Saturday 17 January 2015

Wartime memories - an assortment

The Egg 

For several years after the war there continued to be many shortages of food and goods. In 1948 I applied for work on the Slough Estate at Intertype, manufacturers of American Compositing Machines. After my interview the works personnel manager said that my papers would go to the States and in due course I would then receive, with the States' Compliments, one egg a month. I never did cycle home clutching the egg, but gave it to a workmate. We had hens at home.
(Frank Bond)

Let's join the Wrens
…billetted in Hodgson House, Eton College, during the war while serving with the WRNS…
The washing facilities were at the front of the house facing the road … In summer, with windows open, WRNS could be seen washing (in stages of undress) and a collection of Eton College boys would gather outside at a certain time until they were discovered………..
…………….and then banned ……………
(B Golding)

Officials go Bon Bon
My grandparents kept the Bon Bon shop in Eton selling confectionary, tobacco etc. Shops customarily remained open until around 8pm in the pre-war and wartime days. One day around 1940-41 two well-dressed men entered the shop at closing time and asked for a box of matches, then one penny.
When served they became officious and told Gran she had contravened regulations by selling matches after 8pm. A petty rule that she was aware of although shops could not sell cigarettes after 8 o’clock as it interfered with the Public House trade. Old time petty officialdom ~ even in wartime.
(Alan Smith)

You may be wrong, but You are never right!!
I was in the Army - there was a war on and I soon learnt that to answer back was insolence and not to answer was dumb insolence. You cannot win. I know all soldiers had to read No.1 Orders ~~
I misinterpreted these...
The Sergeant said “Soldier, can’t you read - W.E.F. means With Effect From”
I said “Sorry Sergeant, I honestly thought it meant Week Ending Friday” … Not Funny, Sergeant was not amused.
(Alan Smith)

Camp News... Undesirable living accommodation
We were posted to Dorney. Billets were allocated, but unfortunately the Nissen hut that telephonists and spotters were expected to occupy was in an appalling condition having previously been a meat store; an odour I have never smelt before or since. There was a shortfall of beds so we were given the usual biscuit paliasses on which to sleep on the flagged floor. We could not deter the assorted number of cats from hanging around this hut, but horrible though it all was we just had to make the best of it.

Fortunately for me I was on all night duty, but was horrified when the poor girls trying to sleep in that hut told me of a night of horrors as dozens of mice left their nest under the flagged floor and ran over the beds and pillows and anywhere else they fancied. Helped by the cats continuing their vigil and making many successful catches.

Next morning the Junior Commander came to inspect the hut and ordered the floor to be taken up and it was found that there were literally hundreds of mice nests under the flag stones. We were transferred to share other barrack rooms which became overcrowded and the mice decided to move in with us as well.
(M.Sudsaby –ex 564 Bty.)

London in the blitz
As a school girl in Fulham I found the experience of being in the midst of such mayhem very exciting. Climbing in bombed remains of homes and discovering pieces of bomb shell and shrapnel were considered good finds to use as trade.
The seriousness of the situation only came when empty seats were seen around the class rooms. Walking one day with a friend to the dental clinic we were fascinated to watch a Doodlebug streaming noisily in the sky then the silence as it fell on a target - This time the clinic where we were heading (eight children and 2 nurses were killed) The clinic site is being developed now as luxury riverside apartments
(Margaret Everitt)

Air Raids… Early Fears & Precautions
War had just been declared. I was out on my cycle when the air raid siren sounded the alarm. Until the warning wail became a familiar sound everybody took notice, so I hurried home….
Dad was quite excited and asked me help him fill the bath and buckets with water in case we were bombed. Not a precaution we took later.
(P. Perring)

This away or That away
In 1941 I was a Brownie and we had our shoulder flashes taken off in case a German parachutist caught one of us and would know where he was...
(1st Slough Brownie Pack)
(J Lund)

A Thursday Memory
… Of being thrown out of my bed when the German Luftwaffe dropped a bomb on the wartime ack-ack site on Dorney Common…
Also the day the crew of a lone German plane delighted in some shooting against my Mother as she walked across the fields to meet father from work on a wet Thursday afternoon.
She was striding along, brolly up, oblivious of the plane until a man from the sewage works shouted at her to jump into the ditch…
On returning home I cannot repeat what she said about that little German ‘So-in-So’
(J. Neighbour)

Eton College Bombed 
7.45 am. December 1940… arriving early at the choir school to finish some prep, I found broken stained glass in the quad from the Chapel – the result of a bomb that had badly damaged Saville House during the previous night. Whilst picking some up as a souvenir, I spotted a hole in the paving by the Headmaster's schoolroom and decided to investigate but was prevented from doing so by a master running towards me shouting “Out boy, it’s an unexploded bomb”. Later that day the Bomb Disposal team arrived, but decided they could do nothing. That evening it exploded destroying the schoolroom and part of Upper School.
Old Men forget and are forgotten, but I shall remember this day. - (Henry V.)

I remember
I came to England as a prisoner in January 1946 after the war was over and was in the great camp at Reading. In the springtime 1946 I was transferred to a camp between Maidenhead and Bray. The first time I worked for the farmer Mr Kinross at the Manor Farm was in the summer of the same year. After discharged from the prisoner of war status I stayed voluntary for another year with Mr Kinross on the farm. The Kinross family was so kind to permit me to stay on the farm for another year, a free man. On the 6th January1951 I finally left England …
(Max Schattke)

These memories were recorded as part of  the Eton Wick History Group's Recall 60 years on project to celebrate the 60th anniversary  of the ending of World War 2.

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