World War 2 Stories for Sheffield

David Walsh

The Days of Relief

By Actiondesk Sheffield

People in story: David Walsh, Arthur Walsh, Coder Raymond V. Hubbard
Location of story: Wilhelmshaven, Blankenberg, Ostend, Ghent, Antwerp, Eindhaven, Goch, Bremen,Hamburg
Background to story: Royal Air Force


This story was submitted to the People’s War site by Roger Marsh of the ‘Action Desk – Sheffield’ Team on behalf of David Walsh.

The Days of Relief
David Walsh

My father died in 1985, and this letter was discovered amongst his belongings, along with numerous other items of interest.

Coder R.V. Hubbard
P/J+ 272283
May 30, 1945

Dear Arthur,
Just a line to let you know I have arrived here in Wilhelmshaven O.K. last Friday evening. We left U.K. on the Friday after I left you on the Monday. We arrived at Ostend and spent nearly 3 days in an army transit camp. Whilst we were there we were able to go to Blankenberg on Whit. Sunday.

It is a really lovely Belgian holiday resort. Whit. Monday morning we started out about 8 a.m. on our road journey to Hamburg. We had to go there first as it is an R.N. distributing centre. The army took good care of us as we went in convoy of 8 lorries, about 14 of us to each, and it took us three days to get there.

It was really a very interesting trip, going thro' the battlefields of Europe so soon after the surrender. The route or at least the main towns we went thro' were Ostend, Ghent, Antwerp, Eindhaven, Goch, Bremen, and Hamburg, and the rivers we crossed were the lower reaches of the Rhine, the Weser, and the Elbe. The first night on the road we stayed at a brick works at Eindhaven in Holland. It is not a bad town, a large Phillips radio factory there had been knocked. The first German town we passed thro' was Goch, it was just flat - a mass of ruins.

The outskirts of Bremen and Hamburg were not too badly damaged, but the centres were just mile after mile of complete devastation. I've never seen anything like it before in all of my life -- Sebastapol wasn't in it. We started for here on Thursday but our lorry broke down after part of the journey, so didn't make it until Friday eve. The docks here are not too badly damaged, but the town is flat. Our quarters or barracks are in the harbour area, they are ex U-boat crew's quarters. There are 6 of us to a cabin. We have two-tier beds, a wardrobe each, tables, chairs, reading lamps, but unfortunately no wireless.

Wilhelmshaven is to be the port where the German Fleet is to surrender, and to be kept under guard. Already the Pring Eugen & the Nuremberg are here besides many U-boats. There are certainly quite a lot of German matelots and marines here and I certainly don't trust them. If we go ashore we must go in pairs and carry our rifles with us. Or we can go to a forces cinema show, there and back by bus, that is the only entertainment here so far. I'm on telephone watch here, and in 4 watches, it is pretty good. Last Sunday we had divisions and church, all over in 20 minutes. The skipper is a real good fellow, he spoke to us for a few moments and then said dismiss for church! Everyone was amazed at no inspection.

Well, how are things going with you? Are you still in barracks? I hope you got your Whit. interim leave. I think that is all of my news for now, so I will say cheerio for the present, and wish you all the best.

David Walsh added:
“I was born in early 1947 and can still remember the ‘Pig Bins’ that use to be located on every street, and people were still using ration books at that time. I still have an Identity Card which puts the present governmental intents for re-introduction of these into better perspective.

I can still remember the stories from my mum about her brother’s experiences of landing in the Far East and being immediately put into a concentration camp.

The wives of those involved originally are still alive today, but I have not included their addresses to preserve their anonymity.”