Dick and Chotie met again for the first time since December at the Hollies, Chotie’s home in Poole for the weekend of 7th to 9th August. There are some very happy family photos of this brief time together.
Dick wrote to Chotie at Henbury, Bristol, on his return to Sandhurst :
“I’m beginning to feel that I’ll be damn glad when this show’s over. How about you? Then maybe we can get down to things as they should be got down to.”
On 12th August he moved to HAC Squadron , the OCTU for Reconnaissance Officers, requiring considerable proficiency in wireless and morse but at least things were ”on a sane basis once again” with good prospects for his career as an officer. Later in the month he wrote again
5731671 OTC Williams RK
77 Tp HAC Sqdn, 100 (Sandhurst) OCTU
RHC RMC, Camberley, Surrey
My Darling Chotie,
I’m very sorry I haven’t been able to write before but have only just got back from a wireless scheme and am also squadron Leader into the bargain.
You always seem to be on the move*, which is a good thing as you see a little more of the country than I did for the first year or so.
Just had a letter from Brinner – passed his WOSB easily – the same one that I went on at Betchworth Surrey. He’ll probably go the (sic) Wrotham pre-OCTU, where Johnny went.
I get a long(?) week-end in a fortnight’s time which is when Diller gets her leave so I may manage to see her then.
Had a good time on the scheme although we worked until eleven every night. Our particular group consisted of four cadets, 2 cars and 2 ATS. They were very good, doing nearly all the cooking and egg-scrounging from the farms. We slept in the hay-loft of a barn and they slept in the farmhouse itself. Quite fun.
We do nothing but wireless schemes all the next fortnight which are pretty cushy physically but pretty bloody mentally.
I’m trying to write this on my knee – murder, isn’t it?
I can still see my old tree from our new room. It’s just beginning to turn brown… As one of our Canucks** said “I guess that means the fall”…
Haven’t read anything for ages – or seen a flick for that matter. ‘Spect you still manage to find time for a little quiet reading. Wish I could.
No news of any kind – nothing seems to happen these days, except in Berlin.
Will close here as there’s simply nothing to write about.
All my love, precious
*Chotie’s unit moved to Portishead, on the coast west of Bristol, in late August/early September.
**Canuck – slang for Canadian.
© Chotie Darling
Dick’s future Regiment, the 61st Reconnaissance, were still training in the Chilterns.
While Britain was bombing the hell out of Germany with Air Marshal Harris’s ‘blanket bombing’ strategy the Luftwaffe continued to attack our ports, including Portsmouth, where Dick had been stationed from June to September 1941.
The RAF had bombed the devastated city of Cologne again on 2nd August and on 23rd August 717 bombers began a series of raids on the German capital, Berlin. From 17th August the V2 rocket development site at Peenemunde on the Baltic Coast was also a target. Production of this deadly weapon continued inland dependant on forced labour from the camp at Nordhausen. Another German radio controlled and rocket propelled missile, the Henschel Hs293, was first used against Allied ships in August 1943.
Meanwhile Britain, the United States and Canada were secretly agreeing to share atomic energy research under the Quebec Agreement. This led to the production and use of the first atomic bombs against Japan in 1945.
The USAAF (United States of America Air Force) was suffering heavy losses from its daylight bombing campaigns focused on military and infrastructure targets. In August these included attacks on the Ploesti oilfields of Rumania and the Schweinfurt and Regensburg aircraft factories in central and southern Germany.
By August 17th the western Allies were in occupation of Sicily and Patton entered the port of Messina with the US 7th Army. However, beginning on 11th August the Germans had organised a very effective withdrawal conveying 110,000 troops across the Straits of Messina to the Italian mainland. As German leaders met with the new Italian government in Venice, German troops were also pouring into Italy from the north. Hitler suspected that without Mussolini the Italians would quickly surrender to the Allies.
In Eastern Europe one of the most significant concentration camp revolts took place at Treblinka in Poland on 2nd August. Jewish inmates staged an uprising enabling more than 300 prisoners to escape (although only 100 survived the subsequent Nazi manhunt).
In Bulgaria King Boris III died suddenly on 28th August in mysterious circumstances having resisted Hitler’s demands for Bulgarian Jews to be sent to the concentration camps (although Jews were deported form the Bulgarian occupied territories in Macedonia, Thrace and Serbia). On the same day the Danish government resigned rather than hand over resistance saboteurs to the German authorities. Denmark became ruled by Germany who imposed martial law but thousands of Jews managed to escape to Sweden thanks to the help of Danish sympathisers.
To the east Russia was commencing a huge offensive to regain its occupied territory. North of Kursk, Orel was taken following the German retreat and then Briansk while to the south Belgorad and then the eastern Ukrainian city of Kharkov were liberated.
Churchill and Roosevelt met with the Canadian Prime Minister Mackenzie King at the Quebec conference on 17th August (Stalin had also been invited). They agreed the plan to invade France from Britain (later called Operation Overlord) and established a South-East Asia Command to be led by Vice-Admiral Louis Mountbatten. The ‘independent’ Burmese government established by Japan on 1st August had declared war on Britain and Burma was a critical supply route for south China.
On 5th August US troops finally took Munda airfield on New Georgia in the Solomon Islands where the US Navy was also fiercely engaged with the Japanese trying to land re-enforcements. A US destroyer captain, John F Kennedy, became marooned on an island with the crew he’d helped to survive from his stricken ship but was rescued 6 days later. He later became the 35th President of the United States.