Little Green Goblins?

As a child, during the war, media and government propaganda was such that my image of a "Jerry"* was as an evil, hate-filled grotesque green goblin like creature crouching over a bombsight gloating and chuckling gleefully as he dropped bombs on us with one intent, to kill us all. I never thought of them as being human!
This image stayed with me, but slowly, over the years, having met German ex airmen and soldiers, I began to realize that they were indeed human beings just like us!
The catalyst of these mixed emotions came when I read a foreword written for a book by a German ex bomber crew observer/air gunner who had been asked to write about his experiences*** of the many operations he flew over Great Britain during the war.

This evocative foreword** reads...
"I have not found it a pleasant task to comply with the wishes of the editor by compiling a report on the air attacks in 1940-41, taken from the notes set down in my daily diary at that time. These operational flights over England, right at the beginning, were not the only experiences in which I played a part, but are ones which I would have been glad to have seen included since almost all entries from my diary, when I now read them, give an impression of particular anxiety. This aspect is, however, for the most part completely absent in the usual war reports, which exclude fear and portray only "heroic deeds". For today, in a completely peaceful era and nearly fifty years later, the mental environment in which the crew of a bomber plane lived, felt and acted in those times, with the surrounding turmoil of war intensifying daily, cannot be understood by a generation born later. What sort of young men were these, who took off day and night at their own risk, carrying heavy bomb loads, and who knew that with their bombs they had hit and destroyed not only ports, docks and industrial targets but cities as well? Where they creatures just full of arrogance and with no feelings?
     Or were they youths who needed all their strength for overcoming their daily fears, in order to give true service to their Fatherland with the humanitarian thoughts of individuals succumbing to the tremendous momentum of the immense efforts of enemies grimly making war on each other?"

This foreword could have been written by a bomber crew member of any nationality, all of which I feel were politically and patriotically drawn into the war, and as the fear of being branded a "coward" is greater than the fear of injury or death, they were, in John Waynes words, doing "A man's gotta do what a man's gotta do."

* German.
** This appears in "Birds Eye Wartime Leicestershire". Terence C. Cartwright.
*** These appear in volumes 1&2 of "The Blitz Then And Now". Winston G. Ramsey (see book section).

By T. Cartwright

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