#TogetherMW – Museum Week 2020

#TogetherMW – Museum Week 2020

A recurring theme in our oral history collection is that of togetherness. During the Second World War, and today throughout the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, it is more important than ever to stay together, even though we must remain apart.

One way we can feel like we are together is by sharing stories. Our collection is full of stories of bravery and resilience. During the Second World War, many brave Northern Irish men and women served overseas. Bill Eames (W&M28) served in the RAF and flew on D-Day and at the Battle of Arnhem.

Bill Eames (W&M28)

On the third day of the battle he recalled ‘it was a very bad day for the aircrew because the ground troops were in trouble by that point and our operation was to resupply them. A large number, we just flew in, one after the other to drop our supplies from 600ft and that is very low but as it so happened, we were briefed exactly where to put our supplies down and we did. Actually the only thing was that on either side of our dropping zone there were two German Panzer divisions and they simply shot us up very badly and many of our aircraft were just shot down. Generally, they were climbing away from the drop and I was hit, I was rather badly hit, my leg and my arm… but we were able to… I decided I wasn’t going climb up, you know I could see these others being shot down because they’d be told to, so I just turned left at low-level and got off towards home if you like.’

Fortunately, Bill’s Navigator, Bill Hudson of Irvinestown was able to help…, ‘he bandaged me up and got a tourniquet on my arm and a tourniquet on my leg and that sort of thing and in the mean time I was able to fly it back… I was still able to land the aircraft but then after that they put me in an ambulance and took me to the Radcliffe Infirmary in Oxford’.

For his achievement Bill was mentioned in despatches, he recovered in hospital but due to his hand and leg injuries, he was only able to be a co-pilot for the rest of the war. After the war he worked in Air Traffic Control both in England and Northern Ireland, became a proud member of the Ulster Flying Club and upon his retirement became Chief Flying Instructor at Newtownards airfield.

Perhaps you have been making supply drops to your elderly neighbour, vulnerable friend or loved ones during this pandemic. While you weren’t under the threat of Panzer tanks during your journey, it is important that we appreciate the little things that many people have been doing to bring us all closer together. It is the everyday heroes who work across the many vital sectors that keep society going, keeping us all connected while we stay at home. We would like to thank them all for keeping us #togetherMW.

If you have a Second World War story to share, or would like to hear more about the stories from our oral history collection, please get in touch with us at projects@niwarmemorial.org or on 07588 634847.

#NIWM #niwarmemorial #MuseumWeek #TheWarandMe

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