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Experiences of a School Boy

Myself with my father W G Bamforth and mother, at Skegness 1939.

My father was at Summer Camp with the Royal Signals TA.

I was born in December 1933 in Glossop, Derbyshire, my father, mother and I moved to Hadfield in the borough of Glossop in 1935. In 1939 my father joined the local territorial Army, 14th Line Section, 2nd North Midland Group, Royal Corps of Signals.

On Sunday morning 3rd of September 1939, I came down to breakfast only to find that my dad was not there. Mum told me that he had been called at 5am to the TA camp in Glossop. He came home during the week, but only to pick up some personal items. Later that week, togther with my Mum and several hundred other people, we watched the Royal Signals march to the market square and there load up onto army trucks. At that time we were not, could not be told were they were going. In point of fact they went first to Bakewell and then a few weeks later on to Chesterfield where they joined with other units. We did not hear from my Dad for some time and eventually we received his limited address:

Cpl. Bamforth, WG, 14th Line Section, No 2 Company, 2nd Air Formation Signals, Advanced, Air Strike Force, British Expeditionary Force. Somewhere in France.

My father W G Bamforth

The next time I saw my Dad was quite a surprise. During the week I was living with my Maternal Grandparents, one street away from home as my Mum was working in a local cotton mill, engaged in some sort of war work. On the Sunday I went home and there was my Dad, sitting at the table, on leave from France. My birthday had just passed but he had a present for me, Dinky Toy Aeroplanes, one box of British and one box of French, six aircraft to a box. He had returned to France before Christmas, but "Father Christmas" had brought me a box of Dinky Army trucks – one search light lorry with anti-aircraft gun, one covered lorry towing a field kitchen and water bowser, one Dragon bren gun carrier towing an ammunition cart and a field gun. I also got a French howitzer which actually fired shells, propelled by a spring. Christmas day saw Mum and me with my paternal Grandparents and we all listened to Gracie Fields 'Somewhere in France' and we were all hoping that my Dad was in that audience.

In the New year letters were sparse, and when we heard the news that the Germans had attacked we received even less, in fact none at all for several weeks.. I was only 6 years old but everyone knew about Dunkirk and there was no news of my Dad. Mt Granddad Farrell, mum's dad, used to cheer me up by saying that "no news is good news". It was obviously a terrible time for my mother, but I cannot remember her being a crying wreck and my memory of those days is clear.

In June, Mum received a notification that my dad was in a military hospital in Baskingstoke, he had been in hospital in Plymouth and it was hoped that he would soon be moved to a military hospital nearer our home. He was, to Warncliffe (Temporary) Military Hospital in Sheffield. Eventually we learned that my Dad had been on the Lancastria, sunk by German bombs at St Nazaire on the 17th of June 1940. There had been over 6000 aboard, British, French and Belgian Military, as well as British Fairey Avaition workers and their families who had been employed by Fairey Aviation in Belgium. It was the greatest British Maritime disaster, in excess of 4250 lives were lost that day.

My father's AB64

Dad was discharged from the army in December 1940 as medically unfit. He had not recovered from the injuries received when the Lancastria was sunk. He received a lapel badge, which had been instituted by King George VI, the badge showed the cypher of the king and the words around the perimeter read "For Loyal Service". I believe this badge was to show that the wearer was not a shirker who was ducking serving his country. Once he could, Dad returned to work, he joined the ARP and the British Legion. My mum also returned to work in the mill, she was also a Fire Watcher. She didn't watch fires, but was on the look out for incendiary bombs – fire bombs.

My father's lapel badge.

With both my parents working, most of the weekly shopping was dependant on me. We had a Co-op Grocery Book, my Mother would list what was required and my maternal Grandmother, who lived one street away from our home and in the same street as the Co-op would take it, with the Ration Book on a Monday morning. On my way way home from school I would collect the groceries and pay for them, having collected the money from my grandmother. On Tuesday other groceries would be bought from the local family grocer who lived almost opposite to our home. I would take the "Mr Schofield Grocer" book and leave it on Monday evening and pick it up on Tuesday evening. Mr Schofield was paid monthly. Wednesday my maternal Grandmother would go to the Butchers to see what was available and I would collect the package on my way home. The order to the butcher was constant and always picked up by me on Saturday morning.

Saturday was a very busy day, the queues formed early. I would set out about 8.30am, Mum and Dad being at work already, my first call was always at the Greengrocers & Fish shop for the usual vegetables and on occasion fresh fish. Then after taking the shopping home I would join the queue at halls Confectionary, there I would buy pork pies and fruit pies, then over the road to the Co-op Cafe. The coffee shop was no longer open, but we queued for bread and cakes. By the time I arrived there, the queue would already be formed and it led from the shop door up the right side of the stairs to where the coffee room had been, down the left hand side and up to the counter. Usually in the queue, by far the longest of my day, I would often find friends, boys and girls doing the same job as me.

It was usually 11.30 by the time I got home, time to join the queue at the chip shop. It was a norm to have chips on Saturday lunch time but rarely did we buy fish, as it as rather expensive for the times 6d (2.5p) each where a large portion of chips would only be 3d (less than 1.5p) Sometimes I would buy potato cakes instead of chips. Once home, if my parents had arrived we would have pork pie and chips or Spam and chips; that ubiquitous American tinned pork luncheon meat. On occasion we would have American bacon. Our next door neighbours had cousins in America who would send food parcels and apparently our neighbours did not care for the smoked streaky canned bacon and gave it to us, We liked it. If my mother was on Firewatching Duty, it meant that I would have to take her lunch (dinner) to the Mill. If that was the case, Dad would put our meal in the oven to keep warm while I took my mother's meal, doubly wrapped to her.

Saturday afternoon was different. My Dad would go to pay for his weekly newspaper, pick up cigarettes and buy me a comic. He would then go to the tobacconist for more cigarettes. One must remember they were difficult to come by and would only be sold to regular customers and then only a small number. Being local, having played in the cricket team and also being in the Territorial Army until his medical discharge, my Dad was well known and obviously quite liked. After visiting Mr law the newsagent, we would take the bus to Glossop and go to the tobacconist Kenyons, he would usually manage to buy some chocolate for Mum and the catch the bus home, calling at Littlewoods for more cigarettes. Saturday night we might go to the pictures, the word cinema was rarely used, to POSH. Sunday was Church in the morning, for me the choir boy, visit my paternal Grandparents in the afternoon, have afternoon tea then home again, church for me again in the evening. Monday started the shopping again.

