REFLECTIONS ON VICTORY IN EUROPE DAY
Provided by Nick van der Bijl
Twenty-one years after the war to end all wars, the First World War, the Second World War broke out in Europe in 1939 and quickly spread across the world. Technology developments influenced weapons, for instance, heavier bombers delivered bigger bomb loads onto industrial and economic targets and, by association, civilians. At sea, anti-submarine radar pinpointed enemy submarines. 40,000 German submariners lost their lives, many in the cold depths of the Atlantic Ocean. Improved intercept of enemy radio transmissions was an important asset in the intelligence war.
The Second World War was the deadliest conflict in history. 78 million armed forces and civilians were killed - that is 3% of the 1940 global population. The greatest losses were suffered by Germany and the Soviet Untion. 385,700 British Armed Forces and 67,000 civilians were killed. The greatest percentage loss was 28,000 U-Boat crews - 75% of the German submariners. Six millian Jews died because of their faith. The longest military and civilian casualty lists were on the Eastern Front in the savage fighting beteen Germany and the Soviet Union. There was still four months of vicious fighting against Japan in the Far East, where thousands of Allied prisoners and civilian internees were exposed to cruelty and starvation inprison camps.
By VE Day, Europe was largely divided between coutries liberated by the Western Allies and those occupied by regimes allied to the Soviet Union. Within about two years, the Cold War between the Soviet Union and the Western Allies, dominated politics until 1989 and encouraged peace in Europe. Elsewhere, wars for survival, domination and expansion continued. During the war, the Parish of Mark had hosted Land Girls working on farms replacing men in the Armed Forves and families provided homes for girls and boys evacuated from towns and cities at risk of bombing. Some stayed until the end of the war in 1945.
Up to VE Day, the Parish had lost three parishioners:
Gunner George Puddy, 76 Field Regiment, Royal Artillery - Disappeared during the retreat to Dunkirk between 29th and 30th May 1940. Circumstances not known.
Ordinary Seaman Cyril Davis, Royal Navy - Lost in the Atlantic Ocean during one of the longest U-Boat actions of the war when his HMS Gould was torpedoed on 1st March 1944.
Driver Arthur Hillman, Royal Armyy Service Corps - Died at home in Mark on 8th May 1945 (VE Day) after active service in North Africa as an ambulance driver. He is buried in the Churchyard.