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Thread: In times of war 1939-45.

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    Default In times of war 1939-45.

    Sitting here on a seafront bench looking across the Thames Estuary: It's a lovely day, the tide is rolling in and a nice breeze bringing with it the strong smell
    of ozone, with such a peaceful scene it's hard to imagine the activity these waters have seen in my lifetime. This year is the 83rd September 3rd anniversary
    of Neville Chamberlain's speech on September 3rd 1939 when he announced to the world that "We are now at war with Germany", Chamberlain was a pacifist
    and was soon replaced by Winston Churchill. The Admiralty took control of the Thames paddle steamers which evacuated some 20,000 children from the
    Thameside towns, a Defence boom was created and the paddle steamers were converted as floating anti aircraft gun platforms and as minesweepers in the Thames.
    The Southend pier was renamed HMS Leigh and a Harbour Master installed, these waters were renamed as HMS Westcliff and became the Muster point for convoys.
    There was many individual incidents here in the six years duration of the war, on one occasion a Kriegsmarine Torpedo boat and two Mini submarines slipped trough
    the defence boom but before they could do their job the MTB and one sub were destroyed by gunfire, the second sub was rammed by HMS PUFFIN, the impact detonated
    the subs torpedo instantly killing the subs crew and severely damaging the Sloop HMS PUFFIN's bow, she was taken to Harwich and repaired, the FSN ship MV Dorset
    was on her way down from the Docks to join a convoy when sh was hit by a Luftwaffe bomb, she was able to return to the Docks anbe repaired but she was later sunk by
    Italian bombs while on the Malta convoy "Pedestal, there was nearly 300 vessels recorded as sunk in the Thames during the course of the war, both RN and MN, either by
    bombs, mines or collisions, Tilbury was used as a "Holding Dock" inthe build preparations for the invasion of the Normandy beaches. When our troops were evacuated from Dunkirk in may-June 1940, 5 small Leigh on Sea cockle boats sailed to Dunkirk to assist by ferrying troops from the shallow water out to the waiting ships, one oft the boats struck a mine on the journey home killing the crew of three fishermen. The Thames paddle steamer "CRESTED EAGLE" crewed by RN seamen took onboard some 800 soldiers
    as she set sail for home a group of German Stuka dive bombers attacked her, the CRESTED EAGLE was built 1925 and was all wood construction, the ship was soon on fire and
    in an attempt to save lives she swung round and headed back to the beach, it was estimated that 400 men lost their lives, either from the bombs, fire or drowning.
    I was born before the war and grew up knowing no difference, I suppose it must have seemed normal to me, air raid sirens, searchlights, blackout curtains.
    gas mask and even a Barrage Balloon I could see from our house, , must have seemed "Part and parcel of life to me, we were evacuated to Derbyshire and I lived on a farm, absolutely loved it but my two sisters stayed in the village, my sisters caused problems by misbehaviour and we were all sent home as a unit for my sisters sins.
    we had not been home too long before we were bombed out, I was later told seventeen of our neighbours were killed by the same Flying Bomb, Mum heard the engine cut out , grabbed me and threw us both under the kitchen table which saved our lives that day, we were rehoused at Friyern Barnet a few miles away for the duration of the war.
    , So I suppose I'm lucky to have come through it all and at nearly 84 have lived the life that other people missed because of the war. The Sitting on this seafront bench seeing a couple of sailboats having a race there's a coaster making it's way up river, and enjoying the sunshine while it lasts cheers, John Collier.

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    Default Re: In times of war 1939-45.

    John
    My wife was evacuated to Derbyshire from Gravesend, but they came back after about three months. My wife still has a few nightmares about the flying Bombs, her mother doing the same as yours pushing the kids under the table, all the windows blew in, glass everywhere.
    Thanks for the description about your day out.
    Des
    Lest We Forget

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    Default Re: In times of war 1939-45.

    One of my recollections of the war was when I fell out of bed and as had a big plaster of Paris on my left foot to straighten some bones to grow correctly , which was put on every month at Great Ormond Street Children’s Hospital, and waking up the household everyone thinking a V2 had landed and not gone off. Received a clip along the ear for putting the fear of JC into everyone, from my Grandfather . JS

    PS think there were a couple of recorded instances where a spitfire managed to get a wing under a V1 and put them off course. A spitfire having the speed to be able to do so .Not so with the V2 which were rocket propelled .JS
    Last edited by j.sabourn; 13th September 2022 at 03:19 AM.
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    Default Re: In times of war 1939-45.