From the age of 5 years upwards we tended to play games in the street. Cars and lorries were few and most deliveries were made by horse and cart. We played skipping, often tying one end of the rope around a convenient (gas) lamp post. We played rounders, using coats for corners, hopsotch, marbles, hide and seek, football using coats as goal posts and cricket chalking stumps on the wall. We all played, boys and girls together. We played Cowboys and Indians, bows were made from a supple branch and arrows from split canes, often weighted by a ball of tar, easily obtained from between the sets sets which paved the roads. Naturally we also played War. If it rained we usually sat at home reading comics or playing with dinky toys, or the lucky ones, meccano.

During the war, holidays to the beach were not a choice but reading newspaper adverts, my Dad found a farm that took guests. This was July at Glossop Wakes. Wakes week was when all the large businesses closed down for a weeks holiday. It was a working farm but the guests were not expected to work. It was in Marden, Herefordshire. The farm was run by a Mr Stanley Davies, his son Gus a young man in his 20's, a Cowman, three Land Girls and an Italian POW. Mrs L M Davies ran the guest house side. It was wonderful. Fresh butter, fresh eggs, home cured bacon and pork. For me it was a haven. On our first visit to Brook Farm in 1942 the getting there was an adventure to me. We left Hadfield LNER station on the 8am train to Manchester London Road. At that time four railway companies operated out of London Road, LNER, LMS (London Midland and Scottish) GWR (Great Western Railway) and the only electrified railway at the time was from Manchester to Altrincham. We wanted to GWR train that ran to Cardiff via Stockport, Shrewsbury, Leominster and Hereford. This train left at 9.03, why can I be so exact, because it was such an odd time to leave, every year at 9.03. I had never travelled by train for such a long distance and I was enthralled. On arrival at Hereford we went to the Bus Station, obviously my Dad had done his homework as he knew we needed a Midland Red to Marden.

Brian Bamford with Land Girl, ready for the milk round.

The farm was black and white architecture and from day one I became involved. During that first week I was shown how to bring the cows down for milking (when we returned in 1943 the cowman had cut me my own wooden stick and cut in my initials, I shave it still!) I accompanied a Land Girl on the milk round in a Bedford van, I was taught by Gus to drive a Fordson tractor, in 1943 I was upgraded to a Fordson Major tractor. I really was in heaven and in 1945 the farm had acquired an ex US Army Jeep and I was taught to drive that too. Sometimes I would walk up the road to the Blacksmiths shop and watch him make shoes and shoe the horses. He also worked on other objects, replairing ploughshares etc, I still have a horse shoe he made for me.

The Jeep 1945

I had started school at Hadfield St Andrew's CofE School in 1938 and by 1940 I was in Miss Harrop's class, standard 1. Although air raid shelters had been built in the school yard, they were never used. Around the classroom walls were several tables which held books and other items used in class. There was also a large pine table and this was my place, along with four other boys, if the Air Raid siren sounded, which it often did. The five of us would pretend we were in an aircraft or tank, If it was an aircraft it would be a Hampden or a Wellington, the latest types of the time.

St Andrew's School, Hadfield.

One day the headmaster, Mr Bowden, came into the classroom ad said there was a gas alert and we were to put our gas masks on immediately. Well!! As my cardboard gas mask holder had got battered out of shape, my Mother had bought me a canister. It was round and about the size and shape of a vacuum flask. The German army also had tubular gas mask holders, which lay flat (we saw them in the news reels at the cinema and pictures in the newspapers) because of this, it was decided my my playmates that Brian would be a German! Although designed to be vertical, with the aid of sticking paper and string, mine hung horizontally, juts like those Nazis. In the course of play, my tin can holder was knocked about a bit and came that day, I could not get the lid off! Consequently the Head Master shouted across the room "That boy there, Brian Bamforth, you are dead, gassed." I had to take a note home to say I was required to have a new gas mask case. It did not seem to occur to Mr Bowden or Miss Harrop, that they too were dead as they were not wearing gas masks either!

Brian Bamforth aged 9.

Then came the bombing of Manchester, which was only 12 miles from Hadfield. From my bedroom window I could see the searchlights and the red sky reflection of the fires. During that summer I sometimes accompanied my maternal Grandfather to Stretford where my aunt and uncle ran a bakery in School road. At one end of the road there was church and I remember on one visit, the church had been hit and was a burnt out ruin.

It was at this time that evacuees arrived, first from Manchester and later from Lowestoft on the east coast. Because of the numbers of new arrivals, our school day was more or less halved. One week we would attend St andrew's in the morning an din the afternoon we spent our time in the Wesleyan Methodist hall, reading and playing games. The evacuees would be in the hall in the morning ad at school in the afternoons. The following week we would change round.

It was at this time another of my aunts, daughter of my maternal grandparents, came with her husband to live with my grandparents. They brought with them a boy of my own age, the son of friends of theirs. His name was Bernard Marks and he was Jewish. This made absolutely no difference in classwork, until it came to religious instruction. I don't suppose it had occurred to Miss Harrop that she had someone of a different religion in class. The Roman Catholics attended St Charles in Hadfield and the Wesleyan Methodists studied the same bible as did we. In the first lesson Bernard has something to say. I cannot recall what he said, I don not believe he was cheeky, but it resulted in him being allowed to sit in a corner, back to class reading a book. I have often thought since that he would still be able to hear every word. Later in my RAF Aircraft apprentice days, we would have a Wing Parade in the mornings before marching off to schools or workshops and the order would be given "Roman Catholics and Moslems (we had Royal Pakistan Air Force Aircraft Apprentices) About Turn, the rest stand still." I cannot think it would make a ha'p'orth of difference, they could still hear the Anglican prayers!

By 1941 many of the evacuees from Manchester had returned home, but the boys and girls from Lowestoft were, in many cases, joined by their families. They seemed to find accommodation fairly easily, whether it was private or council housing I do not know, but I do believe it was the former as we did not have any council houses in our part of Hadfield. Two doors down from our house were the Tennants, Mrs Tennant the mother, daughter Barbara about 2 years older than me, Brian my age and Barry. Their Dad was in the army. The Ewells, David, Michael and their Mum and Dad lived in Church Street; Jacqueline and Bernard Ansty with their mother lived in Stanyforth Street. Ivan Tyrell lived by Lambgates, Great and Peter Maddox lived on the corner of Albert Street and Station Road by the Chemist shop, where their Dad worked as a pharmacist. All of the above were from Lowestoft.

