Extracts from Don Thompson’s diaries 1939 - 1940
THE WAR YEARS
Historian’s and editor’s note: Entries start while he was still in Canada.
For us the last few days of peace were curiously quite - despite an undercurrent of tension that slowly gathered strength. Our generation had no experience of war. Our only knowledge coming from
Hollywood movies. When war was declared my mother stood by my bed in the morning - she knew her sons would be joining up.
Historian’s and editor’s note: It is here that Don decides to start his diaries as a record of future history.
August 27 1939. Hitler has been exposed as a monster who's word means nothing.
Britain is gearing for war.
Historian’s and editor’s note:
“After reading a military history book recently it shed new light on questions I had been searching for - the long and short of it was most European countries had peaked their military building in the late 20's to early 30's. Poland at this point had a huge military force one of the biggest in the world. However they, like the rest of Europe where basically using old ideas from the 1st World War. So when Germany secretly began building up its military they had invented many new concepts in military building. Together with high-tech military machines of war combined with ballsey moves by Hitler he started his military conquests of Europe. Many other European countries according to this book could have beaten Hitler back. He really didn’t have as much of an army or airforce as he threatened. He did what Mike Tyson would do many years later in the boxing world; total fear and no mercy.”
August 28th. Canada starts to mobilize its Army.
September 1st. Hitler invades Poland - Hitler states any aircraft from any nation flying over Germany will be shot down.
Britain formally declares war on Germany.
September 7th. My birthday.
September 14th Dad has had a bad premonition something bad is going to happen
September 24th. He was right - British aircraft carrier Courageous had been torpedoed
More and more training with new weapons. Bren gun - Boy’s anti-tank rifle
Historian’s and editor’s note. Don Thompson is now a Sergeant.
December 20th 1939
- Aboard HMS Andes on route to England - great ship was a luxury cruise ship - I am in a First Class Stateroom shared with Phillips.
Can you identify the ship?
Historian’s and editor’s note. They are in a convoy with at least 4 warships as escort. Don
believes one of them is the ill fated HMS Repulse later to be sunk by the German Pocket Battleship Bismarck. This was no match for such a ship.
December 25th 1939 - he gets orderly duty.
December 26th 1939 - very bad weather on ship.
January 2nd 1940 Arrive at Hampshire
January 8th 1940. Aldershot - went to London. Saw the sites.
Historian’s and editor’s note. Don talks about training at Aldershot.
Historian’s and editor’s note. January 1940 - he states that “for a World War to be going on,
things don’t appear that busy”. He is writing articles now for the local paper and in a sort of limbo as to what is censored and what is OK
Don’s brother Peter is in the same unit.