• Alistair Cormack,
    Aberdeen, ScotlandMORE...

    My name is Alistair Cormack. I was born on the 2nd of March, 1921. My parents had a hair saloon, and they were both hairdressers. When my father died I was only eleven years old, so it was very difficult growing up until I joined the RAF in 1940. The war had begun already in 1939, but I was part of a new regiment of defense for aerial fair fields. We all had wanted to join the Scottish regiment but since we weren't allowed to do that we had to make our own way. So I volunteered for the RAF, one of two other highland divisions. I went to Blackpool for training and progressed from there. I was made a corporal a couple of years after and then a sergeant following that. I first got my training on aircraft guns; all sorts of different ones like Brownings. I even finished training on charging up a Borfor 40 mm gun and taking down an aircraft - enemy of course. So when I went into action, real action, I landed in Normandy and fought there for about three months, from June to about August.

    When the war had first started I was attending a cycling event. I was a member of the cycling club and we would always compete on Sundays. We had just finished a race that day when it was announced that Chamberlain had been in Germany. He was there for some sort of peacemaking, or whatever you may call it, and that was when the war was declared. So we left Aberdeen to go to Blackpool for training. We were all spread out between villages, houses, and small hotels. We were there for about three weeks and we did all of our training on the promenade. It was basic training, marching up and down, training on different weapons, and this sort of thing. That was the whole purpose of the training, nothing very serious at that point until RAF regiments were formed.

    Our RAF regiments were formed when Churchill suggested that Britain have a defense of its own and leave professional soldiers to do the job that they were employed for, rather than hang around the air force. So there were a whole lot of regiments made up, and each squadron had 180 members as far as I can recollect. They compiled these regiments with what you could call volunteers. "You, you, and you" they'd say, until 180 of us were picked. We were allocated to an airfield in Mid England near Nottingham. We took various training courses like commando, jumping off of boats, and that sort of thing. It was always leading to something that would be useful when we went into action.

    During the evacuation at Dunkirk a lot of soldiers lost their lives. There were actually fleets that saved a lot of lives though; they were small sailing crafts leaving from the South of England. They came and rescued them. So after this a rumor started that the Germans would move over the tunnel and invade Britain. The rumors never materialized, but we still made preparations to return to France.

    We had a lot of false alarms before we actually went into action in Normandy. Everything was done under a certain amount of secrecy. You didn't know everything that was going on until you learned it was real and near. We knew something was going to happen, but nobody knew exactly what. We soon discovered that we would be leaving soon. We didn't know which exact day; some thought it to be the 5th while others thought it to be the 6th. So when we left Southampton we left in a tunnel of convoy vessels all the way to Normandy, and we came into contact with E-boats from Germany. We bombed a couple of their boats and a couple of their aircraft. And they sunk one of ours. We had three different crafts: 45, 46 and 47. I think it was number 46 that was sunk. The LCT that I was on was bombed, destroying our landing gear for the ramps. So when we first got close to the beaches we didn't go right in because we couldn't. We had to go through maybe two feet of seaweed to make our way onto the beach. All of the landings were prepared for water so they had to be dismantled on shore. Our engines were sealed off also as a temporary measure until we were on shore. A few of our members were killed. There were more that lost their lives as well, all buried at sea. I hear there was a memorial service for them. One of my colleagues I kept in touch with from England told me about it.

    After Normandy we went up into Belgium, then Holland, and then finally to a place called Eindhoven. We were based there until the war ended. In Eindhoven we were defending an airfield once when a supplies raid was made. Our gun placement was credited for taking one of the two aircrafts down. Unfortunately, one of our chaps was killed in the raid. There was quite a few others killed along the airfields but only one in our particular squad. But that's how it all finished off. The war was finished. I forgot the actual date of termination, but there was a lot of celebration during that time.

  • George Simpson,
    Brechin, ScotlandMORE...

    My name is George Simpson, and I was born May 24th, 1924 in Forfar, Scotland. I was one of four children. I went to a school called Forfar West, which my whole family attended. Once I finished school, I started looking for work.

    I did various jobs. My most memorable one was being a delivery man, delivering bread to people throughout my town. I remember when the war started in 1939 in Europe. Even though we declared war on Germany it was very quiet in our part of the country. Only later when the air rides began I'd hear the planes fly by sometimes and then hear on the radio that Dundee or Edinburg were bombed.

    On December 17th, 1942 a letter came to my home. When I opened it, it was the news so many other youngsters throughout Scotland were receiving: I was being "called up" to the military. I can recall so many of the factories in my neighborhood being taken over by the Army. The reality of the war set in when those buildings were changed from vessels of industry into military posts.

    Once I was officially registered, I was sent to Fort George for basic training. They conditioned us well and taught us how to utilize weaponry. I had no idea what regiment I was going to be sent to, but I knew they were working us hard to excel wherever we were sent. Training was a physical and mental expedition. After six weeks, I passed the basic training and my superiors told me I was going to be a driver. That was a bit of a relief.

    I was posted to Carlisle for driving school. I learned how to drive various military vehicles in Carlisle. Once I learned all I could there, I was transferred to Northampton in the beginning of 1943 for even more training.

    After D-Day, our forces were enraged and ready to fight. Our infantry was put on a ship and deployed to France. It was my first time in the sea and it was a long, arduous trip. I can't remember much from the journey, but I do recall being seasick. Once we landed in France, our regiment settled and traveled to Belgium.

    The Germans were terrorizing Europe, exploiting so many smaller countries that couldn't defend themselves. We felt it was our duty to neutralize them. When we got to Brussels, the citizens were overjoyed to see us. They may have felt overwhelmed under the thumb of the Nazis, but the Allied forces represented a turn of the tide. Now, they would have someone to fight for them.

    From Belgium we continued onto Holland, then Germany. I can't quite remember all the details now; a lot of memories have faded because of my age. I do remember in October 1944, I was wounded in Germany. One day, our regiment was getting ready to move out on patrol. In the process of the conflict, I was shot in the left arm. My adrenaline was pumping so much I didn't realize I was hit until after the gunfight, when our superiors were doing a headcount.

    A friend of mine, Fitzgerald was also wounded in his bottom which was actually quite comical - he was hopping on one foot holding his arse. We were sent to a medical hospital back to England. They called my wound a "bodily emergency." After we recuperated, I was sent out to Germany. By then, the Allied forces had Germans retreating by the day. Their defeat was inevitable.

    Eventually, our superiors got us together and told us the Germans surrendered and the war was over. We were all ecstatic. After the war, I was stationed in Hamburg. Our official duties were to get the Russian soldiers back to their lines.

    It was a festive time, more than anything. There was a victory parade in London, while I was still stationed in Europe. I remember us soldiers had their own celebration one night at a boating point. We were drinking merrily, and some of us had a little too much fun. I for one ended up falling over the boat into the water.

    I stayed in Hamburg for a few months, and then returned to Scotland in 1947.

    Upon return to Scotland, I retained work as a construction worker. I met my eventual wife in 1956, and was married in 1962. In 1960, we were set to move to Australia, but I had a bad accident, and ended up staying put. I had a son in 1965, and a daughter in 1966. I started a business with my brother, which I kept going until 1982. I was also involved in my local Village Hall with my wife for 19 years.

    I've been in my current home for three years. These days, I just enjoy what I have provided for my family.