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

Yesterday, 15:00

This year’s Virgin Money London Marathon follows the usual route from Greenwich Park to the Mall.

Yesterday, 12:00

Fewer side effects, but no actual effects either

Yesterday, 11:38

A man has been charged with murder following the death of a 47-year-old woman yesterday.

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 month is bowel cancer awareness month. And that gives us the opportunity to think about something most of us don’t give much thought to – and certainly don’t talk about.

Fri, 17:30

A Hornchurch headteacher, alongside a number of students and other staff members, briefly turned into a firefighter yesterday afternoon (April 19) when she helped put out a fire in the back garden of a nearby house.

Fri, 17:00

Five eateries and one shop in Havering have been slapped with the worst possible hygiene ratings, the Recorder can reveal.

PROMOTED CONTENT

There are many reasons people decide to join a gym. Some want to pack on muscle for strength, train for endurance, or lose weight. But did you know it also does wonders for your mental health? Two members at Romford’s Better Gym in the Market Place talk about their personal fitness journey and the importance of replacing bad habits with good ones.

Sean Watson, director at the family-run St Michaels Homes which runs Howard Lodge and Dudbrook Hall, answers the common questions people have about care homes.

NC Construction Services Ltd, based in Hornchurch, Essex, is branching out into residential home improvements and refurbishments after many years working in the commercial sector, in direct response to potential clients looking to add space and value to their property.

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