"These planes came over and they dropped leaflets, paratroop leaflets and would you believe it was 'Peace Declared 8 May, 1945.' It was in four languages, and it was just unbelievable."
I was born in London, England, on the 17th of March, 1925. We were under a lot of bombing during that period from... I remember 10 May, 1941, we had a heck of a lot of German bombers coming over, 400 at a time. So we were under fire through that period as civilians. That’s as a 16-year-old boy. So the war to me started really when they bombed London, England terribly. A lot of my colleagues, who were 17, 18 years of age, were joining up; and, of course, we needed reinforcements because remember, Dunkirk, we lost at Dunkirk and brought all the troops back, at least the ones we could, back from Dunkirk. We needed reinforcements, so that gave you a sense of duty as a young man; and, at the age of 18 years, I enlisted in the British Army, in Perth, Scotland on the 1 July, 1943.
I trained with them. I served with them, with the 7th Battalion Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders during World War II. And in fact, although I served in England, France and Germany, and I remained with the British Army, which is the British Army of the Rhine [British occupation force], until released in 1947 with the rank of sergeant instructor. But remember, I was wounded at one time and when I went back to Germany, and when I reported to my battalion, my new battalion, which was the 2nd Battalion Glasgow Highlanders, they were in the 15th Scottish [Infantry] Division. So I joined up with them and that’s where I finished the war, in a place called, we captured the city of Kiel, which is if you remember, where all the submarine bases were; and we prevented the submarines from leaving the bases that were injuring our shipping in the [English] Channel.
When we were in Kiel, we were all, we were guarding the bases so that the submarines couldn’t leave; and planes came over that day and I’ll never forget it as long as I live, it was 8 May, 1945 [V-E, or Victory in Europe Day]. These planes came over and they dropped leaflets, paratroop leaflets and would you believe it was "Peace Declared 8 May, 1945." It was in four languages, and it was just unbelievable. We were scared; we thought they were going to bomb us.
But, anyway, they were RAF [Royal Air Force] planes anyway; and anyway, these pamphlets came down, and we were happy, I mean, the whole battalion. We just all were jumping up and down with joy. I picked up that pamphlet, put it in my breast pocket, and I kept it for years and years, and years. Even when I went home on leave, I left it in my home with my mom and dad. And that pamphlet I still have today and to me, it’s the most important piece of, you know, history of the Second World War.
I saw the last five months of the war and it certainly made a significance in my life about people getting hurt and losing their lives in such a short space of time.