    AS with above, I was born in 1936 so new only the war in my early years. We lived in direct line to London and could hear the spitfires taking off and landing at Biggin Hill. My first school was bombed. We also lived near a large searchlight and could hear the orders being shouted. One night, mother could not understand why the searchlight was having difficulty keeping up with the targets, these were the first VI's
    Loved watching the Spitfires and Hurricanes chasing the VI's and turning them round back towards the EU.
    In the field next door had a battalion of anti-aircraft guns stained. WE had a basket of incendiary bombs dropped on us. Luckily, they were all duds. 113 fell in our garden, and 1 went through the roof of the guard house next door through the roof, through upstairs bedroom through 2 bunks and finished up on lower bunk i downstairs room, but did not detonate. We were lucky they were duds as next to our fence was all the ammunition for AA battery.
    A policeman on a bike collected the unexploded bombs and put them on his carrier to take away.
    Evacuated twice, but mother always wanted to be at home with father who was in London FIre brigade.

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    Default Re: In times of war 1939-45.

    True or false I don’t know for sure , but as a kid listening to Lord Haw Haw on the radio nearly everyone did it. It was rumoured that his brother was a spitfire pilot who committed suicide. William Joyce was one of the Many executed after the war as was found guilty of being a traitor at the Nueremburg Trials. Even though he was supposed to have taken out German citizenship. And was one of the many hanged by Albert Pierrepoint your favourite publican. JS
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    Default Re: In times of war 1939-45.

    According to my mother a bomb was dropped on the local railway station about the same time I was born.
    It was less than half a mile down the road.
    Welcome to the world said Adolf!!!!!

    Spent much of my early time in Anderson shelters two of which were in the local library grounds just down the road from the house we lived in with my aunt and uncle.
    The at about 18 months or so of age sent north to my great aunt in East Bolden.

    At the age i could understand what was going on, about 4, I could see some of the devastation caused by it all.
    In 1960 there was still evidence in part of South London with some bomb sites still not cleared.
    Happy daze John in Oz.

    Life is too short to blend in.

    John Strange R737787
    World Traveller

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    Default Re: In times of war 1939-45.

    That would have been the other stork John dropping Pansy Potter on the wrong target . JS.
    My wife was born on 1939 and she reckons she was the start of it all, and being the good husband I am, I always agree with her . JS
    Last edited by j.sabourn; 13th September 2022 at 06:57 AM.
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    Default Re: In times of war 1939-45.

    Well John, your wife may have been the start of it all, but my wife finished the war, she was born on 29th April 1945, and Hitler heard that news, and knew he could not cope with that, and committed suicide the next day !!!, when we have words i usually remind her of that fact, lol
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    Default Re: In times of war 1939-45.

    Quote Originally Posted by Des Taff Jenkins View Post
    John
    My wife was evacuated to Derbyshire from Gravesend, but they came back after about three months. My wife still has a few nightmares about the flying Bombs, her mother doing the same as yours pushing the kids under the table, all the windows blew in, glass everywhere.
    Thanks for the description about your day out.
    Des
    Hi Des, seems we have a fair bit in common with our war memories, I think most kids that lived through the air raids will never forget the experience, the house was Victorian built in the 1850s, the table was under a large heavy window which came crashing down on the table top, I can remember clearly, being pulled out by rescuers, the room was pitch black with soot from the chimney, we were led out of the house and there was glass and bricks/rubble everywhere, the porch was hanging off the wall and mums bed was hanging half out of her bedroom, I have vivid memory of that day, my sisters were out of the house at the time and dad being in the army, it was just mum and me. My time on that farm in Derbyshire is my happiest memory of the war years, I was there for the Harvest time and remember being lifted on to the back of a horse that was pulling a wagon, men cutting corn with scythes and other men standing with guns shooting rabbits as they ran from the corn, the inside of the farm was all whitewashed, remember the village church with all of the Harvest produce arranged around the Altar' that was my first ever visit to a church, after London, it was truly a Wonderland, I would have loved to have been able to stay there, "Such is life". my regards to yourself and your wife Des, John.

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    Default Re: In times of war 1939-45.

    We had an Anderson shelter in the back garden only remember using it a couple of times, it always seemed to have water in it, my uncle had a Morrison shelter in his front room,
    I think that was a better idea in some ways, cheers

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