MEMBES STORIES.

 

 

    MEMBERS STORIES PARTS 1 & 2.
 
THIS PAGE PART 1, HAS BEEN STARTED FOR ANY MEMBER WHO HAS A STORY TO ADD ABOUT THEIR
 
CHILDHOOD - DURING WORLD WAR TWO. 
 
(Not more that 500 to 600 words please if possible)
 
We start with one from Jim Semple.
 Jims story
 
Jim.
 
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   EVACUATION 1.
 
One from me Les Haines.
 
I was born in October 1928, I was 11 when war was announced, and we were living in Ealing, west London. The first few weeks were no different, we played out in the street and went over to Ealing Common for a game of  cricket, or sometimes football, none of us were realy interested in football, so we just kicked the ball about with out any enthusiasm. My sport was to be Ice Skating, and eventualy playing ice hockey, with the Wembley Lion Cubs, very enjoyable.
The begining of 1940 was different, my Father had been called up for service in the Royal Air Force, some of London had been bombed, so my Mother and her friend, who lived over the road from us decided we should go down and stay with her Family for a while and see how things went.
So the four of us went to a cottage at Toovies Farm, near Crawley, West Sussex. My mate Dennis and I had a good time there, no school, once a week a van pulled up at Black Corner and we were able to buy a weeks supply of sweets and our Mothers were able to stock up with the things they needed. We explored the country side, saw Tinsley Green, where the marble championships were held, went to have a look at the local fighter station, which is now Gatwick Airport. What a place to be evacuated to, within spitting distance of a Spitfire Airfield. That was one reason our Family said we should go back to London and chance the bombing
Then something happend to make up our Mothers mind. After 5 weeks dennis and I were playing up at the farm, by the big pond, we heard the sound of machine gun fire , it was getting closer, and then we saw two aircraft coming towards us, I grabbed Dennis and threw him down behind the large oak tree, luckily he was younger and smaller than me, I felt a pain in my right arm, on looking down I saw a lump of three sticking out and blood running down my arm, some of the bullets had hit the tree and sent lumps of it flying everywhere, we were lucky we had moved so quick. We saw the German plane pass over our heads followed by a Spitfire, who was chasing it. It was shot down a couple of fields away. By this time our Mothers had come looking for us, Dennis was crying, and I had tied my filthy hanky, (you know what boys are like), around my arm, and I think my Mum when she saw me with blood and my hanky round my arm, nearly passed out.
They took us up to the farm and our friend there cleaned it up and put a bandage on it, then we saw a chap sitting on an oil drum, we thought he was taking his black gloves of, the Mothers thought it was one of the German pilots, and made some not lady like comments, but it was a farm worker who saw the aircraft coming, and as he was in a shallow ditch, moved to a deeper one but the aircraft crashed on top of the ditch he had moved to, it wasn't his gloves though.
We did go back to the farm many years after the war and found he had been having skin grafts, but he died in the early 60's.
Well that will do for now. I have still some more war time stories left.
Les Haines.
 
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One fromGordon March.
 
