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Toni Pyl’s War Memories

December 19, 2018 December 2019 No Comments

Part 8

Our visits to Oma in Rotterdam had stopped long ago. There always seemed to be an air raid when we were there and didn’t want to be killed! She thought this was nonsense as she believed that God protected her so her house was safe. There was no doubt that that windows were often broken all around her – but never hers!

In such dangerous times we decided it was better to stay at home and we all slept together in the big bed with a suitcase packed for emergencies.

We lost our Jewish couple when the husband went to post a letter after dark, just before the 8pm curfew and never came back.  It was panic stations, his wife had to go and quick. We cleaned out their room to leave no trace of them and she slept the night in another room till early morning then fled to friends in the neighbourhood. 

It wasn’t until after the War that we heard what had happened. The husband was picked up on the street with a group of others for forced labour but later managed to jump from the train and escape. It was quite a topic of conversation back then – discussing in detail how to jump out of a train without being shot or hurting yourself. 

He was captured again but could prove he was a reserve army officer so the Germans sent him to a POW camp where he had a better time of it than we did because the Red Cross looked after them. His wife also survived and after the War they were very grateful to my parents, giving them generous gifts such as a TV.

Our dog Bobby started to give us a spot of bother. For example he would yap in the street after curfew which really annoyed the neighbours. No matter how much we coaxed him, he wouldn’t come back. My sister and I were told he was put to sleep because there was no more food for him but thirty years later we were shocked to learn that Bobby was put in a pot and eaten by my grandparents. I had heard of people eating cats and dogs but never thought my grandparents would do the same.

V2s went off day and night. From our front window we could watch the big cigar-shaped bombs rise up in the sky above the forest with a big roar. At night they generated such a bright orange glow that it was almost like daylight. Snow made the scene look quite pretty.

Sometimes they went wrong. I once watched one that stopped in mid-air and after a deadly silence, it began to sway to and fro before sliding down slowly in a series of short, sharp explosions; finally there was a big blast that swept away a whole block of houses.

On New Year’s Eve 1944, one went up 5 minutes before midnight but luckily for the English, it went wrong and fell into the sea.


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