Along with many others from Manchester, Bernard had returned to Salford, although my aunt and uncle never returned to Eccles. Some of the Manchester evacuees did stay. Stanley, Donald and Geoffrey Graham lived down Hadfield Road, Neville and Malcolm Moss lived in Station Road as did the Davies. Frank Davies was my age but his two brothers were somewhat older and I did not know them. Their parents opened a confectioners, possibly to the annoyance of the Halls, Keith and his elder brother of BBC fame, Stuart.

By 1942/3 the school, if not back to pre-war numbers (a room in the local library had been taken over by this time for Standard 4) had at least settled down.

St Andrew's Class 4 in 1943. The Policeman was telling us about road safety.

Many of us belonged to the Church choir, also the Church Lads Brigade and the Junior Lads Corps. (It was not until 1947 that the scout troop, once led by my dad as Scout Master when it was the 1st Hadfield was reformed as the 2nd/1st Hadfield) One point of attending church so frequently as a choir boy that has stayed in my memory, was the reading by the vicar, every Sunday of those lost in the war. We were a small cotton mill town and most people knew the families of those lost.

St Andrew's Church Choir

Hadfield is in the Peak District and on the moors surrounding Hadfield and Glossop there are a number of relics of crashed aircraft. Unfortunately most of them are Allied Aircraft belonging to the RAF and the United States Army Air Corps, lost on training missions not by enemy action. One day in 1943 we were told of an aircraft which had crashed into a vertical rock just above Tinwhistle. A small village near Hadfield. It was a P38 Lightning of the USAAC. We could see the wreckage glinting in the pale sunshine.

In early 1944 many troop trains passed through Hadfield. It was the main line from Manchester London Road Station (now known as Piccadilly Station) which was the northern terminus of the LNER. Trains ran through Guide Bridge, Dinting, Hadfield, Penistone, Sheffield, Nottingham, Leicester, Rugby and Aylesbury to London Marylebone, the southern terminus. Along the route, trains could be sent anywhere on the East Coast.

Hadfield Station

We kids looked forward to the troops trains, as Hadfield being more or less in the country with a large area by the station where the troops could relax for a brief spell. The American soldiers often gave us chewing gum, Hershey bars (chocolate) and candy (toffees or boiled sweets). My Dad on one occasion met a train in his capacity as secretary of the local branch of the British Legion and after speaking with the officer in charge, brought home two Canadian Sergeants for a home cooked meal.

Glossop Grammar School

In 1944 I sat the Scholarship examination for the local Grammar School and by September I found myself as a pupil at Glossop Grammar School about three miles from my home. Like most schools in wartime, Glossop Grammar was found to be too small for the number of pupils, the original stone building had been added to by the building of two concrete huts (Rooms 20/21) and three wooden huts, Room 19 was the Girls cookery room, Rooms 14 and 15 were classrooms for 5a and 5alpha and the third building, much larger was the Physics lab (Rm16) Men's staff room (Rm17) and the Woodwork room (Rm 18). In addition the top floor of the local library just across from the school was set aside of PT and the Fitzalian Street Congregational Church rooms became out art room, music room and dining room. It was one large room, not sectioned off, so it could only be used for one purpose at a time although school dinners were produced in the small kitchen.

The Physics Lab.

My first day at school was not a happy one. It was in this church hall that the new pupils were told to sit down awaiting greetings from the headmaster, Mr C Lord MA. We later learned that he had a nickname – Gauleiter or The Gow – anyone with knowledge of the German Nazi Party will know what a Gauleiter was!! On entering he said a swift good morning and commenced to call the register - "Artur Bamforth" he called, no answer. "Arthur Bamforth" somewhat louder. No answer. He looked across at me and stalked over, glowering. "What is your full name boy?" he asked. Oh dear, the penny dropped! I was known and always had been known, in my family, in chutch, in school as Brian Bamforth, but my full name ….

"Arthur Brian Bamforth Sir."

"So, Bamforth you are supposed to be clever enough to come to my school, but you don't even know your own name? So once again, Arthur Bamforth" "Here Sir" I responded but all was not over. "So Arthur Bamforth, what do you intend to do when you leave school?" To me it was not a difficult question, I knew what I wished to do, my paternal grandfather worked for Fairy Aviation, building Fireflies, my dadd;s brother Fred worked for A.V.Roe on the Manchester and Lancaster. I had been brought up on the Areoplane Magazine and Flight, Christmas and Birthday presents had included The Wonder Book of the RAF and other books on the Air Force. "Sir I intend to join the Royal Air Force when I leave school" I said. "Join the RAF, join the RAF, we shall soon change your mind by the time you leave school, won;t be boys and girls?" and with one voice they responded "Yes Sir."

On reflection it was a very odd thing for the Headmaster to say as at the time he was the Officer in charge of Glossop Grammar School Air Training Corps Squadron and several of the officers were Teachers. I will give The Gow his due, in August 1950 I became an Aircraft Apprentice at the No 1 School of Techincal Training Royal Air Force Halton. On my first leave, Christmas and New Year 1950/51 the school reopened just in time for me to visit before ending my leave. I walked up the front steps, knocked on the Headmasters door and when he said "Enter" I did, he took one look at me in my aircraft apprentice uniform, got up, shook my hand and told me he remembered what I had said in 1944 and added "Well done Brian", not Arthur.

Brian Bamforth

When I started school in 1940 the war had been going on for a year. There hadn't been much going on in this country as far as bombing and air raids. However, we all had to carry our gas masks with us wherever we went. At home or at school, we always had to remember them.

We had to practice going into the shelters (which were on our school playing fields - underground). We also had to practice putting on our gas masks, which was horrible. They were so tight round your face and made a funny sound when you breathed in and out.

As I continued my school life and moved from the Infant school into the Junior school - Urmston Junior School, which is still there today - the war got more serious and when the air raid sirens sounded we all had to head for the shelters with our gas masks and sit on hard benches until the all clear sounded. While we were in the shelters we used to sing songs. This was to stop us being frightened. We sang 'One Man Went to Mow' and 'Nick Knack Paddy Whack'. Very often we were singing so loudly that we didn't hear the all clear siren.

At home, life was disrupted at night when the bombers came over to bomb Trafford Park and we used to have to get out of bed and into our 'siren' suits. These were warm all in one suits with a hood and a long zip down the front to enable us to get into them quickly. We wore them in the air raid shelter over our pyjamas. Also we would take with us into the shelter, food, drinks, candles and a case with our most precious belongings, in case the house was bombed. This case was kept under the bed and packed ready at all times.

