- Contributed by
- People in story:
- Bill McNamara
- Location of story:
- Liverpool-North Yorkshire
- Article ID:
- Contributed on:
- 14 January 2005
The war experience of Bill McNamara- Written by Harrogate Grammar School Student ---Russell Anderson
I was and Electrical Engineer towards the start of the second world war, although I wasn’t called up to the front line because of my qualifications.
I wasn’t conscripted to go to the front either; at the time I was 22 years old and living in Liverpool. At the end of the air-raid over Liverpool in may 1941, I volunteered for navy to work on navy project, they were happy to have him but others had different ideas and I was refused permission to join. A couple of weeks later I received a letter from ministry of defence because of my qualifications and what I had to offer I was recommended to remain where I was.
Things proceeded from there we had catastrophes such as the evacuation of France who were forced out by Germans, the next project was the run up to D-Day where we were to try and invade France again and push the Germans back. I became involved in the d-day landings technique, a ship, “a Banana boat” was the French’s most modern sea vessel and it was to be converted into a floating headquarters to be used in the D-Day landings. I worked in the control room where radio and wireless transitions were received. I was very surprised as it was very well organised and everything was spot-on.
Things worked up from there, we managed to force the Germans back from France. Although we had a further problem “JAPAN “the first thing they did was invade China as the war started, they then bombed pearl harbour the American navy, and destroyed all the ships.
So we were not only fighting in Europe but we were also fighting in Asia.
Unfortunately I lost close friends; one being a Japanese in a war camp. Things still seemed to drag on. At the end of WW1 the Germans were in a terrible state and had decided to get rid of the Kaiser, (king/ruler) of Germany, so instead a Nazi party Hitler became in power and things proceeded up from there.
He built an “Auto Bahn” super highway across Germany into Austria, which was one of his first plans. It was two lanes each way 2-300 miles long each way. (The first time I travelled along it was in 1959). Hitler also invaded France and this was how we became involved in the war as we had an agreement to help them. But we were forced out. And that began the build up towards D-Day where we were to re-invade
Shortly after D-Day I was told to report to Newcastle shipyard. I took a taxi down to the yard and the person in charge of the electrical department was, surprisingly someone I had worked with in the early part in the war.
A while later I and some others were ordered to appear at a recruitment centre in Newcastle we were given a medical and a health check and then went to an old school classroom to fill in a questionnaire we were asked to fill in what qualifications we had as well. Then I was interviewed, I asked “why” and they told us they had an idea to set up a forward base in Salon in Sri-Lanke, of coast of India half way between England and Japan they had anticipated there were only going to be 2 more years of war with Japan. I was told that I was a suitable candidate and they would let me know.
But before that they dropped the atom bomb and subsequently there was no job in Salon in the end. All I got was a one-way ticket back to Liverpool. That was basically what happened during war, things happened and the ministry of defence controlled us, we just had to accept it and get on with it. There were some situations where I would go for 24 -30 hours without sleep.
In England we were aware Hitler was gaining power as the first thing he did was in invade Austria and Belgium and others around Germany. England prepared for war, as they thought he would inevitably spread, we were forced out of D-Day but then we forced the Germans back.
We had no control time factor didn’t matter you just did what you were told you accepted the situations as it was.
The Germans must have suffered severe losses, as our bombing was very heavy and accurate. Although, the Germans had created a new rocket-fired bomb a “Doodlebug” you could hear the noise and as soon as it had stopped making a noise you knew it was going to hit. The bombers were limited to as far as they could go, other parts of England were also severely bombed such as Coventry took a hammering because they had a lot of factories producing good towards the war, bombers that bombed Liverpool weren’t from Germany they were from the west coast of France, where they had invaded an airfield.
The fact we had a big empire was quite an advantages as we had people from New Zeland Australia, Canada and Americans helping us.
My happiest memory of the war was the end, when we had taken control.
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