More Aspects of War
The tales in this booklet relate mainly to the Civil Defence and impact of the American Servicemen from Seething.
All vehicles using the roads after dark had to have the headlamps screened.
"No light of any colour whatsoever must be allowed to show from the
head-lamp above eye level at a distance of twenty five feet in front of
Hoods had to be fitted which emitted light through a slit of 3/8 of an inch wide and the reflectors were blackened.
Most people removed the bulbs altogether as the amount of light that showed was hardly worth the bother of screening!
Cycles, of course, had to have any lamps screened too and several of the stories told by the airmen from Seething mentioned that it was more dangerous to ride an un-lit bicycle back from the pub in Loddon that it was to fly to Germany and back!
All signposts had been removed from the countryside to confuse any potential invader, which didn't help lost service men either!
Val Clemence wrote
that as a Boy Scout who had earned his pathfinder badge he was a messanger
boy for the Civil Defence, although he was not actually the recommended
age of 16 years.
His job was "to go around with the bomb disposal squad showing them where the places were within a 10 mile radius of Loddon, as with the signposts removed they didn't know where they were".
About three miles west of Loddon the village of Seething was transformed by the U.S.A.A.F 2nd Division which had a dramatic effect on the countryside all around. 2,900 airmen crew and other personnel lived in the camp of temporary huts close to the airfield.
The local population was not usually aware of the numbers of Seething airmen killed or wounded on active service but many remember watching the aeroplanes take off in the mornings.
One very foggy morning the planes
were not able to leave until nearly mid-day, which meant that they returned
As the 448th was a daylight bomb group they were not experienced in night-time flying.
That evening as it was getting dark, gunfire was
heard and many people went out to see what was happening.
Several German fighters had followed the Liberators home and as they got near their base opened fire.
The Americans had no defence against the German fighter planes as they had pulled their guns in once they were over the coast and 'safe'.
It was later reported that 14 were shot down that night.
Of course the runway lights on the air base had been put out when it was realised what was happening.
The American pilots didn't really know where they were and several crashed whilst attempting to land.
Many airmen baled out, one parachute caught fire and the airman fell like a stone.
A German fighter
crashed too, in a field beyond Langley Hall.
It is rumoured the German pilots remains were buried in a tea chest in the corner of Loddon Churchyard.
More stories about the social effects of the servicemen in the area, including dances, fights and weddings are in this booklet.