Our air raid shelter was called an Anderson shelter and was half submerged in the ground. The top half was covered with earth and grass grew over it. We had bunk beds inside and chairs to sit on and a candle to give us some light. There was no heat in there so it got very cold and we were glad of our siren suits.

One night, we were just getting ready to go into the shelter, because the siren had sounded, when a bomb landed on the house four doors away from ours and we were very scared, the bomb was so loud! The next morning on the way to school we saw the two flattened houses and wondered what had happened to the people. Sometimes at night in the shelter we would take a peep outside to see the searchlights in the sky and listen to the ack-ack guns booming out, trying to hit the planes coming over.

Once, at Christmas, we were staying with an aunt in Droylsden, North Manchester and when the sirens went we all sat under the table in her living room and listened to the flying bombs (V2s) coming over. We all held our breath when their engine stopped, because we knew that then the bomb was going to come down.

It was always very dark in the streets at night as there were no street lights allowed and nobody was allowed to show any light from their windows, the local Air Raid Wardens saw to that. It was so that there was nothing to guide the German bombers when they were looking for their targets. Also there were no street signs to direct people, so that if Germans landed here they wouldn't be able to find their way around.

I remember always having to queue for food and always having to have your ration book with you, so that the shopkeeper could take out coupons to make sure you were only getting what you were supposed to have. We grew some vegetables and fruit in the garden and we had neighbours who had chickens from which we got eggs if we were very lucky. Neighbours all helped to feed the chickens by saving any scraps of food and peelings for them. Therewere also designated houses and sites where you could take your, jam jars, paper and rags, to be re-cycled and metal dustbins where everyone put thire food scraps. This was used for pig feed It was collected every week by the local council..

When we walked to school after an air raid, it was quite exciting looking for bits of shrapnel from bombs that had exploded. We used to walk to school and wonder whether it would have survived the bombing the previous night. Despite all our hopes, it was always still there!!

My father was a soldier during the war and used to write letters to my brother and me whenever he could, from Italy and North Africa. He was a gunner in the Royal Artillery. When the war ended in 1945, I was ten and looking forward to him coming back home to hear of his exploits. Sadly, right at the very end of the war we got a telegram to say he was dead and wouldn't be coming home. He went away when I was seven and I never saw him again. The telegram came at breakfast time and we still had to go to school that day as usual. No counselling for children then. We just had to 'get on with it.'

Norma Pepper

Copyright 2004

My first memoriy of WW2 was being in Torquay with my grandparents on holiday in Sept 1939 when declaration of war was imminent. My grandparents decided we should return home to Salford immediately and we were in Bolscote Oxon when I can remember hearing the news that we were at war on the radio of a car. I couldnt understand why the grown ups were crying.

On return to Salford I was evacuated to Dalton in Furness where I was on a farm very different from my life in Salford and can remember being terrified of the sheep and the dogs. After a while I was brought back to Salford to the shop on the corner of Derby and Hogan St near Regent Rd. My grandfather had had a reinforced steel lining put under the stairs and that is where we went many a night during the worst of the Blitz. One night there was a direct hit on the street shelter near by killing many who had taken refuge there. My father was in the R.A.F. and once coming home on leave could not recognize anything on his walk from the station as all around was flattened. My grandfather was an Air Raid Warden.

In 1942 ,when I was 8 I moved with my mother to be near where my dad was posted in Suffolk and so away from the bombs only to be in the flight path of doodle bugs and incendiary bombs Fortunately we all survived.

Beryl Emery

I was very ill in hospitalwith osteomylitis. It was about May 1941 Our family had been bombed out of our house in Wallasey and I was in Clatterbridge hospital. I didn't know where I was and was very sad and frightened. One afternoon,my Mum arrived.That was wonderful enough as visiting was restricted to twice a week. Sometimes she or my Dad failed to arrive as their bus was full. So they had to wait two hours for the next one and would arrive after visiting hours and they wouldn't be allowed to see me! Well this special day my Mother brought out from her handbag a small brown paper bag. I could smell what it was immediatly...can you guess? My big sister, Mary, had used her lunch hour from the Mersey Docks and Harbour Board Office to traipse round Liverpool to find me an ORANGE!!! My dear sister is now dead, but that happy kind memory is still as bright as that wonderful day

A. Carroll

I was born in Lower Broughton Salford in 1930. I attended to St Bonifaces school, as a ten year old boy I remember the Blitz very well on the night of December the 22nd 1940 Manchester and Salford were getting a real hammering about four am. There was a "lull" in the bombing, my uncle and I decided to take a look outside, as we stood on the front door step. I remember my uncle saying to me "Jim you can read a newspaper" and we certainly could, the whole sky was lit with a bright crimson glow, it seemed to me that all of Manchester and Salford was on fire. After a few minutes we heard the sound of enemy bombers, you could always tell them, their motors were out of synch, my uncle said to me, "we had better get back inside the house". In doing so he probably saved our lives because a few minutes later a parachute mine landed at the end of the street, by that time I had got back into my place under the old table, unfortunately the house was very badly damaged but we all survived. Because the place was unlivable we hired a horse and cart loaded our possessions and moved to an empty house on Bury old Road in Prestwich which we shared with our other relatives the Hamilton’s.

My next vivid memory of the Blitz was some months later I believe it was in June I stayed with my relatives who lived in Salford and believe it or not I saw the bomb hit Salford Royal Hospital which killed several nurses.

Jim Roberts

I was the eldest son in a family of 13 children who worked very hard to survive the lean times of the war years. My father, also named William John Proffitt, was a carter and ran a small business with stables at Lochinvar Street, Walton, Liverpool. He drove a team wagon, carting cargoes to merchants and dockyards. It was all horses and cart work those days. Everything would have to be carted to warehouses, railways and to ships. I can remember going to Birkenhead with my father, as there was no tunnels in those days. It was all luggage boats and ferries. The life of a carter was a hard life.

On the outbreak of World War I, father volunteered for the Army, but they would not take him, as it was thought his business was important for supporting the war. They kept him for carting food to and from the docks.

