WYSOX — Wysox resident Pam Williams was only 10 years old 75 years ago when Allied Forces started their D-Day campaign to push Nazi infantries back to Berlin, but she remembers it like it was yesterday.
For the previous five years before D-Day, Williams, who was born and raised until age 14 in England, and the rest of her people had been subject to constant fire bombings from German planes, rocket propelled bombs, and other types of war-time stresses like rationing and women being forced to take up their husbands' jobs while they were waging war.
"I didn't know what an ice cream cone was or looked like, we just didn't get to have things like that then," Williams told the Review.
She would often look out of her window, past blackout curtains that were used to hide any sign of light so that German planes would not know where to bomb in night raids, and look to London miles away and notice a glow coming from the city.
"I would say, 'London is really getting it tonight,'" Williams recalled.
Williams would frequently be forced to hide in air raid shelters when German planes were spotted traveling toward her home, which was situated near three Allied bases.
"I remember playing in a field when a siren went off," Williams explained. "We were told to hide in a meadow under some trees if we were outside when a siren went off, so we did that. Soon we heard a German plane approaching, we could tell it was German by the way it sounded, it wasn't like American or English planes. It was low, and could have strafed us, but they didn't."
Williams said that the pilot definitely saw them, but that they were looking for a base to bomb, not kids.
This had become regular life for Williams in her adolescence in England. She and other kids her age would have to travel with gas masks constantly and be forced to retreat to her family's air raid shelter underneath her garden.
“I wasn’t afraid. I don’t think us kids were, I don’t know why but we were never afraid.”
Seventy-five years ago today, Williams awoke with her sister to the sound of planes in the sky. This was not out of the ordinary for them until they noticed that there were a lot more planes than usual heading south and they were towing gliders behind them. Soon, the girls were told that there was no school that day either.
“We knew something was going on but we didn’t know what," Williams recalled.
The gliders were carrying thousands of paratroopers that would descend upon Nazi-occupied France. The others that would invade France on foot were marching nearby, according to Williams.
“I lived near a main road and heard a lot of traffic so I went to go check it out," Williams said. "There were all of these soldiers, walking, riding, every form of transportation. Canadians, English, Americans, Poles, Czechs, Australians, everyone. You knew it wasn’t a parade. They were going the same direction as the planes. It went all day. Thousands of men.”
People knew that something big was happening, but did not get confirmation until later that day. At the time, there was no constant news communication so everyone waited for the 6 o'clock news on the radio to hear what was going on. Williams and her family sat at the dinner table silently as the news broke.
“Nobody said a word until the news was over," Williams remembered.
The broadcast informed the listeners that the D-Day assault on German occupied territories had begun.
“At that time, you didn’t know if it was going to be a success. But gradually we found out that we were pushing the Germans back to Berlin. By the same token Russia was pushing the Germans back from the other side.”
England had been the staging ground for one of the biggest and most successful, albeit with considerable casualties, modern military operations.
“Yes there were a lot of casualties in Normandy, but if it hadn’t have happened I wouldn’t be sitting here now," Williams remarked. "They saved us."
Williams went on to move to America, encouraged by England which was ravaged by the war, and eventually settle down in Bradford County. She still holds dual citizenship with England to this day.