I know she likes me, because she
said so, she is my Lilly of Laguna, she is my Lilly and my rose’. That’s
my version of it, the words may not be quite correct! Having sung this, to
our amazement, the walled panel in front
of us began to move. To say we were astonished would be an understatement.
it moved, from behind it came people, I do know how many, I know there was
a lady, and other adults, possibly children, but my mind is a blank as to who
came out. I do know that there was a mother and her sons, they each gave us
a hug and that was the last I ever saw of them.
The stranger, who had taken us, then returned us back to his own home where he had wine glasses out and ready. I remember on the sides of the glasses were 3 stages of pigs, a little pig at the bottom, medium pig in the middle and a big pig at the top. With that, he filled them full to the top; he said, “You’ve done a marvellous job, and thank you”. From him, I understand, that they were a Jewish family, and had lived up in the attic all the time that the Germans had been in Brussels. I was utterly amazed, and still am to this day. To think they must have lived in such fear that one wrong move, they would all have been shot.
With that, the stranger asked us if we could inform the son of the lady we had seen –of course, we instantly said “yes”. Whereupon he gave me an address, and after a nice bath, some food we then said cheerio and returned back to camp. On our return, I contacted one of the Pilot Officers and told him about our experience. He said the best thing we could do was to wait until he had a word. Whoever he spoke to said that we could forward the details to the address, in the least number of words, to the effect that this lady and family had come out of hiding. This I did, prior to sending it back to England. Initially I had to forward it to the Commanding Officer, who checked it out and the bare details were authorised. I in turn, posted it to my mother in Hull, whom I asked, would she forward the details to the son in London and inform him that his mother and brothers were safe. I did eventually receive a letter back from the son, to say how relieved he was that the rest of his family were safe.
This was the highlight of my contribution to the war. To see this family, who had been in hiding and threatened, with death and fear showing on their faces, is very difficult to describe, but I had made a difference, I had done my bit.
From that time on, I met the stranger on one or two occasions. He enjoyed his cigarettes, and there was a shortage of cigarettes, we were able to supply them. This gave us a little bit more Belgian money, which gave us more to spend in addition to our ‘issue’ money. Our money was British made, which the continental people would do anything to get hold of, this was to them, real money.
I still have some of this money and I think a great deal of it. This may sound crazy to you, but even to this day, I find it difficult to appreciate how bad it was for them. I hope you have been able to understand this story.
On returning back to our camp, I informed the Commanding Officer, who had to be kept informed at all times, just in case there was something wrong. We eventually left Melsbroek and moved forward again. As we advanced, at one point, we came into full contact with the German Tank Brigade. This was known as ‘Falaise’ and at Falaise; we proved our ability to destroy tiger tanks, or any other German tank.
Since the war, I have learnt, that a great deal of tanks were destroyed by the Typhoons and when the German tank brigades saw Typhoons above, they got out their tanks and ran! I was told by one of the pilots, which having heard and seen tapes since, it is easy to understand why. The Germans were less than happy to encounter the Typhoons! Part of the strategy was for the British Armies and tanks to move forward, under the cover of the Typhoons.