I can remember when the carter's brought their horses home after a days work. A government man would be waiting outside in the street. The government official would be there to check to see if the horses were fit. There was a hill just outside of the stables. Father would place each horse in a team wagon and put the brake on the wheel. In those days, it was a chain clipped onto a spoke of the wheel. The wheels were wooden ones with a steel rim on the outside. If the horse pulled the wagon on its's own up the hill, it was passed fit. Any strong horses would be confiscated by government officials and shipped off to France, to tow gun carriages for the artillery soldiers. It was a sorrowful sight to see the horses leaving the stables, as it could result in the loss of the carter's livelihood. At one stage father was down to just the two horses.

When World War I ended, I went to Canada with my uncle and worked on logging. I was homesick, so returned to Liverpool after two years. I was fortunate to get a job in Liverpool Dockyards and was employed there up until the outbreak of World War II. I was a Stevedore and passed the service trade test Stevedore D1 to work in a supervisory role.

In 1939, I enlisted in the Royal Engineers 13th COY as a Sapper, then took part in operations with the North Western Expeditionary Force in 1940.

I came home on leave and was introduced to my brother George's sister in-law Florence George who lived in Walton Village. She was an interesting person who was training as an Air Raid Volunteer. There may have been a bit of match making going on in the family, as I was not sure if she liked me or not. Well! we seemed to click and we got married at Walton Church on the 14th August 1940, dressed in military uniform. It seemed to be the thing to do during the war years.

On the 22nd August, I was posted for war duty in Iceland and was there until the end of 1942. I returned home just before Christmas 1942, bringing back home a seal skin fur coat, hat, handbag and matching purse for Florence.

Early in the New Year, I had to report for war duty and was briefed we were leaving for North Africa and the Mediterranean. The troop carrier I was on was torpedoed off the coast of Algiers, North Africa. It was thought at the time, we were hit by a U-Boat. I was picked out of the sea by crew of an ocean going tug. There was no others from my company around and I can only imagine what had happened.. The last person, I remember talking to was a medic when we were in the sea. Both of us were not strong swimmers so we just talked while we waited to be picked up.

I was transferred to amphibious landing craft for the allied invasion of Salerno in Southern Italy. We were under continous fire as we landed. After taking Salerno, we pushed on and took part in the Anzio landings, where there was enemy Panzer resistance. We were held up, as a result of Allied equipment arriving. It was our job to assist with bridge building and with the arrival of reinforcements, we pushed on to Trieste, with the Allies heading for Rome.

On conclusion of World War II in 1945, I returned home to England for demobilisation and was transferred to to the Port Operating Company in Liverpool and put on the Royal Army Reserve until 10th February 1954.

William John Proffitt

William John Proffitt, Sapper, 2199510

Royal Engineers - 13th Coy, 18th Sec,1007th Coy,1017th Coy.

(Taken from W.J.Proffitt memoirs)


In the early years of my life, like many others, we accepted life for what it was and we tried to get through all the hard times. My father Frederick James George was just 16yrs old when he became the manager of the local butchers shop called 'Dewhursts' off Nimrod Street,County Road, Walton,Liverpool. It is understodd, the shop was re-named the Argentine Meatshop in later years. Dad's father, was also named Frederick George, a seafarer and a very tall man. My mother Elizabeth (maiden name Baker) from Penzance in Cornwall, told us, father was liked in and around Walton, but he was not a well person and suffered from arthritis. She said, "He wore leg braces and didn't find this out until their wedding night." Father died of ill health at the young age of 33yrs, prior to my 4th birthday. I had two brothers and five sisters. The mortality rate was very high in those days with two of my sisters Olive and Daisy both dying very young, through ill health.

The family, were going through very hard times when it was announced the first World War was about to begin. As mother had little money, to look after us, the children were fostered out to a family who lived near the Lake Districts, until the end of World War 1. Although, the family were very nice to us, it felt as though we were in service. I remember, the lady of the house liked sandwiches with a thin slice of cake in the centre. We thought that was very posh and it made us laugh.

After the first World War had ended, we were sent back home to mother in Liverpool, who was really pleased and cried when she saw us. The older children had to find jobs almost immediately, to help mother and the family. We were all still so very young. We moved from the shop at Nimrod Street, to a rented terraced house at 27 Elm Road,Walton Village. The house had two rooms upstairs and two rooms downstairs, with an outside toilet. There was not much room for mother and six children. I started a job in the Metal Box Factory, with remarks from some saying, I was too young and I shouldn't be taking a man's job away from him. My mother told me I should let a married man have the job. I was given a trial by the factory supervisor, who was pleased and impressed with what I could do for one so young. He gave me the job and I was trained up and qualified as a tin machinist. The years just seemed to go by and all my brothers and sisters who were still living at home thought it was their duty to bring their pay home to help mum keep the family. we had very little time for recreation, yet when their was a moment, I used to love going dancing at Swansons dance rooms in the village. Mum bought a wooden caravan bungalow on a site in Chester and she took us their on weekends to get away from the city.

On the outbreak of World War II, my brother Frederick and cousin Harry joined the Royal Navy and served on the 'HMS Indefactable'. Frederick was returned home from Malta with serious wounds to the neck. He died of his wounds at the end of World War II. Cousin Harry's father also Harry, a seaman drowned after his ship ' HMS Lucitania' was torpedoed off the coast of Ireland on its return trip from America. Mother also, heard that her brother Ernie Baker (RAF) in a Dam Buster Squadron was missing in action.

As the war got more intense, our factory became a munitions factory to help the war effort. I joined the St.John's Ambulance and Auxillary Reserve, as a volunter Air Raid Warden. I passed the examination for Air Raid Precautions and was delegated to help look after the people in my street. With our khaki bag and gas mask, we had to make patrols and check all the doors and windows to each house to make sure people had blacked them out. In the event of an air raid we also had to get people out of their houses and into the air raid shelters when an alert was made.

At the bottom of Elm Road, a railway track ran straight across a bridge and down to the Liverpool Docklands. The track was used to transport munitions from Napiers factory and down to the docks to be sent with our troops to Europe. The Germans 'Gerry' tried to bomb the train many times, but seemed to miss it each time. The bombs that were dropped in the area caused major damage to the older brick terraced homes, with slate roofs. On one particular night we had got a warning there was going to be an air raid. I had just got the last person evacuated and was making my way to the shelter. I could see the whole area was lit up with incendiary bombs dropped by 'Gerry'. The next moment there was a loud piercing screaming noise, them everything went very quiet for what seemed like ages. There was a whoosh! sound and it felt as though, I had been lifted and thrown to the entrance of the air raid shelter. I was totally winded and shocked and could not get my breath for several moments. I can count myself lucky, I was not seriously injured. After the all clear was sounded, it was discovered, one of the homes at the top of the road had half of its upstairs bedroom and downstairs front room missing.

