Search

Win a £100 Amazon voucher in this week’s Recorder

On sale July 3

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

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: PABattle 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 MartinProf 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.

Latest News Stories

Yesterday, 15:00
Denise Speight, the founder of Veterans of War, chairman Paul Wood and volunteer Kathy Bowyer at the charity's shop in the Quadrant Arcade, Romford

With a Second World War veteran father and other loved ones having served, the Armed Forces have always been close to Denise Speight’s heart.

Yesterday, 14:00
The Havering Fire Cadets, who are looking for new members to start in September. The group is based at Harold Hill fire station. Picture: Sue Douglas

Learn about community safety and make new friends through an emergency services youth scheme.

Yesterday, 13:40
Youngsters will be performing the Broadway hit, Seussical, based on the books and characters of Dr Seuss, at the Queen's Theatre Hornchurch this weekend

A promise of an amazing colourful production which will leave anyone with a skip in their step awaits those who wish to see the latest show to hit the stage of the Queen’s Theatre.

Yesterday, 12:00
Lucy with Flash the tortoise which has now been found

A “beloved” tortoise has been reunited with its family after escaping through a hole in the garden fence.

Most read news

News from your area

WW100

Click on the banner above for full coverage of the centenary commemorations of the outbreak of the First World War.

Competitions

Y6 pupils unpack the rice

A school challenged their pupils to become enterprising individuals as they took on the national 90kg Rice Challenge.

Good times with Greenall's!

Good times with Greenall’s, a Great British gin sponsors Great British racing.

Escape to the picturesque sights of Cornwall

Summer is finally here, and what is the number one holiday location in the UK during the warmer months? Cornwall, of course!

Digital Edition

Image
Read the Romford Recorder e-edition today E-edition
Family Notices 24


Our trusted business finder