Site hosted by Build your free website today!






Chapter 8 – The Return to England


The Lancaster Flight


The eleventh morning we were told to get rid of all our souvenirs and pack up our belongings.  The RAF had very strict orders not to allow anything illegal, no matter how large or small, on board their aircraft.  We gave everything away; I gave a German SS Officers P.38 pistol holder and belt to a Royal Canadian Air Force officer.


Around about midday we were taken to the airfield, and into a barrack-room.  An officer came and informed us that the Canadians were flying us home in Lancaster bombers.  The flight home was a lovely experience, they gave us a good time and plenty hot coffee and cookies.  They also scared the living daylights out of us by firing the guns, we thought some crazy German had attacked but they were shooting seagulls.


RAF Strafford


After we had been liberated we had marched for two days and two nights to reach Lubeck. The attention to our state was minimal but when we had reached RAF Stafford they made up for all that.


Searched, De-Loused, Showered and Fed


When we arrived at RAF Strafford there was a large crowd of Women’s Auxiliary Air Force (WAAFs) and Airmen there to welcome us home. After the initial greeting, the welcoming party put us through the normal procedure for returning POWs. We were searched, de-loused, showered and fed in that order. A WAAF grabbed hold of our kitbag and emptied the contents onto the table to look for illegal souvenirs. There was a single WAAF for each kitbag and they met up with us after we were de-loused and showered. The whole process lasted no more than one hour.

After the shower we all dressed. I put on the only clean shirt I had, it was an American army shirt.


The Move to London


We then had a lovely meal. A South African WAAF Sergeant accompanied me. She was very good conversationalist and introduced me to her husband who was also on duty.  She arranged for my transport to London, the travel ticket and then took me to the station but found that the train had already left for London. I had a very pleasant evening with her despite the fact that I had no money I was well looked after. I met all her pals in a pub, had a lot to drink and managed to catch the train at midnight. I had too much to drink and regretted not getting their names and addresses as everyone was so kind to me that day and I would have loved to thank them all.




I arrived in London next morning, to be greeted by NCOs shouting out for different regiments.  A very smart Sergeant from the Royal Marines was talking to some men, I went over and spoke to him, he then said, ‘Fall in properly you are under strict discipline now’, we looked at him and didn’t move. He started shouting again until two men stepped forward and one said, ‘We are both Colour Sergeants, so be very careful how you talk to us. We notice your chest is very empty.  No colour.  Have you been abroad, saw any action?  Keep your mouth shut!’ Then they said, ‘Right lads, fall in’.  We did so, and marched to the Royal Naval RTO. We were put on the train for Portsmouth and arrived there in the afternoon. There we were issued with a travel warrant for our home leave and a pass for 40 days leave but no money. 




I arrived Stranrear next morning but was not allowed on boat, as a large draft of army and RAF were going to Larne.  I passed the day wandering around and spent the night in hotel owned by former Royal Marine Officer who gave me free board and bed.  He then took me down to boat next morning and presented me with a £5 note to see me home. 


Back to Northern Ireland




It was a very pleasant trip home and there was a lovely welcome at Larne.  They had a band playing and had set up a buffet of tea and sandwiches.  The train journey to Belfast led to another great welcome. As I went through barrier two girls stopped and asked me what camp I was in as their brother was a Royal Marine in Stalag VIIIB and was at working camp E361. I knew him very well and I told the girls that he should be home now as the Russians had liberated them three weeks before we were liberated. I was in contact with them later on and found out that it was three months before he got home.  The Russians used the liberated POWs for heavy labour.


Home to Ballymoney


I arrived in Ballymoney about 2pm. My brother was supposed to meet me but he had left the station to take a fare home in his taxi. I had to take another taxi home. When we got to the family home I made driver pass the house and I got out and walked back. When my mother saw me, she collapsed with shock. At that time I was only six and a half stone in weight.  We had to send for the doctor but she had lost power of her arm and never fully regained it.

I had a drink with my father and then my brothers and sister came home from school.  The younger girl was twelve years old and didn’t really know me and treated me like a stranger. I was sitting reading the paper when she came into the house and went screaming out again when I lowered the paper and spoke to her. It took her several days to get used to me.

After the third day at home my mother managed to put the griddle on and baked me a plate of pancakes and sodas with a tin of Golden Syrup on the side. She told me that she had done what she promised herself to do when I returned home.

I had forty days leave and I intended spending them at home but that proved to be impossible. There were so many visitors coming to meet me that I took to leaving the house at 2pm. That way my family could have some time to themselves.

I never met any of my school friends because they had all joined the forces at the same time as myself and were all away from home at that time. Those school friends that stayed behind in Ballymoney for the war period did not want to meet up with me at all.


Delivering the American Letter


One morning after I got home my brother took me to Bushmills to deliver the letter. I reached the letter to a woman in the hotel but she would not accept it. She said the letter was for her daughter who was a schoolteacher and it would be 4pm before she returned to the hotel. I had to wait for the girl to arrive. Her mother took her into a room and explained the situation to her and I was then invited in to deliver the letter.

The girl was amazed and wanted to know about the circumstances concerning the letter. I was able to tell her that the American Sergeant had been badly wounded but had recovered and now used a walking stick. She read the letter and cried her eyes out. Her mother came back into the room and said, ‘Your dinner is ready’, so I sat down to a great meal. The girl never stopped thanking us because ordinary post would have taken months to deliver that letter.

When we were leaving the hotel to return to Ballymoney her mother offered me an envelope for my troubles. I refused to accept anything more because it had been a joy to deliver the letter in the first place. The back window of the car was open and she threw the envelope into the back seat of the car. My brother kept the envelope and its contents, a big white five pound note.





Chapter 1 - My Early Life

Chapter 2 - Joining The Royal Marines

Chapter 3 - World War Two

Chapter 4 - Prisoner of War

Chapter 5 - Prisoner of War Camps

Chapter 6 - Labour Camps

Chapter 7 - Liberation


Chapter 9 - Back to Chatham

Chapter 10 - Commando Training

Chapter 11 - Malaya

Chapter 12 - The B Specials

Chapter 13 - The UDR