Search

D-Day Anniversary: Battle of Arnhem could be heard in Harold Wood

PUBLISHED: 11:24 06 June 2014 | UPDATED: 11:24 06 June 2014

A doodlebug wrecks homes after falling between Rosedale Road and Hainault Road, Collier Row, in June 1944. Picture Hitler v Havering by Peter Watt

A doodlebug wrecks homes after falling between Rosedale Road and Hainault Road, Collier Row, in June 1944. Picture Hitler v Havering by Peter Watt

Archant

People knew the invasion had started when they heard unusually heavy air activity from around dawn on D-Day.

Battle of Arnhem veteran Douglas Harley, 81, from Warrington who was in the South Staffordshire regiment, remembers by pictures of the destruction of Arnhem taken in 1945. Picture: PA Battle of Arnhem veteran Douglas Harley, 81, from Warrington who was in the South Staffordshire regiment, remembers by pictures of the destruction of Arnhem taken in 1945. Picture: PA

Essex was dotted with air bases, and bombers flew much lower than modern planes. Large formations of aircraft passed very close over people’s houses, with a constant rumbling noise in the sky. People said: “The invasion has begun.”

A week after D-Day, the Nazis retaliated by launching V1 pilotless jet planes (in effect cruise missiles but without a guidance system) in an attempt to break morale in London and the south-east.

V1 Flying Bombs were propelled by a flame of jet fuel. At first people on the ground thought they had been shot down. Two local men actually stood on a front step on the Southend Arterial Road and cheered as they watched the first “Doodlebug” pass overhead towards Gallows Corner!

British troops in Normandy were targeted by German propaganda which alleged that London was in ruins.

Prof Ged Martin Prof Ged Martin

My mother recalled writing to her brother in the forces, who was worried by these stories. She told him the attacks were bad but that the propaganda was exaggerated and the civilian population could take it.

Havering was hit many times both by V1s and later by V2 rockets. It became local folklore that Collier Row was a target area, as so many missiles fell in that part of the borough.

Many people (including the government) feared that even if Allied troops could get safely ashore on D-Day, a 1914-18-style war of attrition would follow.

Harold Wood was one of many hospitals that had been readied for possible mass casualties.

I was told as a child that Harold Wood Hospital did not receive major casualties until November 1944, when Canadian and British troops were sent to clear the Nazis out of Walcheren Island in the southern Netherlands.

The fighting was desperate, and many soldiers suffered from exposure as well as wounds when dykes were breached and Walcheren was flooded.

It was necessary to free Walcheren as it forms the approach to Antwerp, and the Allied advance into Germany needed this major port for reinforcements.

As in the First War, heavy artillery barrages were often heard locally. My parents recalled the surreal experience of gardening in Harold Wood, weeding and clearing up on a fine autumn day, with the distant sounds of the battle for Arnhem in the background.

Comments have been disabled on this article.

Latest Romford News Stories

Keep clear of these roads to avoid delays.

For several months our police service in Havering has been operating under a trial merger with neighbouring boroughs in Redbridge and Barking and Dagenham.

Yesterday, 12:09

Two teenagers have been arrested after on suspicion of stabbing another teenage boy in Romford yesterday evening (Friday, February 23).

Yesterday, 12:00

How will we survive the KFC apocalypse?

Yesterday, 11:45

London’s very own Night Czar visited Romford last night (Friday, February 23), to learn about how the Havering Community Safety Partnership has gone about making the town centre safer.

Yesterday, 10:00

Wondering what the weather has in store for us this weekend? Watch our three-minute Met Office video forecast.

Yesterday, 08:00

This week we celebrate the 30th anniversary of the charity First Step in Hornchurch.

PROMOTED CONTENT

Window and conservatory specialist Ken Rhodes talks about the possibilities for brightening up your home for the new year, and with their home improvement finance deals it’s possible for everyone to make some changes

Lisa and Jennie are cousins who grew up in the borough. Their grandmother, ‘Nanny Fish’ was a huge part of their lives, and while she had dementia and increasing needs, she really benefited from having care in her nephew’s loving home. This experience was the inspiration for Lisa and Jennie to set-up their own home care service.

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Most read news

Show Job Lists

News from your area

Competitions

Having a brand new kitchen is something that lots of people want but can only dream of. Sadly keeping up to date and making our living spaces as nice as they can be is a costly and incredibly stressful business. Even a fresh coat of paint makes all the difference but isn’t easy or quick.

Who wouldn’t love the chance to go on a shopping spree. Imagine being able to walk into a shop and choose whatever your heart desires without having to worry about how much it costs.

Digital Edition

cover

Enjoy the
Romford Recorder
e-edition today

Subscribe

Education and Training

cover

Read the
Education and Training
e-edition today

Read Now