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Desperate Conditions in Great Britain

Heroes Remember

Desperate Conditions in Great Britain

I was impressed with England, but the situation in England in 1940 was very desperate, food wise. We were very strictly rationed on food, and I think the first couple of months I was there I lost about 6 or 7 pounds due to lack of foods, and being in the camp with all English men. The English men went home on the weekends. Well, we had to stay in the camp, we I say we, if there was 3 or 4 of us there from Newfoundland or Canada. We had to stay cause the other fellows would get leave to go home for the weekend see and we didn’t have much for dinners on any Sunday night. I can tell you what they consisted of - a stick of celery, hard-boiled egg, a piece of cherry cake and a cup of tea with enough blow mine in it you could stand the spoon up. That was our evening meal every Sunday, religiously, so you can see we weren’t over-nourished by any means but food was scarce though. Only for the Americans bringing in supplies into England and the Merchant Navy, it would have been a lot worse. And we, in England, we knew times were bad. We didn’t know when Germany was going to make a landing on the English coast and we were prepared for it. We were notified that the church bells would ring, you’d get out with your picks and your shovels, and your 303 rifle and a bayonet and defend to the last man. We knew that it was bad and it was bad. Had Hitler come across from Dunkirk or after Dunkirk, there’s nothing in the world could have saved Great Britain at that time. So I’m telling you that they weren’t in very good shape. We had very few aircraft. See you got to realize that Britain had not prepared for the war for years. Germany was preparing for the war since 1919 and we in Great Britain had not been prepared at all. So obviously we were caught with our pants down and it took the Americans and I say the Americans with all due respect and I found the Americans good and I worked with them and for them, they kept supplies coming to Great Britain which kept our surviving.

Mr. Ford speaks about his impression of England during his time in camp, the scarcity of food and the realization that Great Britain was not prepared for the war.

John Ford

Mr. John Ford was born March 25, 1919 in Port-aux-Basques, Newfoundland. Both parents were previously married and Mr. Ford was raised in a family of 14 children, him being one of the younger children. As a child he attended school at the United School Academy graduating in Grade 11. After school he worked with the Newfoundland railway as a machinist for three years. In May of 1940, Mr. Ford decided to join the Royal Air Force. In August he went overseas onboard the Nova Scotia and landed in Liverpool, England. During his service, he was captured as a POW in Japan experiencing horrible conditions. He has dedicated much of his time to the Legion and volunteered as a board member for over 13 years. Mr. Ford is an active participant in visiting local schools and educating the youth of what life was really like as a solider and as a prisoner of war while serving with the Royal Air Force.

Meta Data
Veterans Affairs Canada
Person Interviewed:
John Ford
War, Conflict or Mission:
Second World War
Air Force

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