- Contributed by
- People in story:
- Joy Newell
- Location of story:
- Oswestry, Shropshire
- Background to story:
- Article ID:
- Contributed on:
- 06 November 2005
It was quite usual in the evening to hear the distinctive chug-chug of air craft coming in from the South West of the country knowing that they were German bombers making for the Liverpool region. To my father’s despair there was no anti aircraft guns to stop them as the bombers flew low over the mountain region.
We used to hear next morning, on the wireless, of the death and destruction that had occurred, not only in the region of the docks but in towns and cities.
My father’s role as a police officer was enlarged to such an extent during the war, that we did not see him for lengthy periods of time.
As part of a select team he was required to guard the dam at Lake Vyrnwy and spent time, as other men did, within the central towers of the dam and was required to shoot any German planes intent on blowing up the dam and so depriving Liverpool of water. An excellent shot he certainly was, but a poor swimmer, but as he said, it would be the least of his worries!
It was early one morning that my mother woke me, saying she needed help down stairs in the kitchen. As I donned my gym-slip over my night attire, she told me briefly and quietly, that Dad had been given information of a plane crash which had occurred on a remote mountain area.
Only shepherds on pony back, with sheep dogs knew the safest tracks and how to avoid the dangerous bogs and sheer rock falls. With just such shepherds, local farmers and home guard, they had set out very late at night towards where the blazing aircraft had been sighted. Arriving hours later they discovered it was a German bomber returning from its raid on Liverpool that had flown into an air pocket, and unable to rise had subsequently crashed. The pilot had sustained a broken back.
It transpired that the pilot had been transported on a make shift stretcher and taken to a remote hill side stone cottage, where an elderly couple lived, their only son being in the forces. Fluent speakers of Welsh, with limited English, the wounded man speaking nothing but German, was comforted and nursed in bed to await the arrival of the medical team. It was later disclosed that the understanding of needs occurred as many of the basic words in Welsh and German were similar.
Having gotten dressed, I followed my mother down stairs, into the large hall with its flickering light from a candle and the glow of the Aladdin hanging lamp from the kitchen.
A man stood with a gun in the hall, outside stood another. There was a sense of the hall guard being familiar as he smiled reassuringly at me saying to go ahead, that I would be alright. I then recognised the person as Wyfydd Evan Francis, postman and cobbler of the village and who had fought in the First World War and was now a sentry in uniform in our hall!
Entering the kitchen was a scene not to be forgotten. My father stood with gun trained on the uniformed German prisoners, our Alsatian dog, Roma, frozen to the spot, regarding the men with an unwavering look and poised for action. The Germans stood, arms raised with backs to the Welsh dresser.
My Mother was now busy preparing food at the pine table and required me to make toast which we covered with butter, cheese and some with home made jam. Drinks of tea and cocoa were handed out to guards and additional men folk who had arrived, prepared to help.
My mother then enquired whether it was possible for the Germans to lower their arms and partake in the food and drink, especially as they had experienced much trauma that night and looked tired and ill.
The response from my father was so unlike him. His harsh and angry statement was that they were NOT WELCOMED VISITORS, BUT THE ENEMY, who that very night had been on a mission to destroy and kill, water was too good for them.
War, my Mother agreed was dreadful, but these men, were after all some mother’s sons and should her own boy have been older and in their place, she would pray for kindness to be shown.
After some thought, my Father indicated that they could lower their arms. The Germans made no attempt to partake in the offers of food and drink, much to my surprise, until Dad selected a cup at random, and drank the contents, thus revealing that nothing had been poisoned. Immediately, and with relish, the prisoners consumed the provisions and I collected empty plates and cups.
The Military Guard arrived from Shawbury and collected the German prisoners, but before they left stood and saluted my Mother and one bowed thanking her, in good English. He had been a student at Cambridge before the war.
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