Wartime School Days
I started life in St. Mary’s Hospital in Portsmouth in 1933, unbeknown to me my future wife was also born in the same hospital in the same year. She was late arriving so we never met until seventeen years later. I do not remember any of those early days, when I was about one year old my parents moved to the village of Horndean situated about 10 miles north of Portsmouth on the A3 Portsmouth to London Road.
It was not long after I started school that war was declared and men arrived to put sticky tape over all the windows and to build sandbag walls around the entrance doors. My father was called up into the Army where he served as a gunner in the Royal Artillery mostly in the Southeast of England. My mother started work as a Post lady and later worked in the local Gales brewery.
I went the local Methodist Chapel on Sundays to attend Sunday school. This did not last very long, I was caught out forging the attendance cards we were given. Each Sunday the preacher would stamp a star on the card and at the end of the year prizes were awarded for those with the most attendance stars. However, I discovered if you folded the card quickly after it was stamped and the ink still wet, it would put a second star on the next page. It wasn't long before I was discovered and it was suggested that I no longer attended.
During the school holidays I used to help one of the Land Army girls to do the milk round. The farmer, a Mr. Heath, had two horse-drawn carts, one being very ancient with ironclad wooden wheels and dragging a steel roller behind it to act as a brake when stopped on a hill. My cart was quite posh, having pump-up tyres and a handbrake. We used to load up with crates of milk and a churn - some people still used to have their milk delivered in jugs, which we filled from the urn.
The horses had done the rounds so often that while we delivered the bottles from a small hand crate they would move the cart on to the end of the block of houses and stand and wait for us to return to reload. They had quite an easy life, the milk rounds usually finished by lunchtime and then they would be turned out into the field to graze for the rest of the day. Waiting for us to try and catch them early next morning.
By this time the war had really got started, much to the dubious delight of all the children of our age. Evacuees joined the school from London, and the Battle of Britain was in full swing in the skies above. Huge Army camps were set up in the local woods, we would visit the soldiers scrounging sweets and anything else we could get hold of. Rationing was in force and money tight, but to a child this was all part of an adventure.
Another pastime for us was to visit the local chalk pits, which the army used as practice firing ranges. Here we would find quite large quantities of live ammunition in the grass. Later we would remove the solid nose of the bullets, usually 0.303 size, and extract the small sticks of cordite from the casing. If these were lined up end to end and lit with a match they would burn fiercely for few seconds, a highly lethal pastime if judged by today's standards.
A Bofors Anti-aircraft gun was sited just down the lane from our house and we spent many a happy hour sitting on the seats and winding the gun around and up and down pretending we were shooting down enemy aircraft, only to be quickly kicked off when an air raid started.
Thankfully my mother knew little of what we got up to during those wartime days.
As far as village life was concerned, the only big event which occurred during the war was when a land-mine exploded in the woods above the village and blew the top off the tower of the brewery, much to the consternation of all the local boozers, however, production continued. Every Friday night a Social took place in the village hall, dancing, games and food. This continued until a damaged RAF Mosquito bomber flew through the roof of the hall before crashing on a local hillside, this was the signal for all the local children to beat the authorities to the site to scrounge anything they could lay their hands on. Perspex was in high demand for modelling.
The roof of the hall was soon repaired and everything continued as before, of course, most of the patrons were female, the men having been called up for military service. We were also issued with gas masks carried in small brown cardboard boxes with string carrying handles.
My father, who was serving in the Royal Artillery was taken ill with meningitis, so my brother and I were sent down to Portsmouth to stay with our grandmother whilst our mother visited our father in hospital. There were frequent air raids while we stayed in Portsmouth, our grandmother had a Morrison shelter in the front room. This consisted mainly of a steel reinforced table designed to take the weight of any debris should the house be damaged by bombs.
It was quite frightening during these raids; in addition to the noise of bombs frequently exploding near the house; there were anti-aircraft guns situated on the hillside above the city and you could hear the shells whistling overhead.
By 1944 I had moved to the County Secondary Modern School in Cowplain, one and a half miles away. As nowadays, because we lived not quite far enough away we did not qualify for free transport, this meant walking to school until I managed to get a bicycle.
Things were very different at this school, large playing fields, football pitches and a line of underground air raid shelters situated under the trees at the far end of the playing fields, well away from the school buildings.. These were adventurous days. The school was divided into boys and girls and never the twain shall meet, according to the headmasters. However, when the air raid siren sounded the boys headed for the girl's air raid shelter and vice-versa, I will never disclose what went on in those dimly lit shelters.
Although not being brilliant, I did fairly well here, so well that I skipped the second year and went directly to the third year class where I stayed for two years. During the final year some of us attended night-school four days a week in preparation for our School Certificate Examination. This meant staying for tea in the school canteen and having a luxurious meal of bread and dripping. Towards the end of my third year I could see a problem looming, I was supposed to have attended night school for five days a week, but never started the fifth night because I played football for the local Boys Club. I knew I would be found out when the Examination results came out.
Discretion being the better part of valour, I later decided to leave school at the age of fourteen and head for the outside world. During this time I had teamed up with some of the local lads to see what mischief we could get up to.
One of our more quieter pastimes included cycling. We travelled through a large part of Hampshire including Southampton and the New Forest. One of our group, George Holloway, had a bad leg which would not bend, he would propel the cycle by pushing with his good leg and the kicking the pedal round with his straight one.
Our favourite pastime at weekends was to watch the local tour coaches pulling into the car park of the Red Lion Pub in the Village Square. These were on the way home from the seaside and stopped to give their passengers a drink and use the facilities. The coaches were mainly petrol-driven Bedfords and a few diesels. We had discovered that it was possible to reach the petrol tap under the fuel tank through a small access panel, so we went round turning off all the taps then retiring to the other side of the square to watch events.
Most coaches managed to leave the car park only to come to a halt further up the village street, much to the puzzlement of the drivers, although there were a few wise ones who had been caught out before, they checked their vehicles before starting up.
Unfortunately for the diesel coaches, these required the help of an engineer to bleed the fuel system before they could continue.
I suppose we would be called vandals nowadays, but we thought it was harmless fun at the time, especially when we were chased off by the local policeman, a PC Barge by name.
On one occasion we were all gathered in the village square, a few of us sitting on the windowsill of the local Electrical shop - owned by a Mr. Bayley . Suddenly the display window gave way with shower of glass. You've never seen boys moving so fast away from the seen of destruction, unfortunately my brother Clive was stuck fast in the broken window and was quickly apprehended by Mr. Bayley. Our father was informed; he had to pay for a new window and I got a hiding for leaving my brother in his hour of need.
During the war years the City of Portsmouth was protected from low flying enemy aircraft by hundreds of tethered balloons. One day, whilst we were in the school playground, one of these balloons came drifting across trailing it's tethering cable. Thinking we could help the war effort several of us tethered the balloon to our school goal post, unfortunately we did not realise the strength of the balloon, which promptly pulled up the goal posts and trailed them across the surrounding countryside causing untold amount of damage. Despite of all our protests we were all severely caned, a painful result to our good intentions.
1945 came, the war in Europe and Japan ended, and Celebration bonfires and street were parties were enjoyed by all. In addition, a new member of the family arrived; my sister Janet was born.
Gordon March.
 
