization has been featured in stories by the Associated Press, NBC, ABC, CNN, National Public Radio, the New York Times, and other publications. If you are a member of the press and would like further information about the Crypt or are interested in scheduling an interview, please contact Oglethorpe University Communications.
The Bombing of Guernsey Harbour 28th June 1940
After the evacuation, life carried on much as normal, playing with friends, going swimming, packing tomatoes, until my parents said someone was going to give a speech in town and I’d have to go.
We took the bus to town, got off at Pier Steps, walked up them to the Smith St./ High St junction by Lloyds Bank. The place was packed, it was solid with people, and the speech was going to be from — I think it was Mr Sherwill. He gave a speech about whether one should evacuate or not. Anyway, being parked amongst these people I couldn’t see anything at all, only legs, not being very tall, so my Dad stood me up on the windowsills of Lloyds Bank.
Any rate this rather went on for a bit, from 6 to about 6.30 and being as we were some of the last to arrive, we were near the beginning of the rush to get out of the town to go down to the bus. We went down the steps and along the harbour front looking for the Baubigny bus, which was there. We were waiting to get on with lots of our neighbours, people were talking - and suddenly we heard this throbbing of aircraft! I looked up, and coming up from the south were specks of silver in the sky and they got closer and closer. Dad said, “Look, there they are!” and I could see them! We could see by then that they were fairly large aircraft, as far as I was concerned anyway, and they were in a formation. We were just getting on the bus, and I said to Dad, (Mum had got on the bus), “Why are they putting ladders down from the aircraft?”
He looked up and said “Oh my Gawd!”, and he called to my Mum,
“Quick, get off the bus, we’ve got to go!”
The ladders weren’t ladders, they were the vertical descent of the bombs shining in the sun! This was an air raid!
Anyway, Dad said that he had spotted that the building which is the Ladies and Gents toilets by the bus station had been sandbagged. So he said, “Right, we’ve got to get over there and shelter in there!”
“Quick, run!” Well we were running fairly fast until we got up by the Albert Memorial - then the first bomb landed! I think we took off then and we got there rather quicker, and so did a lot of other people. We pushed our way in as it was packed, and several clutches of bombs came quite close, and there were some very loud bangs. I’d gone off air raids by then. The raid went on for about half an hour. Some people said,” It’s all right, the Isle of Sark is in the harbour and she’s got a Lewis Machine gun.” I thought that was going to see them off, but it didn’t.
Eventually the ‘All Clear’ sounded and we went out. Well one of the bombs we heard must have been very close because just across where the Albany is now, just across from the toilets, 20 yards it is, it had blown the tobacco factory there to bits and it was all on fire, so that must have been the close one. And of course everything else was smoking, and fire, and we went to look for the bus, but there wasn’t a bus in sight, everyone had gone. I don’t know what had happened, I suppose the drivers had gone as far away as they could.
So how were going to get back as we lived at L’Islet, quite a long way? Dad said we would have to walk.
“ Can’t you get a taxi?” “Huh, a taxi?”
We couldn’t have afforded it anyway. Everyone was milling around wondering how they were going to get home. However, suddenly along the quay came a lorry which used to deliver the tomatoes and it was our neighbour, our contractor, Mr Sid Vaudin. He had been delivering tomatoes on the White Rock and when he’d finished, he’d gone off, and got as far as St George’s Hall when he heard this fearful racket. He stopped, and saw planes coming up around, and realized there was something on, so he parked his lorry and waited until it was over. Then he turned round and came back because he knew that a lot of his clients for tomatoes in our road, and around L’Islet, had sent tomatoes and were going into town for the speech. So he turned round and came back with his lorry and picked up as many as he could. But he couldn’t go very far because he was running out of petrol. Petrol was rationed in those days. We got into the lorry, went as far as St Georges Hall and stopped there and got some benches from the hall and put them in the lorry and were able to sit down, and he took us home that evening.
Mr Vaudin was extremely fortunate. A number of tomato lorries were destroyed on the White Rock the Germans had mistaken them for ammunition lorries.