Florence George

Florence George. Air Raid Precautions Auxiliary Reserve No. 4 District Lancashire (Taken from Florence George memoirs)

My mother used to tell me the story of how evacuees were placed during the war. We lived in the town of Penrith, Cumbria (Cumberland as it then was). The children from Newcastle and other centres were simply driven around in cars. The Department people came up to the door and asked "How many can you take"? My other said "One" and that is how we came to have Brian Brakey (I understand later Dr. Brian Brakey) in our home. My only memory of him is when he and my brother were fighting over me (as a 2 year old) and in the struggle I finished up being pushed onto the front of the hearth and getting a burned behind!

I have always thought how devastating to be those children, unceremoniously taken from their homes and given to families without any check-up as to the suitability of the home. I'm sure Brian's stay with us was peaceful and I know he was able to attend school because my mother tells me how she loaned him my Dad's leather briefcase and Brian kicked it all the way home! No doubt he had many feelings of hurt and anger.

Jennifer McKinney

I was born and lived in Northern Manchester,in a suburb named Higher Blackley. I finished school at the age of 14 years and my first employment was as an Office Boy,working in the office of the Chief Engineer of all of A.V.Roe who were at that time building the twin engine Manchester bomber,which later developed into the Lancaster bomber. After approximately 6 months,I became bored with my work and decided to become an Apprentice Electrician,working for a Company in Rochdale, Lancashire.

One day in February 1943,I met a former class mate, Garnet Bostock,his birthday was just 6 days prior to my own.At the time of our meeting,he was wearing a uniform and when I asked,he told me that he was a Steward on a Merchant ship and had just returned from his second trip aboard a tanker,the s/s Athel Duke,this ship was later in the war torpedoed. I asked Garnet how he had managed to join the Merchant Navy and he informed me that he had attended a 10 week course at T.S.Vindicatrix in Gloucestershire.I obtained the address of this establishment from him and wrote away for the necessary application forms.

Prior to this time.I had wanted to join the Royal Navy as a Boy Seaman,which entailed signing for a 20 year stint.My Parents would not entertain even the thought of such.I then one day noticed in the daily newspaper, that the British army were forming a new Regiment,The Mechanical & Electrical Engineers. They had a scheme whereby they would accept young men of 16 years as apprentices.Upon my expressing my desire to join,once again my Parents would not even consider my joining.

Needless to say,this lack of understanding brought about a considerable amount of animosity between myself and my Parents.Upon reflection today,I wonder why they did not simply paddle my backside ! I must have brought about a certain amount of unhappiness to my Parents at that time,naturally,as their eldest Son, they not only were concerned for my wellbeing but had no desire to see their Son go off to war,well before he was required to do so !

However,wanting to become an active part of the war,I began to achieve my aims by sulking ! I would come home each day from my work,but only speak if I was spoken to, I showed my respect to my Parents but it was very obvious that I was not very happy.Finally,my Grandmother,who had lost her only Son in the First Great War,told my Parents,if he is so unhappy,then let him go ! After some time,they finally agreed !

I had in the meantime made application to perhaps be accepted as a Junior Engineer,however was turned down because my Electrical experience was not enough to satisfy the requirements. After applying for the necessary forms which my Parents finally signed,I was accepted into the Sea School,T.S. Vindicatrix.I departed Manchester by rail on the morning of 8th May 1944,finally arriving at Sharpness docks at 5pm.A bus awaited us at the station and approximately 80 to 100 young boys were driven to the Vinicatrix camp.After all of the necessary paperwork,we were housed into several newly built huts,perhaps 25 to a hut.We were all strangers and I made friends with a young fellow who had arrived from London where he had been driving a taxi.We were informed,that we had three days to accept our new mode of life.If we did not wish to continue,we could just quit and go home again.However,after 3 days,this option was no longer in effect My new found friend decided after three days that nothing was up to his expectation,and so he quit ! !

To be perfectly honest,I too found conditions not to be up to my expectations,however,there was absolutely no way that I could quit and return to my home after being such a pain in the backside and causing so much misery to my parents to obtain my wishes.It was simply a case of "Grin and bare it ! After a month of living in the huts and marching each morning down to where the ship,Vindicatrix was moored,our intake was eventually moved onto the vessel itself.Vindicatrix was an old hulk,from days of yore. Devoid entirely of any forms of comfort.The bed deck was formed of probably 100 - 150 bunks,the two classes of trainees being Catering ( Stewards,Galleyboys ) and Deck ( Junior Ordinary Seaman, DeckBoys ) I being in t he Deck Dept was formed into one of the watches. I particularly remember being wakened at 3:45am by the light of an oil-lamp for my 4-8 watch.The fellow who woke me placed the lamp upon the deck to allow me to dress.When I looked,the whole deck was absolutely alive with thousands of cockroaches !

Upon me arriving at my post by the gangway,I looked across to Sharpness docks to find that it to be completely empty ! ! The evening before,it had been crammed with vessels. Later,about 6am the radio announced that D-day had arrived ! all of those ships had left to become a part of the Invasion. Twenty days later I became 17 years of age and at the end of June finished my course at the Vindicatrix and returned to my home in Manchester. In spite of my Parents trying so very hard to prevent me entering into the war,it was very obvious that they were extremely proud also.

Dennis M.Crosby


Client: Mersey Docks and Harbour Board

Location: Liverpool Docks

Hazards: Unexploded Ordnance

SS Malarkand

On 1 May 1941 the most sensational of all enemy attacks on Merseyside took place: the blowing up of the SS Malarkand.

She was lying in the Huskisson Dock, with 1000 tons of high-explosive shells in her holds, due to sail to the Middle East. Incendiary bombs set her alight but, contrary to local opinion at the time, this was not what caused the ship to explode. A partly deflated barrage balloon, which had broken free, landed on her deck and set her rigging on fire. Incredible as it may seem, the captain and crew managed to subdue the flames but while they were busy, the shed next to the ship caught fire and only then did they abandon ship

The Malarkand was aflame from stem to stern and acted as a beacon to the incoming bombers that took great advantage and soon the whole of the dock complex was on fire and, indeed, the city itself was an inferno. It was at this point that the first explosion took place.

