top of page

Reflections on the Second World War: How I didn’t win the war.


I’m David Lowther, author of The Blue Pencil. a 1930s set political thriller which was published by Sacristy Press in November 2012.

I intend to post about every 14 days and I will write only about that dreadful conflict which engulfed the world between 1939 and 1945 and the years preceding. These posts will cover many aspects of the war and the build up to it. Some, but by no means all, will focus on the issues relating to appeasement. Others will be about films, books, music, propaganda, decisions made by politicians and generals about the conduct of the war and so on. These posts will concentrate on the war in Europe.

I was a war baby, born just four months before VE Day. My family lived in New Malden in South West London. I have little recollection of those years, apart from a visit to Chessington Zoo and the cricket ground at the back of our suburban semi-detached home. My older sister has told me that a flying bomb destroyed a house in our street and my older brother remembers sleeping in a Morrison shelter.

No sooner had I begun to realise who I was, the family uprooted and moved to Cardiff when my father became manager of a department store in Pontypridd. A short while later, we moved again, this time to Barri Island when he bought a large cafe and sweet shop. It was there, at four years of age, that I began to learn about ‘the war.’

My father had won a medal during the war. A serious illness in his early twenties left him unfit for call-up, so he joined the Home Guard in New Malden and captured a German airman who had bailed out. By all accounts, the Luftwaffe man offered no resistance. In his sweet shop, there was a gold tin with a slit in the top and I became familiar with rationing.

I watched my first cricket match, Glamorgan v Pakistan, at the old Cardiff Arms Park in May 1954. My mother packed my sandwiches in a gas mask bag and, until I left home to teach in Yorkshire in 1966, this bag was my constant companion.

I saw my first movie, a James Stewart western called Bend of the River, in 1952. This began a life-long love of the cinema. The films I most remember in those days were westerns and war films, especially those British productions populated by stiff upper-lipped officers who usually gave the hun a good hiding. How could I ever forget The Wooden Horse, The Cruel Sea and, of course, The Dam Busters?

So for years, my views of the war were strictly black and white, with the heroic allies usually overcoming the Nazis. It wasn’t until I began to teach history in the mid-seventies that I started to take an interest in the reasons for the war. What really fuelled this interest was a devastating TV documentary called Before Hindsight. But more of that next time.

bottom of page