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From Les Haines.
 
My next story is about my debute at the Ealing Film Studios,with Gracie Fields.
 
Film 1
 Film 2
 
Here ends phase 2.
 
Had an Email from Mick Tarrant,
today 5/02/2014 leting me know that the song's full title was,
"Wish me Luck as you wave me Goodbye".  and the film's title was "Shipyard Sally"
I could not put it in the script as I would have had to written the whole lot again. So thanks to Mick for his Guest book item, on " myrafdaysandafter website. The story was on my Transport command Veterans site.Les. Webmaster.  
 
 
Have drink on me Mick.  
 
  Message 21
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EVACUATION 2.
 
 
From Les haines.
 
Ev 2
 
Evacuation
 
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MEMBERS STORIES  2.
 
THIS PAGE PART 2, IS FOR MEMBERS STORIES DURING THEIR TIME IN,
 
 TRANSPORT COMMAND ONLY
 
(Not more that 600 to 1000 words please if possible)
(or 1 to 2 pages )
 
I will start with one sent in by Alec O'Connor,
it is a bit long but very interesting.
 
 
Ms2 1 
 Ms2 2
 Ms2 3
 Ms2 4
 Ms2 5
 Ms2 6
Ms2 7
Ms2 8 
 Ms2 9
 Ms2 10
 Ms2 11
 Ms2 12
 
 
Well that is the first one for this 2nd part of the page.  
 
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 Any more for this page, please keep it down to 1 to 2 pages.
 
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