26th February. Bad stomach detached from flight to wing. Everybody looking out for Soir de Paris scent but all bought up.
27th February. Suppose next supplies will be dearer. Plenty of Doodies falling near. Awful suspense waiting to see where thing falls and waiting for it to cut out.
28th February. New falls affect nerves for short periods. One fell on sites killing 5 in farmhouse.
1st-2nd March. Fair bit of business this week. Tiger bargainers these people. Bought and bartered plenty of eggs. Peculiar how market has demand for certain items for so long, then changes to other items. People undercutting mob, themselves and others.
Grandad is increasingly merging entries acorss days in his diary, making it difficult to work out when he has written each entry, hence some of the above confusion. I’m just making my best guess.
Again in these posts we see the contrast during life at war. One one day, Grandad is trying to buy some of the famous ‘Soir de Paris’ (Evening in Paris) scent, invented by perfumer Ernest Beaux in 1928, discontinued in 1969 and then relaunched in 1992. On another day he learns of 5 deaths killed by a Doodlebug in a farmhouse at a site which is suppsoed to be protected by one of Grandad’s barrage balloons. It must have been very difficult to live in a time of such contrasts.
18th Feb: Floods steadily subsiding after 8 weeks.Everybody cutting down trees for firewood coal costing £2/18/- Cwt went to Ghent 55 miles away. Shops very dear.
19th Feb: Lovely old church and cathedral. Orchestra in NAAFI. Long day there but enjoyable. Went to cinema there. ‘Fanny by Gaslight’ Met Peter Highfield on 967 Sqdn.
20th Feb: Lovely weather but not much sleep. Doing well on black M. market. Many doodies over, after shipping on Scheldt.
21st Feb: Narrow escpae from doodie. Saw one unexploded en route for Blighty. Headache probably due to Doodies and loss of sleep.
22nd Feb: On pass. Took snaps and went to St. Nicholas. About cheapest shopping centre. Good black market. One of the boys suffering from shock from nearby doodie. Near to us.
23rd Feb: Busy these days long days too. Laying off beer. Most cafes with attractive looking girls to overcome poor quality of beer. Not worth the money.
There is a growing sense in Grandad’s posts of the impact of the ‘Doodies’ (Doodlebugs: V1 Flying Bombs) on the troops. Whilst he has not referred to any casualties, the constant threat of them seems to becausing stress-related headaches and ‘shock’.
Left late. Passing through Ghent St. Nicholas. Wonderfully straight roads. dogs pulling carts. St. Nich one time Jerry officials rest house. Pro-German. Landed at Doel. Warm reception with several doodlebugs close by. ‘D’-bomb alley here.
Grandad has left the comfort of touristy Blankenberge and has crossed into the war zone. And while this does not mean man-to-man fighting, it does mean the constant threat of V1 bombs – doodlebugs.
I see that Doel, close to Antwerp which was mentioned in an earlier post as a potential destination for Grandad, is now scheduled for demoliton to make war for the expanding port of Antwerp.
The V1 flying bomb had been developed by the Luftwaffe and was used during the Summer of 1944 as a ‘vengeance weapon’ for the terror bombing of London. By October 1944 however, the last V1 site in range of London had been overrun by Allied forces and so the doodlbeugs were targeted at Antwerp to stall the Allied advance. Exactly where Grandad was.
I’m intrigued by the phrase ‘Pro-German’. I wonder if it means that St. Nicholas had been pro-German, or it still was? And if the latter was the case, did the ‘liberating’ forces receive hostility and vitriol from the locals?