Eyewitness Accounts – World War II

£10.00

This booklet is a collection of townsfolk from Ilkley and Ben Rhydding who had interesting eyewitness accounts from the Second World War, published by the Ilkley Gazette.

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This booklet is a collection of townsfolk from Ilkley and Ben Rhydding who had interesting eyewitness accounts from the Second World War, published by the Ilkley Gazette. The contents page has lists all the people by surname and details such as their age, rank, regiment, awards for gallantry, pre-war occupations, cemetery, cause of death, theatre of war and any accounts which were taken from letters from loved ones or other sources given. An account from Miss Kitty Mulholland is used as an example below:


Mulholland, Kitty (Miss)

Experience:

IG 2/8/40.
In June 1940 in Switzerland with another English girl. Tried to get to Bordeaux. 17/6 at Lyons and after nightmare journey nearly surrounded by Germans and arrived at Sète on Mediterranean coast (instead of Bordeaux).

On the train from Lyons and then all civilians ordered off at St Germaine-Le-Fosses (Germans 40 km away). Abandoned everything except rucksacks and, on foot, joined French refugees (no cars, no fuel, no wheel barrows and no bikes).

Went to Vichy but shock awaited as no one to help and stayed in hotel. Tried to reach Clermont Ferrand (but not left Vichy when told the bridge over River Allier guarded by Germans). Eventually clear of Vichy and got a lift in a civilian car for 15 kms on the way to Thiers, 23 kms away (arrived in Thiers and Germans were closing in).

Hitched a lift along with 6 Spanish refugees, with ‘Pepita’ the Lorry driver. The vehicle after many miles, crashed in ditch and Spanish refugees got on bikes. We walked. Spent the night on straw and caught a lift on a lorry at 4am to Aurillac – well driven and excellent condition. The plan was to go to Montauban and catch a train to Bordeaux or Marseilles but no civilian trains were running out of Aurillac. There was a bus to Rodez and nowhere else (2 girls still with Jean and Jacques) – found 10th rate hotel. Awakened early by Jean to say lift on lorry with soldiers to Toulouse. Goodbye to Jean.

On reaching Albi – soldiers not to Toulouse but to Perpignan. Left Carcassone for Narbonne but suddenly our soldier friends whom we share bread and tinned meat saw lorries of soldier friends in opposite direction, so end of the road for us and no Perpignan. The next day, after night in barn, the soldiers ran us to nearest town to catch the bus for Perpignan. However, everyone needed a pass to travel on the bus so we joined a military convoy on an old tractor. Then military convoy stoppped and we awaited orders. 4 more soldiers got on lorry at the Department border (needed a laissez passer to pass between one department and another). The soldier refused to help – but two French soldiers, evacuated from Dunkirk, agreed to help and spoke no British. Returned later to the barricade.

The girls wore French army greatcoats and caps and half concealed behind other soldiers – rushed the guard and got through and this way got round the barriers at Narbonne, Beuers and Sète only to be told GB consul in Sète had left days ago. However 6:45am at hotel told GB destroyer in harbour and went on board. It left 8am.

In a few days put on board liner by a destroyer and in two weeks back in England to Worcestershire village of Berrow. Great sympathy for French.

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