Thursday 17 May 2018

Frank Bond in his own words

I was born in Common Road, Eton Wick in June 1922 and had three older sisters. By 1927 there were four younger brothers. Father was the village greengrocer, and also sold fish and rabbits. It was a horse and cart business serving Eton Wick, Dorney and Boveney. Infant schooling was in Eton Wick and between 7 and 14 years at Eton Porny necessitating long walks three times a day. A penny bus ride ensured we got home in time to be fed. At 14 I worked for my father on his local round and at 15 applied to join the R.A.F. but was rejected on two counts, firstly, I was 3 months too young and secondly, I lacked the qualifications needed. At 15 I went to work as a trainee shoe repairer in Windsor for nine shillings (45p) a week.
With the threat of war, gas masks were issued, and I joined the A.R.P. as a messenger boy.

In 1940 I went to work in a Slough aircraft factory and whilst I was there I joined the L.D.V. (Local Defence Volunteers) later renamed Home Guard. In 1941, although in a reserved occupation doing war work, I volunteered for the R.A.F. and six months later was 'square bashing' in Boston, Lincs. There was in fact no drill square in Boston, we drilled in the streets and lived in civilian billets. Then followed a Flight Mechanic/Airframe course at St Athans, South Wales and subsequently a posting to Abingdon, No.10 O.T.U. Operational Training Units were the last stations where new aircrew received instruction before being sent to squadrons for operations. Before leaving O.T. Units the crews were sent on a 'soft' first air raid —usually to France — to drop a few incendiary bombs and propaganda leaflets. In time I collected several such leaflets, and forty years later gave them to an Air Museum in New Zealand. They had several from Japanese raids but few from Europe. Following an advanced fitters course in 1944, and a short posting to a Lincolnshire Fighter squadron, I was sent to Egypt, Aden and Masirah, an island in the Indian Ocean.

In November 1946 I was demobilised and returned to Eton Wick loaded with sugar I had bought on the troopship. Sugar of course was strictly rationed in England. There followed three jobs in industry, at Hawker Aircraft, Langley, then Rotascythe, the manufacturer of the first rotary lawn mowers and lastly Intertype, makers of compositing machines. In 1954 I left the factories and joined my father and brother in the greengrocery business which since 1951 had been operating from the parade of Council shops in the village. Dad died four years later, but we did in time open other shops in Langley, Holyport and Eton. The business went into decline following the death of Albert in 1986 and two years later I sold the last of the shops in Eton Wick. I was then 66 years old. 

During my retirement, I investigated the men whose names appear on the village War Memorial. I made many visits to the trenches of the Western Front, the military cemeteries and memorials to the men with no known grave. The results of my research were published in Their Names Will Be Carved in Stone. I was also an active member of the Western Front Association. 

Socially in my green years I tried to serve youth, and in my grey years, the seniors. In the late 1940s I developed an interest in village youth football that led me to being the Youth Club Leader from 1951 to 1961 and then the Chairman. This resulted in 'Wicko' Carnivals 1967-81 initially to raise Youth Club funds for a building project. In 1972 I became the Chairman of the newly formed Churchyard Scheme, retiring in 2003. In 1992, John Denham and I formed the Eton Wick History Group. I never married -- never had time.

Frank's autobiography was first published in Recall 60 Years On

1 comment:

  1. The Slough Observer published a report about Frank on 10th May,