Our lovely Dad, P/O Rupert T.W. Harwood, was killed with all Crew on his 31st sortie on 18/19th July 1944. Dad was a Wireless Operator/Air Gunner with 619 Squadron.
It was so lovely when he came home on leave, sometimes for 24 hrs, or 48 hrs, and occasionally for 7 days. Sometimes he would come home after my sister Shirley and l had gone to bed (we didn’t always know when he was coming) and when we woke in the morning and saw his blue uniform hanging up we got so excited and made a great fuss of him, in fact we wouldn’t leave him alone. We all used to sit in the kitchen, Shirley on one knee and me on the other, and Dad would sing songs like “There was an old Farmer” and rather robustly, the RAF Marchpast.
When he was away he wrote regularly to Mum, and always would include a letter each to my sister and l telling us such things as to look after Mummy, and that he hoped the “doodle bugs” weren’t frightening us etc. We used to answer them of course and sometimes I would put a few sums in for him to correct for me and my sister some drawings. Before he was called up to the RAF Dad had installed an Anderson Air Raid Shelter in our garden which the Government provided,. Sometimes in the middle of the night, the air raid siren would go so we had to get out of bed on a freezing cold night and walk to the bottom of the garden, and get into the shelter to sleep on bunks. The shelter always smelt of mildew and was cold. We were out walking once when an officer was going to pass by, Dad let go of our hands and said “stand back girls” and out shot his arm to salute him.
As air crews flew mostly during the night they were issued with sticks of barley sugar to help keep them awake and once Dad sent a square biscuit tin full of sticks of barley to us which he and the crew hadn’t eaten. We had very few sweets in those days because they were rationed, so we were pretty happy about that.
Always of course Dad had to go back off leave and we got very upset. Sometimes we saw him off at the bus stop and sometimes at the railway station, which although it meant a few more minutes with Dad, other servicemen were there too, soldiers, sailors and airmen with their families, and the much younger children would cry and scream when their Dad got the on the train, and l felt sorry for them.
We miss our lovely lovely Dad, and my sister and l love and think of him every day, and tell all his grandchildren and great grandchildren all about him.
Submitted by Janet Scorer