When it had subsided later that night an oxyacetylene burner was sent for to cut a hole in the side of the ship in an attempt to scuttle it and save the rest of the cargo from exploding. A Dock Board burner called Sam Hopley went in a small boat to cut through the ship’s plates as near to the waterline as possible. Unfortunately a combination of rusty plates and the damp conditions made a successful cut too difficult and the attempt had to be abandoned.

The main explosion took place early the following morning causing terrible damage to the surrounding area. The force of the blast threw the ship’s 5 ton anchor four docks away where it landed on the Silvio sinking her. Pieces of plate were recovered from 5 miles away and some of the superstructure finished up in the grounds of the Southern Hospital. A 3 ton mobile compressor was found lodged between two cranes four docks away 80 feet from the ground.

Routledge’s was called in to handle the salvage and, most importantly, clear the dock that was desperately needed for the war effort. During the second explosion the ship had finally sunk and it was assumed that all the bombs on board had exploded; it seemed impossible that any had survived the ferocity of the blasts. However, John Routledge senior was convinced that some bombs could still be intact. Although he was being urged to start the salvage as quickly as possible he was more cautious. It was only when a couple of full barrels of oil floated to the surface that others realised that he could be right. He then decided that damming the dock was the only way to proceed. When the dock was finally drained it was found that several hundred bombs had survived and the bomb disposal experts had to be called in.

The postscript to this story is that Sam Hopley left the Dock Board very soon after this incident rather disgruntled by the fact that there had been no official recognition of his bravery on that night. He came to work at Routledge’s where he taught the younger men how to burn (it was still a quite new technique) and stayed with the company until he died 40 years later.

Rob Routledge.

Copyright © 2000 J.Routledge & Sons

As a 4 year old during Christmas 1940 and living in Salford, Lancs. our family mother father and elder sister would take to the air raid shelter in the back garden, it was always wet inside even after my father had pumped it out during the day, on Christmas Eve 1940 the sirens sounded around 10pm, at this time we were living on Odetta Ave off Lancaster Road, three bombs fell close that night, one hit the semi across the road, one knocked the sirens off the fire station at the bottom of Lightoaks Road, and the other fell into the playing fields for De la Salle school on Lancaster road.

I remember even in those early years I used to collect pieces of shrapnel that we found in the road, and kept them in a box in my bedroom. During the day I attended a kindergarten school called Park House just off Eccles Road, and I remember the sirens going off during the day (usually a false alarm). We would all be herded into the basement,and each person had recite a poem or sing a song I guess to keep a stiff upper lip.

I remember coming home one day holding my sisters hand and mother greeting us at the door with "where's your school cap?". As the war years rolled on my sister and were taken each night to Teapot Hall on Racliff Park Road it was a nurses home then and I guess they thought we would all safe there, until one night it got hit by incendiaries, then it was a big panic to get us all out.

After this we would be picked up each night and transferred to Salford buses and given sandwiches and a small bottle of milk and blanket then driven up on the Pennines until daylight then back home.

Other memories: On VE night I was woken up by my parents to join in the celebrations, and the following days we had a street party on Burnside Ave, months later we all stood on alert as the army removed a 1000lb unexploded bomb from the playing fields on Lancaster Road.

One vivid memory is the ack ack gun that the Salford Corporation used to run around the neighbourhood and fire a few shots into the air, and my mother saying, "there's our lads giving them hell".

Geoff Johnson

I was living in Collyhurst, Manchester during the war and I can remember going to visit my aunt with my mother. My aunt lived in Hayden Street over Queens Road. As we got half way there the sirens started up and we had to run as fast as we could to my aunts house to avoid being bombed. When we arrived we joined the rest of the family under the stairs. The bombs where pretty close and you could hear them whistling and then there would be a silence and you just waited for the bang. That day it hit the next street from Hayden Street so that was pretty close. We also used to go in the air raid shelters when we had the time to get there.

After the war I remember we used to slide down these shelters as the ones near Collyhurst flats had a lovely slope on them but the one in Erasmus Street was just a flat roof. I can also remember the old gas masks which was not very comfortable to wear and you could smell the rubber on them.

Pauline Hesketh

I was a five year old child, living in Davyhulme, near Manchester, in 1939. Recollections of those times are as follows:-

The Right Honourable Neville Chamberlain's announcement that we were at war, which came over the old HMV valve radio. The adults seemed to be very grave and serious at the prospect of a war, whilst we, as naive juniors, thought it was very exciting.

The first barrage balloon which went up from a specially fenced off area in the local park.

My father, as an air raid warden, and the local hut where the wardens discussed their strategies. To me, it was a smoke filled den with a dart board and other items of "secret men's business"!

The rubbery smell of the gasmasks, which we were issued in square cardboard boxes. Later, we acquired more "up market" carry cases which didn't bruise and knock the daylights out of you when running to be in time for school.

The frantic digging, in which we all joined, to erect the corrugated iron air raid shelters in our back gardens. And further digging (for Victory) to plant potatoes and other vegetables in the gardens and allotments.

At school, we had regular drills and some real evacuations to the air raid shelters which had been hastily sunk into the Urmston Grammar School football pitch. This was next door to our Junior School. We had certain allocated duties, like carrying the toilet seat or the first aid box, when we repaired to those damp, urine scented dugouts. It took several years beyond 1945, when I commenced attendance at the Grammar School, to restore the football pitch to its former function.

The double daylight saving, to enable us to dig for victory, that made it broad daylight after 11pm in the Summertime. The concept of faded curtains as a result of daylight saving, which became an Australian joke in later times, never seemed to merit consideration in the early 1940's.

The scary journey to and from choir practice, as an eight year old in the blackout, in Winter months. There were monsters behind every rhododendron bush on the way, and there was no influence from TV horror shows in those days either!

The acquisition of all the metal gates and fences in the area to provide material for munitions etc and the not-so-patriotic householders who removed their ornate gates into storage for the duration of the war.

The discovery of yet another missing house and new craters after a heavy night of bombing and the competition between the kids to have the biggest and best collection of shrapnel.

The flamelit sky when the Manchester oil refinery was hit and the silhouette of an airman parachutist as he descended between us and the flames in the distance.

The arrival of the Americans when they took over our local Park Hospital (now called Trafford Hospital). This started a new collection craze for U.S. cigarette and chewing gum packets and wrappers. It also gave rise to the kids' plea "Got any gum chum"? Then there was the reciprocal question - "Hey kid, do you have an older sister"?

The expression on my Mother's face when I showed her the white 'balloon' with a funny extension to it, that the Americans had left on the hospital fence and which I had inflated to take home. I cannot recall having seen her so angry and I received a stern lecture on the dangers of picking up 'things' in wartime.