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From the archive, 28 May 1940: Gone with the wind at the Gaiety
"Gone With the Wind" is being shown this week at three West End cinemas and at the Gaiety, Manchester. It will be retained at the Gaiety for at least three months, and is unlikely to be seen elsewhere outside London till mid-autumn.
Its length (three hours and forty minutes with an interval) has become a byword and a prolific source of witticisms. Before the first foot of film was exposed it had a highly articulate "pre-sold" audience of best-seller readers, millions strong, who insisted on the book, the whole book, and nothing but the book. So it had to be long the wonder is how Sidney Howard and David O. Selznick between them contrived so neatly to condense the thousand-page novel into a manageable scenario.
But abnormal length (as Disney has proved) need not in itself be a handicap. The major drawback about the literal translation of a novel to the screen is that the film cannot, in one important respect, be much better than the book. And the one serious weakness about "Gone With the Wind" is that its story lacks the epic quality which alone could justify such a lavish outlay of time, talent, and "production values." If the story had been cut short and tidied up at the point marked by the interval, and if the personal drama had been made subservient to a cinematic treatment of the central theme – the collapse and devastation of the Old South – then "Gone With the Wind" might have been a really great film.
But no we must follow Scarlett O'Hara through two more hours of irrelevant marriages, births, deaths, and domestic squabbles that tell us little fresh about her, simply because Margaret Mitchell wrote it that way. The result is a magnificent tour de force but as a film it shares the fate of the Confederate cause. About its magnificence, however, there can be no question. The players give impeccable performances: Vivien Leigh in particular, as the selfish, high-spirited, passionate, green-eyed minx of a heroine, richly deserves her Academy award. There are action and spectacle in plenty, and not too much sentiment. Best of all is the colour direction, expertly supervised by Natalie Kalmus in the new Technicolor process. Its general quality is so high, and at best so brilliantly imaginative, that in spite of a plethora of silhouettes against cyclorama skies it may truly be said to mark the colour-film's coming-of-age.
On This Day in History, 28 май
The nuclear tests came as a response to India's tests just days earlier. Fearing a devastating conflict between the two nuclear powers, a number of countries, including the U.S. and Japan, imposed economic sanctions.
1987 Mathias Rust lands on the Red Square in Moscow
The 19-year old West German amateur pilot illegally landed his Cessna in the heart of the Russian capital at the height of the Cold War.
1961 Amnesty International is founded
The publication of Peter Benenson's article “The forgotten prisoners” is commonly considered the organization's birth hour. Amnesty International is one of the world's most influential human rights organizations.
1937 Volkswagen (VW) is founded
The automobile manufacturer whose name means “People's Car” in German is one of the world's biggest. It produced classics like the VW Golf and the VW Beetle.
1936 Alan Turing submits On Computable Numbers for publication
In this landmark paper, the British computer pioneer described the Turing Machine and defined the inherent limits of computation.
Why May 28th Matters In Rock History
It’s May 28th and here are some reasons why this day matters in rock history:
In 1976, Gregg Allman testified against the Allman Brothers Band’s road manager, Scooter Herring, in a deal to avoid drug charges after a drug trafficking sting. It caused tension in the band, which would wind up taking two years off before reforming.
In 2004, The Vines bassist Patrick Matthews walked out on the band halfway through the middle of the first song during a gig in Sydney, Australia. Matthews was angry with singer Craig Nicholls for calling the crowd “sheep” and shouting at them in frustration after asking them to stop talking during the music. Matthews never returned to the group.
In 1977, Sting, Stewart Copeland and Andy Summers of The Police played together for the first time when they performed as part of Mike Howlett’s band, Strontium90, in Paris, France.
In 1995, Hootie & The Blowfish started a four-week run at number one on the album charts with Cracked Rear View.
And in 1988, Aerosmith singer Steven Tyler married his second wife, Teresa Barrick, in her hometown of Tulsa, Oklahoma. They divorced in 2005.