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VE Day: Second World War veteran from Barnsbury on what it was like to be in Germany when Nazis surrendered

PUBLISHED: 07:30 08 May 2020

Pictured from left by their stall is Ron Goodere, Ken Watts, Bill Millett  MBE, Ernie Welsh,  Mark Samson, Bob King.   Pic: Dieter Perry

Pictured from left by their stall is Ron Goodere, Ken Watts, Bill Millett MBE, Ernie Welsh, Mark Samson, Bob King. Pic: Dieter Perry

Dieter Perry

A veteran from Barnsbury was in Germany when the Nazi troops surrendered on VE Day 75 years ago.

Members of the Islington Veterans' Association at the war memorial in Islington Green. Islington ex service men from left are Ken Watts, Terry Parratt, Norman Willson, Mark Samson, Phil Menham, Robert King ,Ron Ranger . Picture by Dieter Perry.Members of the Islington Veterans' Association at the war memorial in Islington Green. Islington ex service men from left are Ken Watts, Terry Parratt, Norman Willson, Mark Samson, Phil Menham, Robert King ,Ron Ranger . Picture by Dieter Perry.

Ken Watts, of Lofting Road, served in 18 Platoon, D Company, 2 Battalion of the Devonshire Regiment for four years during the Second World War.

He landed on Golden Beach, Normandy, on June 6 1944 for the historic D-Day offensive against the Nazi troops - and he was in northern Germany when the war ended.

Ken told the Gazette: “We were just waiting for the Germans to walk by and surrender.
“I was taking photographs because I took photographs of all our platoon. We were quite happy to tell the truth. Let’s face it, we can remember German troops marching along to give themselves up. It was a nice day and we were all in short sleeves. We didn’t have anything to drink except tea. I can remember the German troops marching by and they still had their weapons. They just walked passed, were disarmed and became prisoners.
“The we left, we were in Berlin in barracks we took from the Russians, and after that we went to Spandau. Whilst we were there they [German people] were supplying some of the troops with alcohol which they said was scotch, and it was sending them blind, so we had to go sort the distilleries out. They opened fire on us first, which was a great mistake on their part. So we dismantled the distilleries and went back to barracks.

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“In 1947 I got demobbed. I was happy to go home. I went back to work at York Way Motors where I started working in 1939, and I worked there for 50-odd years.”

The Gazette, which was 88 years old in 1945, ran an editorial entitled Pray for Germany.

It read: “Amid our thanksgivings on this day; we had certain apprehensions as to the future.

“We should have failed if we have merely crushed and humiliated our foes, leaving legacy of bitter hate and sullen resentment.

Ken Watts (fourth from right)Ken Watts (fourth from right)

“We must pray the German nation might experience a change of heart.”


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