We entertained some of the G.I's in our home from time to time - they appreciated the home cooking and a change of scene from the large tents in which they lived. The young lady next door became a G.I Bride and sailed off across the Atlantic at the end of the war. I thought the names selected for her two baby boys, Buster and Wayne, were a little unusual.

During the height of the Manchester Blitz, my sister and I were evacuated for a few months to a delightful country village called Parbold (near Wigan). I missed the excitement of the bombing and the occasional dogfight overhead, but this was compensated for by not having to go to school.

The subsidised British Restaurants, which sprang up around the district, made a welcome change of menu from the standard school dinners we were subjected to in those days.

Towards the end of the war, a whole estate of prefabricated houses sprang up to accommodate those who had been bombed out. They were colloquially known as the "prefabs" and I recall that we were a little choosy about letting the prefab kids join 'our gang'. But then, kids can be quite cruel, can't they?

The street parties and bonfires that we had to celebrate VE and VJ days in 1945, brought an end to six long years of worry for the adults and six short years of excitement for the kids.

John Soden,

Brisbane, Australia.

In 1940 at the age of 13 years,I lived in Hr Blackley, a suburb of Manchester. Each day during the school lunchbreak, I walked home for lunch,after which, my Mother sent me to the local Bakery to buy 4 cream cakes, one for my younger Brother, one for one for my Mum, one for myself and the other for our Germanshepherd Tony.

I remember one day while walking across the road from the shops. The air raid siren had already sounded, when suddenly an aircraft came roaring out of the sky at about 100 feet ,immediately above me, I could plainly see the crew in the nose nose and cockpit.

Excitedly I waved thinking it to be one of our aircraft, however,as it flew over, I noticed it to have a black cross on its wings and realised it to be a Heinkle 111 bomber.

The A.V.Roe aircraft factory which at that time produced the Manchester bomber, was situated at Chadderton, about 3-4 miles away and the enemy aircraft was more than likely seeking this target. I do not recollect any bombs being dropped at this time and so assume that they were unsuccessful in their mission.


We lived in suburb of Liverpool which was a regular target of the Luftwaffe as it was the main port for the import of food and supplied from the USA In fact the Battle of the Atlantic was co-ordinated from a basement in the centre of Liverpool and this "war room" has been restored as a visitor attraction. I remember well being dragged from my bed to go to the air raid shelter at the bottom of the garden. We spent many nights there wondering if we would get out alive and many times we surfaced to find all our windows blown out. One night an ammunition ship - the Malarkand was bombed in the docks at Liverpool and we could hear the shells exploding for days. My uncle who lived with us was an engineer in the Merchant navy and was torpedoed twice but survived on both occasions.

Don Whitehead

A number of people have asked "why ever did you leave a safe ground staff job to go into the Air-crew one" ?;

How do you start to say why ? apart from a couple of loose screws I hope that the following might be considered as a reason....

After square bashing as it was called at Morecambe I was posted to R.A.F Filton on ground defence of the air-field for the Bristol Air-craft factory during which time I survived the intense day-light raid by German air-craft on the factory and the air- field when they dropped a large number of bombs many of which had delayed fuses with the intention of completely stopping the production of the "Beaufighter"....but in less than an hour the bomb craters had been filled and the emergency services were at work.... I don’t remember sleeping for the next four days unless it was whilst I was stood up.

The rest of the time was spent recording and reporting to control room each new exploding bomb....several mates suffered damaged ear-drums and were later to be discharged.

My-self and others were offered training courses I chose to go for Flt Mech. training at St Athans which presented no problems and I was asked to go on to complete Fitter 1 Eng. course.

Next came the day of postings ,you were asked with the usual RAF style; "Where you would like to be posted to?" If you lived down south you asked for Scotland and was then posted to Wales, no-one ever got it right

My posting was to a patch on the Cumberland coast built on sand-dunes and land-mined all the way round the bay, the only safe way out was past the guard-room.

This was Haverigg one of the early Navigator training units , home of the dreaded Blackburn Botha, the air-crew lived from day to day....a good part of the air-field was a grave-yard for clapped out Botha’s and the bay claimed more than its fair share.

It was here that I was to spend my first winter. The snows came and drifted and the only way you could find a road from the village of Haverigg to the town of Millom was by holding on to the phone lines. Everyone was confined to camp 2hrs on 2hrs off snow clearing duty; in the end the Engineering Officer had the tanks of the scrap Botha’s emptied and used it to melt the packed snow. We returned to something like normal after two or three weeks of this.

Next I had a unusual early visit from my sectional Sgt to tell that two urgent postings were wanted for a station work-shops only a few miles from my Home, by tea time I had cleared camp and was on my way back to the Midlands.

This was the start of a long list of unbelievable surprises....I had been posted to a RAF station work-shops that was host to a Polish Fighter training school ,however to improve the situation, I was granted permission to hold a sleeping-out pass, next I was asked to report to the Armoury for my weapons.

The first item was a Pike...a 6ft council brush stale into which the joiners had driven a 8inch nail and the duty fitter had finished this to a pub dart point, the next item was if anything a bigger surprise

I was pointed in the direction of several WAAF’S sat at sewing machines the first one machined a strip of green webbing into a long tube, the second proceeded to fill this with several pounds of air-gun pellets and machine the top closed, the third completed a neat job by machining and attaching a very secure wrist-strap this I was told was my truncheon and I was asked to sign for both.

Before I left I was reminded that I was due to be shown both the mobile gun and the perimeter defences against air-borne attacks, the mobile was from a local breakers yard it was a ex coal merchants flat truck on which a double wall of corrugated iron sheets had been shaped into a square and filled with sand bags, the mounting for the 303 machine gun was a flanged length of pipe securely bolted to the floor.

I was still getting settled when the visit to the outer defences was arranged and it really made my day. We left the camp and were taken to a small wood which overlooked what was described as a ideal dropping zone for paratroopers. I had already noticed strange attachments to the tallest of the Poplar trees, car inner-tubes looped in daisy-chain fashion to form what I can only describe as a every large catapult which if properly loaded would shower the area with deadly shrapnel from the old ammo boxes that were used as the discharger.

Well the time to jump had arrived, I was being given more night duties than the hours spent in the workshops doing the work I had been posted to do.

The answers.....stay put...or....tighten the screws and go for Air-crew.....You have the answer.

Frank Reeve

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