Portrait of a Parish - Page 26

Reminiscences of Terry Love - 1940's/1950's

The Ministry of Agriculture was happy to supply a POW labour force. At first I kept my distance thinking they might have two heads or something, but by degrees I came to accept them and in the end I spent most of my time with them. They were, in the main, hard workers and during haymaking time would labour from dawn to dusk cutting the steeper land with scythes. Authority was lax, and most seemed content with the work and to be out of the war. Although their language did seem strange I soon got used to hearing it and even managed, to my granny's horror, to pick up a few words of German. Two stayed on after the war and soon became part of the village life, and I am happy to say I remained friends with them for the rest of their lives. As D-Day approached the transit camps in the surrounding counties became packed with Allied troops who seemed to spill into every country lane - the locals had their first contact with the might of the U.S. Army. Sometimes my mother would take me to the end of Waterhouse Lane where we would sit on a huge stone block and watch the columns of armour heading for the coast. The main reason for my wanting to go there was the generous handouts of candy, Hershey bars and gum, a kid only had to wave to a passing jeep to be showered with the stuff. I often wonder how many of those happy-go-lucky men made it out of the bloodbath of Omaha Beach.

During this time some of my family were still living in Bath and sometimes, for official purposes, we needed to return to the city. This entailed walking in and, because of the blackout, we would catch a train to Limpley Stoke and walk back to Waterhouse. It is difficult now to think of a total blackout. Walking in the streets of Bath was bad enough. Remember the city had been bombed, some road were still pocked with roughly filled craters, pavements piled with rubble and telephone wires lying everywhere to tip the unwary, but when you got to the station the platforms were packed solid with troops, the military had priority, and sometimes you waited for hours for a Portsmouth train, while drunken sailors fought with bottles in the darkness.

Terry Love: page 25 - page 26 - page 27 - page 28

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