How Grandad Went to War

   Philip Brewin recalls his part in the early part of WW2

How I Went To War - 10

Here I started keeping a daily account of our life in camp and off duty.

2nd May
Ted and I managed to get a lift into town on the ration wagon and saw a rather saucy film at The Ritz cinema called ‘While Parents Sleep’, followed by our usual trip to Les Mouettes.

Cafe Mouettes
Les Mouettes

We also did some shopping at the Monoprix supermarket - much bigger than our stores at home.

Monoprix Store
The Monoprix Store

3rd May
A visit from the M.O. for a ‘short-arm’ inspection, because one of the men had gone to hospital with suspected V.D. (Back in Aldershot, we heard, that sometimes this was done by women doctors who wielded a small metal implement to stop any nonsense from the men!)
7th May
This was Ted’s birthday so we celebrated with morning coffee, cakes and Cointreau at Mdm. Andrew’s cafe in the village.  Later on a Section from ‘Pip’ site, down on the Mole in Havre, exchanged places with one of ours thus giving both a change of surroundings.
8th May
Today, for some reason unknown to ourselves the church bells rang all morning.  Maybe it was a Saint’s Day, or perhaps something more sinister such as disaster in the campaign up North.
Off duty in the afternoon we went into Havre to visit the YMCA; shop at the large Prisunic store; and then to see a film at the Pathé cinema called ‘Fire Over England’, a title that was somewhat prophetic.

Prisunic Store
The Prisunic Store in 1944 after
being damaged by Allied bombing

9th May
Off to town on our weekly bath parade and a welcome relief from the heat.  On guard duty at night I saw gun flashes up to the North, then had an alert.
At 04:10 hrs Jerry came over at about 25000 ft but we were not able to reach him.  We heard later that he had been shot down by fighters.   Jerry had been bombing the airfield at Fecamp in strengths of 40 plus planes.
10th May
After a long day of alarms and manning the guns, we finally ‘stood down’ at 1800 hrs.
11th May
Another hot day made worse by the feverish activity of filling extra sandbags and reinforcing the gun pits and command post area.
I lost my greatcoat during all the turmoil so had to spend a chilly night sheltering under a gun cover.
During the ensuing night we fired several barrages over the French airfield, also ‘pillars of fire’ at varying heights.
Two Jerry parachutists were captured during the night between Octeville and Etretat.
News came through that Churchill had become Prime Minister and that he made Anthony Eden, Secretary for War.
Bad news also of the collapse of the Allied Armies in the Low Countries.
— What next for us, perhaps an eventual retreat to form a new line of defence below the river Seine, or even further down? —

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