Betty in Germany in 1945
October 1st 1945
This morning we sadly left Brussels. Having put our kit on the lorry we set off for the office further along Avenue Louise to load all the things to be moved from there. At 9 am we started to drive through the flat countryside of Belgium and then Holland. I was comfortably installed in an arm chair in the back of the lorry with Jack and George.
As we crossed the border just past Venlo, into Germany, the air felt fresher. The countryside is more varied but badly war-scarred. We stopped at Munster to refuel and Jack went to scrounge some tea for us. Munster is terribly badly damaged. I don’t think one house was unscathed.
By the time we reached the autobahn, it was dark and we finally reached Herford at 8.30 where Pat was waiting to whisk me off to the YWCA for supper before taking me to a temporary bed in her room.
|ATS Billet in the old school|
October 2nd 1945
By 9.45 we were settled in our new office and started work as there is a lot of back stuff to make up. Finished and went back to the billet with pat where we discovered that we could have a room together so we set to scrubbing the floor and planning how we could alter things. We made sure that the fire worked beautifully.
October 3rd 1945
This afternoon we went to the riding school for an hour which was very good. After that we went to cookery class at the YW and had fun. Ate the spoils afterwards before joining Staff and Jack at a dance.
|Betty and Pat's room|
October 4th 1945
Our room is beginning to show signs of comfort. In fact, we’ve had a good mark for it already. We collected a table from George’s billet which Pat has painted. I set to and made little frills for the cupboards. Once we were happy with the room we made tea for Margaret coming back from work.
|St Jakob's Church, Herford|
October 7th 1945
It was a glorious morning so we walked through the woods to the tower on top of the hill. Had a wonderful view from the top. Called in at the beer garden on the way down. After lunch we walked to Bad Salzuflen. It is a lovely place. We had tea there then walked back by way of the woods. I felt tired after covering about 16 miles.
|Betty, Staff, Pat and Jack in the beer garden|
October 14th 1945
Today we had an office trip so I wore slacks. We went to Hamelin via Minden, through lovely countryside. When we reached Hamelin we had a picnic lunch helped down with sweet cider. Jack, Pat and I went for a walk and went into the cave which was only a dark hole. Called in at Bückeburg for tea on our way back.
November 5th 1945
Caught the overnight train to Brussels from Bad Oeynhausen. We enjoyed going round the gaily decorated shops. The toys are wonderful. We spent most of our money in odds and ends and fruit. We returned to the hotel for dinner then went to the ENSA cinema to see a Bette Davis film which was excellent.
Over the next 3 days they visited their Belgian friend Winnie, saw Arabian Nights in technicolor, had chocolate and cakes while listening to the band at the Grand Place and dined in style.
November 17th 1945
We have a radio now so we can listen to the news which is good as we haven’t received any mail for several days. Jack and I walked further round the town this afternoon and found that it was very badly bombed in some parts. We went along the river and saw swans and moorhens. It doesn’t seem possible that Jack is leaving. Couldn’t bear saying goodbye.
November 25th 1945
An early start for our office trip to Dechenhohle. We went through lovely countryside but didn’t arrive till 2.30. We seemed to be right on top of the world. The cave was very interesting with stalactites and stalagmites. Tea at the YMCA and home by 9.30
November 26th 1945
Set off from the office at 8.15 and Margaret and I managed to bag a seat on the bus so we were quite comfortable. We reached Lippstadt at 10.15 and after tea at the NAAFI we went to watch the Q in C’s inspection. It was very cold standing about and started to rain during the march Past, but it was very impressive. Monty’s speech (Field Marshall Montgomery) was nothing to write home about. On the way it started to snow. Lovely to receive a letter from Jack today.
During December Betty worked late most night and also on Saturdays so she was glad to have home leave over Christmas. Previously she had flown back to the UK, but this time it was train to Calais and a rough crossing.
January 1st 1946
Brought the year in on the train between Victoria and Folkestone. Pat wrote, "Wot no drink," but we had NAAFI tea! Arrived at Folkestone at 2 am so straight to bed. Called at 7 but had to wait around till 11. Voyage not so rough so we weren’t sick this time but we saw a mine. Arriving at Calais we discovered there was no room on the train so we sat in the Rec Room frozen stiff.
After boarding an unheated train next day it took them till midnight on Jan 3rd to arrive at Bad Oeynhausen.
January 4th 1946
Waited until 1 am but no sign of the truck to take us to Herford so we hitched back. Slept till 11 then soaked in a bath for ages. We were furious to discover they had used our room and made a real mess of everything. Pleased to hear from Margaret that she and her Jack are getting married in 2 weeks.
During January Betty and her friends continued to work long hours and spent their free time playing badminton, going to play readings and Scottish country dancing. In February she was sent on a demob course to prepare for civilian life.
February 12th 1946
Set out at 9.30 and it was freezing cold in the lorry. We stopped at Hanover which was very badly bombed. Like Herford everywhere was flooded from all the rain we’ve had. After 150 miles and many detours we reached Göttingen for the course. Reported to the adjutant and found my billet.
February 13th 1946
After breakfast I decided to explore the town. Göttingen is a very old fashioned place, lots of 15th century buildings like the Schwarz bier Tavern, the Rathaus and Jakobi Church. We walked along the city wall to Bismark’s cottage, a quaint old place and then had coffee at the NAAFI. After lunch we walked up the Hainberg hill through the wood to where it overlooks Göttingen. Today the sun was shining with a slight covering of snow on the ground.
February 14th 1946
This morning we went to the university and were sorted into groups according to our demob plans. I went on the banking side and I’m the only girl among 30 men. The major who took us this morning was terribly funny. Had tea with a Sergeant when Geography was cancelled then returned for English Lit.
February 15th 1946
Still enjoying college life and finding the classes very interesting. Arthur keeps a set for me as we get on well and I have also met a very nice Scottish Lieutenant called Ron. After tea Arthur collected me and we went to the Variety Theatre to see a German company. The acrobats were very good and the contortionist excellent.
Saturday February 16th
Went into town to have my hair washed and set at a hairdressers. After tea, I put on my tartan skirt and went to the Toc H dance. I was in a bit of a fix as I’d arranged to meet Ron and Arthur but I met a few more lads first. In the end I shook most of them off and stayed with Ron and Jock who were good fun. Ron walked me home.
Sunday February 17th
Went to the church service and then after lunch I met Ron. We walked up to Bismark’s house. It was snowing but we didn’t mind. Had a lovely view from the top, the air was good and I enjoyed every minute of it. Had tea at the Toc H then went to the Sergeant’s Mess party. Danced with Ron and had champagne.
Betty returned to Herford and corresponded with Ron who was based in another part of Germany. They managed to meet up three times before Betty was demobbed on May 20th. Civilian life was not easy for any of the wartime service people and the romance died out.